Friday, 23 June 2017

Blog Tour Review & Extract: The Mother's of Lovely Lane by Nadine Dorries


The Mothers of Lovely Lane by Nadine Dorries
Published: 15th June 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 400
Available in Hardback or on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
Noleen Delaney is one of an army of night cleaners at St Angelus Hospital. Son Bryan has a good job as one of the hospital's porters' boys, but Finn has done something unheard-of and passed his Eleven Plus exam. How on earth will they pay for his books, his grammar school uniform and shoes?
Bronia Ryan has battled depression since her husband died. Even in that poor neighbourhood her house is a byword for chaotic squalor. And now one son is in prison. Her youngest, Lorcan, wants no part of a life of crime, but how can he ever escape? Or protect his mother from her vicious eldest son?
As usual, St Angelus is at the heart of things. Life and death, love and loss, jealousies, rivalries and betrayals are woven into a rich tapestry – the latest instalment in Nadine's great series about poverty, sacrifice and community spirit in post-war Liverpool and the early days of the NHS.

Extract
Did your man nd his other leg, Noleen?’ Biddy Kennedy shouted across to the opposite side of Arthur Street, without any apparent consideration for those still asleep at that early hour of the morning.
Noleen Delaney failed to reply. She was lost in her own deep and tired thoughts as she hurried along in the half light towards St Chad’s. Her head was set against the wet early- morning breeze which ew up from the Mersey and whistled down Arthur Street, slipping into the bedrooms and kitchens of the blackened red-brick houses along the way. Noleen’s thin, cold hands were thrust deep into her pockets, her mind busy with the tasks of the day ahead. The soles of her shoes were so worn that she felt every chip of stone and discarded cigarette butt she trod on; they dug into her painful, corn- covered feet as she scurried along.
The night was reluctant to release its grip on the dockside streets. Morning fought to throw the rst shaft of light and pierce the gloom, and the cobbled roads glistened beneath the street lamps, freshly washed from the heavy rain that had fallen during the night. The clear plastic cover that Noleen had tied over her headscarf to protect herself from the rain as she left her night shift at St Angelus had now slipped down and hung like a hammock across the shoulders of her thin coat. It apped in protest as it strained at the damp string ties, cha ng her neck. She had resettled the cover on her hair twice already and there was no point bothering again. She abandoned any attempt to return home dry. What hair the wind didn’t claim, the mist would atten against her scalp before she had laid all her sinful thoughts and deeds before God, on her knees in St Chad’s.
Biddy frowned and placed her wicker basket down on the pavement. ‘Noleen, wait up, would you.’ She hurriedly slipped her front-door key, tied to the end of a long piece of string, back through the letter box and then slammed the door shut. ‘Noleen, wait!’ she called out, but again there was no response.
The air was lled with the sound of the rst tugs of the morning blowing their horns as they made their way out to the container ships that had been bobbing at the bar over- night. The tugs would lead them, steady as she goes, through the thick grey river mist that rested in a lazy haze on the surface of the dirty water and safely into dock. By the time the rst tug had completed its journey, the klaxon would have sounded, calling the men from Arthur, George, Stanley and Vince streets to the docks. Their boots would thud across the cobbles and down the worn sandstone dockers’ steps to the stand, and there the men would wait, hoping to be chosen to help unload one of the vast, cold, lthy holds of jute, wood or our for an honest day’s pay.
Review
The Mothers of Lovely Lane is the first book by Nadine Dorries that I have read but I believe it is the fourth book in her Lovely Lane series of books. This did mean it took me a while to get into the story as there are so many characters to get to know, but once I had my head round who was who I loved this book and became totally absorbed in the world of St. Angelous and its staff.
Pammy, Victoria, Beth and Dana are all students nurses at St. Angelous and are currently splitting their time between the casualty ward and assisting the notorious Dr. Oliver Gaskell in the hospitals new operating theatre. Although we hear from each of these girls throughout the book I’d say the dominant storylines belong to Victoria who has to make difficult decisions regarding her future and Beth who is experiencing her first foray into dating.
Interwoven into the girls’ stories are those of other members of the hospital staff. Lorcan Ryan a newly appointed porter assistant is determined to make a better life for himself and his mother and not end up like his brother JT. Noleen Delaney is working herself ragged supporting her family of seven while husband Paddy mopes with his bad leg, she’s praying for a miracle.
I loved how all of the different characters each had their own unique voice but somehow they all worked together to create a thoroughly enjoyable read. I would love to have read her previous books in this series to learn more about some of the other characters but that’s purely because I enjoyed this so much.
One minor thing which bugged was I felt the ending left a lot of things unanswered with some characters, but I’m hoping that is because Nadine Dorries is planning another book in this series.  If you’re a fan of Lyn Andrews, Diney Costello or Kate Thompson you are sure to enjoy this book.
Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me this copy to review and also for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.






Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Blog Tour Review: All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

All the Good Things

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher
Published: 1st June 2017
Publisher: Penguin Viking
Pages: 228
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

Review
Twenty-one year old Bethany Mitchell is in prison for doing a bad thing. She’s given up on herself but prison therapist Erika will not. She gives Beth a notebook to write down all the good things in her life, Beth initially believes there will not be any good things as the bad thing she has done has eaten away at her. But as Beth goes back over her life she finds plenty of good things and begins to realise that maybe what she did was not completely bad and that she may not be 100% to blame.
It is pretty obvious from the start what the bad thing was that Beth did but as the story unfolds and we learn more about her it’s impossible not to feel your heart break for Beth she’s not a bad person she’s just had a bad life and has reached a point where she’s so overwhelmed she snaps.
This was a very emotional read which examines the important question of does doing a “bad thing” makes us a “bad person”. As Clare Fisher has brilliantly examined in this novel events cannot be perceived in just black or white and most human experiences are covered by a grey area which can be interpreted differently depending on circumstances.
I found Beth and her story fascinating, she has been consistently let down all her life and every time she gets a glimmer of a better life it seems to be snatched away from her just as she seems to feel happy and yet she keeps going trying to do the best she can in her lonely and poor state.
Despite this being a short novel it’s full of emotion right from the start and will probably end with you in tears. It’s not all sadness though and some of my favourite parts are when Beth works at the Odeon with Chantelle and the Chuckle Sisters when we see Beth at her best as a young girl just trying to have a little fun.
Well done to Clare Fisher for a very moving and relevant debut, I look forward to seeing what she writes next.
Thank you to Penguin Viking for sending a copy of All the Good Things and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Blog Tour: guest Post: "Inspiration behind Island of Secrets" by Patricia Wilson


Island of Secrets by  Patricia Wilson
Published: 18th May 2017 (paperback)
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Available in Paperback and on Kindle

Today I have a piece from Patricia on the inspiration behind her brilliant debut novel "Islands of Secrets"

INSPIRATION BEHIND ISLAND OF SECRETS
 After taking early retirement, my husband and I found our place in the sun, Crete. However, I soon realised the idea of laying on a beach all day with nothing to do was my worst nightmare.
I found my solution was to set myself a challenge: to accomplish something new, and difficult, each New Year and to stick at it like a real job for three hours a day, through the twelve months. As time passed, amongst other things, I learned to dive, sail, paint, build, fish, classical guitar, photography.
After living in the tourist area of Crete for many years, we moved to a very old cottage that we were restoring in the remote mountain village of Amiras, on the south coast.
That first year flew by, decorating and refurbishing the property, and getting to know the local people (at that time we were the only foreigners living in the area).
The following spring, in a year dedicated to gardening, I set about organising the vegetable plot. I’d bought half a dozen strawberry plants from the local agricultural shop in the town of Viannos, three kilometres away. A place where I was in the habit of going to meet friends. My favourite kafenion in Viannos was shaded by an enormous, thousand-year-old plane tree.
As the garden of our cottage had been abandoned for more than half a century, I decided to follow Alan Titchmarsh’s advice and double dig before planting. I used the traditional Greek digging tool, a skapáni, a flat bladed pick. When I hit metal, I wondered what it could be. I’d already unearthed some weird and wonderful bits of junk: old weighing scales, and a jerrycan. This turned out to be neither. What I pulled out of the soil was a rusted machine gun.
Wow!
I took the weapon to the Amiras kafenion where the men told me many moving stories about how war effected the local community, especially in 1943. In the nearby town of Viannos, I handed the gun over to the mayor, for the local war museum.
Over the following months, the village matriarchs told me their personal stories about the day two thousand Nazis invaded the village. Some of the women told me of events that they had kept to themselves ever since that terrible day. I was both honoured and humbled that they shared these real-life accounts with me, and the more I heard, the more I realised the women’s story had to be told.
Then, I started to notice how many local Greek men had blue eyes.
I decided that my challenge for the following twelve months would be to learn how to write a novel. I was shocked to discover how exciting, and addictive, writing fiction is.
The year after that, based on the facts I had learned from the women of Amiras, Wikipedia, and the local war museum, I set about writing Island of Secrets.




About the Author
Patricia Wilson lives in the village of Amiras in Crete where the book is set. She was inspired to write when she unearthed a machine gun in her garden - one used in the events that unfolded in September 1943, and much of the novel is based on real stories told to her by the oldest women of Amiras. Woman who've never spoken of their experiences before. This is her debut novel.






Friday, 28 April 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Summer House Party by Caro Fraser


The Summer House Party by Caro Fraser
Published: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 512
Available in Hardcover or on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
In the gloriously hot summer of 1936, a group of people meet at a country house party. Within three years, England will be at war, but for now, time stands still.
Dan Ranscombe is clever and good-looking, but he resents the wealth and easy savoir faire of fellow guest, Paul Latimer. Surely a shrewd girl like Meg Slater would see through that, wouldn't she? And what about Diana, Paul's beautiful sister, Charles Asher, the Jewish outsider, Madeleine, restless and dissatisfied with her role as children's nanny? And artist Henry Haddon, their host, no longer young, but secure in his power as a practised seducer.
As these guests gather, none has any inkling the choices they make will have fateful consequences, lasting through the war and beyond. Or that the first unforeseen event will be a shocking death.

Review

Caro Fraser is not an author I’ve come across before but The Summer House Party sounded like a book I would enjoy as its promises secrets and mysteries hidden among the lives of this small group of people.

It’s 1936 and a group of friends have gathered together at Woodbourne House for a week long summer party full of fun and flirting. As the week draws to a close there is a shocking death for one member of the party.  As the friends depart they are yet unaware of how the events of that week will shape their lives over the next few years.

This book is huge, at 512 pages it’s definitely a book which will take some time to read and it’s not the easiest of books to snuggle down in bed with, don’t let this put you off as this is a cracking read and I feel best enjoyed out in the sunshine in a comfy deckchair, which is what I did.

This book for me would be best described as a slow burner. I initially found it hard to get into and connect with the characters but once there were a couple of sparks of interest I was hooked and very intrigued by what happened to this group of characters.

I don’t really want to say anything much about the characters or what happens to them as I feel this is a book where the less you know initially the more enjoyment you will have. I will say it’s beautifully written and has a real sense of place to the writing. It’s a book full of mystery, romance and learning to live with the decisions you make.

It’s one of those books where you just want to keep reading and it too never end. When it did I was a bit lost as I had become so involved in the story I wanted more. Hopefully Caro Fraser will write something similar in the future which I look forward to enjoying.

Thank you so much to Head of Zeus for inviting me on this blog tur and for sending a review copy, which is something I will treasure for a long time.

Caro Fraser is not an author I’ve come across before but The Summer House Party sounded like a book I would enjoy as its promises secrets and mysteries hidden among the lives of this small group of people.

It’s 1936 and a group of friends have gathered together at Woodbourne House for a week long summer party full of fun and flirting. As the week draws to a close there is a shocking death for one member of the party.  As the friends depart they are yet unaware of how the events of that week will shape their lives over the next few years.

This book is huge, at 512 pages it’s definitely a book which will take some time to read and it’s not the easiest of books to snuggle down in bed with, don’t let this put you off as this is a cracking read and I feel best enjoyed out in the sunshine in a comfy deckchair, which is what I did.

This book for me would be best described as a slow burner. I initially found it hard to get into and connect with the characters but once there were a couple of sparks of interest I was hooked and very intrigued by what happened to this group of characters.

I don’t really want to say anything much about the characters or what happens to them as I feel this is a book where the less you know initially the more enjoyment you will have. I will say it’s beautifully written and has a real sense of place to the writing. It’s a book full of mystery, romance and learning to live with the decisions you make.

It’s one of those books where you just want to keep reading and it too never end. When it did I was a bit lost as I had become so involved in the story I wanted more. Hopefully Caro Fraser will write something similar in the future which I look forward to enjoying.

Thank you so much to Head of Zeus for inviting me on this blog tur and for sending a review copy, which is something I will treasure for a long time.


Monday, 24 April 2017

Blog Tour: The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson


The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson
Published: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages:434
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage. Only her dog returns. 
Twenty-nine years later, her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago.
But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold...

Review

The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson is the latest book in the Detectives Daughter series featuring Stella and Jack. This time Stella and Jack have been called to a row of terrace houses set along the Thames. Firstly they are called by Natasha Latimer the recent owner of number 1 who has renovated her basement and is now hearing strange noises she believes belong to the ghost of the long missing Helen Honeysett. Jack agrees to housesit and rid the house of its ghosts. Meanwhile Stella meets Adam Honeysett who is still searching for answers surrounding the disappearance of his wife over twenty years ago. Stella agrees to look into the case and soon it’s clear that everyone living in this small terrace along the river has something to hide. Will Stella and Jack manage to find out what happened to young Helen all those years ago or will they reach a dead end.

This is the first novel by Lesley Thomson that I’ve read and it was a book which was fairly easy to get lost in. There were a couple of times when I felt I missed something by not reading the previous books but overall this book works well as a standalone novel.

I liked the initial few chapters where we get flashbacks to 1987 before and after Helen Honeysett went missing as this gave a great insight into all the residents’ characters and how they reacted to the news Helen was missing. This was great to contrast with their characters later on in the novel when Stella and Jack meet them.

The things which struck me the most about Lesley Thomson was how good she is at creating an atmosphere. Almost instantly the little cottages by the Thames had a creepy almost sinister feel about them and I can imagine just how scary the towpath along the river could feel. This creepy atmosphere was definitely heightened when there were scenes at night, which there seemed to be a lot of.

I wasn’t overly keen on the ghost hunting aspect of this novel which Jack seems a big believer in but I guess it did add to the sinister feeling of the book and gives it a unique angle.

Stella herself is almost fifty, this was something I really struggled with. With so many mentions of her father and being around her mother so much I felt she was younger and every time her age was mentioned it threw me a little. 

Overall I found this book and enjoyable read with an engaging storyline which had a few little twists to keep me guessing. I loved the detail of all the characters and the setting which eerily brought this book to life. I’m now intrigued by the relationship of Stella and Jack I hope there is another book in the series to follow.




About the Author
Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People's Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective's Daughter, was a #1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies.     


Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Blog Tour : Invisible Women by Sarah Long


Invisible Women by Sarah Long
Published: 20th April 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Available on Kindle

Blurb
Isn't it about time we talked about YOU?

Tessa, Sandra and Harriet have been best friends through first crushes, careers, marriage and the trials of motherhood. After twenty years of taking care of everyone else's every need, they've found themselves hitting the big 5-0 and suddenly asking themselves: 'what about me?!'

Sandra has a sordid secret, and Harriet is landed with her ailing mother-in-law. Tessa is looking for something to fill the gaping hole left by her youngest daughter's departure for uni, where it seems she's now engaged in all sorts of unsavoury activities, if Tessa's obsessive late-night Facebook stalking is anything to go by.

When Tessa impulsively responds to an online message from an old flame, she soon finds herself waiting at Heathrow Airport for The One That Got Away.

But what will the plane from New York bring her? The man of her dreams, or a whole heap of trouble?

And could this be the long-awaited moment for Tessa to seize her life, for herself, with both hands?


Today I'd like to give a warm welcome to Sarah Long who is going to talk about the invisibility of middle-aged women, whom characters in her new book Invisible Women are based. So over to Sarah:




The Invisibility of Middle-Aged Women

That moment when you walk past a building site and nobody wolf-whistles at you. Young women will say, I should hope not, Neanderthal sexual harassment. Older women may say, with a twinge of regret, oh yes, I remember that. When the polite nod replaced the hungry stare. You’d reached a certain age and turned into their mother, you were no longer an object of lust.

Nobody laments the demise of the caveman, but most women will say they miss the attention when they morph into middle age. The loudest complaints come from TV presenters and actors. Their success depends on their looks - unlike their male counterparts who are not obliged to look cute or hot -  and so they are quietly sidelined in favour of younger models. 

The heroines of my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN  are not actors or TV presenters. They are examples of a rather outdated breed, the well-to-do housewife. In fact they refer to themselves as members of the dinosaur club, well aware that it is no longer quite the thing for an educated woman to live off her husband. The lack of a role outside the home reinforces their sense of not being noticed as they grow older, of not counting in a world that increasingly applauds the shouty ones, the sexy ones, the ones with beach-ready bodies.

You’ve only got to read the style advice meted out to middle aged women to get the underlying message. There’s a lot of talk about ‘appropriate’ styles: you can wear mini skirts but only with thick tights; cream is kinder than white against older skin, don’t be a ‘cougar’, don’t wear ‘mum jeans’, whatever the hell they are.   In other words, you’ve had it, you’re ridiculous unless you melt quietly into the background and let the young ones take centre stage.

Bollocks to that. I think we should take our lead from earlier role models. Great old operatic divas with heaving bosoms spilling out of their bodices. Terrifying matriarchs striking fear into whoever crossed their path. Margaret Thatcher would have hand-bagged anyone who told her not to wear those pussycat bows, Bette Davis ruling the roost in All About Eve. The more inappropriate, the better, in my opinion.  

The women in my novel are all emerging from their domestic cocoon to realise it is time to be noticed. Two of them are being particularly noticed by men who are not their husbands. It’s not quite the wolf whistles from the building site – we have moved on, after all – but it’s the kind of attention that forces them out of the shadows and on to the centre stage of their own lives.

INVISIBLE WOMEN by Sarah Long is published by Bonnier Zaffre



Sunday, 16 April 2017

Blog Tour Review : The Married Girls by Diney Costello


The Married Girls by Diney Costello
Published: 4th May 2017 (Hardback)
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 380
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
The war is over, but trouble is brewing...
Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.
Meanwhile, the squire's fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming... and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne's past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.
For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry's return disrupts the village quiet and it's not long before gossip spreads.
The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

Review

One of my favourite things about book blogging is the discovery of a new author who I know I’m going to love, Diney Costello for me is a real gem of a find.  The Married Girls is a sequel to one of her early books The Girl with No Name, having not read this book I can say The Married Girls can be read completely as a standalone novel without losing any enjoyment, I thought it was a wonderful book.

The book centres on the lives of Charlotte Shepheard and Daphne Higgins. Charlotte Shepheard was a German refugee from the war who came to London and later was living in the village of Wynsdown where she met and married Billy. Charlotte I believe is the main character in a The Girl with No Name so if you want to read about her early life before Billy you can. She’s happily married now with two children Johnny and Edie. Everything is perfect for Charlotte until her old friend Harry Black appears and the gossip mill starts running and Billy starts to question her love.

Daphne Higgins is the other main character. Born in the east-end of London she’s looking for a way to better herself and when she accidentally meets Felix Bellinger in an air-raid her plans are made.  Becoming an aircraft mechanic put Daphne in the right place to bump into Felix again and her stunning good looks ensured it wasn’t long before she was Mrs Felix Bellinger, but Daphne’s past hides some secrets which need to stay hidden no matter the cost.

Charlotte was lovely character who was kind, caring and resilient to all the setbacks she faced in life. She had fully embraced village life and made herself loved by many. Daphne on the other hand I didn’t really like. She was sneaky, selfish and spoilt and portrayed herself as better than everyone else in the village.

I couldn’t really work out the significance of the Harry Black storyline as it didn’t really add anything to Charlotte or Daphne’s lives in Wynsdown, perhaps this storyline links back to the first book.

I enjoyed this book a great deal as it was full of surprising twists which kept my interest and the storytelling style was descriptive but not drowning in details.  I was a little disappointed with the drama at the end, I felt it could have blown up a bit more. I just felt the book came to an end a bit too quickly.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Blog Tour Review: A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant


A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant
Published: 14th April 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 330
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Order now from Amazon UK / Amazon US
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to finding love, there’s no place like Rome… 

Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo.
All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material. 

With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale?

Review
A Wedding in Italy is the second book in Tilly Tennant’s From Italy with Love series and follows on from Rome is Where the Heart is. I would definitely recommend reading Rome is Where the Heart is before starting A Wedding in Italy as the first book introduces all the characters and sets the scene for the start of the second book, which follows on really well from where the first book ended.
Kate has left her home and family in England and has moved to Rome and is starting to build a new live for herself with boyfriend Alessandro. The reality of living in Rome is starting to hit Kate as she struggles to find a job and with the language proving more of a barrier than she initially thought she’s sometimes a little lonely.
A lot of the drama in this book takes place centred on the Conti family, initially through Lucetta’s wedding. Where poor Kate is thrown in at the deep and gets to meet most of Alessandro’s extended family in one go, good luck girl. Later there are many family gatherings all of which seem to involve copious amounts of food, which made me very envious because it all sounded so delicious.
Jamie, Kate’s friend from New York and her sisters Anna and Lily also make an appearance in this second book. Which was good as we got to see how they were getting on after events in the last book. Much like the first book Jamie added a little bit of fun and chaos to Kate’s life and scenes with him did make the book more light-hearted and appeared at exactly the right time.
Although I enjoyed this book I did prefer Rome is Where the Heart is. For me this second book just lacked a little of the romance and sparkle of the first book. This is probably because Kate’s viewpoint is different, in the first book she’s doing all the touristy things for the first time which is magical and she’s still got that initial excitement when seeing Alessandro. In the second book she’s learning about living as an Italian which is more of a struggle. Kate is a resilient character though and I loved reading how she adapts to her new life.
Tilly Tennent’s writing is descriptive, warm-hearted and addictive and it wasn’t long before I’d finished the lovely A Wedding in Italy. A great sequel and a must read if you want to find out if Kate gets to live her Italian dream.
Thank you to Bookouture for the review copy and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham


The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham
Published: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 319
Available in paperback and on kindle
Order now from Amazon UK / Amazon US
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Get swept away along the beautiful Cornish coast, where a love story in a long forgotten diary has the power to change one woman’s life forever.

Victoria Langley’s world crumbles when her husband leaves, but she knows exactly where to go to mend her broken heart. The rugged shores of Cornwall will be her perfect sanctuary.
In the quaint, little village of Tregollan, nestled in the sea cliffs, Victoria is drawn to Seafall Cottage, covered in vines and gracefully falling apart. Inside she finds a diary full of secrets, from 1905.

Victoria is determined to unravel the diary’s mystery, but the residents of Tregollan are tight-lipped about Tilly Asprey, the cottage’s last owner. Just as she reaches a dead end, Victoria meets Adam Waters, the lawyer handling the cottage’s sale. He’s handsome, charming, and has a missing piece of the puzzle.

Tilly’s diary tells a devastating love story that mirrors Victoria’s own. Can Victoria learn from Tilly’s mistakes, and give herself a second chance at love? Or is history doomed to repeat itself?

An unputdownable and gorgeously romantic read about lost love and new beginnings set in the green hills and rocky cliffs of the breath-taking Cornish coast. 

Review
The Cornish Escape was the first book by Lily Graham that I have read. Having begun reading without knowing too much about the story or the author’s writing style I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a light hearted beach romance but instead found an intriguing mystery surrounding a forgotten cottage intertwined with two budding romances a century apart.
Victoria Langley’s marriage has crumbled and needing someplace to go Victoria heads to the rugged coast of Cornwall. While walking along the beach at Tregollan Victoria stumbles across a cottage hidden among the cliffs, as she gets closer she takes a look around she find an old diary written in a secret code.  Being a historical biographer Victoria is intrigued by the diary and the strange connection she has to the derelict cottage.
The story of Tilly, the writer of the diary from 1905 is also told to us and we learn of her growing love for Fen Waters and her intrigue with the mystery surrounding the cottage her father is building at the edge of his estate.
Despite being marketed as romance novel it was the mysteries and the historical aspects of the novel which made it a winner for me. I loved reading about Tilly and her forbidden love with Fen but it was the mystery of the secret cottage and what it all meant which kept me reading. I loved Tilly as a character, she’s determined to do what she wants with who she wants with no regard to her social standing and takes people just as she finds them.
The chapters with Victoria were funnier and had more characters I would like to meet. I would love to go aboard Angie’s Bookshop on a Boat, that place sounded like heaven to me, especially as there always seemed to be cake available when Victoria visited.
Cornwall is one of my favourite places to visit and Lily Graham has really done is justice bringing to life the rugged coastline and the tiny fishing port and it had made me long to go back there. I felt many different emotions when reading about the different places in the book, the cottage by the sea felt eerie and cold with its hidden secrets but the houseboat on the river felt warm, cosy and welcoming, much like the people of Tregollan.
I thought this was a great read with lovely characters, great setting and a mystery which unravelled slowly keeping me guessing until the end. The only thing which I felt let this book down was that the end felt a little rushed and I think the ending could have been a little clearer.
Thank you to Bookouture for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and sending me a copy to review.


Friday, 31 March 2017

When We Danced at end of the Pier by Sandy Taylor

When We Danced at the End of the Pier (Brighton Girls Trilogy #3)

When we Danced at the end of the Pier by Sandy Taylor
Published: 31st March 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 352
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin.

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart. The man she cherishes with all her heart is leaving.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. With Jack no longer by her side and Nelson at war, Maureen has never felt more alone. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of?

Review
If you’ve been following my blog for a while it will be no surprise to you that I loved When we Danced at the end of Pier just as much as I did Sandy Taylor’s previous two novels in the Brighton Girls trilogy. I just adore Sandy’s writing as it’s so emotional and realistic, I felt like living Maureen’s life alongside her and what an emotional rollercoaster of a life she had.
In When we Danced at the end of the Pier we go back to the beginning of the story with Maureen O’Connell as the main character. If you read the previous two novels by Sandy Taylor you will know that Maureen is the mother of Dotty. To begin with I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book as much as the previous two as I had an idea of how the story was going to end. But oh the journey to get there was so worth it, Maureen’s life is told in great detail and shows various emotional upheavals young Maureen goes through to become the strong and caring woman she is in the other two novels.
The story starts back when Maureen is eight years old and first moves onto See-Saw lane, which is where she first lays eyes on Jack, who she instantly declares to Sister Brenda is the man she is going to marry. As they grow older Maureen and Jack along with his best friend Nelson become inseparable so when war finally breaks out Maureen is left on her own as the two men in her life go off to fight she has to be strong and wait and hope they both return safely.
This is a book which is full of the highs and lows of growing up and at times is heart-breaking for poor Maureen. It’s written so well that as a reader I felt each and every emotion that Maureen felt, Sandy Taylor really does have a gift at knowing how to pull the heart strings as there are parts of this book that had me in tears. It’s not all sad though, overall I found it a very uplifting novel and with the introduction of little Gertie sometimes even funny.
I urge anyone who hasn’t read the Brighton Girls trilogy to pick them up, they are all wonderful and I hope not the last books we see from Sandy Taylor.
Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for this copy which I reviewed voluntarily.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Rome is Where the Heart is by Tilly Tennant

Rome Is Where The Heart Is

Rome is Where the Heart is by Tilly Tennant
Published: 9th March 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 336
Available in paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
When Kate’s husband Matt dumps her on Friday 13th she decides enough is enough – it’s time for her to have some fun and so she hops on a plane to Rome. A week of grappa and gelato in pavement cafes under azure blue skies will be just what the doctor ordered.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting and falling for sexy policeman Alessandro. But the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly – Alessandro has five meddling sisters, a fearsome mama and a beautiful ex Orazia. They’re all certain that Kate is not the girl for him.

Can Kate and Alessandro’s love last the distance? Or will she return home with the one souvenir she doesn’t want – a broken heart …

Review
Rome Is Where the Heart Is by Tilly Tennant is my first read from this author but it definitely won’t be my last. Her writing style flows well and I was addicted to Kate and her story very quickly.
Kate’s fifteen year marriage to Matt is over and she’s decided to wallowing in what might have been and start living her life they she wants to. First on the list a trip to Rome, a place Kate has longed to visit but has never gone as Matt didn’t want to. On her own Kate fully embraces the city of Rome including some of its gorgeous men in the form of Alessandro.  When it’s time for Kate to leave she realises its more than sexy Alessandro who has captured her heart, Rome has too.
Rome has always been somewhere I have longed to go so when I saw this book was set there I just had to read it. The essence of Rome has been captured beautifully, I really felt like I was experiencing some of the more famous sights such the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Trevi fountain alongside Kate as well as the food, music and transportation which really brought the city to life. It has made me long to visit there myself even more.
I really liked Kate as a character, she’s had her heart broken and her world shattered but she picks herself back up and decides to fully live her life. I admire her totally for getting on a plane and jetting off to another country on her own, I’m sure I wouldn’t have the courage to do the same thing. She throws herself into Italian life almost straight away, perhaps a little too quickly. Getting into a taxi with a complete stranger is risky business and not something I recommend anyone does, even if it was with cheeky American Jamie.
Kate’s slightly clumsy side made for some very comical moments when she gets herself in various scrapes, including getting drunk the Spanish steps where hunky Alessandro comes to her rescue her so guess it’s worth it.
I loved the family dynamics which Tilly Tennant has created with both families featured in this book. With Kate’s sisters we see how loving and supportive they can be for each other when one of them is hurting. Alessandro’s family are very similar in their support of each other too, there is just a lot more food involved like any big Italian family.
Rome is Where the Heart is, is a book which would make the perfect holiday read. It’s mostly light-hearted and fun, with just a couple of more serious storylines running through it. It’s a book about new adventures, families and embracing life and taking a chance. It was a book that has brought some sunshine into my life and made me long to visit Rome. I’m really excited to know that book two in the series is out very soon as I’m eager to catch up with Kate and find out if she made the right decision.
Thank you so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for this review copy which I volunteered to read.

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley
Published: 9th March 2017
Publisher: Bantam Press
Pages: 432
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.

So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.

Luckily she soon makes friends, including a Grecian god-like neighbour, who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?

Review
I’ve been a huge Trisha Ashley fan for many years and have read most of her previous books with my favourites being her Christmas novels which just fill me with festive joy. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is her newest release and is probably my favourite of her non-Christmas releases.
Alice Ross was a foundling discovered on the harsh Yorkshire Moors only hours old. After being adopted by her loving father and his wife Alice finds a happy home while she grows up. Sadly when she is still a teenager her father dies and her adopted mother rejects her so Alice is left alone in the world. Moving from place to place Alice tries to find somewhere to call home and someone to give her heart to. After suffering many setbacks and heartbreaks Alice finally decides to head back to Yorkshire and try and find her birth mother. Alice buys a teashop unseen on the internet and heads to the town of Haworth to set up her new business and hopefully her forever home.
Alice was one of those characters who I instantly loved, she so optimistic about life and always tries to see the best in people despite suffering so many setbacks and so much heartbreak. I really admired her courage to pick herself up and start again and I was longing for her to find somewhere to really call home.
I also really enjoyed the fact that as a second job Alice is a writer of grown up fairy tales with a twist of horror in them and throughout the book we get little snippets of what she was writing. These sounded really good and I’d love for Trisha Ashley to publish the full story.
I loved reading how the Teashop was brought back to life by Alice and her new found friend Niall and his lovely caring family the Giddings’. All the scrummy delights mentioned in the book make me long to visit this delightful little teashop.  The chemistry between Alice and Niall was wonderful to read about, they teased and bickered with each other but it was obvious these two really liked each other.
As with all Trisha Ashley novels this books full of warm-hearted characters, beautifully settings, delicious cakes and that special touch of magic which makes it stand out as a Trisha Ashley novel. What made this one extra special for me was the touch of mystery surrounding Alice’s birth mother and also the twist at the end which was much unexpected and totally threw me.
Thank you Trisha Ashley for another wonderful novel, eagerly awaiting the next one now. Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Blog Tour: Where Dragonflies Hover, Excerpt, Guest Post & Review


Where Dragonflies Hover by AnneMarie Brear
Published: 8th April 2016
Publisher: Choc Lit UK
Pages: 189 pages:
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …
Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it.

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

Excerpt

The late sunshine enveloped the house in a golden glow. Again, it seemed to call to her, begging for attention. A path on the left of the drive looked inviting as it meandered through a small strand of poplars. Lexi grabbed her keys, locked the car and took off to explore again. She had nothing to rush home to now, and if she got caught for trespassing, then so be it.
The overgrown pathway brought her out on the far side of the grounds near the end of a small lake. She gazed over the water towards the back of the house and noticed a paved terrace area. From there the lawn then sloped down to the water. She’d not been around the back before and fell even more in love with the property. She could imagine the serenity of sipping a cool drink on a hot summer’s day and looking out over the lake.
Lexi stepped out along the bank. A lone duck swam by, its movement serene on the glassy, dark surface. This side of the lake was in shadow from large pine trees, and she stumbled on fallen pinecones hidden in the long grass. On the opposite side of the water were some small buildings, a garage, fruit trees in early blossom, and an overgrown vegetable patch, complete with a broken, rejected-looking scarecrow.
She wandered over to a narrow shed on her left and peered through its sole, dirty window. Unable to make out much in the dimness, she walked around to the front and was surprised when she was able to pull the bolt back on the door. Why didn’t people lock things? A covered rowboat took up most of the space inside. She smiled, seeing herself rowing it on the lake. Growing more excited, Lexi edged around it to peer at the workbenches and the odd assortment of tools and useless things one found in abandoned sheds. It was like treasure hunting in an antique shop. She used to love doing that with her grandfather.
She glanced about and spied a dusty painting leaning against the wall. The scene was of a child and a brown dog. Behind the canvas were more paintings, some framed, some not. Lexi flicked through them. The ones that caught her attention she took out and set aside.
She looked for somewhere to sit and study the paintings. A small tin trunk wedged under a workbench seemed the only offering. Thinking it empty, she went to tug it out, but it remained fast.
Using both hands, she heaved it out and was showered in a puff of dust. Squatting down, she inspected the latch that was held tight with a small lock. ‘Why are you locked?’ she murmured. The shed was open to anyone passing by, yet this ugly little chest had a lock on it. The trunk was nothing special, plain and in parts rusted. No ornament or writing hinted at its use.
Intrigued, she grabbed a hammer from the workbench, but then hesitated. She had no right to open someone else’s property. Lexi closed her eyes momentarily. What was she thinking of breaking into the trunk? What am I doing? Never had she broken the law and here she was guilty of trespassing and breaking and entering! She looked around the rowboat as though expecting someone to jump out and arrest her.
Something inside urged her on. She knew she couldn’t stop now. Sucking in a deep breath, she bent and hit the lock hard. The ringing sound was loud in the quiet serenity of the garden. The metal dented and with another few solid whacks the lock gave.
Shivers of excitement tingled along her skin. Gently, she eased up the lid.


Guest Post by AnneMarie Brear



For some years I have had a fascination of what is known as the First World War, or the Great War. (World War I 1914 – 1918)

This was a time of enormous change in the world. For the first time countries banded together to fight a common enemy. I’ll not go into the politics of the time or the reasons why the war happened, that is for professional historians to determine, but the effects of the war were far reaching, particularly in Europe.

In Great Britain the changes impacted on all walks of life, from the wealthy to the poor. Women were asked to step into the space left behind by the men who went to war. Not only did they have to work the men’s jobs, but they also had to keep the home running as well. Not an easy task to a female population who was expected to simply marry and have children and keep a nice house. Women of that time were sheltered from the world, innocent. All that was soon to change.

In my book, Where Dragonflies Hover, modern woman, Lexi, finds a diary written by an Australian nurse, Allie.

Allie wrote about her time as a nurse in Great War, and of falling in love with Danny, an English officer. She wrote of her struggles to help injured and dying men who came to her straight from the battlefield, covered in mud and blood.

To write Allie’s story I had to do a lot of research about World War I. I enjoy researching, and because the Edwardian Era is one of my favourite eras, it was no hardship to spend hours reading sources from that time.
I really wanted to make Allie’s story as real as it could be. One of my research sources was reading, 
The Other Anzacs by Peter Rees. A truly extraordinary book detailing the true stories of Australian nurses in WWI. A lot of my inspiration came from that book. What those nurses went through was simply remarkable.



Another book I read was The Roses of No Man’s Landby Lyn MacDonald. Another interesting account of what the allied nurses and VADs from other countries went through. These women went from the comfort and security of their homes to the heart of battle zones.  They had to learn new skills swiftly, for even dedicated career nurses had never experienced before the types injuries and wounds they encountered only miles from the front line. Those women had to sustain difficulties they never thought of, for example at times they were food shortages, hygiene hardships, danger from bombings, homesickness and many more problems. Yet, these women, some just young girls, dutifully headed into an alien world without the promise of survival.

It is, of course, impossible for me, or anyone, to know exactly how these women felt during this challenging time, we can only read about their experiences. However, simply reading about them is enough for me to give them my heartfelt gratitude and admiration for what they endured.

I hope I did justice to their stories, to what they gave up and for the sacrifices they made to help us win the war.


Review

Where Dragonflies Hover by AnneMarie Brear is a beautifully written novel capturing the essence of what it is to really love someone. It’s 2010 and Lexi a thirty something solicitor is feeling restless in her marriage to Dylan a Doctor at the local hospital. She becomes increasing drawn to Hollingsworth House, a Georgian manor house for sale on the edge of Leeds.  One day Lexi visits the house and finds an old diary hidden away in the old boat house, as Lexi begins to read she becomes consumed by Allie and her story of her forbidden love for Captain Danny Hollingsworth. As Lexi continues to read the diary she learns some valuable lessons about her own life and marriage.

This is a dual time frame novel which is one of my favourite types of novel to read and this one seamlessly changes between the lives of Lexi and Allie we learn of the struggles both women face in their lives. Lexi with a longing for a baby and a happier marriage while Allie struggles with her love for Danny during World War One, wondering if this is the time she will ever see him as they spend precious hours together.

Allie’s story really captured my heart as we learn of the horrors of war and just how much pressure the doctors and nurses were under to save many thousands of injured soldiers. AnneMarie Brear’s research has been done very well as these scenes were so realistic with many details bringing the story to life. I found Lexi a little bit spoilt, she wants to buy Hollingsworth House and does so even when husband Dylan has refused to entertain the idea. I’m glad that as she reads Allie’s diary she learns that compromise is a big part of loving someone.

This was a novel which had me intrigued right from the start and was one I found very hard to put down.  I would have perhaps liked the book to be a little longer with more of Allie’s story after the war ended as I was so absorbed in her life story. I’m very pleased to find AnneMarie Brear has written other books as this is an author I’m desperate to read more books from. Thank you to LLR promotions and the publishers for the review copy which I volunteered to read.