Challenge Participant


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Blog Tour - The Wild Air by Rebecca Macsull

The Wild Air (Hardback)In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed. When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother's aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her. But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything - and everyone - Della loves.Uplifting and page-turning, THE WILD AIR is a story about love, loss and following your dreams against all odds.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
ISBN: 9781473604438

I have always been a fan of Rebecca Mascull's books and I know that I am in for a good read with scenes where I get lost in the moment and The Wild Air, Rebecca's third novel, again transported me to Edwardian England where planes are taking the world by storm and there are, of course, mixed feelings about these new machines. The Great War is approaching and female pilots are increasing in number. 
I really enjoy Rebecca's writing style and as I previously said, I was transported into Edwardian England and I found myself liking the characters within this book. I really liked the characters of Adeliza, Della and Dawnay and enjoyed their wit along with their flamboyant style of speech. 
I think this book is a great tribute to the world's first female pilot and I am in real awe of the ladies who made this possible.

Thank you to the publishers, Hodder and Stoughton, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Blog Tour - The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

The Stars are Fire (Hardback)The brilliantly gripping new novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Pilot's Wife (an Oprah's Book Club selection). Hot breath on Grace's face. Claire is screaming, and Grace is on her feet. As she lifts her daughter, a wall of fire fills the window. Perhaps a quarter of a mile back, if even that. Where's Gene? Didn't he come home? 1947. Fires are racing along the coast of Maine after a summer-long drought, ravaging thousands of acres, causing unprecedented confusion and fear. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her difficult and unpredictable husband Gene joins the volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, the women watch in horror as their houses go up in flames, then walk into the ocean as a last resort. They spend the night frantically trying to save their children. When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless, and left to face an uncertain future. As Grace awaits news of her husband's fate, she is thrust into a new world in which she must make a life on her own, beginning with absolutely nothing; she must find work, a home, a way to provide for her children. In the midst of devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms - joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain - and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens, and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9781408702987
This is the first Anita Shreve I have read in some time and it is definitely not going to be my last. I was drawn in to the story from the very start. I really liked Anita's style of writing, it is very atmospheric and I found myself living through the drought, snow and the fire. I really enjoyed reading about the style of living on the US coastline during 1947 and the dynamics within the families. It was a time where men went out to work and women stayed at home looking after the children and keeping house, however I think that life in America was different to that within postwar UK.

 I felt the story had a strong storyline, with characters who I sympathised with and I really felt for Claire, two young children and then pregnant with a third, which was conceived in violent circumstances. It is evident from the start that family life was not a happy place with Gene marrying Claire after loosing the love of his life. 

After the fire, life changes for the neighbourhood and while Gene is lost Claire has the oppurtunity to stand up and make things better for her family. The mysterious pianist who Claire finds squatting in the home previously owned by her mother in law, is the sunshine in her life for a short time but when he leaves Claire continues to work hard and gains independence making a better life for her and her family. However this is short lived when the police turn up on her doorstep and Claire's fortunes change again and a difficult decision must be made.

I really enjoyed the story and I think that although the story is set in 1947 and in America it is still relevant today. Women across the world are living in fear, with husbands who take charge or monopolise their families, leaving women and children living in daily fear (of course many men are also living in abusive relationships), however stories like this show that these relationships can be escaped and people can have a life after their fear. 

I think this is one of those books that could give many of its readers a positive message that things can improve and I hope that it is a book that is shared because it it a great story but also one that can give hope,

Thank you to the publishers, Little Brown, for inviting me onto this book tour in return for an honest review. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Blog Tour - The Beachside Flower Stall by Karen Clarke

The Beachside Flower Stall: A Feel Good Romance to Make You Laugh Out Loud - Beachside Bay 2 (Paperback)Carrie Dashwood fled Dorset ten years ago when her best friend Megan stole her love, local heartthrob Tom. Now she’s back to help run her aunt Ruby’s flower stall in idyllic Shipley. 

Trying to persuade herself that her feelings for Tom are in the past, Carrie plans to avoid him and Megan completely. But it’s not to be, because Ruby’s Blooms are arranging the flowers for Megan and Tom’s wedding. 

Soon Carrie’s crawling under the stall to hide and accidentally inventing an imaginary boyfriend... But with the stall’s finances in jeopardy and Ruby needing her niece more than ever, Carrie has to keep her emotions in check.

With bouquets to arrange, family secrets to uncover, and Tom unavoidably a part of her life again, can Carrie keep her cool, save the stall, and find her very own happy ever after?

Publisher: Bookouture
ISBN: 9781786811578

The Beachside Flower Stall is a return to Shipley, the second installment in the the Beachside Bay series. The book contains a whole new cast of characters although a few favourites from The Beachside Sweet Shop pop up too.

I really enjoyed The Beachside Sweet Shop and was looking forward to the second book, although unfortunately this book didn't grab me as quickly. However, I did enjoy the story as it got going, particularly as the meaning behind individual flowers were entwined into the story, reiminscent of Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers.  There are a number of storylines throughout the book but I really enjoyed Ruby's story which was a heartwarming storyline.

There were also a number of times during the book when Karen Clarke's humour shone through and I found myself laughing out loud. 

The book can be read as a standalone novel, however it is the second visit to the beachside town of Shipley and the series is introducing the reader to a great cast of characters who I hope to meet up with again soon.  Karen Clarke has created a great setting and I look forward to returning again soon.

Thank you to the publishers, Bookouture, for inviting me to take part on this blog tour in return for an honest review. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

One Happy Tiger by Catherine Rayner

One Happy Tiger (Board book)

"Catherine Rayner has the marvellous gift for capturing the souls of animals in a few, rich washes of colour." - The Daily Telegraph. Help your toddler learn to count from one to ten with this stylish counting book from Catherine Rayner. The simple text gently touches on themes of happiness, friendship and the natural world, making it the perfect companion to the classic picture book, Augustus and His Smile. With sturdy board pages for little hands to turn, this beautiful tall-format board book encourages your child to practise their first numbers and develop their counting skills - and it's a wonderful gift for babies and toddlers too.
Publisher: Little Tiger Press Group
ISBN: 9781848692343

Catherine Rayner is a fabulous illustrator and one of my favourite books by her is Abigail, about a giraffe who is teaching others to count, and I often read this book at storytime with children.  
One Happy Tiger is about a tiger and is again a book about counting. Catherine has illustrated this book with her stunning illustrations which all feature a tiger, who is beautiful, striking and friendly and are accompanied by butterflies, insects and fish. I would love to have some of Catherine Rayner's artwork on my wall but I love having the books to hand to look through until such a time.
The book is toddler friendly with a sturdy board cover and thick pages for those small hands to enjoy.
Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger, for sending me the book to review. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Blog Tour - The Secrets of Ivy Garden by Catherine Ferguson

Today I am pleased to welcome Catherine Ferguson to my blog as part of her blog tour to celebrate the ebook pubilication of her new book, The Secrets of Ivy Garden.

The Secrets of Ivy Garden (Paperback)

The ebook bestseller is back with her next hilarious read - a fun, fresh tale of love, friendship and family secrets...When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she's at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies - and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy's house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother's belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything...This is a heart-warming and hilarious story from Catherine Ferguson about starting over, learning to garden and most of all learning to love.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008253356

The publishers have kindly shared with me and my blog readers an extract from the book which I hope you all enjoy .....
I want Ivy so much right now, I feel as if my heart will break.

Last time I saw her, she was waving me off on the train back to Manchester.

I remember thinking how elegant she was that day. Normally, Ivy lived in casual trousers and tops. Life was too short, she said, for feeling like a trussed-up goose in the name of fashion. But she’d taken me for an early supper at a nearby pub before driving me to the station in Stroud, which was why she was all dressed up. Right then, on that station platform, she could have passed for a woman in her late fifties. Hard to believe she was seventy-two.

Actually, the way I usually remember her now is in the old gardening garb she used to wear, or in her hiking gear, fresh from walking in the country lanes around Appleton.

A painful lump wedges in my throat.

This is how it happens. I’ll just be starting to think I’m doing okay, coping well, beginning to make plans – then boom! The thought that I’ll never be able to see Ivy or hug her ever again sends a flood of grief washing through me.

Hot tears prick my eyelids. The nails-in-palms trick isn’t working. Then something Ivy used to say zips into my mind: Worry’s like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.

I swallow hard, picturing her giving me one of her no-nonsense pep talks. It’s almost as if she’s sitting right here next to me, a twinkle in her eyes, on the bench in her beloved Ivy Garden. Telling me not to worry because things are never as bad as they seem and I’ll figure it out somehow.

Of course! That’s where I need to be.

Ivy Garden.

Her favourite place in the whole world.

With my eyes still closed, I picture Ivy Garden the last time I saw it, on that final weekend I spent with her.

It was a hot August day. We wandered over the road and squeezed through the gap in the hedge, to the dappled woodland clearing that, over the years, Ivy had transformed into a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity.

She discovered the place years ago, when she was newly married to Peter, my granddad. He died long before I was born, when my mum was only three years old. Ivy never talked about Peter much, except to say he was ‘a good man’. She said that a lot whenever I asked her what he was like, so I still only had a rather hazy impression of him. He was a self-employed accountant and I got the impression he worked really hard. I think Ivy liked to escape the house and leave him in peace with his calculations. More than once, I heard her say laughingly that her ‘secret garden’ had kept her sane during her marriage.

The clearing in the trees was on public land, on the edge of a wood, and Ivy nurtured it into a lovely woodland garden. She planted shrubs, flowers and grasses for every season, so there was a rolling show of colour all year round, from the banks of snow­drops and crocuses as the frosts of winter melted into spring, to the glorious russets of autumn. Many of the villagers knew about the garden and would pop in for a chat while she worked. She often lounged on the old wooden bench reading the blood-curdling thrillers she loved, her feet up, with an old cushion at her back. She never seemed to mind being interrupted.

Someone once referred to it as ‘Ivy Garden’ and the name stuck.

We were there that blisteringly hot afternoon to pick lavender so that Ivy could make her perfumed drawer sachets to sell at the Appleton summer fete. She would run up the tiny white muslin bags on her old sewing machine and then fill them with the evocatively scented dried herb, tying them up with silky pink ribbon. The proceeds would be donated to the village hall commu­nity fund.
After we picked the lavender that day, she set her old gardening trug on the mossy ground and we sank on to the wooden bench under the dappled shade of an oak tree, and drank chilled pear cider straight from the bottle. It was a relief to be out of the sweltering sun and we lingered there a long time, soaking up the birdsong and the buzz of nature, as Ivy Garden weaved its magic around us.

I am currently reading The Secrets of Ivy Garden and am loving it. It is the perfect book to read this spring time and I am loving the descriptive writing of Ivy Garden and wish I could visit it as I think it is the perfect place to sit for a day, in the sun, and read a book and enjoy the peace, quiet and the wildlife and insects that are in the surrounding gardens. 

Thank you to the publishers. Avon, and Catherine for inviting me onto the tour and I will publish my review as soon as i finish the book.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Blog Tour - Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

paperhearts_blog poster copy
Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses (Paperback)'A gorgeous novel that will delight' Katie Fforde A heart-warming and poignant novel of romance, family and second chances, Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is Sunday Times bestselling Carole Matthews at her outstanding best. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson. Christie Chapman is a single mum who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It's not an easy life but Christie finds comfort in her love of crafting, and spends her spare time working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed cards to personalised gifts, Christie's flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it's not long before opportunity comes knocking. Christie can see a future full of hope and possibility for her and Finn - and if the handsome Max is to be believed, one full of love too. It's all there for the taking. And then, all of sudden, her world is turned upside down. Christie knows that something has to give, but can she really give up her dreams and the chance of real love? Will Christie find her happy ending in ...Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9780751560268
Carole Matthews is one of my all time favourite authors and I often recommend her titles to my friends and unsuspecting shoppers in the book aisles and 'Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses' is, in my opinion, one of my top Carole Matthew's novels (along with The Chocolate Lovers series). 
'Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses' is also about another of my favourite pastimes, papercrafting and is based loosely upon the real life story of Christine Emerson, a single parent with an ill child, who is given the oppurtunity of a lifetime and a way to earn a living while continuing with a hobby that she loves. 
Although I had heard about Christine Emerson before this book and loved her work and have watched her on one of the Craft Shopping channels, I really enjoyed the story and it is a great fiction story even if the reader knew nothing about the lady behind the story. The story has a great character list and there is a lovely love story within as well as a strong woman who has as the saying goes, been dealt lemons, but she definitely makes lemonade and does the best thing she can for both herself and her family. 
I really liked the character of Finn, Chrissie's teenage son who is ill, but he is also a strong character who develops throughout the story and encourages his mother to follow her dreams and takes steps to make things happen.
I hope this book introduces lots more new readers to Carole Matthews and also encourages lots of readers to take a step into the papercrafting world. I know that Carole has developed a love for papercrafting and I hope others do too. I really enjoyed reading the book and felt lucky that I could visualise the contents of the boxes of goodies that arrived at Chrissie's house however it is definitely not a necessity of enjoying the book, although if you are a fellow crafter, it may add a few things to your shopping basket. 
Thank you to Carole Matthews and the publishers, Little Brown, for inviting me to be part of the blog tour in return for an honest review of this (fabulous) book. 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Blog Tour - Murder on the Pilgrims Way by Julie Wassmer.

Murder on the Pilgrims Way - Whitstable Pearl Mysteries 4 (Paperback)Pearl receives a surprise present from her mother, Dolly - an early summer break at a riverside manor house that has been recently transformed into an exclusive hotel - the newly named Villa Pellegrini. Pellegrini - the Italian word for pilgrims - reflects the fact that the building lies on the old Pilgrims Way into Canterbury, and Pearl is looking forward to the break, not least because DCI Mike McGuire has been neglecting her due to his work. But when she discovers that she's actually booked in for a cookery course from the Italian celebrity chef, Nico Caruso, she begins to think again ...Pearl doesn't welcome instruction on cookery at the best of times, and certainly not from an arrogant chef like Caruso. She goes along, intent on challenging Caruso's egotism - and a long tradition of men dominating gastronomy - but soon finds herself distracted, not only by her enchanting surroundings but by the disparate selection of guests. She even begins to enjoy Caruso's attentions - and his cookery - until one of the guests goes missing and it becomes clear that murder is on the menu.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9781472124920

Murder on the Pilgrims Way is the latest book in the popular Whitstable Pearl Mystery series and it is a return to the cosy crime genre I enjoy. It is easy to relax and curl up with this book and loose oneself in the book for an entire weekend. Set in Kent, it invites readers into a riverside manor which has recently been refurbished into a posh hotel and it is here that a hotel guest goes missing.
I do not want to go into detail of the story line as I think that one of the best things about this Whitstable Pearl Mystery series is that Wassmer is a fantastic story teller who keeps the reader guessing until the very end, while also providing a story with a great cast of characters. 

Thank you to the publishers, Little Brown, for sending me the book to review and for inviting me to take part in the tour.

Blog Tour - My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

My Name is Leon (Paperback)**A TIMES and INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER** **SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2016** A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you'd least expect to find one. Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum. Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how - just when we least expect it - we manage to find our way home.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780241973387

'My Name is Leon' is one of those books that once read, are never forgotten. It is a beautifully written book which is all about Leon, an nine year old boy who, along with his baby brother, is fostered out, after his mum has an emotional breakdown. Leon has always been the main carer for his brother, and when Social Services decide that it is better for the brothers to be separated, finds it difficult to accept that he is a boy who should be looked after himself. The book is a great insight into the mind of a young boy who looses everything important to him, including his prized possessions of the Action Man figures he received as a present, his young brother and his mother who, although he should of felt resentment towards her for not looking after them both, was worried about her. It is also a great piece of social history, with the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the riots and also the issues of being an Afro-Carribean person living in Great Britain during the time.
The story is told by nine year old Leon and his childish view of the world is a very clever way to tell this story. The things that are important to Leon, his Action Men figures, Curly Wurlys, the one photograph of his young brother are throughout the story and added to the freedom Leon has through the bike his Social Worker gifts to Leon all give a small insight to how Leon is feeling and what he feels unable to express through his conversations with others.

This is a relatively short book, however it is a very thought provoking story which I am sure would be perfect as a book group read. There are many issues and themes which lend themselves to in depth conversations between fellow readers. The book also gives an insight into the fostering and adoption process and gave me much to think about in relation to the issues concerning this.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a book that stays with them long after they have read the last paragraph, however I do recommend that you have some tissues to hand as there are a few heart breaking moments within the book. 

Kit De Waal, the author is taking part in the Unbroken Voices panel event at Chipping Norton Literary Festival on Saturday 29th April 2017. I usually attend this festival and was looking forward to meeting Kit, but am now unable to visit the festival. I hope some of my blog visitors can make the festival - it is a great weekend.

Thank you to the publishers, Penguin, for sending me the book to review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour to celebrate the paperback publication of My Name is Leon. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Blog Tour - The Escape by C L Taylor

The Escape (Paperback)Praise for C.L. Taylor: 'A gripping and disturbing psychological thriller' Clare Mackintosh 'Absorbing and disturbing' Alex Marwood 'Loved it' Fiona Barton 'Claustrophobic, tense and thrilling' Elizabeth Haynes "Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter..." When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't. The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise. What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe - RUN. The Sunday Times bestseller returns with her biggest and best book yet. The perfect read for fans of Paula Hawkins and Clare Mackintosh.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008118075

C L Taylor is a fabulous author - her psychological thrillers keep you on the edge of the seat for the whole book, with many twists and turns throughout the book, which keeps you guessing to the very last moment. I loved this novel and it is definitely one of my must read books of 2017.

The story is told in the present day, with little snippets of information given about Jo's past entwined, leading the reader on a road to discovery. There is a strong mental health storyline throughout the book, an important theme which is prevalent in today's world and Cally has tackled it head on and The Escape is a great example of how people live with it everyday.

There is one thing that I must mention in this review, is the author's descriptive writing of Jo's panic attacks. I suffer from them myself and while reading this book I found myself living through each of Jo's attacks with her. Cally's writing was spot on, panic attacks are scary episodes and I felt every moment of Jo's attack as she worked through it. This all added to the fantastic storyline and meant I had to read just one (or two) more chapters each night.  Also the scene of the beach, which I won't speak much of as I don't like to do spoilers, was expertly written and I found myself on that beach with the characters, living through the terror as the story neared its end.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a book that grabs your attention from page one and doesn't let go. It is a brilliant psychological thriller which is definintely going to be one of my must reads of 2017.

Thank you to the publishers, Avon, for sending me the book to review in return for a place on the Blog Tour and an honest review.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Blog Tour - The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found (Hardback)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? Wonderfully wry, heart-warming and life-affirming, Trisha Ashley's hilarious novel is perfect for fans of romantic comedies by Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell. And it contains recipes!

Trisha Ashley is one of my favourite authors and I eagerly await each year for her latest novel to hit the book shelves and this years was definitely worth the wait. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is the perfect book to curl up with on Sunday. 
I loved the idea of this book, Alice was found on moorland when she was only a few hours old and since then has moved around the country, making friends and finding a job but in the end, always abandoned. This has had an effect on Alice and the last abandonment, her partner who died, but left her a surprise when he passed away, allowed her to buy a cafe, which she bought on a whim, without visiting and on the back of a few photographs, where she can make her mark and carve out her own living. The main draw towards this cafe is that is close to where she was left as a newborn baby and what follows is a lovely, heart warming story about Alice making a life for herself and building up a tea room that people will flock to for a posh and proper afternoon tea. 
As soon as I started the book I was transported to Haworth and I wanted Alice to be happy and find somewhere where she was happy and could build her life. What I really liked was the three separate narrators and story lines - one was Alice, one was Alice's storytelling as an author and the third is a mystery letter writer. These stories are cleverly intertwined and the end result is a clever and heartwarming story which I really enjoyed. Trisha's storytellying is, as always, brilliant with her beautiful writing style. There is a great cast of characters, Alice is the tea room owner, her inherited staff members who are a great duo, the mysterious antique shop owner, Nile, and his adoted family, who take Alice in while the tearoom is being decorated, all come together to create a great story. Coupled with the cast is the great setting which all adds a little mystery to the story of Alice's birth and Alice's hunt for her mother. 
Thank you to the Trisha Ashley and the publisher for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Blog Tour - The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George

An heart-warming story of romance and adventure - and a return to France - from the internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop (500,000 copies sold worldwide)

Marianne Messman longs to escape her loveless marriage to an uncaring husband - an artillery sergeant major named Lothar. On a day trip to Paris, Marianne decides to leap off the Pont Neuf into the Seine, but she is saved from drowning by a homeless man. While recovering in hospital, Marianne comes across a painting of the tiny port town of Kerdruc in Brittany and decides to try her luck on the coast.

In Kerdruc, Marianne meets a host of colourful characters,who all gravitate around the restaurant of Ar Mor. It is this cast of true Bretons who become Marianne's new family, and among whom she will find love once again. But with her husband looking to pull her back to her old life, Marianne is left with a choice: to step back into the known, or to take a huge jump into an exciting and unpredictable future.

I have read Nina George's previous books and fell in love with 'The Little Paris Bookshop' and was excited to be offered a place on 'The Little Breton Bistro's' blog tour, partly because I knew it meant I could bring forward my next visit to France with Nina George as the tour guide once more. 

As I read 'The Little Breton Bistro' I felt myself falling in love with the characters, Marianne is a sixty year old lady who is in a loveless marriage and visits France to find herself and leave her Army Sergeant Major husband behind. This plan starts with a desperate jump into the Seine from a bridge but luckily she is saved by a homeless man and this is where her journey begins as she travels to Kerdruc, a small town she discovers in a  painting. Marianne begins a journey which takes her on an emotional but poignant trip which changes her life for the better.

I really enjoyed this book. I found myself loosing myself for hours as I devoured the book. The book does start with Marianne in a desperate state, contemplating suicide but Marianne soon finds herself enjoying life more and finding herself. She builds up a strong group of friends, who all play a part in building her confidence and resilience, while also developing a love for the French village and leaving her past life behind.

Nina George has a great storytelling style of writing and I would love to visit Kerdruc, although I already feel that I can visualise it. She writes beautiful descriptive prose which, along with Marianne's narrative transports the reader into the location. The story finished with a surprising ending and I am sure I will pick this book up and read it again in the future. I am already looking forward to Nina George's next book and can't wait for my next visit to France but where will the destination be next time?

Thank you to the publishers for sending me this book to review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour to celebrate it's publication. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Blog Tour - the Little Cafe of Second Chances by J. D. Barrett

The Little Cafe of Second Chances (Paperback)

Lucy Muir is leaving her husband. It's complicated. As joint owners and chefs at one of the best restaurants in town making a clean break is tough. But, let's face it, a woman can only take so much cheating, recipe stealing and lack of good grace. Despondently driving around the back streets of Woolloomooloo one night, Lucy happens upon an old, empty terrace that was once the city's hottest restaurant: Fortune. One minute she's peering through grimy windows into an abandoned space, the next she's planning a pop-up bistro. When Lucy fires up Fortune's old kitchen she discovers a little red recipe book that belonged to the former chef, the infamous Frankie Summers. As she cries over the ingredients for Frankie's French Onion Soup, she imagines what Fortune was like in its heyday. It's strange, Lucy can sense Frankie beside her, almost see him there ...This fiery chef, who lived with a passion for food and women in almost equal measure, just might help Lucy cook herself up a better life. But is she brave enough to believe? Charming, heartwarming and just a little bit magical, The Secret Recipe for Second Chances will leave you smiling and hungry for more

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9780349414362
This is the perfect book to cuddle up with this Valentine week. The Little Cafe of Second Chances is one which I want to shout out about and tell all my blog readers to go out and buy it but I also don't want to spoil this beautiful book by giving away any spoilers either.
The book has a number of romances within it but there is also an air of mystery surrounding the storyline which I really enjoyed. The romances are a lovely backdrop to all the food inspired story lines and if this leaves you hungry, don't worry, because there are also lots of recipes throughout the book to have a go at too. J. D. Barrett has a great sense of wit and humour throughout the book and the great cast of characters who the reader meets throughout this story keep the story exciting and enjoyable. 
The story is told from a number of different viewpoints and this added to the story, which switched between the past and present and all added to the air of mystery as the reader is lead on the pathway with twists and turns before the ending which I felt could of been a little stronger however left the reader  happy with the outcome. 

J D Barrett's writing and story telling reminds me in some ways of the magical way that Cecelia Ahern does so well and if you are a fan of Ahern I would definitely recommend that you take a trip to The Little Cafe of Second Chances very soon.
Thank you to the publishers, Piatkus, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour - check out their Twitter feed for the rest of the tour stops. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Blog Tour - Tell me a Lie by C J Carver

Today I am excited to welcome C J Carver to my blog as part of the blog tour to celebrate the publication of her new novel, Tell me a Lie.

Writer’s Willpower.  The top five time wasters and how to beat them.

You’ve made your New Year resolution.  You’re going to write that book.  Or finish that book.  Now all you need is to develop perseverance.

Unless you can lock yourself away in a wilderness cabin for six months, your book will be written while you live your everyday life. I find interruptions are the bane of my life because writing demands a high degree of concentration. Much higher than that required for working in an office, for example.  I’ve learned to protect my concentration because I know how important it is.

1.     Social media has to be the biggest time waster of all time.  However, it is also a fantastic support to writer’s and I couldn’t do without it.  That said, when I’m writing, I’m very strict about my time on Twitter or Facebook (I have an author page so don’t get distracted by personal messages) and set a time limit, maximum forty minutes.

If I’m in the last throes of the book and really gunning it, I’ll post a message apologizing for my silence and saying I’ll be back soon.  Then I can put my head down and write like a demon without feeling pressured.

2.     I never answer the phone.  I put my mobile on silent so I can’t hear when it rings, or when I get a text, Tweet or F/B alert, and check it when I finish writing at the end of the day.  But that’s me, hardcore.  I’d suggest checking things when you have a break, say every two hours.

I find it essential sometimes to leave a message saying I’m writing and that I’ll call whoever it is back.  If you’re just starting out, this has the happy effect of making everyone aware how important writing is to you.

3.     Emails/correspondence/detritus of life.  I make a firm time to do things like paying bills, ordering flowers for Mother’s Day.  Some people recommend not doing anything until your writing is finished for the day, but I prefer it the other way around or when I pause to reflect, my mind isn’t on the book but on the fact I still haven’t changed my electricity provider.

4.     Partners/children/parents & everyone in between.  The best place for everyone when I’m writing, is outside (albeit temporarily).  However, this isn’t always possible and a request for solitude has to be given.

I implement times that are sacrosanct for my writing and find most people are pretty respectful of my need for space and quiet. I know a young mother who locks herself in the bathroom between nine and ten p.m. and woe betide anyone who bothers her.

5.      Housework/shopping/mowing the lawn.  Delegate to others (oooh, what a luxury!)  If this isn’t possible, set specific times (for me it’s Sunday and Thursday mornings) and stick to them.

It’s all about time management, and finding what works for you.  I will say, however, that I think it’s extremely important to make certain times sacrosanct for your writing or the detritus of life will keep chipping away until another year has passed and – shriek of horror! – the book still hasn’t been written.

Good luck!

©CJ Carver 2017

Thank you to C J Carver and her publishers for visiting my blog today. I will be reading Tell me a Lie soon and will be sharing my review on my blog.