The Flowerpot Witch (A Wendy Woo Witch Lit Novel Book 3) by Wendy Steele #BlogTour #BookReview (@WendyWooauthor) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #BookBlog #BookBloggers

The Flowerpot Witch

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Flowerpot Witch by Wendy Steele and I want to say a big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part. Make sure you scroll down to the end of the review to enter a giveaway for one of three copies of the book.

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“Lizzie Martin has chosen pottery to be her new career…

But the teacher from hell threatens to thwart her ambitions before she starts.

She has support from her best friend Louise and Evan, another pottery tutor, but Rowan, her fifteen year old daughter is restless, Josh, her ex-husband is colluding with her aunt and though her mother is alive, access to her is forbidden. When The Morrigan appears in her sacred circle, Lizzie knows she has a battle on her hands.

There is hope though.

Stardust the chicken brings a new creature into Lizzie’s life and a long awaited meeting with her Aunt Matilda brings Lizzie’s past into perspective.

Lizzie’s magic ventures beyond The Sanctuary, into the Welsh landscape and the realms of the fae.”

As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I had to read it. I just love the cartoony witch legs and that cat reminds me of my own dusky ‘familiar’, Barney. Isn’t he handsome?

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However, the cover of this book is deceptive and it turned out not be be what I expected at all. It was far more deep and complicated than the light-hearted read I was expecting and dealt with a very twisted family history and mature relationship issues which took a lot more concentration than I had anticipated.

Lizzie Martin is a witch, but not in a storybook, fantasy sense but a proper, modern day pagan sense which is not really reflected in the fun cover of the book. She lives her life fully in accordance with these principles and that theme of the book was absolutely fascinating to me. I’m really intrigued by aspects of these practices, particularly the Tarot, and really enjoyed reading a novel that approached these issues as valid themes to be explored seriously, not treated with disdain or dismissal or as a comic element. I wish more books approached different beliefs with an open mind, it would make the world a much more tolerant and happy place!

Aside from the magical element, the book focuses mainly on relationship’s between Lizzie and her family and friends. Lizzie’s family is extremely complicated and, unfortunately, I found this history a little difficult to sort out because this is book three in a series and I have not read books and and two where it would appear a lot of the history has been established. I would say that reading these books in order is essential to get the most enjoyment out of them as I spent a lot of mental energy trying to work out who everyone was and what had happened in the past that influenced their behaviour. There is some attempt at including back story to explain things but it did not work effectively for me, and there were a huge number of characters referred to in the opening chapters will minimal introduction, which was confusing. I think I managed to get it all sorted out eventually, but not until the very end of the book and the time spent trying to work it all out prevented me getting engaged with the book in the way I would have liked to from the beginning and I could not fully relax into it.

That being said, the main characters in the book are appealing and likeable and I warmed to them immediately. The relationship between Lizzie and her teenage daughter, Rowan, was beautifully drawn and completely authentic to me as mother/step-mother to five daughters, the eldest two just reaching this age. I could totally relate to the  energies and issues between them. Lizzie’s struggles as a single mum trying to balance the needs of her daughter, trying to start a business, a new relationship and the needs of friends and family is so familiar to me, and her resentment at constantly having to put her own needs and desires last with no one to consider what she might want is one any mother can relate to I am sure. We all need to channel a bit of The Morrigan from time to time, I think!

I was left at the end of the book wanting to know what happens next with regard to Lizzie’s family issues and her new relationship, which I am still not sure about, and I will go back and read the first two books in the series. I found this a refreshingly original book with a magical theme explored in a way very different to anything in the mainstream. The book leapt around a bit in parts in a way that made it a little confusing at times and I would say it is essential to read books one and two to get the most out of this but the book is definitely appealing and I look forward to another one, I hope.

The Flowerpot Witch is out now and you can buy a copy here. You can buy Book One, The Naked Witch here. Book Two in the series is The Orphan Witch can be purchased here.

To enter the draw to win one of three copies of this book, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949492/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

If you would like to follow the rest of the blog tour, the details are below:

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About the Author

The Flower Pot Witch - Wendy

Wendy Steele is author, wise woman, goddess. She is writer, dance teacher, mother and healer. 

Her passion is magic.

‘The Lilith Trilogy’ leads the reader along the paths of the witches Qabalah, following Angel Parson’s story of betrayal, retribution and redemption. Her magical story contains high magic as well as pagan ritual. 

‘The Standing Stone Book Series’ focuses on the lives of three women linked together across time and space by the standing stone. The countryside is the focus of their magic, embracing the gods and goddesses, tree spirits, elves and fairies. 

Her latest series, The Wendy Woo Witch Lit Series, begins with The Naked Witch. Lizzie Martin, receptionist, single mother and witch, is asked by her new boss to conform and embrace the corporate dress code. The reality of paisley to pin stripe, an unexpected stay in hospital, monitoring of her fourteen year old daughter’s latest crush, the search for the truth about her father’s death and two new men in her life, give Lizzie plenty of plates to spin. In the Orphan Witch, Lizzie is grieving while trying to find her real mother and the truth about her father and in the third book, The Flowerpot Witch, due to be published on 21st June, she embarks on a new career, thwarted at every step by those around her. 

You can hear Wendy telling her short stories in Pan’s Grotto on her Welsh riverbank, on her YouTube channel, The Phoenix and the Dragon.

Wendy’s non-fiction title ‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles’ offers the reader 101 ideas to bring a smile to every day.

Wendy lives in Wales with her partner, Mike, and cats. If she’s not writing or teaching dance, you’ll find her renovating her house, clearing her land or sitting on her riverbank, breathing in the beauty of nature.

Connect with Wendy:

Website: https://wendysteele.com

Facebook: Wendy Steele

Twitter: @WendyWooauthor

Goodreads: Wendy Steele

The Date by Louise Jensen #BookReview (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture #PublicationDay #TheDate #NetGalley #FictionCafeWriters

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“One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her… “

Publication Day for the fourth book by my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer, Louise Jensen. Happy publication day, Louise, I hope it has been fabulous.

My partner doesn’t read fiction and we often have conversations where we discuss why I love it and he doesn’t. His main argument seems to be that he doesn’t see the point of reading ‘made up stories’ and he likes to read non-fiction. Putting aside my counter-argument as to why he doesn’t feel the same about the sometimes ridiculously OTT movies and TV shows he is prepared to watch (also, made up stories!), the main thrust of my rebuttal would be that good fiction books will always hold some kernel of truth about the world and human experience. Without that, we can’t relate to them and they won’t draw us in, and I have learned a lot from a well-researched book, even if it is fiction.

This book is a case in point. Before I saw the pre-release information about this book and heard the author talking about it, I had never heard of prosopagnosia or facial blindness, never mind how common it is. This is a fascinating hook for the book to revolve on and the author has done a great job of portraying the daily hurdles that someone suffering from this condition has to contend with and the hardships that brings. Imagine not being able to recognise your own face, or the people you love. How would you be able to trust that people are who they say they are? I found the whole subject, and how the main characters learns skills to compensate fascinating.

This is also a really powerful premise on which to base a psychological thriller and this one does not disappoint. If you have read any of Louise’s books before, you will know what to expect and I think her writing is just getting better and better. This book twists and turns like an eel, you think you know what is happening but then she throws another curveball at you, and then another, until your head is spinning right up until the final chapter.

The real skill of this book is making something disturbing out of an every day environment, making the reader believe that this could actually be happening to someone they know, in their street. None of us know what goes on behind a suburban front door. You hear it every day in the papers when the neighbours of the latest villain to hit the front page are all interviewed and are surprised to hear what he/she is accused of because they always seemed so ‘quiet and normal’. Who knows what Mr. Jones from number 15 is up to in this garage? When might your path cross with his in a case of bad karma? These thoughts are more creepy to me than an exaggerated horror film because of the banal possibilities. It’s enough to give you nightmares and this author taps into that brilliantly.

I found the main characters in this book very relatable, more so perhaps than in Louise’s last book, which allowed me to be carried right into the heart of the story from the beginning. I really cared what happened to her and my heart was in my mouth, racing to the end of the novel as fast as possible to find out her fate. Pace of page-turning is the mark of a great thriller and my eyes and fingers were whirring, resenting the everyday intrusions that made me put the book down for the odd minute.

This is a great book in this genre, probably her best yet, and you should definitely pick up a copy today.

The Date is out today and you can buy a copy here.

If you want to know more about facial blindness, check out the video on Louise’s website.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Connect with Louise:

Twitter: @fab_fiction
Goodreads: Louise Jensen

Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro #BlogTour #BookReview (@porcarorama) @unbounders @annecater #DiscoSour #RandomThings Tours

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“A politician addicted to dating apps embarks on an existential odyssey to save democracy from being swiped away.

In the aftermath of a continental civil-war, nation-states have collapsed, the European Union™ holds on, preventing anarchy. 
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a leading member of The Federation®, the European network of civil society and local governments. Bastian has just been unexpectedly dumped through an app, the BreakupShop™ service. Heavy hearted, he just wants to drink, get on with work and forget his romantic woes. 

However, he discovers that Nathan Ziggy Zukowsky is planning to sell Plebiscitum®, a dating-style app that is meant to replace elections with a simple swipe, at the same conference he is invited to attend in Chile. Haunted by the ghosts of his recent relationship, he finds himself without his all-important Morph® phone, just a few hours before embarking on his trip to try to save democracy. 

Will he make it to his conference on the other side of the world? Will he stop Zukowsky from selling his app? And will he ever find a way to deal with his breakup?”

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro. A big thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for allowing me to take part in the tour for this unique book.

One of the aims I had when I started volunteering for blog tours was to find new genres and books that I would not normally choose in a book store and to push my reading out of its comfort zone, to stretch my literary horizons. This book marks the zenith of that goal so far.

We are dropped into a dystopian future, around one thousand years from now, as seen through the eyes of the main protagonist, Bastian Balthazar Bux. There has been a civil war in Europe which has destroyed the previous political delineations and the new zones are struggling to set up a different type of society. Balthazar is head of a European organisation that is trying to establish its influence in the new world order and he must travel from Eastern Europe across the globe to a conference in Chile, where he will launch an initiative to cement his organisation’s place in the international arena, and prevent the adoption of a political system run entirely by technology that he fears will effectively destroy democracy. Are you with me so far?

Despite the importance of this mission, Balthazar is side-tracked by his love life. He has just been dumped by an app which effectively wipes all your relationship history and contact with your former partner – the ultimate form of ‘ghosting’ – and this leads him to reflect on his previous relationship with Janine. Throw in the journey from hell where he keeps missing flights, has no sleep, and the fact that he has lost his phone, which is an even more tragic event in a world entirely beholden to technology, and Balthazar is having a hellish time.

This book is rich soup of events, memories, flashbacks, virtual conversations, dreams and hallucinations that had my head spinning and trying to figure out which parts were real and which were delusions, which was the authors clever way of reflecting the increasingly disoriented state that Balthazar finds himself in during his nightmare trip. I have never done drugs and this book is about as close as I imagine I am going to get to tripping.

One of the main themes of the book is the increasing reliance on technology and how far we should let it take over our lives, the dangers of becoming dependent on it for everything to the point where there is no longer such a thing as free will. This has been explored in books and films before but, despite the feeling on general unreality in the narration of this book, its predictions feel all too scarily possible. This coupled with the background of a disintegration of Europe and how the resultant power struggle might play out brings the story uncomfortably close to home in the current political climate we find ourselves in. Whilst reading the book, I had the same sense of unease I felt when first reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the feeling that the dystopian future portrayed in the book was not beyond the realms of possibility.

The main difference between this and many other dystopian books is the strong thread of humour running through the novel. You could boil this book down to being a story of misadventure in travel (if you ignored all the surrounding political themes) and we all know how funny stories of travel mishaps can be. The dating disasters were also relatable and amusing, and the humour lifts the whole book to a lightness that makes reading about some serious and thought-provoking topics easier. The sugar encasing the pill.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It has a style and subject matter outside the mainstream which I think a lot of people will shy away from. There are elements that make it tricky to read (the constant inclusion of trademark and copyright symbols in the text is distracting and seems odd and unnecessary to begin with, disrupting the reading flow, which annoyed me until I got to the explanation for it a third of the way through). However, it is a book that pays off for anyone willing to put in the effort and it addresses a lot of topical and relevant issues for today and tomorrow.

Disco Sour is out now in both paperback and digital format and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the tour and get a different take on the book, here are the details:

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About the Author

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As a political geographer, Giuseppe has always been interested in how the intersection between technology and politics is moving towards uncharted territories in the future. He has recently published a series of scientific articles about how the internet of things and algorithms will change policymaking. DISCO SOUR is his first experiment with fiction. it has been inspired by a mission to Chile he had in 2013. Back then, he was Secretary General of the European Youth Forum, the platform of youth organisations advocating for youth rights. And on his way to Santiago, he missed three connecting flights across two continents within the span of 72 hours.

Giuseppe works now as the head of communications for Bruegel, an international think tank specialised in economic policy. During the rest of the time, he DJs, reads, dreams, writes.

Connect with Giuseppe and Disco Sour:

Website: http://discosour.net

Facebook: Disco Sour

Twitter: @porcarorama

Instagram: @porcarorama

Goodreads: Giuseppe Porcaro

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#BlogTour The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane- Part One: New Beginnings by Emily Harvale #BookReview (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #LilyPondLane

Cottage on Lily Pond Lane Blog Tour

Happy to be taking my turn on the blog tour for Part one of Emily Harvale’s new series The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane today. Part One of the four part serial is called New Beginnings. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the tour.

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“Mia Ward is amazed to be told she has inherited her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda.

She’s even more astonished to discover she’ll only inherit the place if she actually lives there for one year. Mia’s a city girl at heart, not to mention she’s afraid of water, so the fact the cottage backs on to a sandy beach, is not, in her opinion, a bonus.

But Mia’s struggling to pay her rent since being fired for inappropriate behaviour at the office party, and her boyfriend’s also dumped her. When her best friend, Ella and Ella’s brother, Garrick offer to help her move and settle in, Mia decides to see this as a new beginning.

It may also be the start of an exciting adventure because now Mia wants to know just who, exactly, was great-aunt Matilda. And she’s determined to find out. But it soon becomes clear that someone is trying to make sure Mia doesn’t stay in Little Pondale….”

This is part one of a four-part serialisation of Emily Harvale’s new book and, as such, it is a super quick read if you are looking for something to squeeze in to a lazy couple of hours in a sunny garden with a glass of Pimms to hand (this would be my highly recommended way of reading it!). I raced through it, largely because it is a great, fun read.

Mia stands to inherit Sunbeam Cottage on Lily Pond Lane in Little Pondale from an great-aunt she never knew existed if she lives in it for a year first. This doesn’t look like it is going to be any hardship since the cottage is gorgeous (I’d move in today, just for the attic) and backs right on to a sandy beach with sea views in the lovely village of Little Pondale that is packed to the rafters with gorgeous, single, rugby-playing bachelors. If she stays the year, she will also inherit a fortune. What a terrible burden!

So far, so preposterous but this book is so absolutely charming, cute and funny that you can forgive the stretch and suspend your disbelief enough to just sit back and enjoy the ride. We all love a bit of escapism from time to time, let’s face it. Emily then throws at us a nosy and annoying neighbour, the mystery of why Mia knew nothing about Great-Aunt Mattie but she seemed to know all about Mia and who will inherit the estate if Mia doesn’t see out the year so there is a great deal to pique the reader’s interest. Plus, did I mention the plethora of gorgeous, single rugby-playing bachelors yet? I did? Well, it bears repeating I think.

There are also hints that Little Pondale may not be quite the sleepy hamlet that Mia and her friends first assume with suggestions of paganism, curses and other shenanigans in store. A lot gets packed in to a short read.

I already have my suspicions about who the unknown beneficiary might be so I’ll be interested to see if I’m right. Roll on Part Two. Oh, look, it’s out now! Watch out for my review of that coming soon.

The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part One: New Beginnings is out now and you can buy a copy here. Part Two: Summer Secrets is also available now and can be purchased here.

If you would like to follow the rest of the blog tour, you can find the details below:

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About the Author

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Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.
Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

Website: https://www.emilyharvale.com/

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale

 

#BlogTour Just by Jenny Morton Potts #BookReview (@jmortonpotts) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #BookBlog #BookBloggers

Just

I’m delighted to be on the opening day of the blog tour for Just by Jenny Morton Potts today and I want to say a big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part. Make sure you scroll down to the end of the review to enter a giveaway for one of five copies of the book.

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How far would you go to save a life?

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea. 

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.”

This is a difficult novel to categorise. It is described as a heart stopping thriller and at its basic core, that is what it is, but I felt it went beyond that. To me it seemed to be written very tongue in cheek which lifted it out of the general thriller genre and into something unique of of its own. Suffice it to say, this is very different to anything else I have read, to the point I can’t actually think of anything to liken it to, which is refreshing.

This is a book that takes a little while to warm up and draw you in and I think that is partly because it jumps around very quickly from location to location and character to character, so it takes a while for the reader to make a connection to the individuals in the story. The timeline is also jerky and disjointed, hopping from date to date in uneven leaps. The plot twists and turns and ends up in unexpected places and you need to do some work on occasion to work out how it got there. It is a book you really need to concentrate on to keep up with what is happening to each character at any given moment. It is not a particularly restful book, not for a lazy brain or a period of desired idleness of thought; it requires an investment of thought, a stretching of the cerebral matter but I think this is warranted and to be encouraged, given the subject matter and it is worth the investment of effort.

The characters are complex and, save for Scott, not necessarily particularly likeable but this does not prevent us being drawn into their stories, because they are realistically flawed and intriguing. I was left at the end still with some ambiguous feelings for a couple of them, but this just fitted in with the whole tone of the book. Nothing about fits into a neat and easy box that you can just close the lid on once you are done. It leaves you with as many questions as it answers and I was thinking about it long after I finished the final page.

The subject matter of the book is topical and very relevant, but does not make for easy reading and the author does not shy away from giving us the full visceral experience of the scenes she is describing. Some of the language is blunt and earthy and readers should prepare themselves for that but it is totally justified, not gratuitous and the author really brings the scenes to life, scenes which we may as people in our comfy, safe havens be aware of but shy away from imagining too vividly. The author isn’t allowing us to do that, she is slapping us in the face with some harsh and unpleasant realities that make for uncomfortable but possibly necessary reading in the current environment.

The main thing I loved about this book was her use of language. The author has a way of describing everyday sights in a succinct but novel way that you may not have thought of before but completely encapsulated what she was trying to say and I could immediately and very clearly picture what she was describing. I went through highlighting some of my favourite phrases: “the panic of real life locked back in their cars at the NCP”, “something of a busty Uriah Heep”, “The kind of person who would take the low offer on The Chase” (don’t you immediately despise that person?), “the frill of the sea”, “the contents scampering up the sides of the glass as his hand shook’, ‘gentle slopes of spices’, I could go on and on. The author is obviously having great fun with language and description and I delighted in her delight of it. My very favourite part involved an inexperienced person handling a baby, it made me laugh out loud with glee at how brilliantly she brought the experience to life.

This book is different, challenging, rewarding and will linger in my mind for a good while. I would recommend it as a very meaningful read.

Just is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To enter the draw to win one of five copies of this book, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949489/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

I think this is a book that will illicit very different responses in each reader so if you would like to see what my fellow bloggers made of it, please follow the tour:

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About the Author

Just - jenny

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Connect with Jenny:

Website: http://www.jennymortonpotts.com/

Facebook: Jenny Morton Potts

Twitter: @jmortonpotts

Goodreads: Jenny Morton Potts

 

Somewhere Beyond The Sea by Miranda Dickinson #BookReview (@wurdsmyth) @panmacmillan #PublicationDay #SomewhereBeyondTheSea #TeamSparkly

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Can you fall in love with someone before you’ve even met?

Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. Trying to save the Cornish seaside business her late father built – while grieving for his loss – she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling. Until she discovers a half-finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes.

Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he’s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope.

Seren and Jack are searching for their missing pieces. But when they meet in real life, it’s on the opposing sides of a battle. Jack is managing the redevelopment of a local landmark, and Seren is leading the community campaign to save it.

Both have reason to fight – Seren for the cause her father believed in, Jack for his livelihood. But only one can win. With so much at stake, will they ever find what they are really looking for?”

Today I’m doing my little book blogger happy dance because it is FINALLY publication day for Miranda Dickinson’s new book Somewhere Beyond The Sea, which I have been waiting for with great impatience FOREVER! Well, not forever, but certainly since last October when I got a taster of the book in Miranda’s Christmas novella Christmas in St. IvesSo, happy Publication Day at last, lovely Miranda, I hope you have had a fabulous sparkly day. (If anyone wants to know what my happy dance looks like, it goes a bit like this):

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The book focuses on the character of Seren, a girl struggling with the grief of recently losing her father whilst trying to keep his ailing business afloat and saving a local landmark in his memory. We meet her early one morning as she is trawling her favourite beach in Cornwall for seaglass to make her jewellery. (No, I had no idea what seaglass was either until I read Miranda’s book). She finds a half-finished star on the beach, made out of seaglass, and decides to finish it off.

The star had been made by local builder Jack, struggling after the death of his wife and with financial difficulties, and his young daughter, Nessie. When they find the star completed, their delight leads them to start a magical game of leaving half-finished stars on the beach for their mystery friend to complete.

Nessie believes a magical being is completing the stars for her. Seren and Jack too find magic in the innocent and beautiful exchange of stars that has no purpose other than to bring joy to them all, and a little respite each day from their cares. I found magic too, between the pages of this book.

This book is so beautiful, and peppered with enchantment from the first page to the last. From the beginning, the concept behind the book of the simple joy of unknown strangers doing a simple thing for no reason other than to bring another person joy, made my heart sing but at the same time Miranda’s portrayal of Seren’s grief was so real that I could feel it underlying everything. I was right there with her through every page, feeling everything she was feeling and silently hoping that everything would come good for her in the end. The writing is so good, you can’t help but get involved.

Jack is a man torn between so many emotions that he can’t even identify half the time and this makes him a flawed and interesting and ultimately worthy potential love interest for Seren. This is no cardboard cut out romantic hero, this man has baggage and flaws and he makes mistakes. In other words, he feels like a real person, which I loved. Miranda focuses more on the personalities and emotions of her characters, rather than making them muscle-bound, lantern-jawed heroes and shapely, winsome heroines who roll out of bed looking perfect. Like I said, these are real people. (I enjoyed the part where she is describing Jack’s stiffness after a day or hard labour!)

There are a host of other great characters in this book; Jack’s daughter, Nessie and Seren’s friend, Aggie being two of my favourites, but the other focal point of interest is St. Ives itself. This is obviously a place the author loves, as she describes it so vividly and with such passion that you can see it quite clearly and, if you are anything like me, yearn to visit immediately. However, despite the picturesque setting, this novel doesn’t shy away from tough topics, including grief, the difficulty of being a single parent, and the financial hardships that businesses in seasonal communities can face. In other words, this is a book set in Cornwall but it sets itself apart from some by having a real depth to both the characters and the story.

I loved this book, I couldn’t put it down. It really touched me with joy and heartbreak and magic and concern and tension, but ultimately, my abiding feeling was optimism. It is a book that is worth the investment of time reading it, and it is one I will be popping on my shelf to return to when I need a book filled with emotion and hope.

Somewhere Beyond The Sea is out today and you can buy a copy here.

My thanks to Pan Macmillan for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. From an early age she dreamed of writing a book that would make the heady heights of Kingswinford Library and today she is a bestselling author. She began to write in earnest when a friend gave her The World’s Slowest PC, and has subsequently written the bestselling novels Fairytale of New York, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take A Look At Me Now, I’ll Take New York and A Parcel for Anna Browne. Miranda lives with her husband Bob and daughter Flo in Dudley.

Connect with Miranda:

Website: https://miranda-dickinson.com

Facebook: Miranda Dickinson Author

Twitter: @wurdsmyth

Instagram: @wurdsmyth

 

 

The Bakery at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke #BookReview (@karenclarke123) @bookouture #TheBakeryAtSeashellCove #NetGalley

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“A warm welcome and delicious chocolate gateau are always on the menu at the Bakery at Seashell Cove – and this summer, romance is in the air…

Meg Larson thought she had everything she wanted: she works in the local bakery, she’s months away from marrying her high-school sweetheart, and home is beautiful, sunny Seashell Cove, where the sky is blue, the sea is turquoise and the sand is golden.

Except that the bakery is up for sale and her fiancé Sam’s more interested in bikes than their relationship. When Meg receives shocking news about her family, he’s on a cycling tour and ignoring her calls – and posting selfies on Facebook with a female cyclist he looks far too cosy with…

Luckily the bakery’s estate agent, Nathan, is understanding and funny, and as the summer goes on an unexpected friendship blossoms. When the bakery is given a second lease of life under a mysterious new owner, Meg realises a change might be exactly what she needs too.

Will Meg find the happy-ever-after she dreams of in Seashell Cove?”

This is my first book by this author although I have been meaning to read one of her books for a while as the covers are so alluring, don’t you think? This one perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the book which is a deliciously sweet, summery read.

I love the character os Meg, she is so warm and friendly but slightly hapless and I was rooting for her to get everything she wanted, which is mainly to run The Old Bakery at Seashell Cove – closed since its elderly owner died – which is now up for sale. This is more than Meg’s self-obsessed fiancé, Nathan, wants. He is too wrapped up in his obsession with cycling and being babied by his mother to take much interest in what Meg wants.

Meg is given an amazing opportunity to boost the bakery’s profile when she appears on TV. I really enjoyed this segment of the book, it was terribly funny and a great way to set up other aspects of the story.

The book has twists and turns in the way of Meg’s complicated family and a little whodunnit which keeps us guessing until the end. This is all done in a gentle, amusing way but it keeps the book rolling along nicely.

Meg’s future mother-in-law is a complete horror from who I would have run screaming a lot sooner than Meg did but she provides some great comic moments. There are a lot of fun characters in this book, include a bitchy sister, friendly baker and Meg has a couple of fabulous friends who obviously have their own stories.

The whole thing is an undemanding, easy, fun read, perfect for a hot summer’s day on a sun lounger with a glass of something cool within reach. I can’t wait to catch up on Karen Clarke’s back catalogue.

The Bakery at Seashell Cove is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Karen-Clarke-author-pic-500-32ci6uuhu0xsqxlzqkkav4

After giving up her job as a library assistant, Karen now writes full-time. She’s had over 300 stories published in women’s magazines in the UK and abroad, and has written three paranormal romantic comedies, published by Little, Brown/Corsair. When she’s not writing she reads avidly, walks dogs at her local rescue centre, and is eagerly awaiting the next season of The Walking Dead. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children.

Connect with Karen:

Website: https://www.karenclarkewriter.com

Facebook: Karen Clarke Writer

Twitter: @karenclarke123

Instagram: @karenanne37