My Big Blog Birthday Bonanza Bookish Giveaway @Jo_Furniss #Giveaway #BookBloggers #BookBlog #Birthday

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Sooooo, I am quite excited because next Sunday is my blog’s second birthday!

I can’t believe it has been two years since I set up this blog and I am amazed at how far I have come in that time. The blog has changed substantially from what I initially set it up to be to what it is today, but I couldn’t be happier with where I am and the wonderful journey I’ve had along the way. I’ve read amazing books, had great experiences and made so many fantastic new friends – it has surpassed all the expectations I had when I pressed ‘Publish’ on that very first post two years ago.

Of course, all of that is thanks to you, my amazing followers. I truly appreciate the time that anyone takes to read, comment on and share my posts and it makes me so happy when people say they like my posts, or have bought a book on my recommendation, or take the trouble to engage with what I am saying. So, as a thank you, I have put together a fabulous bookish giveaway to celebrate this milestone.

The prize bundle contains eight mystery paperbacks, which are a mixture of new books from the past twelve months and a couple of my favourite books of all time, in a range of genres. One of them is a book which has been kindly donated by the author of one of my top ten books of 2018, the wonderful Jo Furniss, so a huge thank you to Jo for her generosity and support of the blog. It also includes a pile of other goodies that will delight the heart of any book lover and, I hope, enhance their pleasure in reading the books they receive. I’d love to receive this prize if I weren’t the one giving it away!

All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post over the next seven days telling me what you like about my blog or letting me know which posts or categories you have particularly enjoyed over the past two years, or making a suggestion for a new feature you would like to see in the future. Make it as unique, funny or imaginative as you can. One comment will be chosen as the most interesting by a panel of my five daughters (ranging in age from 11 to 16), and the author of that comment will win the prize, so be creative.

As I say, the competition is open for 7 days and the winner will be announced in a post on the blog on Sunday 20 January 2019. It is open to UK entries only I am afraid, due to the cost of postage of the prize. The decision of the girls will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. If the winner does not claim the prize within 7 days of it being announced, a second winner will be chosen to receive the prize instead.

Good luck and thank you for all your support over the past two years, and here’s to the next two.

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Mary Kate by Nadine Dorries #BlogTour #Spotlight @HoZ_Books @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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Liverpool, 1963.
Mary Kate Malone is seventeen and bitterly unhappy that her father has married again after the death of her mother. On her last day at school, she decides to leave home in Tarabeg on the west coast of Ireland and head for Liverpool to find her mother’s sister.
But absolutely nothing goes to plan. Within hours of disembarking, she finds herself penniless and alone, with no place to stay and no idea how she will survive.
Meanwhile, back in Ireland, where old sins cast long shadows, a long-buried secret is about to come to light and a day of reckoning, in the shape of a stranger from America, will set an unstoppable chain of events in motion.
I am happy to be shining the spotlight today on Mary Kate, the new book by Nadine Dorries, which is currently on tour with Random Things Tours. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be involved. As you can see, it has an appealing cover and intriguing blurb, don’t you think?
Mary Kate is currently available in hardback and ebook and the paperback will be available in July. If you would like to get a copy, you can buy it here.
To read some reviews of the book, please do follow the blog tour:
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About the Author
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 Nadine Dorries grew up in a working-class family in Liverpool. She spent part of her childhood living on a farm with her grandmother, and attended school in a small remote village in the west of Ireland. She trained as a nurse, then followed with a successful career in which she established and then sold her own business. She has been the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire since 2005 and has three daughters.

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Friday Night Drinks with….Lynda Stacey @LyndaStacey @RNATweets @ChocLituk #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight on Friday Night Drinks, I am thrilled to be joined by author, fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and my IRL friend, Lynda Stacey.

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

Well, I’m on a serious diet so I’m drinking tonic water (with a splash of gin) lol..!

I’m still on Dry January so I’ll just have to have the tonic. 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?

Well, we normally go to the pub that’s next door to your house. But, if you fancied somewhere different I’d probably take you through to The Percy Arms in Airmyn, they do fabulous fish and chips…. As well as the alcohol, of course.

Sounds ideal, let’s go there next time we meet. 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?

Oh my gosh. This is hard because I’d love to have my mum there, but then I’d have to speak to her (no disrespect)… but for a good night out I’d probably say Dawn French and Eddie Murphy. Love them both so much.

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That would be fun company to be in for sure. 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’m currently writing Book 5, which is surprisingly Doncaster-based. My choice of my home town might come across as odd until you learn about its history. Back in the 1800’s there was an area in Doncaster that the locals called the sand pit. This was a sand quarry. The owners literally carved a whole house out of the sandstone. But not being satisfied at that they continued to carve out the most amazing catacombs that ran beneath the ground and held the most intricate carvings. All of this area has been lost. The council filled it all in with concrete to make way for high rise flats, which I still find unbelievable. 

I became interested in this site a number of years ago and really want to bring some attention to this amazing archaeological site that’s buried 9 metres below the pavement.  

My novel is set in present day and follows the life of Cassandra Hunt, a young archaeologist that was brought up by her aunt after the murder of her father and subsequent death of her mother. As always, my novels are romantic suspense and in this book I really crank up the tension when after opening the tunnels, Cassie comes face to face with the man who murdered her father.

You can see more about the Sand House here.

Below are just a few pictures of how amazing these tunnels were.!!

Wow, I’ve lived in Doncaster on and off all my life and I had no idea about any of this! I’ll look forward to reading the book. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was winning the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition which put me on the route to becoming a published author. Something I’d dreamed of for most of my life.

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’d like to be a household name. I’d like my books to be talked about and yes… I’d love to see them all as films.

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

I’m working on The Sand House as described above. I’m really hoping that with all the publicity that the Sand House project is getting this year, I’ll get some extra publicity for the book.

Fingers crossed, it sounds like a fantastic project. 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 the favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I’ve pretty much completed my bucket list. I’ve travelled the world as a Scuba Diving Instructor, I’ve dived the deepest accessible wrecks and I’ve free dived with sharks. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

But my favourite place in the world would have to be The Maldives. It’s the most perfect place in the world and all I can say is it’s like being Robinson Crusoe with a bar and a chef.

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The Maldives is definitely on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was a Scuba Diving Instructor. I taught people to dive from their first breaths right to becoming instructors themselves.

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’?

I loved Vanessa Savage’s new book, The Woman in the Dark. Also, I love everything that Jane Lovering, Milly Johnson and Mandy James are writing at the moment. But if I had to insist on one book that you should read it would just have to be my very own The Fake Date. Xx (I had to say that, didn’t I?)

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I admire your chutzpah! I know you’ve recommended Vanessa Savage’s book to me before so I must get it. 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 never normally get hangovers, but having had a few in the past I always found that fresh air helps…. Unless of course you have an oxygen cylinder handy (which I always did when teaching scuba), then pure O2 cures a hangover in minutes.

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

I’d definitely be in my pj’s for the weekend. I’m very much a home girl and love curling up in front of the log burner wrapped in a blanket, especially on nights like tonight.

A woman after my own heart there! Lynda, thank you so much for joining me on the blog this evening, it’s been a blast as always.

Lynda’s latest book, The Fake Date is out now and has received amazing reviews from some of my favourite fellow bloggers. If you would like to get your own copy, you can purchase it here.

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Nine hours and eleven minutes …
That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead.
She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly.
Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill?
Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive …

If you would like to find out more about Lynda and her books, you can find her on her website and Facebook and Twitter.

Next week i will be joined for drinks by my fabulous fellow book blogger and great supporter of authors, Anne Williams, so make sure you don’t miss that.

Summer In The Orchard by Fay Keenan #BookReview #BlogTour (@faykeenan) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #NetGalley #SummerInTheOrchard

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Sophie Henderson loves her job at Carter’s Cider in the picturesque Somerset village of Little Somerby, but with summer dawning before yet another picking and pressing season, and her boss David showing no signs of wanting to hang up his cider jug, perhaps it is time to move on.

She’s all set to hand in her notice when Alex Fraser, an intern from Vancouver, comes to Little Somerby to learn everything he can about the cider business. With Sophie as his mentor, attraction between them starts to grow alongside the apples.

For Alex, however, being in Little Somerby is about more than cider, and as the summer grows warmer, and his relationship with Sophie blossoms, can he find the courage to tell her the truth before it’s too late?

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Summer In The Orchard by Fay Keenan, the third book in the Little Somerby series. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Aria Fiction for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley. which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the first book I have read by Fay Keenan and, although it is the third book set in Little Somerby and based around Carter’s Cider, it works completely as a standalone novel and I did not feel I was missing any detail from the first two books which would have helped me enjoy this book more.

This book is primarily the story of Sophie, a cider taster and blender at Carter’s Cider in the small village of Little Somerby and how her seemingly ordered life is disrupted by the arrival of a handsome stranger from Canada in the form of Alex Fraser. But is he all that he seems? The book is also told from Alex’s perspective, so the reader is privy to information about him that Sophie is not, and we can see how things are moving towards a collision course before the characters can, which adds a pleasing frisson of tension to the reading experience.

The characters of both Sophie and Alex are sympathetic enough to carry the story and make you care about what happens to them and I became deeply involved in the development of their relationship, to the point where I ended up with a lump in my throat and a pricking behind my eyes towards the end, which I was not expecting to be honest. I had anticipated a light and frothy book that would not move me with that level of emotion, so I was very pleasantly surprised. The supporting cast of characters are also extremely appealing (with one or two exceptions!), to the point where I know I definitely need to go back and get better acquainted with them via the first two books in the series.

I particularly enjoyed the setting of the novel. One of the very great pleasures for me of reading is to learn new things and, as I have never read a book set around cider production before, I really enjoyed reading more about it. Despite this being primarily a book of romantic fiction, the author has obviously done meticulous research into the background business against which the book is set and included just enough detail about it to make it interesting and informative without bogging the prose down with too much. I found it perfectly pitched and it added an additional layer of depth and interest to the story.

The book is set throughout the sunny, summer days of a Somerset apple growing and pressing season, and includes a county fair, al fresco parties and lazy evenings in country beer gardens. The scent of the apples and flowers leaches out of the pages and I could hear the lazy buzzing of bees and feel the fizz of the cider on my tongue; a delightful and sensual read.

All in all, this book turned out to be a wonderful surprise, combining a delicious reminder of a warm English summer, a moving love story, with hidden depths that I wasn’t expecting. A very rewarding investment of a few hours reading.

Summer in the Orchard is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tours, please check the poster below:

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About the Author

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Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling back in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband of fourteen years, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.

Connect with Fay:

Website: https://faykeenan.com

Facebook: Fay Keenan Author

Twitter: @faykeenan

The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@nicolasladeuk) @crookedcatbooks @rararesources @RNATweets #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources #TheConvalescentCorpse

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A delightful blog blitz to be taking part in today for an original and quirky book, The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

Please scroll down beneath the review to enter a lovely giveaway.

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A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.

Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters. Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying-guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all. And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.

The blurb of this book gives you a truly delicious taste of what is in store in this cosy crime novel with a difference. Set during World War I, it centres around the lives of the three Fyttleton sisters who are doing their best to cope with life on the home front after the disappearance of their father who went down with the Lusitania, and the recent loss of their brother on the Western Front. Their mother is a famous, reclusive author who is neither use nor ornament as a parent, so they can only rely on each other and their ageing but sprightly grandmother, who is a minor aristocrat.

The narrator is the middle sister, Christabel, who is the stalwart holding the family together whilst scribbling stories on the side to make a few pennies. Christabel is a girl after my own heart and I identified with her immediately. There was a particular line in the book which really touched me as she talks about feeling old beyond her years because she always has to be the sensible one, which exactly describes my role in our family of four girls. Anyway, the girls become heavily involved when a convalescent home for wounded soldiers opens nearby as they take in their families as lodgers whilst they visit their wounded relatives and find themselves in the middle of a mystery linked to the home.

The mystery aspect of the story is interesting, if not a little confusing at times, but it was not the main draw of this book for me. What I really loved was the insight into what life was like for the families left behind in England to make ends meet while all the menfolk went off to war in Europe, many to never come back. This is not a period of history I usually choose to read about, as I find it harrowing and immensely depressing, but this is a book that covers it in a light but still truthful and meaningful way which I found very appealing and illuminating. A wartime novel for people who don’t like to read about war.

The other attractive thing about this book are the characters. The three sisters are all individual and different, with their own motivations and desires, but present a tight knit unit which, as one of four girls, I found realistic and heartwarming. The remainder of the family are charmingly eccentric and riveting. Add in a range of pets with personality and it is a household full of appeal. The surrounding village, the lodgers and the servicemen up at the home add further layers of interest and intrigue. For a gentle mystery, there is a lot going on in this book!

This book was a charming and pleasing surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed the gentle hours I spent between its pages and, once I was finished, I found the characters and story had wormed their way into my heart. The book leaves the door open for more stories featuring these fascinating folk and I sincerely hope that I will be able to find out what happens next to Christabel, Henry and the rest of the Fyttleton family.

The Convalescent Corpse is out now and you can get your copy here.

Giveaway

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To win a paperback copy of Nicola’s book, The House At Ladywell, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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.

To see some alternative reviews from my fellow bloggers on the tour, please see the details of the stops below:

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About the Author

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Nicola Slade lives in Hampshire where she writes historical and contemporary mysteries and women’s fiction. While her three children were growing up she wrote stories for children and for women’s magazines before her first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published in 2005. Among other jobs, Nicola has been an antiques dealer and a Brown Owl! She loves travelling and at one time, lived in Egypt for a year. The Convalescent Corpse is Nicola’s 9th novel. Nicola is also a member of a crime writers’ panel, The Deadly Dames 

Connect with Nicola:

Website: http://www.nicolaslade.com

Blog: https://nicolaslade.wordpress.com

Facebook: Nicola Slade

Twitter: @nicolasladeuk

Pinterest: Nicola Slade

A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn #BookReview (@HollyH_Author) @TeamBATC @BookMinxSJV @simonschusterUK #CastleCourt

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Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb‘s cocktail bar on the third floor!

One of the greatest inventions of recent times for someone like me has been the advent of Netflix and other TV-on-demand streaming services, because I am impatient and I want to binge-watch any TV show I am really loving and not have to wait a whole week for the next episode.

I am the same with books. If I am really enjoying a story, I will stay up late reading and reading until I’ve finished it. For this reason, the recent phenomena of books that are released in separate parts every couple of months is torture for me, because I always want to know what happens next now, not in six weeks time. I’ve tried it, I really have, but it is just not a style of reading that is for me.

For this reason, I made myself wait until the latest book by Holly Hepburn, whose first three books have all been published in ebook format as four separate parts before being released as a full paperback, was out as a full version on which I could binge in one go. The wait was torture, because I love Holly’s books, but was it worth it? It really was because A Year at Castle Court is a book that is as sweet and delicious as the biscuits baked by its central characters.

This is the story of two friends, Cat and Sadie, who realise their childhood dream of opening a biscuit shop together in the secluded shopping enclave of Castle Court. As you would expect, the venture does not run completely smoothly and, as well as commercial challenges, Sadie and Cat were also wrestling with personal difficulties that impact everything, and romantic complications also add to the complexity of the story as it unfolds over the course of a year.

The characters of Cat and Sadie are extremely relatable and the dilemmas they face easily recognisable to modern women, so it is easy to immerse yourself and be carried along by the story. The combination of personal and professional problems gives a nice balance to the novel and Holly’s writing flows beautifully, so the reader finds themselves turning the pages without realising time is passing, which is how books of this type should be for the reader – effortless. The author has devised a cosy and appealing setting for the book in the shopping enclave of Castle Court and, as always, does a great job of bringing it to life and peopling it with interesting characters. The whole story is warm and satisfying; honestly, there is nothing not to love in this book.

If you are looking for a charming, easy but satisfying read to snuggle up with on a drab, winter’s day, you can’t go wrong with this book. Holly is returning to The Star and Sixpence for her next book, which I am really excited about so, in the words of Queen, hurry up and write it, Holly, because ‘I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now!;

A Year at Castle Court is available now and you can buy it here.

About the Author

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Holly Hepburn has wanted to write books for as long she can remember but she was too scared to try. One day she decided to be brave and dipped a toe into the bubble bath of romantic fiction with her first novella, Cupidity, and she’s never looked back. She often tries to be funny to be funny, except for when faced with traffic wardens and border control staff. Her favourite things are making people smile and Aidan Turner.

She’s tried many jobs over the years, from barmaid to market researcher and she even had a brief flirtation with modelling. These days she is mostly found writing.

She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite.

Connect with Holly:

Facebook: Holly Hepburn Author

Twitter: @HollyH_Author

Instagram: @hollyh_author

Tempted by….Jennifer – Tar Heel Reader: Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger @meredith_jaeger @tarheelreader @morrowpb @harpercollins #bookbloggers

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In this new novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Dressmaker’s Dowry, two young women two generations apart discover the joy and heartbreak of following their dreams. Aspiring Hollywood actress Violet makes a shocking choice in 1940, and seventy years later, Mari sets out to discover what happened on that long ago summer.

Santa Cruz, Summer 1940: When auburn-haired Violet Harcourt is crowned Miss California on the boardwalk of her hometown, she knows she is one step closer to her cherished dream: a Hollywood screen test. But Violet’s victory comes with a price—discord in her seemingly perfect marriage—and she grapples with how much more she is willing to pay.

Summer 2007: Single mother Marisol Cruz lives with her parents in the charming beach cottage that belonged to her grandfather, Ricardo, once a famed performer on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Drawn to the town’s local history and the quaint gazebo where her grandparents danced beneath the stars, Mari sells raffle tickets at the Beach Boardwalk Centennial Celebration, and meets Jason, a California transplant from Chicago.

When Mari discovers the obituary of Violet Harcourt, a beauty queen who died too young, she and Jason are sent on a journey together that will uncover her grandfather’s lifelong secret—his connection to Violet—a story of tragedy and courage that will forever transform them.

After a couple of weeks’ hiatus for the Christmas holidays, my traditional Monday feature Tempted by…is back. This is where I spotlight a book I have been enticed to buy for my own collection by a review written by one of my fellow bloggers.  This week I am showcasing Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger as featured in this post by Jennifer on her blog, Jennifer- Tar Heel Reader.

It was the summery and glamorous cover of this book that first caught my eye, with the girl in the old-fashioned bikini in the centre and the outline of Santa Monica Pier in the background. Regular readers will know that I can’t resist books set in the US, particularly by the coast. It is like travelling vicariously to my favourite destinations. Then I read on and was intrigued by the dual timeline story, which is always fun to read, and promise of a ‘light mystery’. I was intrigued enough to buy it, although I haven’t got round to reading it yet!

I first started reading Jennifer’s blog because of the tag line, ‘Reading under the light of a Carolina moon,’ which just threw up such an idyllic image for me and this is always how I imagine Jennifer reading, in a hammock (no idea why I imagine a hammock, she has never indicated that she even has such a thing) under the moon, caressed by a warm breeze. I love her chatty reviewing style, her book tastes are really interesting and she is very supportive of other bloggers. She also posts the most beautiful bookstagram images, of which I am very jealous! Please do check out her blog, I’m sure you’ll love it too.

If you would like to get your own copy of Boardwalk Summer, you can get a copy here.