The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves #BookReview #BlogTour (@tgarvisgraves) @orionbooks @AlainnaGeorgiou @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #NetGalley #TheGirlHeUsedToKnow

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What if you had a second chance at first love?

Annika Rose likes being alone.

She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone.

Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves. My thanks Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on to the tour and to Orion for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book totally took me by surprise to be honest. I thought it was just going to be a straight forward romance, and it certainly started out that way, and then it became one of those books that just grabs your heart and compels you to keep reading. I ended up staying up until three a.m. to finish it and I don’t regret it for a second.

The main character is Annika, a girl who isn’t quite like everyone else. She has always been branded weird and has severe social anxiety, so has led a sheltered life without friends until she goes to college, where she finally finds a couple of people who understand her and help her come out of her shell.

One of these is Jonathan, a boy she meets at chess club, who finally seems to be someone who can accept her and love her for who she really is. But then, something happens that sends their relationship off the rails and they part and don’t see each other for ten years until fate brings them together again and they try and find out if they can work through what went wrong all those years ago.

This is a split timeline book, as we follow events while Annika and Jonathan are at college, and then when they meet again ten years later, so we can see how they have both changed over that time. The structure works really well and was very clear and easy to follow. I connected with Annika’s character immediately, even though she is someone who walks her own path. She is someone you can’t help wanting to protect, and for things to go right for her because she is such a sweet and gentle person, who is just out of step with the rest of the world. Jonathan was a bit more of a problematic character as, although he was good to Annika and she loved him, I had glimpses of times when he needed things from her that weren’t quite true to herself. However, it was obvious that the relationship has certain unique difficulties for him, so I guess that was only to be expected and was kind of the point, showing the challenges of being in love with someone that doesn’t quite fit in to the definition of the norm.

The plot of this book is very gentle most of the way through, which was not a problem, I loved it for what it was and would have been happy if it had carried on that way to the end. The writer is very accomplished and her portrayal of two people and their relationship was enough for me to enjoy the book just for that. However, something then happens that jolted me out of my complacency and took the book to a totally new place and a different level that I was not expecting. The last 20% of the book had an extremely dramatic effect on me, hence the late night reading binge, and elevated the reading experience to something quite out of the ordinary. It is difficult for me to say more without giving away any spoilers, you will have to read it for yourself. I read another review of this book that said this book contained no surprises. I can honestly say this absolutely was not true for me (maybe other readers are more astute), the ending was like a punch to the gut.

This book deals with some sensitive issues and some things which some people may find problematic or upsetting. I applaud the writer’s bravery in tackling them, I think these are things that need to be written about and we, as readers, should not shy away from reading books with tough themes. These things are the truth of human experience and by engaging with them, we can only gain insight into and empathy for our fellow man. I have to say that some of the issues discussed are not ones with which I have had personal experience so, although they felt authentic and sensitively handled to me, I am not really in a position to attest to whether this is actually the case.

I thought this book was quite stunning. It stood out as something very different and brilliantly written. I was left feeling like the time I invested in this book had been repaid tenfold by the reading experience and I am excited to find a new writer that I can’t wait to read more of. Please read it.

The Girls He Used To Know is out now in ebook and in August in paperback and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, please check out the other blogs taking part as detailed below:

The Girl He Used to Know blog tour v2

About the Author

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Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.

Connect with Tracey:

Website: https://traceygarvisgraves.com

Facebook: T Garvis Graves

Twitter: @tgarvisgraves

Instagram: @traceygarvisgraves

 

The Mill on Magnolia Lane by Tilly Tennant #BookReview #BlogTour (@TillyTenWriter) @bookouture #NetGalley #TheMillOnMagnoliaLane

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The sky is cornflower blue, the air is scented with the smell of fresh apple blossom and Lizzie Lovell can’t wait to start her new life in the mill on Magnolia Lane. But is she just about to fall in love with someone she shouldn’t? 

When Lizzie loses her larger-than-life Dad she doesn’t know how to move forward. Encouraged by a childhood dream she shared with her beloved father, she is determined to continue his legacy and moves to the old Mill on Magnolia Lane, a place he had always longed to own.

Restoring the old windmill is a much bigger job than Lizzie bargained for, especially when she is distracted by her new next door neighbour Jude, who has temptingly twinkly eyes and a body to die for. But when Jude’s ex- girlfriend Harriet arrives back on the scene, Lizzie begins to wonder if life wasn’t far simpler before she moved to the mill. Especially when it emerges that Harriet knows something about Jude’s past, something that could shatter her new start and her heart into smithereens …

It’s publication day for The Mill on Magnolia Lane, the latest book by Tilly Tennant so I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour on this special day. Happy Publication Day, Tilly! Huge thanks to Noelle Holten of Bookouture for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I know there will be a lot of people out there who, like me, are huge fans of Tilly Tennant and who will be waiting eagerly for this new book and I can confirm that I don’t think they will be disappointed by her latest offering.

This book joins Lizzie at a very sad time in her life when she has just lost her dad and she is feeling a little adrift. She decides to buy the derelict old mill on Magnolia Lane that her father always longed to own and decides to renovate it in his honour, and so her adventure starts. Living in a cramped caravan onsite, trying to deal with all the issues that inevitably come with restoring a crumbling, old building and dealing with her dishy neighbour and her fractured family in to the bargain was never going to be plain sailing.

Having built by own house from scratch (not literally, of course, I had builders!), I could relate to Lizzie’s dilemmas in the book and thought Tilly captured the problems with taking on a huge building project very well and it was a great driver for the book. The parts describing the renovation of the mill were some of my favourites in the book and anyone who enjoys these kind of stories about the renovation of old buildings, breathing new life into the and, thus, bringing to life the hopes and dreams for the future of the owners (because that is what building or renovating a house is, trying to bring to life your dream home) will love this book.

Although this is a romance, it is actually a book more about family relationships and how turbulent they can be and how we need to work at them sometimes, but that it can be worth it. Lizzie has a very troubled family. Divorce has led to conflict between her mother and siblings and her stepmother, to whom Lizzie alone is friendly and this causes friction. Lizzie’s stepmother was actually one of my favourite characters in the book and I loved the scenes she was in. Lizzie’s sister is high maintenance, and comes into the book with a lot of issues which she then burdens her sister with. All of this rang very true to life and brought a really interesting thread of questions and plot and tension to the book. It felt like a realistic portrayal of family to me. I thought the issues regarding Lizzie’s brother were rather glossed over or rushed and could have been developed more fully if they were to be included but I loved the rest of it.

For me, surprisingly, the romantic part of the book was the least compelling on this occasion. Part of the problem was that it just developed too quickly. I mean, unrealistically quickly. You really need to suspend your disbelief to buy in to this one, or maybe I am just old and jaded, who knows. Given her past history, I wasn’t quite buying it, particularly given the peculiar situation with Jude and his ex, Harriet. I didn’t blame Lizzie for her misgivings over that, although I did think that exploring this kind of situation was an interesting and relevant idea, as this is so common these days and something I have experienced myself but the portrayal didn’t quite ring true. Part of the problem was that Jude wasn’t quite doing it for me in his obliviousness. I did absolutely love Charlie as a character though, I could have read about him all day long. However, we all know that what we find compelling about men in books is very subjective (am I the only one who didn’t fall for Mr Rochester?), just as it is in real life. If we all liked the same, we’d be fighting over a very small pool of eligible men!

This is a really charming, summer read with a lot of strong points and an interesting premise that I know fans of Tilly will enjoy. Her appealing, breezy writing style is present and as strong as always and it is an easy and fun read. Just maybe one beat from perfect for me, but only for very personal reasons. You must read it and judge for yourself.

The Mill on Magnolia Lane is out today and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, see the stops detailed below:

The Mill on Magnolia Lane - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing. She wrote a novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. In 2016 she signed to the hugely successful Bookouture and is currently working on her next Tilly Tennant novel. She also writes as Sharon Sant, where she explores the darker side of life, and Poppy Galbraith, where things get a little crazier.

Connect with Tilly:

Website: https://tillytennant.com

Facebook: Tilly Tennant

Twitter: @TillyTenWriter

The Little Guesthouse of New Beginnings by Donna Ashcroft #BookReview #BlogTour (@Donnashc) @bookouture @RNATweets #NetGalley #TheLittleGuesthouseOfNewBeginnings

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The Sunshine Hideaway, with its big bay windows and stunning view of Sunflower Island’s golden beaches, is the only place Madison Skylar has ever truly thought of as home. Could returning to the island be the second chance she needs? 

When twenty-three-year-old Madison arrives at The Sunshine Hideaway, she discovers the beautiful little guesthouse is falling into disrepair. With the help of old friends Amy and Connor, Madison throws herself into creating a gorgeous wellness retreat, introducing yoga sessions, adventure walks and ice-cream sundaes with a delicious twist. But will it be enough to save her childhood home?

Handsome and mysterious Connor has lived on Sunflower Island his whole life. He works hard as a builder, with his faithful dog Jaws by his side, but something is missing and he dreams of bigger things. As Connor helps to revamp The Sunshine Hideaway, this could be his opportunity to tell the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years how he really feels…

As spontaneous and fun-loving Madison settles into life on the close-knit island, sparks fly between her and shy Connor as they clash on the reinvention of the guesthouse. Are the they too different to make things work or will Madison and Connor finally find true love this year?

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for the new book by Donna Ashcroft, The Little Guesthouse of New Beginnings. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for my place on the tour and my copy of the book via Netgalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

You can tell from the cosy, pastel cover that this is going to be a fun, warm, summer read so this is the perfect book to pick up the weekend British Summer Time officially started and I can confirm that I whiled away a couple of contented hours devouring this book.

From the very opening scene, as Madison is approaching her old home of Sunflower Island via the ferry, the reader is thrown straight in to the atmosphere of the book, so if you are someone who likes a sweet, seaside setting for your romance (and who doesn’t, it’s like taking a holiday while staying in your armchair, and at a fraction of the cost!) you are going to love the setting. Donna does a great job of setting the scene and I found it very easy to picture Sunflower Island and the Hideaway guest house in my mind’s eye.

The main characters in the book, Madison and Connor, are quickly and firmly established, and seem to rub each other up the wrong way. Madison is a travel junkie with itchy feet, a legacy of her childhood, whereas Connor has always lived and worked on Sunflower Island. He is deeply suspicious of Madison and her nomadic tendencies and she can’t understand why he seems to dislike her so much. Plot set for much misunderstanding and tension, but you can feel the attraction  between them from early on and will be eager to see if they manage to work out what we believe, they are each the perfect person to help the other out. It is the classic tale of opposites attracting. I fell in love with both of them, although neither are perfect, and really cared what happened to them. An essential requirement for a compelling read.

You see, despite the fact this book may look like a fluffy, summer read, there are real issues carrying the story along. This is a book about how our relationships with our parents can affect the way we form relationships ourselves in later life. It is about finding a place to call home, and learning that we don’t need to be alone in life, there are people who will love and care for us if we let them in. It is about stopping to look around us and valuing each moment for the precious gift it is. Donna brilliantly weaves all of these things through the story and gives it a heft you wouldn’t necessarily expect from  a beach read.

The writing in the book seems effortless and follows easily, carrying the reader along. This is no chore to read and I whizzed through it quickly, absorbed in the story as the hours flew by. It felt like a very quick book, so if you are looking for something satisfying by speedy, I would highly recommend it.

I have to say, I was captivated by this book. The characters, the plot, the setting, the writing were all very appealing and I would urge you to pick it up if you are looking for a mood-lifting read. Looking forward to more from this author.

The Little Guesthouse of New Beginnings is out now and you can get a copy here.

There are lots more fabulous bloggers taking part in the tour so make sure you check out their reviews too:

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About the Author

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Donna Ashcroft was born in London and grew up in Buckinghamshire. She went to university in Lancashire and, among other things, worked as a copywriter, buyer, waitress, secretary and marketing manager.

Donna wrote novels for over ten years before being published. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and was a joint winner of the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017.

Donna loves a happy ending and is never happier than when she’s escaping into a romance novel or movie. When she’s not reading or writing she’ll probably be found hoovering … or negotiating with her teenagers about who is doing the washing up.

Connect with Donna:

Website: http://donna-writes.co.uk

Facebook: Donna Ashcroft Author

Twitter: @Donnashc

A Wedding On Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #RaRaResources #LilyPondLane

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Another visit to Little Pondale and this time we are attending a big celebration as I take part in the blog tour for A Wedding on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to Emily for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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The Angel Bell is ringing for Mia and Jet’s Big Day – but will the Wedding of the Year go without a hitch?

Every bride wants the perfect wedding and Mia Ward is no exception. But she is the only bride in Little Pondale and everyone in the village has ideas for her Big Day. Drowning in suggestions, Mia needs some help.

When she bumps into childhood friend, Breanna Wright on a shopping trip to London, Mia’s convinced it’s Fate. Breanna’s only ambition was to be a wedding planner with her own business, The Wright Wedding … so Mia doesn’t hesitate.

Breanna’s now got three months to plan a wedding where the sky’s the limit, budget-wise. She should be over the moon. Especially as she’ll get a chance to see old friends again, including her first love. There’s just one tiny hitch … Breanna doesn’t have a wedding-planning business.

She should tell Mia there has been a slight mistake, but as usual Breanna’s life isn’t running smoothly and she could really use a break. And when you’ve dreamt about planning weddings all your life, how difficult can it be?

Will this be the chance Breanna’s longed for? Or will Mia’s Dream Wedding be Breanna’s biggest disaster yet?

So, the big day is finally here for Mia and Jet. Would you like to see the wedding invitation? Of course you would!

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The moment the series has been building up to, the big day for Mia and Jet, is finally drawing near but will the wedding preparations run smoothly or are there still a few more bumps in the road before they get their happy ever after? You’ll have to read this book to find out!

While all of the characters we have come to know and love on Lily Pond Lane are back, this book largely centres around a newcomer to the story, Bree, and old school friend of Mia and Ella, who has a vital role to play in Mia and Jet’s story but also has a few issues of her own to deal with. I think Emily’s idea to make Bree the focus of the story was a good one, as I am not sure how many more difficulties I could stand for Mia after the previous books! Obviously some of the usual characters were involved, but I can’t say more without giving away spoilers so I’ll leave it there.

The book is written with all of the warmth and charm we have come to expect from Emily, particularly in this series, and it feels like a nice way to round things off. All of the loose ends for everybody are neatly tied up, maybe a little too neatly in places for believability, but hey, this is Lily Pond Lane, a place of magic and happiness so I think we can give the story a bit of leeway in pursuit of this for everyone involved.

Emily has hinted that this may not be quite the end for the residents of Little Pondale (A Baby on Lily Pond Lane, anyone?) but for now this book is the perfect way to round off what has been a gorgeous, feel good series with a cast of lovely characters that I am going to miss greatly. If you want a series that is simply going to make you happy, this is it. No mean feat in these turbulent times.

A Wedding on Lily Pond Lane is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, please visit the blogs listed below:

A Wedding on Lily Pond Lane Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.


Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

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

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale

The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin #BookReview #BlogTour (@HollyMAuthor) #TheSummerOfChasingDreams

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Eva Blue is about to go on a trip of a lifetime, but one adventure she didn’t count on was falling in love…

Eva is quite content with her life in London. In her job as a cover designer, she works at home, and often in her cosy pyjamas. She’s happy to stay in her safe little world and not explore much outside of it.

She is the opposite of her mum, a free spirit who craved finding adventure and thrills in all corners of the world. But on the day her mum’s will is finalised, Eva finds a list of all the dreams her mum wanted to achieve in her life. Things she never did because she fell pregnant with Eva.

Eva decides these dreams will not go unfulfilled – she is going to be brave and complete them for her mum. As Eva has no experience travelling the world, she hires a guide to go with her on this holiday.

Gorgeous but rude Thor Anderson is not the person she would choose to accompany her on this journey, but somehow she gets stuck with him. As they discover the world together Eva starts to think he might not be as bad as she first thought. She is swept away by Thor’s kindness and mischievous sense of humour. But will it be a simple holiday romance or could this wonderful adventure lead to so much more?

I’m so happy to be taking my turn on the blog tour for The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin today. My huge thanks to Holly for inviting me to be on her tour and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I have to tell you that I am a massive fan of Holly’s writing. When you pick up one of her books, you know exactly what you are going to get – a light, heart-warming, fun, romantic read with a picture perfect setting and characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. They are the perfect pick-me up for dreary days or when you want something cute to read on your sun lounger and she never fails to deliver.

Now we have established that I am a huge fan, I have to say that this book exceeded even my very high expectations. I think this is Holly’s best book yet; I absolutely loved it from start to finish and it was over way too quickly.

Everything about this book is perfect. The premise is beautiful and tugs at the heartstrings as home-loving Eva decides to venture out of her comfort zone and embark on a round-the-world adventure, fulfilling her deceased mother’s bucket list. Leading on from this, the story then hops around the world, visiting all the exotic places you wish you could go in your wildest dreams. Add into the mix a hot Scandinavian and you have a magic recipe. The protagonist, Eva, is completely lovable and you will be rooting for her from the off and the plot has all the highs and lows needed to keep you turning the pages.

Holly’s writing is chatty but evocative, and you will feel like you have visited all the corners of the world along with Eva. I find it hard to believe that Holly has visited all of the locations described in person but, if she hasn’t, you’ll be hard pushed to spot which ones she has and which one she hasn’t. If I get the chance, I’ll ask Holly to let me in on the secret as to how she managed to make the travels sound so authentic.

If I had a small quibble, as a very-recently-ex-travel agent, I’d say that Tracy has some very dubious business practices and I’m amazed her travel agency is still in business. I’d have thought ABTA would be inundated with complaints about her! However, I’m very happy to suspend my disbelief for books that are as sweet and fun as this one.

I devoured this almost in one sitting, so greedy was I for the story, then I felt bereft when it was over because I was so caught up in the story. Sometimes this type of read will be something you read once and then move on from but, for me, this is one I know I will want to come back to in the future when I feel in need of a TLC read, so I’m going out to buy myself a paperback copy. In my over-crowded library, a permanent stretch of premium shelf space is the ultimate endorsement.

The Summer of Chasing Dreams is out now in paperback and e-book format and you can get a copy here.

Make sure you read the reviews from my fellow bloggers taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books.

Connect with Holly:

Website: hollymartin.com

Facebook: Holly Martin Author

Twitter: @HollyMAuthor

Desert Island Books: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells @rwellswrites #BookReview #friendship #family #bookbloggers #bookblog #desertislandbooks #readinggoals

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When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she’s directed, her mother gets described as a “tap-dancing child abuser.” Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda.

Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.”

As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.

If you want to know if you are going to like this book or not, all you need to do is to read the prologue. It is only a page and a half long, but it perfectly encapsulates the setting, tone and characterisation of the book. It wraps you in the mood, sounds, tastes, smells and feelings of the Louisiana bayou and pulls you in to the book; a literary seductress of a prologue – I defy you to resist its siren call.

This is the third of the books I have chosen to accompany me to my Desert Island, to be read repeatedly in perpetuity and I had absolutely no doubt at all as to whether to include it in the list. I fell hopelessly and irrevocably in love with this book the first time I read it, and that love has remained unaltered – steadfast and true – through repeated readings over the intervening twenty-plus years. It is a book that has grown with me over that time, as I have matured from naive twenty-something to a woman in her mid-forties with now a history of relationships and children to inform my understanding of the book. It is a novel that gives you different things depending on from where in your life you come at it. A novel so rich in insight and understanding of the female condition that it will not age.

This book is, without doubt, the best book about female friendship that I have ever read, and given how much I read that is no minor feat. When I first read it in my early twenties, I was so moved by the depiction of the relationship between the four Ya-Yas, that I immediately bought a copy of the book for each of my three closest female friends, so I could share the experience with them, and I know I am not alone in feeling this. A whole movement of Ya-Ya clubs sprang up around this book as it moved readers to celebrate their own relationships with the women in their lives. Close female friendship is a unique and special thing, and Rebecca Wells portrays this perfectly. Just as in this book, my girlfriends have been there with me through all the important times in my life, good and bad. They have celebrated with me, commiserated, listened, advised, laughed and cried. At times they have literally carried me through periods when I thought I could not go on. They are always on my side, never judging, never criticising. They are the scaffolding that has kept me upright when my very foundations have been shaken by seismic life events, and this book dissects and celebrates the true bones of these relationships and their role in our lives.

As I’ve grown older and had relationships and family of my own, the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship which is also central to this book have also come into sharper focus for me and meant more. I have come to understand it better from the perspective of Vivi, rather than Siddalee, and it has added an extra layer of richness to the narrative for me. There is always some new perspective to find on every reading, it is a book rich in nuance that takes more than one reading to mine and, as a result, I never get tired of it.

In addition to the above, this book also gives the most magnificent sense of place of any book I have read and was the reason that I fell in love with the Deep South of the USA before I even visited, and Louisiana in particular. I wanted to experience all the richness that this book promised awaited me there, the heavy warmth, the spice of the food, the twanging patois of the vernacular, so unique to this place and its mongrel history and when I finally got there, it exceeded every expectation. This book took part of my heart and planted it in Louisiana and the call to return and find it continues to draw me back to this day. This is an extraordinary feat for any book and reason enough to pick it up, if the preceding praise was not sufficient. If you want a book that transports you to a different time and place, look no further, this novel will carry you away; it is a book you can lose yourself in completely.

This book touches on some difficult subjects, but that is part of what makes it so glorious. This book is real. It deals with real people, real problems, real feelings, real relationships. The characters are flawed but compelling and the reader cannot help but be drawn into their drama. The writing is sublime. It is the kind of book that makes me want to write, to give people this experience, this connection with characters, this sense of empathy. When Rowan Coleman gave a talk at the RNA Conference last year about finding the three words to describe your writing, the top one on my list was affinity. I want people who read my book to feel an affinity with my characters and what they are going through, even if they have not been through the same experience themselves. That is what I feel for the characters in this book, even though they inhabit a different world than mine. And it makes me want to weep, because I know that I will never write anything as good as this.

If you haven’t got the message by now, I adore this book. It is one of those novels that, when you have read it, you feel that it has changed you.

You can get a copy of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood here and I think I might have to insist that you do.

About the Author

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Rebecca Wells was born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. “I grew up,” she says, “in the fertile world of story-telling, filled with flamboyance, flirting, futility, and fear.” Surrounded by Louisiana raconteurs, a large extended family, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor’s Parish, Rebecca’s imagination was stimulated at every turn. Early on, she fell in love with thinking up and acting in plays for her siblings—the beginnings of her career as an actress and writer for the stage. She recalls her early influences as being the land around her, harvest times, craw-fishing in the bayou, practicing piano after school, dancing with her mother and brothers and sister, and the close relationship to her black “mother” who cleaned for the Wells household. She counts black music and culture from Louisiana as something that will stay in her body’s memory forever.

In high school, she read Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric,” which opened her up to the idea that everything in life is a poem, and that, as she says, “We are not born separately from one another.” She also read “Howl,” Allen Ginsberg’s indictment of the strangling consumer-driven American culture he saw around him. Acting in school and summer youth theater productions freed Rebecca to step out of the social hierarchies of high school and into the joys of walking inside another character and living in another world.

The day after she graduated from high school, Rebecca left for Yellowstone National Park, where she worked as a waitress. It was an introduction to the natural glories of the park—mountains, waterfalls, hot springs, and geysers—as well as to the art of hitchhiking.

Rebecca graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, where she studied theater, English, and psychology. She performed in many college plays, but also stepped outside the theater department to become awakened to women’s politics. During this time she worked as a cocktail waitress–once accidentally kicking a man in the shins when he slipped a ten-dollar bill down the front of her dress—and began keeping a journal after reading Anais Nin, which she has done ever since.

Connect with Rebecca:

Website: https://www.rebeccawellsbooks.com

Facebook: Rebecca Wells Author

Twitter: @rwellswrites

Instagram: @mizrebeccawells

 

 

Return to Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #RaRaResources #LilyPondLane

Return to Lily Pond Lane Blog Tour

I am so thrilled to be returning to Little Pondale to catch up with Mia and her friends for the blog tour for Return to Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to Emily for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Life couldn’t be better for Mia and her friends in Little Pondale – until tragedy strikes…

Mia Ward is on cloud nine after a magical Christmas and New Year and she isn’t the only one. Everyone on Lily Pond Lane seems to be living in blissful harmony. Until tragedy strikes… not once, but twice. And as Hettie Turner points out: ‘Bad things always come in threes.’

Whilst the other residents of Little Pondale are wondering what might happen next, Mia is busy worrying about her friends and trying to help them with their grief. But she needs to be careful. Just when she thought she had everything, there’s a very real chance she might lose the only thing she truly wants.

I’m really enjoying this series by Emily Harvale and have fallen completely in love with Mia and the other residents of Little Pondale, so it was nice to go back after the Christmas instalment and find out what was happening to them all.

Some dramatic events, as it turns out, but I don’t want to include any spoilers so I won’t say any more about the nature of them, except to say that they offer up some challenges for Mia and Jet on their path of true love. There were lots of twists and turns in the story and plenty of heart in my mouth moments, as I was willing things to turn out well for the characters I have become so fond of over the course of the books. They really feel like friends now that you always want the best for.

Emily’s writing is so warm and approachable and very easy to read, it carries you through the story effortlessly. She is so good at enthralling you totally in the tale and never doing anything to jolt you out of that state of suspended reality you enjoy when you get engrossed in a tale. It is a real skill.

This is a very short book which is a quick read, so if you are looking for a quick, cosy romantic fix, this is the perfect book for you. The story was enough to provide me with a couple of hours of entertainment after a couple of very dark reads this week. It wasn’t quite as meaty as some of the previous instalments, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and I am looking forward to the next book, A Wedding on Lily Pond Lane, which I will be reviewing next month, so make sure you come back then!

Return to Lily Pond Lane is out now and you can get a copy here.

To see some alternative opinions on the book, please do follow the blog tour:

Return To Lily Pond Lane

About the Author

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Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.


Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

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

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale