Challenge Participant


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Blog Tour - It Had To Be You by Keris Stainton

Twenty-five-year-old Bea is a hopeless romantic with a hopeless love life – until now. New beau Dan ticks all the boxes: he’s good-looking, kind and thoughtful. The complete opposite of Bea’s ex, who once threw her out in the middle of the night when she was ill so she didn’t disrupt his sleep.

So when her friends point out that she and Dan don’t have fireworks, Bea ignores them. Dan is the whole package. And yet Bea can’t stop comparing him to her best friend Henry… Because Dan doesn’t get Bea’s jokes. Or like books. Or make her laugh until she can’t breathe. Or become speechless when Bea puts on her favourite black dress for a night out… 

As time goes on, Bea can’t shift the feeling that something just isn’t right. On paper Dan is the perfect man. But in reality… Will Bea be brave enough to ask for more from life – and get the fireworks she deserves?

A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for fans of Giovanna Fletcher, Cate Woods, and Mhairi McFarlane.

Today I am pleased to be part of Bookouture's Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of Keris Stainton's new release, It Had To Be You. Keris is an author who has written a number of books for both children, young adults and adults.

It Had To Be You is a laugh out loud novel with characters who everyone can relate to and care about. The storyline is also relatable to many readers, two people meeting, having a relationship but finding that there is something missing and not being sure, or brave enough, to do something about it.

I really enjoy Keris' style of writing. I have read a number of her previous novels and always find them to be well written, comedic and great story lines. They are easy to pick up and get lost in and have great casts of characters.

I recommend everyone to pick up It Had To Be You this Christmas time for a great, easy to read, comedic story, which everyone can relate to.

Thank you to the publishers, Bookouture, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for giving me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Blog Tour - The Secret Child by Kerry Fisher

You can run from your past, but it will always catch up with you…
Susie was forced to do something she will always regret: giving her baby son up for adoption. Everything that led to this child, this choice, had to be buried and forgotten.

Her secret echoes down through the years, tainting everything it touches. Her husband wonders why his wife is so distant. Her daughters can’t understand their changeable mother. 

Susie knows her past is pushing her family apart, and the guilt is eating her up, but she can’t escape the longing for her lost son. No-one but Susie knows the whole story, and when her daughters discover a piece of the puzzle, she must face the question she has struggled with for most of her life:

Would the truth bring them back together, or break them?
From the bestselling author of The Silent Wife, The Secret Child is a heart-breaking and unputdownable novel about family secrets and lies. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain.

Today I am part of the Bookouture blog tour to celebrate the publication of Kerry Fisher's latest release, The Secret Child, a heart warming novel which addresses a mother's worst nightmare, giving birth to a baby and having to give him up because he was the result of a fling with a naval officer while her husband is away at war. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was a book that tugged on my maternal heart strings on a subject which I am sure many women have experienced and still hold this secret many years later. I really liked the inclusion of the Janet and John books within the story, where Susie (the mother) is reminded of the 'traditional' family, mum, dad, daughter and son, and a constant reminder of the missing son she had to give away and only her mother knows of his existence. It is a walk down memory lane for those readers growing up in the sixties, Family Circle magazine, also plays a big part in the story, another grounding element within the well researched story. The story really is a tear jerker, but in a good way, it was a book that I could loose myself in and I really felt for Susie and her family through this difficult time. 

The Secret Child is a poignant tale, one which will stay with the reader after finishing it and is a book suitable for book club reads with a number of topics that make for great discussion.

Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Blog Tour - Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found by Emma Davies

Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found: A Heartwarming Feel Good Romance Novel (Paperback)

Sometimes you’ve got to run away to find yourself…

Twenty-four-year-old Lucy needs a fresh start. Forever single and frustrated with her studies she gives up everything to run a little library in the leafy village of Tilley Moreton.

Lucy loves reading almost as much as she loves fixing other people’s problems, so starting a book club seems like the perfect opportunity to do both. As she meets her new members, it’s clear she’s going to have her work cut out for her. Handsome but silent Callum is the biggest puzzle of them all...

But Lucy’s meddling begins to cause more problems than it solves, and no one is more surprised than Lucy when Callum steps in to help. Could there be more to him than people think?

As Callum and Lucy start working together to fix the broken hearts of the library’s most loyal customers, the first sparks of romance begin to fly.

Can they right all the trouble Lucy has created, and might there be a chance for a happy ending of their own?

An utterly uplifting, emotional page-turner that will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your face. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan and Milly Johnson.

Today I am pleased to be part of the Bookouture Blog Blitz to celebrate the publication of Emma Davies' new release, Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found.

I really enjoyed this book, it is one of the those books that once picked up, can not be put down until it is finished! It is one of those books that take the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions while in the middle of a great read.

Lucy, the main character, is in temporarily in charge of a library, while also suffering confusion about her teaching career and unsure what to do. Her life is in turmoil but she, as I am sure many of us do, finds the solution within a good book. 

There is a great cast of characters, and we meet them all through the library's book club. Each member has their own life, and their problems are also dealt with within the book. As I previously said, this book is a roller coaster of emotions and I really enjoyed reading about the reading club's members lives, they represent communities all over the country and I am sure everyone can relate to a number of the cast within this book.

I definitely would recommend this book to all, get settled one weekend with a drink, comfy chair, some chocolate and some tissues - you will not be disappointed.

Thank you to the publishers for  inviting me to take part in the blog blitz. I did receive a copy of the book in return for an honest review on my blog.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Blog Tour - The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

Today I am really excited to take part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of Caroline Roberts' new book, The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop. 

The snow is falling, the hot chocolate's warming, and hearts are melting . . .
Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that's become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals' festive favourites.
From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn't taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma it's the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop's miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma's Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.
With the whole village rallying behind her - and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side - Emma's determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.
The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart?
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008236281

Christmas is a time for everyone to indulge in everything and top of a lot of peoples' lists is chocolate. This book is a pure celebration of this tradition, a shop within a small village where chocolates are handmade and packaged to order, where villagers pop into the shop for their favourite chocolate of choice to enjoy after their evening meal or to give to loved ones as a present to say 'just thinking about you'. It is definitely not a book to read if the reader is on a diet or trying to cut down on chocolate before the festive period. Emma's handmade chocolates are described in great detail and the reader can almost smell the chocolates as she is making them. The publishers, Harper Impulse, and Caroline have very kindly shared with me a recipe for Emma's festive Chocolate Orange Truffles.
(Makes approx. 36)
  • 250g of good quality (at least 70%) dark chocolate 125ml fresh orange juice (or home squeezed even better) 150g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 150g dark chocolate to decorate

1.            Finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a bowl.
2.            In a saucepan, bring the orange juice, sugar and zest to a simmer, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
3.            Pour onto the chocolate and stir until melted.
4.            Chill until firm in a fridge (around 4 hours). 
5.            Scoop out a teaspoon of mixture and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands, place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper; repeat. 
6.            Melt the decorating chocolate gently in a bowl over hot water. Using a fork or cocktail sticks, dip the truffle balls into the melted chocolate to coat. It needs to be smooth but not too runny to coat the truffle centres properly; just allow to cool a little more if it seems to slide off.
7.            Transfer to greaseproof paper to set.

I really recommend this book to all my readers. It is the perfect book to read in the build up to Christmas. The book is set in a fictional seaside village, where the shop owners knew their regular customers by name, often knowing what they would be buying before they have asked. The Cosy Chocolate Shop is one of the shops within the village and is very popular. I wish I lived in the village, although I am sure that I would be a very regular visitor. Emma also has an assistant, Holly, who loves working in the shop almost as much as Emma, and she soon begins a relationship with the assistant manager of the local hotel - it is through this friendship that Emma begins to extend her business and tries to find ways of working with local businesses to promote the shop and her range of handmade chocolates. 

The book is based around the build up to Christmas and I really enjoyed watching Emma's thought process about building her business and her plans to extend her small shop to include a small coffee shop. It sounds like a great premises, an old cottage, which was refurbished to become a shop and the coffee shop was a great idea which also improved village life - a place for the older generation and younger, teenage generation could meet with their friends. 

Aswell as the story of the chocolate shop, and Holly's relationship, there is also a possible friendship for Emma, but of course it isn't plain sailing and I really enjoyed this part of the story, one which I don't want to spoil for my blog readers.

This book is very easy to devour in a weekend and it is one of those books that leaves the reader with a warm cosy, festive feeling.

Thank you to Harper Impulse and to Caroline Roberts for asking me to take part in the blog tour and for sharing the scrummy recipe for Chocolate Orange Truffles which I think I will be trying very soon.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Blog Tour - Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage by Lucy Daniels

Today I am pleased to be a stop on the Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage by Lucy Daniels blog tour. As a child I read a number of the popular Animal Ark books and I have also bought a couple for my daughter when she was younger. Lucy Daniels is also the author of the Animal Ark series. 

Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage is the second book in this series of books which is set at Hope Meadows, a rescue centre, set up by our main characters, Mandy, who has returned to live with her parents and help out in their vetinary surgery, while also fulfilling her dreams and setting up a rescue centre for all those animals that need to be rehomed or rescued from unsuitable owners or surroundings (including two fluffy donkeys in this book).  If I am totally honest, I read the first book in this series, Summer at Hope Meadows, and was not immediately loving the story. I really liked the characters and the settings and the storyline within the book but I wasn't sure about the actual book,  I felt that it was rather slow in places, however I have definitely changed my mind since reading Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage. I really enjoyed the story, great to meet up again with Mandy and her parents and also Jimmy, the hunky bloke who has also returned to the village and has just opened a rope adventure centre within the local woodland.  The storyline seemed to move quicker and I found myself wanting to read just one more chapter before sleep (one of my signs of a great book).

The title suggests that the book is Christmas focused and there is a note to Christmas within the book however it is not a book solely about the Christmas period, rather the winter months (first book called Summer, second book Christmas (Winter) and the third book, out next year, is Spring) and therefore it is not only for the festive period. It is great to read about the changes in season and the related changes that occur in nature. There is lots of talk about the surroundings and all the fields and woodland and also the wildlife that lives within. It is great to get lost within the book, imagining the scenery and all the animals in the surroundings.

Although this book is the second book in the series, it could be read as a standalone very easily, however reading Summer at Hope Meadows first gives the background of why and how Mandy returned to her parents home and her reasons behind opening up the rescue centre.

A great book to loose yourself in over the autumn/winter months which transports you to the middle of the English countryside. I am already looking forward to spring and our next visit to Hope Meadows.

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for inviting me to join the tour. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Blog Tour - Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Kisses by Carole Matthews (including giveawy)

Today I am really pleased to welcome Carole Matthews to my blog to celebrate the publication of Carole's 30th novel, Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Kisses. 

I recently saw a post on Facebook asking which author I would buy without reading the blurb on the back of the book and I know that Carole Matthews is definitely one of the authors that I look forward to receiving their latest book. I do not bother waiting for the blurb to be released before placing my pre-publication order and eagerly awaiting it's arrival. Carole Matthews always writes fantastic books, with strong characters on a wide variety of themes, topics and locations. I always remember 'A Place to Call Home' which has a Muslim lady as the main character and she leaves home due to domestic violence. I was doing my University degree at the time and had chosen to do my final assignment on the role of Children's Centres for the many Muslim families who used its services. It really made me think about how the community works together and do not divulge such information readily. It was a thought provoking book for me, but was written in a way that people could enjoy it as a easy to read book, one to enjoy at a poolside over the summer, or on a cold winter evening curled up in a comfy chair. 

Indulge in this wonderful, cake-filled novel of romance and friendship. Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights is Sunday Times bestselling Carole Matthews doing what she does best!
Fay and Danny are madly in love and it's all Fay's ever dreamed of. But she left everything - including the delightful cake shop she used to run - to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn't always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive . . . isn't it?

Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking - especially now she's on dry land again! - and starts to wonder if she ever should have left.

With Christmas around the corner, Fay is determined that her friends will have a very merry time, but does that mean even more time away from Danny?

Can Fay really get everything she ever wanted in Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights.

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

ISBN: 9780751560275

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Kisses reunites the reader with Fay and Danny from 'The Cake Shop in the Garden', two of my favourite Carole Matthews characters. They are off on their travels around the country on Danny's barge when a phone call back to the Cake Shop gives Fay troubling news which means she must return home.

I really enjoyed this book, although the title is Christmassy it is not a traditional Christmas read, The story is the build up to the Christmassy period and is very character orientated with a number of smaller storylines leading to the crescendo at the end being the festive period celebrations.  I don't want to give away any of the storyline but I really liked  Lija and her new assistant, Rainbow. They are like chalk and cheese, but each have fantastic characters, and I think the customers are in for a treat when they visit. The food that the café serves sounds gorgeous, not a book to read when hungry. 

I really hope that Carole revisits the characters in a future book as I love the series but there is a small part of me that is worried to visit as it could mean a sad occasion. However I am sure Carole has her own thoughts on how the characters lives pan out and so I will wait with baited breath.

The publishers, Little, Brown are offering one of my blog reader the opportunity to win a signed copy of 'Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Kisses'. The competition is only open to readers in the UK and Ireland and will be sent directly from the publishers. To enter, please leave a comment below and tell me your favourite Carole Matthews book or, if you haven't read Carole's books before, what is your favourite festive dessert. I will draw a name out a hat on Sunday 29th October 2017

Good luck to all the entrants and thank you again to Carole and Little, Brown for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 20 October 2017

My First Bath Book

My First Bath Book: Baby Bath Book (Hardback)

Watch the body parts change colour as they are put in water. A great, interactive way for children to learn the names of basic body parts at bath time.

Publisher: Shade 7 Publishing Limited
ISBN: 9780957636460

This is a great book for young children to look at, share and enjoy both in and out of the bath. It is a plastic coated book with squashy pages which are suitable for little hands to hold, squeeze and (inevitably) chomp on!

The book cleverly has the technology for the body part pictures within the book to change colours before your eyes when immersed in water.

It is a great starting point for teaching your child their body parts. Point to the picture and then point to either your or the child's hands, feet, mouth or nose (to name but a few, although I notice eyes are not included for some reason) and lots of fun games can start.

This is a great book for young babies and children and I am sure that it will be a popular bath toy that will last for a long time.

Thank you to Shade 7 Publishing for sending me the book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Blog Tour - The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

Today I am pleased to welcome Sue Moorcroft to my blog to celebrate the publication of her latest book, The Little Village Christmas. I really enjoy Sue's Christmas books each year and eagerly await each one. They often feature strong women with interesting careers and in this one we, the reader, are introduced to ALexia Kennedy, an interior designer. I was first introduced to this career watching Changing Rooms or other programmes where professionals are
brought into transform dreary drab rooms into beautiful living spaces. In The Little Village Christmas I think there is also an air of Challenge Anneka about it as local companies and residents are encouraged to help support her project. Another character within the book is Ben Hardaker, a man who works in the woods of the local big house, but it is also his pet, a cute owl he rescued with an injury, a broken wing, and who he is nursing back to health, although he can never be returned to the wild. 

Another fantastic element of the book is the village setting, Middledip, which readers of Sue's previous books will recognise and several previous characters return in this book too. 

As readers can probably tell, I really enjoyed this book and I don't want to give any spoilers away as I would love you all to get engrossed in the story too. Suffice to say this is a great book to start one's Christmas reading. I wish I could live in a village like Middledip and get involved in village life too.

The #1 bestseller returns with an irresistibly festive tale that you won't be able to put down!

Alexia Kennedy - interior decorator extraordinaire - has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community cafe it's always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can't wait to see work get started - but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who's hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.
However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village - and their lives - together again...

Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008260019         


Avon Books and Sue have very kindly given me a short extract from The Little Village Christmas to share with my readers. Enjoy ..............

Alexia settled on the rug with her back against an armchair so she could feed the dancing fire as Ben poured the whisky.

He settled himself against the opposite chair. ‘So you’re completely done, you and Sebastian?’

She was suddenly conscious that his legs had come to rest close to hers. She took a sip of the neat whisky, feeling its fiery kiss in her throat. ‘Completely. Jodie always said I’d settled for him because he was nice and kind. Maybe she was right.’

Ben snorted. ‘I’m pretty sure most men would hate that description. Might as well say “dull and boring”.’ His eyes glittered at her over the rim of his glass, the reflection of the fire flickering like flames in the whisky.

She took another sip, feeling lassitude weigh her limbs as it combined its effects with the beer she’d drunk earlier. ‘Aren’t you “nice and kind”?’

‘Not so you’d notice. Why did you “settle” for Sebastian?’ He shifted slightly and their legs brushed.

Alexia felt a tightness in her belly. Was he doing it on purpose? ‘The boyfriend before him was “high maintenance and awkward”. It was exhausting.’ She circled back to the question he’d side stepped. ‘I’d describe myself as “bright and bubbly”. Your turn.’

He screwed up his face in a mock-ferocious frown. ‘I’m “prickly and disorientated”.’ The frown faded. After several moments he added, thoughtfully, ‘And horny.’

Alexia, taking a sip of whisky, choked.

Ben flushed fierily, giving a laugh that ended on a groan. ‘And cringingly out of practice! Sorry, that was dire. Wipe it from your memory. I’ve obviously forgotten how to do this.’

Alexia giggled. Despite his show of embarrassment, she

noted that his gaze didn’t drop entirely, hinting that he was interested in her reaction.

His legs still grazed hers. Heat reached her through the fabric of their jeans, a heat Alexia doubted came from either stove or alcohol – though the latter probably encour­aged her to be more airily direct than she would usually have been. ‘You haven’t, erm, put in any “practice” since your marriage ended?’

He sobered. ‘I needed recovery time. And now I’m floundering.’ He smiled ruefully. ‘Hints and clues gratefully received.’

Alexia was entertained by his frank request. ‘Well,’ she mused, lounging a little more deeply against the armchair. ‘Bringing the tea and whisky on one tray was smooth but not pushy, allowing me the opportunity to choose whether to drink more alcohol. And mirroring the way I’m sitting is supposed to be the right thing to do to make me trust you, isn’t it? So you’ve got that right as well.’

‘Ticks in two boxes.’ His eyes smiled.

Alexia turned her expression reproving. ‘But, seriously, if you invite a girl home to see your barn owl, you really ought to have one.’

He jerked upright. ‘Barney! He’s in his box. I haven’t fed him yet.’

He dumped his glass on the tray, scrambled up and shot into the next room.

Rolling to her feet more slowly, possibly because the room was getting a little fuzzy, Alexia followed him into his kitchen in time to see him ease an open box of translucent white plastic out from under the counter. An indignant rustling came from within. Carefully, Ben posi­tioned the box on the red quarry tiles. ‘Alexia, meet Barney. Barney, you just wait in your tub for a minute while I get your supper. Alexia’s going to keep you company.’

Ben busied himself elsewhere in the kitchen while Alexia sank down beside the tub and peeped inside. ‘Ohhhhhh . . .’ she breathed. Peeping back was a pair of round black button eyes topping a hooked beak that looked way too big for the little plate-flat face and ball-of-fluff body. One wing hung badly, like an empty sleeve.

The beak opened and emitted a surprisingly loud HEHHHH, like gas leaking under pressure.

Delighted, she laughed. ‘You are so gorgeous.’ Extending a cautious finger, she touched the off-white fluff of Barney’s chest. ‘As soft as down.’
Thank you to both Avon Books and Sue Moorcroft for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Blog Tour -Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin by Catherine Ferguson

It may only be October but the Christmas books are coming through thick and fast and I am really enjoying featuring them on my blog. Today I am pleased to welcome Catherine Ferguson to my blog with her 2017 festive title, Christmas at the Log Cabin. As the name suggests this is a truly festive white Christmas read and I would love to escape to the cabin this Christmas!

Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin (Paperback)

When Poppy's boyfriend Harrison proposes the week before Christmas and gives her twelve days to decide, she doesn't know what to do. With the festive season in full swing, it's make or break time for the couple and the clock is ticking...
Meanwhile, Poppy's best friend Erin is desperate for the pair of them to fulfil their dream of setting up a dinner party catering company - and when an opportunity arises at a luxury log fire cabin, the girls take their chance to impress. But they hadn't bargained on the owner of the cabin being quite so attractive - or having quite such a sexy voice.
As the twelve days tick on, will Poppy realise that Harrison is the one for her? Or will it be love in the lodge when the new year comes?
Lose yourself this Christmas in the new novel from the brilliant Catherine Ferguson, perfect for cosying up with by the fire.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008274597

Catherine Ferguson and Avon Books have kindly shared with me an extract to share with my blog readers .....

Sitting up, I hold the duvet around me and run my hand admiringly over the smooth skin of his back. ‘So, you really think I should take the bull by the horns and just do it?’

‘Give up the restaurant? Yes, of course. They don’t appreciate you anyway.’ He smiles and leans down to kiss me. ‘Not like I do.’

My heart expands with love. ‘I’m so glad you think that. I mean, obviously I’d start small. And I won’t be earning a great deal at the beginning but I’ve got savings, so—’

He shakes his head. ‘Don’t worry about that. We’ll easily manage.’

I sink back onto the pillows happily. I can’t believe he’s being so supportive! But I should have realised he would be. I don’t know why I doubted it. We’re a team now and that’s what partners do – they root for each other.

‘When I get my promotion, it will mean a big step up in salary,’ he says. ‘So, the fact is, we’ll more than manage. In fact, you won’t need to work at all.’ He beams at me as if this will be music to my ears. ‘You can just stay at home. Look after the house.’ He winks, getting to his feet. ‘And me.’

He zips up his jeans, picks his shirt up off the floor and walks out, just as the music downstairs announces the early-evening news.

My mouth opens but nothing comes out.

A minute later, I scramble into my dressing gown and follow him downstairs. This is far more important than the news.

Blood is rushing through my veins, urging me on. I’m normally so mild-mannered, any sort of confrontation makes me feel physically sick, even if I’m only an observer. But having my hopes and wishes discarded so easily by Harrison – with no attempt by him to understand what they actually mean to me – has really touched a nerve.

I don’t yet know if I have the courage to branch out in a new direction, but it suddenly seems massively important that I let Harrison know where I stand on the subject. I’m not quite sure where meek and mild Poppy has disappeared to, but something deep inside is urging me on and it’s not the steak pie I had for dinner!

‘Harrison? Question: what about my career?’ I stand squarely between him and the TV. I might sound calm but my whole body is shaking.

He looks taken aback by my directness and I almost feel guilty. But irritation is expanding inside me. Why is it okay for Harrison to be focused on his brilliant future career at the accountancy firm, but not me?

‘You can still do your cookery thing,’ he says magnanimously, trying to peer around me at the TV. ‘If you really want to.’

Suddenly, I’m doing a petulant little dance, moving from side to side, so he can’t see the newscaster. Eventually, he gives up and sits back, looking mildly puzzled.

I take a shaky breath, hoping to quell the nausea. ‘I want to work, Harrison. I’m not the type to be a lady of leisure. And you know what cooking means to me. I really think I need to do this. If I’m brave enough.’

‘And so you can,’ he soothes. ‘A little job here and there?’ He winks. ‘As long as you’ll still be here most nights cooking up a storm for when I come in exhausted from work. You look after me so beautifully, Puss.’

A little job here and there? Is he actually listening to a word I’m saying?’

‘Harrison, If you cared enough, you’d realise this is important to me. If the course tutor thinks I can do it, then why not? Perhaps I really can make a proper career out of cooking.’

There’s a tense silence.

Harrison, I can tell, is bemused by my taking a stand. I’m actually quite shocked myself. And I’m determined not to back down like I usually do.

He sighs and gets up off the sofa. ‘Okay, okay. Maybe you can.’ His voice is gentle, if a little patronising, but I decide to ignore that. He pulls me into his arms. ‘Just as long as you don’t go rushing into something you’ll regret,’ he murmurs, close to my ear.

‘What do you mean?’ My voice is muffled by his sweater.

‘Well, what you have to realise is that, long-term, working full-time probably won’t be possible. That’s all I’m saying.’

I pull away and stare up at him.

Why won’t it be possible?

Am I missing something here? He’s not making any sense.

He shrugs. ‘When the children arrive …’

‘Children?’ Confused, I turn and glance out of the window, half-expecting to see a school bus park up outside and a load of kids pile out.

‘Yes. The children we’ll have.’

He takes my hand. ‘I can’t believe you think I don’t care enough about you, Puss. I care very much indeed. In fact, I’ll prove it. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Since last Tuesday, in fact.’ He stares into space, his brow faintly knotted. ‘No, it was Wednesday. The day the Footsie plummeted five hundred points.’ He shakes his head. ‘Anyway, that’s not the point. Obviously, I would have preferred to wait for a more romantic setting, but since you seem to need reassurance that I’m here for you –’

Abruptly, he falls to one knee, still grasping my hand, and for a second, I think he must have spotted another snag in the carpet.

Then my heart starts to gallop like a husky across the snow as I realise what’s about to happen.

Harrison clears his throat.

‘Poppy Valentina Ainsworth, will you marry me?’

I hope you all enjoyed the extract and you too visit the Log Fire Cabin this year.

Thank you to Catherine Ferguson and Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Blog Tour - The Angel by Katerina Diamond

Today I am really pleased to welcome Katerina Diamond to my blog to celebrate the publication of her latest book, The Angel. 

The Queen of grip-lit is back...

The Angel: A Shocking New Thriller - Read If You Dare! (Paperback)
When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There's no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison?

DS Imogen Grey is certain there's more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons.

When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn't commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel's every move, they may be too late.

Miles and Grey are back in the thrilling new novel from bestselling author Katerina Diamond, perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and M.J. Arlidge.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008209131

Katerina has shared with me a great guest post, with a hard hitting subject matter, entitled 'Why no one should just accept casual sexual assault' ......  

Today I want to talk about something a bit more serious. Casual sexual assault. The one we all accept and just ignore as ‘part of life’. The recent case involving Taylor Swift is a perfect example of casual sexual assault. So, she is posing n a photo with a man and he takes it upon himself to put his hand up her skirt and touch her backside. He lost his job and there has been some suing and counter suing. Taylor Swift won in the end though and was awarded a dollar, which was all she asked for. I’ve heard people saying that she is making a big deal out of nothing, and he shouldn’t have lost his job over it. I tell you what he shouldn’t have done, he shouldn’t have put his hands up her skirt without her permission. Maybe going to court over it is a big deal, but isn’t sexual assault a big deal? I expect every woman I know has a story similar to this one, I have a few of my own.

I asked my friends on Facebook, the response I got was overwhelming, including people asking to email me about their experiences and people inboxing me with stories. None of them were particularly harrowing, although quite surprising in their volume. I did have one female friend who was maced after refusing a man’s advances! I’m not for a moment trying to imply this kind of thing doesn’t happen to men. It may happen to some men, but for women it is just a part of life. Most of my male friends were completely shocked by the sheer volume of response that I got, they had not realised that it was so endemic. They hadn’t realised of course because it’s not something they would ever do, because it’s not something a decent person does. However, it was suggested by one of my (male) acquaintances that this new ruling makes life harder for young men trying to woo a lady. Well I’ve got news for you buddy, you’re doing it wrong.

As I get older it becomes less of a problem but it still happens. I remember going to a concert in Exeter when I was in my twenties and a man behind me took it upon himself to put his hands up my shirt, I was wearing a bra but he just kept his hands on my breasts for the entirety of a song and I did nothing about it because I didn’t want to cause a scene. When I first started dating my husband we were in a pub and a man was sat on a stool behind me, he slid his hand in between the top of my thighs, grabbing me momentarily. I had trousers on and it was over very quickly but it was upsetting and quite a shock at the time. I mean, what on earth would possess a person to do something like that? Is that kind of behaviour ever greeted with anything other than anger or fear? What exactly was the end game? I genuinely can’t even remember all of the little incidents like this that have happened in my life, but there are many many more.

Instead of just brushing these things off as something that happens, we need to make sure everyone knows that it’s not OK. How many young women will put up with that kind of behaviour in the future? Either because they don’t want to make a fuss or because they genuinely don’t want a confrontation. One of the reasons sexual assaults often feature in my books is because of how rife it is. I have friends from all walks of life who have experienced anything from a jokey grope in the street to violent sexual assault and its about time we let people know that neither of these things are acceptable.

I really enjoyed The Angel and although the story line is hard hitting and at times uncomfortable, it is a fantastic read and one which is going to start conversations on a topic which can, in everyday life, be easily swept under the carpet.

Thank you to Avon and Katerina for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn by Phillipa Ashley

Today I am pleased to welcome Phillipa Ashley to my blog to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles.

Phillipa Ashley has written a number of books and I really enjoy her series' of books where the reader is able to feel a part of the community and The Driftwood Inn is the reader's introduction to life of the Little Cornish Isles. I really enjoyed this book and am already looking forward to my next visit to the Little Cornish Isles very soon.

Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn - The Little Cornish Isles 1 (Paperback)

Christmas has arrived on the Cornish Isles of Scilly, bringing mistletoe, surprises and more than a sprinkle of romance . . . Fans of Poldark and Carole Matthews will love this brand-new festive read from the author of the bestselling Cornish Cafe series.
For Maisie Samson, this Christmas is going to be different. After years working in a busy Cornish pub, she's moved back to quiet Gull Island where she grew up, to help her parents run the family inn.
But even though she can't wait for the festive season to arrive, Maisie cannot shake the memories of what happened to her last Christmas - the day she lost everything. She keeps herself busy, setting up the tree and hanging mistletoe ready for her first proper family Christmas in years.
Until a new arrival to the island walks into her bar and changes everything. Australian backpacker Patrick is looking for a job for the low season. When Maisie takes him on, she doesn't expect him to last the week, but to her surprise Patrick is the perfect fit. Charming and handsome, could Maisie allow herself to hope that she and Patrick could be more than just colleagues?
As Christmas approaches, Maisie finds herself dreading the spring, when Patrick is due to leave. With the help of a little Christmas magic, can Maisie get the happily ever after she always dreamed of?

Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles is the first in a stunning new series from Phillipa Ashley. The perfect book to snuggle up with this Christmas.

The publishers, Avon, have given me a short extract to share with my blog readers ..........
Extract Twelve from Chapter Seven, pp 42-43
Patrick McKinnon. It was a nice, normal name that suited him well. She shook his hand briefly but firmly then stepped back to maintain her distance. Her heart was beating much faster than she wanted it to.
‘I appreciate it’s an unconventional way of going about things and if you don’t like the look of me or can’t stand my cheek, then fair enough, but I do have plenty of experience. I’ve worked in half a dozen pubs and bars in my time, including one in Melbourne for the past five years as bar manager. I can even turn my hand to some cooking if it’s basic. I can get references that’ll prove I’m not about to run off with the takings or the customers.’
‘OK. I’ll admit that sounds tempt . . . I mean satisfactory, but how do I know you have the right to work here?’ Maisie said, recovering her composure a little. ‘Gull Island may be the back of beyond and, yes, rules are broken, but I can’t afford to be in trouble with the powers-that-be.’
Patrick smiled. ‘I have the right to work here, rest assured, and I can prove it.’
‘It can get lonely here in the winter,’ she said. ‘Lonely and monotonous. Seeing the same old faces day after day, being stuck on the isles – on Gull Island – for days at a time when the weather closes in. This island can send people nuts, believe me.’
‘All the more reason to have a fresh face around the place, eh?’
For me, thought Maisie, but maybe not for you.
‘That flyer had been up so long the sun had almost faded the words away. You need someone urgently and from what I hear, staff are in short supply on Gull Island. I can help you in the pub and kitchen but I can also help you in other ways.’
His eyes twinkled. Maisie went all shivery. ‘Such as?’ she said, as prim as a maiden aunt.
Undeterred, Patrick pointed at the pub. ‘I could help your dad re-slate that roof and paint the woodwork that’s peeling off. The place will need a new coat of render before spring by the look of it and that terrace furniture needs re-varnishing. Your dad’s not been too well, I hear, so perhaps he could do with a hand.’
The Driftwood Inn sign creaked in the wind. The seagull picture was so weathered it might have been a penguin and the lettering was starting to dissolve. Maisie pursed her lips but her stomach did a flip. She’d winced when she’d seen her dad struggling with the roof earlier and she knew her mum was worried sick. Everything Patrick said made sense. Too much sense, so why was she hesitating? She desperately tried to get a grip and think rationally about the situation.
‘OK. I accept you have experience and we do need some practical help around the place as well as in the Inn but I don’t know anything about you. I only learned your name five minutes ago. If I’m to take you on, it’s only fair that I interview you properly and check all the paperwork’s in order.’
‘Fine. Is now a good time?’
‘As good as any as you’re not going anywhere in a hurry.’
Patrick held out his hand to let her walk ahead of him across the terrace. ‘Bring it on, then.’

Thank you to Avon and Phillipa Ashley for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Hats of Faith - Medeia Cohan

Hats of Faith

This book is a beautifully illustrated introduction to the shared custom of head covering.  Using accurate terminology, phonetic pronunciations and bright imagery, Hats of Faith helps educate and prepare young children for our culturally diverse modern world.

A beautifully drawn and colourful book which celebrates a number of cultures from around the world and the hats that they where as part of their religious beliefs. The cultures included are: Sikh, Muslim, Rastafarian, Orthodox Jews, African Christian and Muslim. Each page is a simple hand drawn picture of a member of each faith wearing their hat. The words are short and to the point, with the name of the hat (written in words and also phonetically) and who wears it. 

This is the ideal book for any classroom or library to have, being the perfect starting point for a conversation about religions of the world and how we are unique. It is a board book which will withstand both toddlers and pre school children and is perfect for a book to share to storytime, or during circle time to begin a discussion.

Thank you to the Ben Cameron from Cameron Publicity and Marketing Ltd for sending me this book on behalf of the publishers, Shade Publishing, in return for an honest review.

Game of Thrones House Lannister Lion

Game of Thrones Mask: House Lannister Lion

Join the noble houses of Westeros and proudly wear or display the official Game of Thrones House Lannister Lion 3D Mask & Wall Mount series. This fabulous full size 3D mask, designed by the amazing Steve Wintercroft, uses the official house sigil and is easily assembled to create a stunning full-head mask. You can then assemble the wall mount and display it proudly on the wall as a glorious trophy. They say a Lannister always pays their debts - show you do the same with this fantastic mount, perfect for any Game of Thrones fan's home. 
Publisher: Carlton Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781780977799

The first thing I should say is that I am not a Games of Thrones fan, I have never watched an episode or read a book. However when I was asked to review this book I jumped at the chance to review this book to find out more about the television series and to make the mask.

The book is made up of all the pieces needed to create a fantastic 3D mask which can be wall mounted using the back page as a mount. The mask is made using strong card and each piece is pre-scored and fantastically coloured. There is an introductory page which explains all things to do with construction. The mask is easy to construct, with each pre-scored fold being matched to its corresponding number and there being one tab marked for gluing and one non-gluing tab which ensures that all glued tabs are on the inside of the mask. It is all really well planned and the pieces all push easily out of the pages, but are all well secured into the book until needed. The pieces are all clearly numbered and labelled and the tabs are large enough to easily glue and attach to each other. The book comes in a stylish slipcase which gives that extra special expensive feel and is a great way of ensuring all pieces are kept together until needed.

The finished mask looks fantastic and it would look great on a wall for all die-hard Games of Thrones fans. 

There is also a house family tree and information about the family within the book giving fans extra details about their favourite houses within the series.

This would make a great gift for any Games of Thrones fans this Christmas time, either as a book and kit for them to make - all that needs to be added is strong glue (I would recommend a PVA glue rather than a glue stick) or as a pre-made model.

Thank you to the publishers, Carlton Books for sending me the book to review in return for an honest review.

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Periodic Table Book - A visual encyclopedia of the elements (DK Books)

The Periodic Table Book: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Elements (Hardback)

The Periodic Table Book is the perfect visual guide to the chemical elements that make up our world.
This eye-catching encyclopedia takes children on a visual tour of the 118 chemical elements of the periodic table, from argon to zinc. It explores the naturally occurring elements, as well as the man-made ones, and explains their properties and atomic structures.
Using more than 1,000 full-colour photographs, The Periodic Table Book shows the many natural forms of each element, as well as a wide range of both everyday and unexpected objects in which it is found, making each element relevant for the child's world.

DK Books are a go to publisher for anyone with school age children, They are jam packed full of useful information on a range of subjects and contain those nuggets of information that will add that little something to a piece of homework and make it top of the pile. Their books are always really well put together, full of pages jam packed full of information which is displayed using a range of presentation methods which capture a child's attention and encourages them to research further.
When my children have homework research projects they always head straight to the internet and say they will 'Google it' however if I have a DK book on the topic, they will look at it and often use the information within to add to their project.
The book begins with a comprehensible introduction to what are elements, inside an atom before introducing the periodic table and then on to reactions and their uses. The rest of the book includes double page spreads on many of the elements and smaller sections on the rarer elements. It categorises the elements into their groups and talks about the common properties. Each element is included and has sections on their forms and uses. Their are really interesting facts about the element and it is all written in child friendly language which future scientists will love to read and learn about.
This is the perfect gift for any little scientists and would make a great addition to any science shelf or reference shelf or in a science laboratory or school library. As ever a brilliant book from DK Books.

I received this book from the Amazon Vine Programme in return for an honest review

13 1/2 Incredible Things you need to know about everything

131/2 Incredible Things You Need to Know About Everything (Hardback)

his myth-busting visual encyclopedia will amaze kids with 13 things they need to know about every topic they love and one "half fact" that dispels a common misconception or half-truth.
Extraordinary images and irresistible fact snippets on each topic spread--from space to gemstones to the food we eat--make learning fun, but it's the "131/2" fact that kids will be most eager to know. Does cracking your knuckles really cause arthritis? Do ligers really exist? Are scorpions really deadly to humans? The answers to these questions and many others are revealed and will have kids digging for even more information behind the truths.
A perfect gift for curious young minds, 131/2 Incredible Things You Need to Know About Everything will stimulate the imagination of young readers, satisfy their thirst for knowledge, and allow them to look at the universe from a new perspective as they explore a wide variety of topics and discover the truth.

DK Books are a go to publisher for anyone with school age children, They are jam packed full of useful information on a range of subjects and contain those nuggets of information that will add that little something to a piece of homework and make it top of the pile. Their books are always really well put together, full of pages jam packed full of information which is displayed using a range of presentation methods which capture a child's attention and encourages them to research further.
When my children have homework research projects they always head straight to the internet and say they will 'Google it' however if I have a DK book on the topic, they will look at it and often use the information within to add to their project.
This book is entitled 13 1/2 incredible things you need to know about ...... and that 1/2 thing is just what I mean as the added bonus you get from DK Books! The book covers a wide range of topics covering science, geography, history, technology, English and just about every school subject. Each topic has a full double page spread and contain 13 1/2 interesting and useful facts that children will want to know about the topic. The facts are not always the need to know facts, or the facts which can easily be found on the internet when doing a search, but facts which would take a more indepth search into the project.
Each double page spread is full of colour and pictures, not dominated by the words and will capture a child's attention within minutes.
I strongly recommend this book as a must for a reference shelf either at home or in a school library and is great for children and adults alike to learn more about the topics that interest them. It would be a great gift to give to a child this Christmas time.
I received this book through the Amazon Vine programme.