Roses of Marrakech by Rachel Clare #BookReview #BlogTour @BookGuild @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #RosesOfMarrakech

Roses of Marrakech

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Roses of Marrakech by Rachel Clare. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Roses of Marrakech is a breath-taking romantic fiction, set between 1944 and 2016. The story follows 36-year-old primary school teacher, Ivy Fielding, who suffers from a lack of self-esteem due to a facial birthmark. Her great-aunt Rose, who has always been her main source of emotional support, has just died, leaving her a bequest as well as her Lavenham cottage to Ivy and her mother. Ivy discovers tragedies in her family’s past while reading her late great-aunt’s diary, and this inspires her to fulfil a childhood dream and she jets off to Marrakech for the summer holidays.

Set against the backdrop of wartime Suffolk and the present-day spice-scented souks of Morocco, Ivy follows a trail of discovery that will change her life and those around her, forever.

But when uncomfortable secrets of the past begin to surface, can she find the courage to confront them, or is it easier to walk away?

I was really keen to review this book as Marrakech is a place I have always wanted to visit and I loved the idea of being immersed in the place via a book whilst I wait to visit in real life. I also love a dual timeline story, so I thought this might tick all my boxes.

The dual timeline worked really well, and the story of Rose and Ivy was immersive and moving. Rose’s wartime experiences were harrowing and heart-rending and made me immensely sad. It is terrible to think what women had to endure in the past, the heartbreak they suffered and the cover ups that caused rifts in families for generations. Equally, in the modern day, Ivy’s struggles and insecurities were emotive, I really connected with both of them and the love between the two women flowed off the page, making the revelations in the book even more poignant.

The parts set in Morocco did not disappoint, the author managed to bring the streets and souks of Marrakech to life and transport me right there. I could feel the sun on my skin, smell the rich spices and hear the clamour of the crowds. Through the novel, we explore all the major sights and attractions of the area, and you feel like you are taking the trip with Ivy and living her dream with her.

I have to say, there was a section in the middle of the book that was a little repetitive which slowed the pace. There was too much detail about what Rose was wearing and what she was having for every meal and it did make the middle section of the book drag somewhat and make me wish we could get back to the action, some judicious editing in this part would have helped a little. I did find the author had an odd turn of phrase in parts too, which made me stop and took me out of the story for a few moments, which was a little distracting at times.

However, overall this was a fascinating read and I found the themes explored through the story thought-provoking. The perils of wartime relationships and the travails of women in that era, Ivy’s struggles with her insecurities due to her facial birthmark, grief and, most interestingly, an exploration of how we project our own fears and insecurities onto other people and assume that this is what they think. It is really sympathetically done.

A worthwhile read.

Roses of Marrakech is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

Roses of Marrakech Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Rachel gained a BA (Hons) in French/English at Liverpool Hope University and an MA in Modern Languages Research at Lancaster University before training to be a journalist. She now lives in Lancaster and teaches French in a primary school. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was a child and coming runner up in a Sunday Express story competition gave her the confidence to write her first novel, Roses of Marrakech. 

Whenever I go on holiday, I always take my notebook with me. Visiting Morocco and Lavenham a few years ago, I made notes of my impressions of the places I visited and began writing the book when I returned”, comments Rachel. “In the book, Ivy’s struggles with coming to terms with her birthmark are based on my own experiences with cerebral palsy, whilst the characters, Violet and Eleanor are based on my great-aunts who both died of TB in the late 1920s.”

Tempted by…The Tattooed Book Geek: In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael J Malone @SarcasticEnigma @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks #InTheAbsenceOfMiracles #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.
For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

This week’s Tempted by … is a book I bought on the recommendation of Drew over at The Tattooed Book GeekThe book is In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone and it was this review that encouraged me to pick up a copy.

The review attracted me to the book because it is obvious that Drew was completely captivated by both the story and the story-telling, which are two very different but equally important things in any novel. The premise of the book itself would have grabbed me, but Drew’s detailed dissection of exactly what it was that pulled him in to the story and held him fast in his grasp really brought the book alive and persuaded me that I absolutely needed to read it. The review was also quite lyrical in its prose, a joy to read. I know some people don’t like reading long reviews but I love to find out exactly what aspects of a book readers loved and which were less successful.

Drew always writes very passionate and heartfelt reviews, fully imbued with his own personality. I’ve never met him, but I honestly feel like I know him through his blog posts, and they are always entertaining and persuasive. if you don’t follow Drew’s blog already, you should remedy that oversight immediately. You can find him at The Tattooed Book Geek.

And, if after reading Drew waxing lyrical about the book, you would like to read In The Absence of Miracles for yourself, you can buy a copy here.

Four Weddings and a Festival by Annie Robertson Narrated by Ellie Heydon #BookReview #audiobook (@annierauthor) @EleanorHeydon @orionbooks @TheFictionCafe @NetGalley @audibleuk #FictionCafeBookClub #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2020 #challenges #NetGalley #FourWeddingsAndAFestival

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Four months. Four weddings. One happy ending…?

Lifelong friends and rom-com fans Bea, Lizzie, Hannah and Kat have curled up with Bridget Jones, sobbed at Love, Actually and memorised the script to Notting Hill. They always joked about getting married in one summer – their own Four Weddings – and it seems like this might just be the year . . .

That is, until Bea turns down her boyfriend’s proposal. Is her own Hugh Grant waiting for her amid the champagne and confetti? Can real-life romance ever live up to a Richard Curtis movie?

As the wedding – and festival – season gets into its swing, can all four friends find their happy ever after…?

This is the third book I have chosen for the 2020 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. The third category for the challenge is ‘A book which includes a wedding.’ Well, what is better than one wedding? Four!

I’ve chosen this book because it also represents a step forward in my other goal for 2020, which is to reduce my NetGalley backlog. My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via Netgalley, and I have reviewed it honestly and impartially.

Okay, so you’ll get the immediate impression that this book is inspired by the Richard Curtis movie and you wouldn’t be wrong. The author is obviously a fan and there are a number of references to his films throughout, so if you enjoyed those films you’ll enjoy this.

This was s fun read, following the weddings across one summer as three of them get married and Bea, having turned down the proposal of her perfect-on-paper boyfriend, tries to decide what she is going to do with the rest of her life, now all of her friends are settling down.

The details surrounding the four weddings are fun to read about, especially the unexpected one, and my favourite part was the description of the festival they all attend. Festivals in books have been a bit of a thing for me this week, after the Dave Holwill one.) I completely sympathised with Bea’s predicament, not wanting to settle and also not wanting to be left behind and alone. Life is tricky to navigate when you are in your twenties, I sometimes think people should be banned from marrying until they hit 30!

The thing that made this book for me was the character of Aunt Jane, she is a total legend and a role model for women of a certain age. I fully intend modelling myself in my seventies on a cross between her and Zillah from This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell.

All in all, an enjoyable romcom for fans of Richard Curtis-esque movies and novels about female friendship. and finding The One.

Four Weddings and a Festival is out now and you can get your copy here.

About the Author

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Annie Robertson trained in London as a classical musician, then worked as an assistant for an Oscar winner, an acclaimed artist, a PR mogul and a Beatle. After several years of running errands for the rich and famous, she went to medical school where, hiding novels in anatomy textbooks, she discovered her true passion for writing, and went on to complete a Creative Writing MA with distinction.

Annie now lives back home in Scotland. When not writing Annie enjoys playing the piano, swimming with her young son, and visiting antiques markets with her husband.

Connect with Annie:

Twitter: @annierauthor

 

#RNA60 Romantic Fiction Book Club Facebook Group Launch Competition. Win 60 Romantic Novels from 0ne More Chapter! @RNATweets @0neMoreChapter_ #Competition #Giveaway #RomanticFictionBookClub #RomFicBookClub

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Calling all fans of Romantic Fiction! This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and, to celebrate this momentous occasion, the RNA are launching a new Facebook group, the Romantic Fiction Book Club, which aims to be a warm and cosy place for lovers of romantic fiction to engage with other readers, bloggers and authors of romantic fiction. The group is open to anyone who loves to read any type of romance, bloggers, and all authors of novels with a romantic element, not just those who are members of the RNA.

To launch the new group with a bang, we have an amazing competition for you. In conjunction with publisher 0ne More Chapter, members of the new Romantic Fiction Book Club Facebook group have the chance to win an amazing bundle of 60 romantic novels, donated by 0ne More Chapter. There are also 60 runner up prizes of a single, signed romance novel, so there are a total of 61 prizes up for grabs. What amazing odds of winning something! The competition is running from 14th February (of course!) to 29th February. Take a look at some of the fabulous titles up for grabs.

All you have to do to enter the competition is join the new Romantic Fiction Book Club here and then follow the link below to the competition:

One More Chapter & RNA Diamond Anniversary Giveaway

There is detailed information about how to enter on the new Facebook page, including how to increase your chances of winning by subscribing to the RNA and 0ne More Chapter’s social media links, plus, there is lots of fun interaction going on in the group. UK entries only I’m afraid. What are you waiting for, go and sign up now!

I’ll see you there!

(There was an interesting article about the new group and how it came about in Frost Magazine earlier this week, you might like to check it out here.)

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Friday Night Drinks with…. Louise Walters @LouiseWalters12 #FridayNightDrinks #LouiseWaltersBooks

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Delighted to be joined for Friday Night Drinks this evening by a woman of many talents,  reader, writer, editor and publisher …. Louise Walters.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

 A pink gin and tonic with ice, a sprig of mint, and a stripey paper straw. Refreshing, cold and just lovely. 

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Sounds delicious, I’ll have one too. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out? 

I don’t go out often, but there is a wonderful tapas bar and restaurant in Lincoln, called Ole Ole. Lovely atmosphere and great food, and of course sangria. I always pop in there when I visit Lincoln. 

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If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I would love a night out with you, me, Kate Bush and Paul McCartney. There are lots of vegetarian and vegan options at Ole Ole… (Paul and I would be sorted). My biggest inspirations are musical people. My goodness, the questions I could ask those two…

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I run my own indie press, Louise Walters Books. I have now published four talented authors and have signed three more. It all started when I self-published my second novel in 2017. I loved the whole process and started seriously considering setting up an indie press. My 50th bithday approaching, it felt like a now or never moment. So I opened to submissions and started publishing. I want to keep publishing talented authors. I have to be very selective in what I take on as it’s just me, and my freelance team who design my covers, design and typeset my interiors, and copy edit the manuscripts. I do all the other jobs.  

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That sounds exciting and like hard work at the same time! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

As a writer, my proudest moment was hearing from my agent that my first novel, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase, had a book deal. That was unforgettable. As a publisher, I am incredibly proud of my authors and my role as editor of their novels. It’s a great feeling to publish a book that both author and I have worked very hard on.

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What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I would absolutely love one of LWB’s book to be long-listed in a major prize. Two reasons for that: my authors are plenty good enough to be long-listed; and it would make a massive difference to LWB’s fortunes. It’s very challenging to market my books on a limited budget in a crowded marketplace, where everything is skewed in favour of big publishers. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m currently working on edits for the two books I am publishing later this year. Cath Barton’s novella In the Sweep of the Bay is my September release. We are in the throes of proofreading and we’re almost there. It’s a fantastic, short, sweet, bitter-sweet story that somehow encompasses a life, a marriage, and all the ups and downs that go with a long marriage. It’s beautifully written.  

I’m also working on my December release, The Dig Street Festival by Chris Walsh. Last summer (2019) I put a call out on Twitter for working class writers to send me their novels. Chris did just that, and I was bowled over by his writing. I’ve never read anything quite like The Dig Street Festival… it’s funny, moving, philosophical, politial, poigant, bizarre… all rolled up into one intriguing novel. I’ve no idea how it will be received. I just know I love it and  I trust others will too. Chris and I are working on line edits, and it’s shaping up very nicely. 

Two to watch out for by the sounds of it. I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I’m not much of a traveller, to be truthful. I had a working class upbringing and we never went abroad when I was growing up. I have travelled a little in adulthood. Two cruises, which were brilliant. Paris I love. Also Lisbon… quite similar cities in many ways, but Lisbon is warmer! I have visited Poland, and went to Auschwitz, an experience that has stayed with me. The atmosphere was palpable, quite eerie, and an incredibly sad, moving place to visit. I’m glad I’ve been. 

Top of my bucket list is New York. I will die extremely disappointed if I never go there! 

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I love New York! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I love Michael Buble. I absolutely think he is the bees knees. My fave kind of music is punk/alternative/”serious” music…so this is rather an odd departure…!

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Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Without hesitation, the book I recommend to everybody: Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. It’s superb, truly one of the great novels. The central character, Claudia, stays with you long after you finish reading.  

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Claudia Hampton, a beautiful, famous writer, lies dying in hospital. But, as the nurses tend to her with quiet condescension, she is plotting her greatest work: ‘a history of the world … and in the process, my own’. Gradually she re-creates the rich mosaic of her life and times, conjuring up those she has known. There is Gordon, her adored brother; Jasper, the charming, untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool, conventional daughter; and Tom, her one great love, both found and lost in wartime Egypt. Penelope Lively’s Booker Prize-winning novel weaves an exquisite mesh of memories, flashbacks and shifting voices, in a haunting story of loss and desire.

I have to admit to not having read this, one for the endless list! So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I will go to bed drunk, wake up feeling dreadful, and have about three glasses of orange juice and three cups of coffee. Then sit it out. Back to normal by tea time!  

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Some reading time, a nice long walk, a film at the cinema if there is anything good on… or a film and a bottle of wine at home. Time with the kids, perhaps a nice Sunday lunch together. As long as I don’t have to cook it! In reality, I spend most weekends working… there is so much to do when you run an indie press. 

Well, thank you for taking time from your bus schedule to chat to me, it has been fascinating.

Louise’s latest book is The Road To California, and you can buy a copy here.

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Proud single parent Joanna is accustomed to school phoning to tell her that her fourteen year old son Ryan is in trouble. But when Ryan hits a girl and is excluded from school, Joanna knows she must take drastic action to help him.

Ryan’s dad Lex left home when Ryan was two years old. Ryan doesn’t remember him – but more than anything he wants a dad in his life. Isolated, a loner, and angry, Ryan finds solace in books and wildlife.

Joanna, against all her instincts, invites Lex to return and help their son. But Lex is a drifter who runs from commitment, and both Joanna and Ryan find their mutual trust and love is put to the test when Lex returns, and vows to be part of the family again.

 

Walking Back To Happiness by Penelope Swithinbank #BlogTour #Extract (@minstriesbydsgn) @malcolmdown @LoveBooksGroup #lovebookstours #WalkingBackToHappiness

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Two vicars, their marriage in tatters with wounds reaching far back into the past, set out on a journey to find healing and restoration. Their route will take them from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, but will it help them find their way home?

Along the 320-mile route across rural France, burdened by backpacks and blisters, Kim and Penelope stumble across fresh truths, some ordinary, others extraordinary. But will they be defeated by the road ahead or triumph over the pain of the past? Is there a chance they’ll find themselves in France and walk back to happiness?

In this simple but enchanting book, part travelogue and part pilgrimage, Penelope invites you to walk with her and her husband on their epic journey as they encounter new faces and new experiences, and reconnect with each other and with God. Every step of the way, you’ll discover more about yourself and what’s really important to you.

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Walking Back To Happiness by Penelope Swithinbank by featuring a short extract from the book. My thanks to Kelly Lacey of Love Books Tours for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher for allowing me to reproduce this extract for you.

Extract

“Preparing to do a Great Walk focuses the mind wonderfully. And  makes me realise that gentle Sunday-afternoon strolls are one thing, but walking three hundred and thirty miles carrying a heavy backpack is something totally different.

A long hike once a week needs to become the norm – eight to ten miles might be a good rehearsal.

But things do not go according to plan.

Originally we had planned to retire in July and do The Great Walk Across France two months later; but the selling of the listed property we were using as a Christian retreat house took a further whole year, with new planning permissions imposed by the local conservation officer causing headaches and money and building work. The stress must have contributed to Kim having a stroke very unexpectedly, followed by ocular shingles. Fortunately the stroke left no physical impairment, but he suffered dyslexia-like symptoms and great tiredness. The Walk was put on hold.”

If this has whetted you appetite for the book, you can buy a copy of Walking Back To Happiness here.

If you would like to read some reviews and other content for the book, make sure you check out the other blogs taking part in the tour:

 

About the Author

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Penelope is an avid walker and spends a lot of her time stomping in the hills and valleys near her home outside Bath. She is a chaplain at Bath Abbey and a spiritual therapist and counsellor for clergy (and some normal people too). Since becoming a vicar nearly 20 years ago, she has worked in churches in the UK and the USA, and has led pilgrimages in the UK and in Europe.

She and her husband Kim have been married for more than 40 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Penelope rarely sits down, loathes gardening and relaxes by reading, going to the theatre or playing the piano. She is the author of two books, Women by Design and Walking Back to Happiness and is currently working on her third, due out in 2020: Scent of Water, a devotional for times of spiritual bewilderment and grief.

Connect with Penelope:

Website: https://penelopeswithinbank.com

Facebook: Ministries By Design

Twitter: @minstriesbydsgn

Instagram: @penelopeswithinbank

Love Books Group Tours (1)

The Lido by Libby Page Narrated by Clare Corbett #BookReview #audiobook (@LibbyPageWrites) @LitRedCorvette @OrionBooks @audibleuk #freereading #TheLido

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Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers…. 

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life. But now everything she knows is changing – the library where she used to work has closed, the family fruit and veg shop has become a trendy bar, and her beloved husband, George, is gone. Kate has just moved and feels alone in a city that is too big for her. She’s at the bottom rung of her career as a journalist on a local paper and is determined to make something of it. So when the local lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. 

And Rosemary knows it is the end of everything for her. Together they are determined to make a stand, to show that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community. Together they will show the importance of friendship, the value of community and how ordinary people can protect the things they love. 

What a beautiful story this is. A story about an unlikely friendship between a young, anxious and lonely girl starting a new life in a city where she knows no one and an elderly woman who has lived in the same place all her life, but who has discovered that you still need new friends, however old you get. It is a story about community and what that means in a city that faces all the changes that modern life brings. It is a story about the things that are perceived as important versus the things that actually really matter. And it is a beautiful love story that spans half a century.

I loved everything about this book. The gentle storytelling. The genuine heart of the characters and their honest and down-to-earth friendships. The vivid descriptions of a lively neighbourhood and the changes that it sees over the decades. The ordinary and yet extraordinary love story between two people who were always meant to be together and who were each other’s everything. It’s about friendship and love and neighbourliness and old age and grief and loneliness and family and how a community lido represents all of this.

The book really moved me throughout. The characters really spoke to me, and made me care about them and the fate of the Lido. I was gently gripped by their individual plights, and what was affecting them as a community. It represented the very best of the way people can be, something we need more of in the current climate where everyone seems to be at loggerheads all the time. This is uplit at a time when we all need it.

Loved it, every minute.

The Lido is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Libby Page is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lido and The 24-Hour Café.

Before writing The Lido Libby worked as a campaigner for fairer internships, a journalist at the Guardian and a Brand Executive at a retailer and then a charity. She also shares her swimming adventures with her sister Alex at @theswimmingsisters.

Connect with Libby:

Website: https://libbypage.co.uk

Facebook: Libby Page Writes

Twitter: @LibbyPageWrites

Instagram: @libbypagewrites