Tempted by….A Southern Girls Bookshelf: Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon @SGBookshelf @HannahMcKinnon @AtriaBooks @EmilyBestler #SailingLessons #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Wrenn Bailey has lived all her life on Cape Cod with her mother Lindy, older sister Shannon, and younger sister Piper. Growing up, life was dictated by the seasons with sleepy gray winters where only the locals stayed on, followed by the sharp influx and colorful bustle of summer tourists who swept up the elbow of the Cape and infiltrated their small paradise.

But it wasn’t just the tourists who interrupted Wrenn’s formative years; her father—brilliant but troubled photographer Caleb—has long made a habit of drifting in and out of his girls’ lives. Until the one summer he left the Cape and did not return again.

Now, almost twenty years later, Caleb has come back one last time, suffering from pancreatic cancer and seeking absolution. Wrenn and her sisters each respond differently to their father’s return, determined to find closure. But that means returning to the past and revisiting old wounds—wounds that cause the tightknit Bailey women to confront their own wishes and wants, and admit to their own wrong-doings over the years. In a place that brings both great comfort and great pain, the Bailey sisters experience a summer on the Cape that promises not only hard endings, but perhaps, hopeful new beginnings.

This week on Tempted by …. I have dug out my copy of Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon, which I bought after reading this review by Monica on her blog, A Southern Girls Bookshelf.

I picked up on this book, mainly because of the setting on Cape Cod, which is always something that draws me to a story. Plus, the description of a book about relationships within families, especially between sisters, is something that is right up my street and I always find makes for an emotional and satisfying read. I am fascinated by human relationships, and families always have multiple levels of complications that provide mountains of ripe fodder for  good writer. Monica seemed to find the story rich and rewarding and her description was enticing enough to persuade me that I would enjoy it too.

I really enjoy visiting Monica’s blog as she and I seem to have similar taste in books but, whilst we read a certain amount of the same titles, she also has some very different titles on there that I would not come across otherwise – just like Sailing Lessons – and I always appreciate a chance to broaden my reading horizons. If you haven’t come across Monica’s blog before, you should pop on over and have a look at it here.

And if you like sound of Sailing Lessons, you can buy a copy of that here.

Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont #Extract #BlogTour (@lucindalamont7) @NextChapterPB @damppebbles #Cupidity #NextChapterPub #damppebblesblogtours

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Britain, World War Two. After newly widowed Martha is invited to live with her wealthy confidante, Mae, she finds herself attracted to her husband.

Meanwhile, an escaped convict is targeting women close to Martha’s new home. After several women are murdered, they realize the danger is closer than they could have ever thought.

As Martha’s passion threatens to unravel her friendships, paths cross with devastating consequences.

I am delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont. My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part.

I am thrilled to be able to bring you an extract from the book today to whet your appetite. Here we go:

Extract

“‘Come on, Willy, do your coat up. This is going to be the start of a new adventure for us. You’ll get to live with Charlie. I wish I could have lived with a friend when I was your age.’

Martha pulled his zip up as far as his big woolly scarf would allow and pulled his little hat over his ears to make sure as much of his young, delicate skin was covered as could be. She stood up and looked around her. Taking it all in one last time. One last breath in this house. One last smell. The last time she would smell the scent that they had created as a family. The faint scent of John’s boot polish. A whiff of Willy’s talcum powder, and whilst everyone else might not smell it, the sweat and tears of Martha with a slight pang of her royal jelly moisturiser. She could hardly bear to leave this house. Once she shuts the front door for the last time, she shuts out the life she had with John. She shuts out the memories. The plans. Willy’s first few years. The happy times. The struggles.

 Martha had accepted Johnny’s death. She had no other choice. All she had now were the memories.

Every day he was serving in the army she would worry. So many people had lost their lives. So much heartbreak and families torn apart, but he would always come back. Most times with no warning. He would bound in through the front door, dump his bags on the floor, and call out to his family. Firstly, he would pick up Willy in his arms and give him a tight squeeze and plant a big kiss on his little rosy cheek. Willy’s eyes would light up, and he would giggle with pure delight. His little laugh would fill the room with happiness, changing the normally nervous atmosphere instantly. Then Johnny would put Willy down next to his toys and look up at Martha who was watching them. Martha looked beautiful as always. She would be wearing her apron most of the times he came back, with her immaculate victory rolls set in her deep brown, bouncy hair. She had winter-like clear blue eyes and always had her signature slick of red lipstick on.

No matter what the occasion, she always looked glamorous and beautiful, and what made her most beautiful was that she had no idea quite how captivating she was. Johnny would forever be in awe. Everything that had happened, everything he had seen, all the trauma he had experienced, it would disappear when he saw her. She was his everything. She was what drove him when he felt weak. When he was scared, he would be brave for her and his son too. He would do everything in his power for those two. The apples of his eye, and boy, was it good to be home. He would take a step closer to Martha, and she would look at him.

Her stomach flipped every time she saw him. Twelve years together and he still made her weak at the knees; but every time he left, she felt sick to the stomach and would stay that way until he got back. She would finish drying her hands with the tea towel, a household item which had almost become like a comforter for her.

Like clockwork, the emotion would rise in her. She would try to fight it back; but the more she did, the stronger it would get. Her big blue eyes would start to fill quickly with salty tears, and then the first big tear would leak from her perfectly lined, doe-like eye and roll down her cheek; and then another and then another until she was crying uncontrollably. She would fling her arms around him and sob. He would pull her in, one arm around the top of her back and shoulders and the other at the bottom of her back, and gently rub his hand up and down her slight frame, soothe her and tell her it was ok. He was back now.

She hated doing this, and every time promised herself she wouldn’t the next time, but she knew that was a promise she couldn’t keep. She didn’t want him thinking she couldn’t cope, she didn’t want to make his job any harder for him than it was, but the relief to have him home every time was a feeling that would never grow old.

Those memories, for Martha, were to be just that. On April 22nd, 1943 life changed. It was one of those life events whereby people say you will never forget it, but it hadn’t been that way for her, she was already beginning to forget. It was one big blur, and that blur lasted for months.

Cupidity is available now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do make sure you visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for more reviews and other great content:

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About the Author

Lucinda Lamont

Lucinda is 31 years old in lives in Hampshire. Born in Aberdeenshire, she spent the early years of her life in a small fishing town before relocating with her mother to the South Coast.

She is the middle child and only girl with four brothers.

Lucinda began her higher education in studying Performing Arts and then began a degree in Law (but dropped out). She is a qualified hairdresser but the arts always drew her back in and she took up an interest in writing which she now plans to continue to make a career out of.

Mother of one, a baby boy, she works part time for a Business publication and spends her spare time soaking up the Hampshire countryside and plotting her next stories.

Connect with Lucinda:

Facebook: Lucinda Lamont Author

Twitter: @lucindalamont7

Instagram: @lucinda_lamont-author

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The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh Narrated by Katherine Press #BookReview #audiobook (@TheRosieWalsh) @panmacmillan @KatherinePress @audibleuk @TheFictionCafe @nickymaunder #FictionCafeBookClub #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2020 #challenges #freereading #TheManWhoDidntCall

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Imagine you meet a man, spend six glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything. 

So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him. 

But he doesn’t call. 

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there mustbe a reason for his silence. 

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other? 

The truth. 

This is the first book I have chosen this year as part of the 2020 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. (If you love books, you must check it out, it is the friendliest part of the internet for bibliophiles). The challenge is to read a new book every fortnight that fits the prescribed category for that two-week period.

The first category is ‘A book which was an admin’s top five novel of 2019.’ I have vowed to try and pick unread books from my TBR to fit the challenge categories, rather than buy new ones. So I chose this book, which was one of Nicky Maunder’s top five books of 2019, as I had it already as an audiobook.

OMG, what did I just read/listen to? I knew this book had had a lot of hype but, somehow, I had failed to really read any reviews of it, so I was kind of going in to it cold. It started off quite slowly, and I wasn’t one hundred percent sold on it for the first quarter, I’d started to wonder what all the fuss was about to be honest.

Then, BAM! I’m not quite sure exactly when, or how, or why it happened but suddenly something changed and I was totally hooked. The story had wormed its way under my skin and I was desperate to keep listening to it and find out what was going on, because it became clear that this was no ordinary ‘boy meets girl’ story. There were all kinds of mysteries and clues and levels of complexity introduced to draw me through the story. Just when I thought I had go a handle on what might be happening, there was a slight twist and it threw me off course and back into bafflement as to what was going to happen. In the middle, there was a huge shock that turned all my suppositions on their head and altered my perspective on EVERYTHING that had gone before and, it was done so subtly than I was genuinely shocked to the tips of my toes and started to question all that I had listened to before.

Then, towards the end of the book, I realised that quietly and insidiously these characters had crept into my psyche and taken up root in my heart and I cared about them as if they were real people. I was riding the rollercoaster of emotions with them. I listened to the last few chapters whilst I was mucking out my ponies on Thursday and I found myself standing in the stable yard, bawling my eyes out, unable to see what I was shovelling through the tears and actually begging the author OUT LOUD not to do something to the characters that I was really afraid was going to happen. Yes, folks, this book was so good it drove me temporarily insane. Thankfully I was alone except for a fat, grey, Welsh pony and a big, black, Welsh cob that don’t seem to mind me acting a bit crazy as long as they get their oats.

This book broke me into tiny little pieces and then put me back together again. It is a masterpiece of character development and romantic tension. I have not read a book in quite a while that affected me quite so deeply and it moved me to a place for which I don’t really have adequate words. The narrative construction is perfect, I was genuinely shocked by turns this story took, and the author balanced the two main characters so well that it was impossible to decide who you cared for most. I absolutely loved it and, if I were to choose any book that I’ve read in the past twelve months that made me feel the way I wish I could make others feel with my writing, this would be it. Marvellous. Thank you for the recommendation, Nicky Maunder, I owe you one.

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh is available now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Rosie Walsh has lived and travelled all over the world, working as a documentary producer and writer.

The Man Who Didn’t Call (UK) / Ghosted (US) is her first book under her own name, and was published around the world in 2018, going on to become an instant bestseller in several territories. It was a New York Times top five bestseller and topped the charts in Germany for several weeks.

Rosie lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

Prior to writing under her own name she wrote four romantic comedies under the pseudonym Lucy Robinson.

Connect with Rosie:

Website: https://www.rosiewalsh.com

Facebook: Rosie Walsh Writer

Twitter: @TheRosieWalsh

Instagram: @therosiewalsh

The Holiday by T. M. Logan Narrated by Laura Kirman #BookReview #Audiobook (@TMLoganAuthor) @laurakirman @ZaffreBooks @AudibleUK @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheHoliday

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Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Languedoc-Roussillon.

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one?

As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

It’s a nightmare scenario, isn’t it? Being trapped on holiday for a week with people you aren’t getting on with. Even if some of those people are your lifelong best friends, once you have to share living space with them 24/7 for a week, along with their husbands, whom you may not love quite as much, and their children who may not have the same expectations in behaviour as yours do – tensions are bound to arise. Add in too much sun, too much wine, and you have a powder keg ready to explode.

Then, on top of this, imagine that you suspect your husband is having an affair, and his mistress is on elf the very same lifelong friends you are taking a holiday with, the situation will inevitably boil over before the week is out, in a very public setting.

This is the premise behind The Holiday, which was a book widely feted last year, and it certainly provides a book full of intrigue and strain with many twists and turns before its thrilling conclusion. And because it is a scenario so many of us can imagine for ourselves, or may even have experienced (although to a lesser degree, I hope!), it causes an intimate level of stress in our imaginations. ‘There too but for the grace of God, go I’ is always a powerful hook for a novel.

There is a fascinating array of characters in this novel, a lot of personality flaws explored and exposed, and some morally dubious behaviour in evidence, even from the people who are supposedly the ‘good guys.’ It begs the question, what would I do to protect my family, to protect my children from harm? How far would I be prepared to go if I found myself in this situation? Are my principles really as strong as I believe, when faced with a serious dilemma. Thinking of these things can make for an uncomfortable reading experience if you allow the book to take you there.

This book was a great, entertaining read with a fabulous rope of tension running through it and enough twists and turns and revelations to keep the reader hooked. highly recommended.

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

About the Author

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Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His latest thriller, The Holiday, is a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks as a Sunday Times top ten bestseller in paperback, selling more than 200,000 copies to date. The Holiday takes place over a sweltering summer week in the south of France, as four best friends see the holiday of a lifetime turn into a nightmare of suspicion, betrayal and murder…

Tim’s debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling more than 400,000 copies and winning a Nielsen Bestseller Award. Together with his second standalone thriller, 29 Seconds (2018), his books are now published in 14 countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next novel, The Catch, is due to be published on June 11, 2020.

Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children, and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

Connect with T. M. Logan:

Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Facebook: T M Logan Author

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor

Instagram: @tmloganauthor

Friday Night Drinks with…. Giulia Skye @GiuliaSkye @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #WhenAdamMetEvie

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I have been looking forward to this evening for weeks because tonight I am welcoming to the blog for Friday Night Drinks my fellow RNA NWS member, very good IRL friend and soon to be debut author (which I am SO excited about)…..Giulia Skye.

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Giulia, it is so lovely to have you here! Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. I hope you are feeling better after our aborted lunch date back in November. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for inviting me!  I’m drinking a crisp Pinot Grigio mixed with sparkling water and ice, and it’s so cold condensation is forming on the glass. (Although in reality, it’s more likely to be a cup of tea once the kids are in bed).

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?

To a restaurant serving a variety of lush dishes from around the world. I love food and I love travelling, so it would be a “tour the world in one evening” restaurant, giving us a taste of different specialties.

Sounds fabulous, we should do that one night! 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?

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, the stars of one of my favourite films, It Happened One Night (Capra, 1934). This film was the initial inspiration for my first book, When Adam Met Evie. I’m a sucker for a road trip romance. I’d love to cut through the myths and get to know what these two great stars of classic cinema were like in real life. Having spent the past two decades working in the TV industry, I’ve worked with celebrities – some match their on screen persona and some don’t, but at the end of the day, they’re just people earning a living. I wonder if the same was true about these two legends? And was Claudette Colbert’s skin always sheer perfection?

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 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 frantically gearing up for the release of When Adam Met Evie, and also frantically trying to finish the first draft of my second novel, The Summer of Sebastian, which I’ve scheduled to release in August/September 2020. I decided to become an indie author after realising that producing a book wasn’t that much different to producing a TV show. Although the amounts of money involve differ greatly! I gave the traditional publishing route a try, and was even lucky enough to get an agent but it didn’t work out, the reason being that I wanted to retain all the control. Since then, I’ve become very passionate about self-publishing. I love it and it’s been very rewarding already even though I’m only just starting out on the “selling books” bit. I have plans to write more and more books which I’m very excited about. I wish I could write them all in a day because I can’t wait for them to be out in the world.

I am so excited to finally read When Adam Met Evie! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

The moment I finished the first “proper” draft of When Adam Met Evie!! For days, I wandered around the house muttering to myself, “I’ve finished. I’ve finished.” There were so many, many times when I truly believed I would never ever finish writing a book and so THAT moment will always be my proudest. I succeeded in achieving a huge personal goal. Everything else that has come from that moment since has been a bonus.

And my biggest challenge? Deciding to become an Indie Author. It’s funny to think now that it was such a big challenge because I feel so at home with it now but back then, I didn’t think “someone like me” could do it. What a load of old bobbins to think that way! That said, I’m constantly encountering big challenges. Self-publishing is full of them. So much so that I don’t consider them challenges at all – they’re just a way of 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!

Like most (if not all) writers, I’d love to appear on a best seller list. But honestly, I’m not after world domination with my novels. At the heart of my writing motivation is to give people pleasure when they read my stories, just like I’ve had great pleasure in reading my favourite books. I’d love a stranger to come up to me and say, “I stayed up all night reading your book”! How amazing would that be? 

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

My next book is called The Summer of Sebastian but unlike my first book, which is mainly set in the Australian tropics, this book is set in Somerset and Bristol, a city very close to my heart as I had the best time working there in my twenties. I’m excited about it as it’s been an idea I’ve been tinkering with for so many years and it’s great to see if finally taking shape. I love travelling to exotic places but I also absolutely love the English countryside. It’s stunning on a perfect summer’s day and I’m really excited about writing it into this novel. I hope I can do it justice and bring my love of it alive on the page as I did with Australia in my first book.

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 love travelling too! My husband and I (before the children came!) took a year off work to backpack across a few countries. I have a lot of favourite places! But the one that is part of my very fibre is the little village in the mountains just outside of Rome, where my father is from. We spent so much time here as children but I rarely get to go there these days. The views are stunning and I often crave to go back there and hear the tall pine trees sway in the wind. As for a bucket list, I don’t actually have one but if I did, at the top would be to have a spotlessly clean house – like, showroom standard – and to keep it that way for more than a few hours. 

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I love Italy, that looks gorgeous. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

This virtual wine’s gone to my head so I’ll spill the beans on a secret. I am in love with… waterproof over-trousers!! They are the best thing EVER. I keep chickens and have an allotment so I spend a lot of time getting very mucky and these totally unattractive garments have changed my life.

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Okay, I think you win the award for ‘weirdest secret fact’ we’ve had on this feature so far! 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’?

Only one? Okay, I’m going with Rachel Gibson’s I’m in No Mood for Love. I’m not a fan of the title but I love the story. It’s so simple and exactly the character driven romance I love. I read it about 10 years ago and I still have the hots for the hero, Sebastian Vaughan.

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What is Clare Wingate doing? One minute she’s suffering in the bridesmaid dress from hell, and the next…she’s waking up beside Sebastian Vaughan, her girlhood crush turned sexy, globe-hopping journalist. Somewhere between the toast and the toss of the bouquet she’d got herself into a whole lot of trouble. But then how else are you supposed to deal with finding your fiancé in a compromising position with the washing machine repair man?

Right now Clare’s in no mood for love – not even for lust – and wants to forget about Sebastian ASAP. But he isn’t in the mood to go away, and his kiss is impossible to forget…

Not an author I have come across before, I will have to check it out. 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?

The only cure for a hangover is sensible drinking the night before!! Sorry, it’s a really annoying thing to say but it’s the only thing that works for me, although I’d never say it in front of a hungover person. That will guarantee getting a shoe thrown at my head! 

Very wise, no one likes to hear an ‘I told you so!’ After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

At the allotment (wearing my over-trousers), tending to my plants, then picking the veg and cooking them up for dinner. Then a family bike ride along the river near our house. We’re very lucky to live on the edge of town along a gorgeous stretch of the river which leads out into the countryside. 

That sounds very idyllic and ‘Good Life’ (showing my age now!) I shall forever think of you as Felicity Kendal.

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Giulia, as always it has been a huge joy to spend time with you, so thank you so much for joining me this evening. I am so looking forward to reading your book and I wish you huge luck with it.

Giulia’s debut novel, When Adam Met Evie, will be published as an ebook on 7 February 2020 and you can get your copy here. I will be reviewing Giulia’s book on its publication day, so check back on the blog on 7 February to see what I thought of it.

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When former Olympic Swimmer, Michael Adams—now reluctantly Canada’s hottest reality TV star— insults his fake showbiz wife on social media, he escapes the ensuing scandal and jumps on the first flight to Australia. Desperate to experience ordinary life again—if only for a few weeks—he becomes “Adam”, just another tourist traveling through the Outback. But with a reward out for his safe return and his fame’s nasty habit of catching up with him when he least expects, he needs a disguise… and he’s just found it.

Sweet and scruffy British backpacker, Evie Blake, is taking a year out of her busy London life. Tired of lies and liars, she’s looking for adventure to heal her broken heart. So when the hot Canadian she meets at the campground offers to be her travel partner through Western Australia’s wild Kimberley region, she grabs the chance, unaware he’s got the world out looking for him.

He’s just a down-on-his-luck traveler, right?

Italian-born Giulia Skye spent her childhood watching classic Hollywood films and thinking up her own romantic stories. After two decades working in TV production, she knew turning those stories into novels would be much more enjoyable – and far cheaper – than turning them into films. She still keeps her hand in TV production but is at her happiest being a stay-at-home mum, spending time with her family, growing her own vegetables, and conjuring up sizzling stories about sexy heroes meeting feisty heroines who aren’t always as they at first appear. When Adam Met Evie is her first novel, Book 1 of her “Take a Holiday” series.

You can find out more about Giulia and her writing on her website, and by following her on Twitter.

Next week, I hope you will come back and join me when I will be having Friday Night Drinks with book blogger and author, Bernadette Maycock.

The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson #BookReview #BlogTour (@JoannaHickson) @HarperFiction @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LadyOfTheRavens

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Two women, two very different destinies, drawn together in the shadow of the Tower of London:

Elizabeth of York, her life already tainted by dishonour and tragedy, now queen to the first Tudor king, Henry the VII.

Joan Vaux, servant of the court, straining against marriage and motherhood and privy to the deepest and darkest secrets of her queen. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, as conspiracy whispers through the dark corridors of the Tower.

Through Joan’s eyes, The Lady of the Ravens inhabits the squalid streets of Tudor London, the imposing walls of its most fearsome fortress and the glamorous court of a kingdom in crisis.

I am delighted that it is my turn on the blog tour for The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson, set during my favourite historical period. Huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I was delighted to be invited to read this book because it covers my absolute favourite period of history, but during a window of time where my reading has been sorely lacking. The Wars of the Roses are my historical obsession, and I have read a myriad of books about the reign of Henry VIII, but period immediately following the Battle of Bosworth and the early reign of Henry VII is a time period which has largely slipped through my  historical fiction net, until now.

Despite the fact that the author clearly does not share my love of Richard III, I absolutely adored this novel. It ranks up there with the best historical fiction I have read by my favourite authors in the genre and I completely lost myself in the text, transported back to the fifteenth century and the Tower of London. The selection of the central character to tell the story, Joan Vaux, a commoner risen high in the fledgling Tudor court, is inspired, as it allows her a to look in on the court from slightly outside it and give us a more rounded view of what life was like in the country at that time, than would the use of someone who was confined entirely within the royal family at that time. Aside from which, she is a fascinating character in her own right, and quite extraordinary for a woman of that time. I loved reading of the intimate relationships between Joan and the young Queen Elizabeth, and Joan and her mother. A fascinating insight into the difficulties faced by women at the time who had little personal power and were largely treated as valuable chattels to be traded for power and favour, and their ingenuity in finding ways to influence events regardless.

This is a time of great turmoil in the country, as the newly founded Tudor dynasty tries to cement its hold on England through marriage between Henry Tudor and the Yorkist daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, whilst challenges to the throne continue to come from Yorkist rebels who are unwilling to admit defeat. The ongoing mystery surrounding what happened to the ‘Princes in the Tower’ gives additional credence to rumours that boys with a better claim to the throne than Henry may still be alive, and the importance of the children that Elizabeth bears for Henry and the alliances that can be made with the noble houses of Europe through marriage cannot be stressed enough. It was a time of great tension, which the author makes us relive throughout the pages and it makes for a riveting tale.

I find the minutiae of life, both in and out of court, at this time endlessly fascinating and the author peppers the book with the luscious details of how families were arranged, households run, children raised and the court operated. As well as an entertaining story, this novel is a great history lesson and this fact great enriches the reading experience; indeed it is my primary joy in reading historical novels. This one really brings it all to life and transports the reader right into the heart of the period, the sights, sounds, smells, textures, medicines, ailments, food, drink, farming, battle, building, property ownership, titles, protocol – it is all here in riveting detail, but in ways that enhance the story and do not in any way impede the pace of the writing. The author’s voice is modern and refreshing and easy to read, and carries an obvious passion for the period. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of the book and, on reaching the end, was already wanting to move to the next title.

All lovers of historical fiction, especially the Tudor period, should buy this book. As well as being rich in period detail, and a stonking good story, the book itself is beautiful. I loved it so much, I had to buy a hardback copy to grace my shelf, as I know I will read it again. It is hard to tell from my photo, but it has sumptuous gold detailing on cover. I am already planning on buying another copy to give my Tudor-mad mother for her birthday. Already on my favourites of the year list. I may even forgive the author for her disdain for my beloved Richard…

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The Lady of the Ravens is out now and you can buy a copy here.

There are lots more fabulous blogs taking part in the tour, so make sure you visit them too:

FINAL Lady of the Ravens BT Poster

About the Author

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Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle, but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period. 

Connect with Joanna:

Facebook: Joanna Hickson

Twitter: @joannahickson

Single All The Way by Karen King #BookReview (@karen_king) @bookouture @NetGalley #NetGalley #SingleAllTheWay

 

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Snow is falling, bells are ringing… and my heart is broken. I pick up the phone to tell my mother about Oliver and me. Then right after I explain, she says, ‘I don’t exactly know how to tell you this, but you’re not the only one who is single again.’

Single together for the first time, 34-year-old Meg and her warm-hearted mother Sally decide to cancel Christmas, and run away to a tiny cottage on the Cornish coast. For Meg, it is the perfect place to heal, away from all the mistletoe, while for her mother it has a special, and secret, place in her heart – from a love story that seems a lifetime ago…

Meg and Sally find they’re getting to know themselves, and each other, better than ever before. But as they are unable to resist getting involved in the village Christmas celebrations, they encounter two handsome local strangers.

Sometimes, it’s being away from home that helps you realise where your heart is. What neither woman knows is that, by the time the new year rolls around, one woman will have fallen in love with their ex all over again, and one relationship will be over for good…

My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is another ‘catch up’ post, where I try and review all the books I neglected in December! The only problem with this tardiness is, of course, that this is a Christmas book and it isn’t Christmas any more! Still, some people read festive books all year round. Or, maybe you are just looking for a nostalgic read to take you back to the sparkling, joyful days of the holidays and away from the depressing gloom of January. Or maybe you are starting a list for next Christmas. Hopefully this will help somebody, somewhere, somehow!

There are quite a few ‘running away from Christmas’ books around, but I have never read one that involves both a mother and daughter running away together. This USP of the book gives it a really interesting and different dynamic, and explores issues that are perhaps not something much of us give much thought to on a daily basis, beyond the normal mother-daughter relationships to thinking of our parents as separate human beings who have their own relationship problems. This leads to some awkward issues for the pair which the author thoroughly exploits to the benefit of the story.

I loved the location of a cottage in a Cornish village (always a winner!) and the couple getting involved in the local village celebrations. The book has a gorgeous, cosy, festive feel that is just the thing to warm your cockles on a cold, winter day, even when it isn’t Christmas. Beyond the festive fun, though, the book explores some difficult relationship issues with affection and sensitivity. It really moved me in parts, these are extremely common problems that people are dealing with on a daily basis, so I am sure the difficulties experienced by the characters will resonate with readers and give back a little more than festive froth.

The author’s voice is warm and approachable, the book was an easy read, but rewarding as well. A welcome addition to my roster of Christmas reading. I highly recommend it next time you are in mood for a festive book, whatever time of year that is.

Single All The Way is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Karen King is a multi-published, award-winning author of romantic novels and children’s fiction. She has had eight romance novels published to date, 120 children’s books, and several short stories in women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women  Writers and Journalists.

Connect with Karen:

Website: http://www.karenking.net

Facebook: Karen King Romance Author

Twitter: @karen_king