Blog Tour: Art and Soul by Claire Huston #BookReview

Art and Soul

I am so delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for the debut novel by my fellow RNA New Writers’ Scheme member, Claire Huston, with her book Art & Soul. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…

Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.

So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.

Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?

A bit of love and warmth was just what I needed this week, as it has been a really tough one for a variety of reasons, so this lovely book which took me away from my everyday problems and gave me some positivity and hope was the perfect tonic. It was a really easy read, but made me feel a lot of different emotions too, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This is the story of two people who are very different and meet in inauspicious circumstances, which is pretty much par for the course in romance novels, but what elevates this above the herd are the fantastic and believable characters that the author draws, and the novel and interesting situation she puts them in.

Our female protagonist is Becky, a life coach with a difference, because rather than just telling people what changes they can make to improve their lives, she is also kind of a fixer who sorts out ‘problems’ discreetly. Remember Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction? She is kind of a female version, without the blood and crime! Some of the scenarios Claire created around this premise were really funny, I loved the wedding one with Virgil and his cousins. Do people like this really exist? Is this a real job? I’ve never heard of it but if it is, I think I missed my vocation!

Becky finds herself hired to help Charlie, an artist whose career is in the doldrums after a hatchet job in an art magazine and some personal traumas that have disrupted his work. To say he is reluctant to accept Becky’s help is an understatement, but boy does he need it. Their relationship gets off to a fiery start, but Becky is nothing if not persistent, and she has her own personal reasons for needing to keep the contract with Charlie.

I was really drawn in to the book by the genuine, complex relationship that develops between Becky and Charlie and the extended characters that surround them, and by the really interesting dynamics of the two worlds they inhabit, neither of which I know much about. The writing is clear and lively and engaging and I romped through the text, enthralled on every page. There are no dull moments in the book, so slack passages where the plot fails to move on. You can forget you are in the pages of a book and feel like you are listening to a friend telling you a story.

For anyone who enjoys a light but moving romance, this would be a perfect book to add to your list. I highly recommend it to you, one and all.

Art & Soul is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more great reviews and other fantastic content:

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About the Author

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My name’s Claire Huston (pronounced as in “Houston, we have a problem”).

I’ve written my first novel – an uplifting contemporary romance – and I’m getting ready to publish in April 2020. You can read more about that in Art and Soul.

I live in the Midlands, UK, with my husband and two children. I work as a Spanish-English translator and when I’m not struggling to write, I try to read, bake, and generally keep chaos at bay.

I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.

Connect with Claire:

Website: https://clairehuston.co.uk

Facebook: Claire Huston Author

Twitter: @ClaraVal

Instagram: @clairehuston_author

Blog Tour: I Am Dust by Louise Beech #BookReview

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When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

A new book by Louise Beech is always something to get excited about so I feel very privileged to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest novel, I Am Dust today. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for including me on the tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

“a moment when darkness falls, and the stage is lit; a moment when they might wonder if they even exist any more; when they forget everything for two hours.”

This is a quote from early on in I Am Dust, the new book by Louise Beech, when we first meet the protagonist, Chloe, in the modern day setting of the Dean Wilson Theatre where she is an usher. Chloe is talking about the moment just before the curtain rises on a show, where the audience hang in anticipation of being swept away to a new world, taken out of their mundane lives and transported and immersed in someone else’s for a while. Everyone who loves the theatre, and I certainly count myself amongst that number, recognises this feeling.

I have picked this quote out and included it here because this is also exactly how opening the first page of a new book by this author makes me feel. Breathless with anticipation and ready to be transported to somewhere completely different and, I have to say, that I Am Dust delivered on this sense of promise on every level. I read this book pretty much in a single sitting over the course of one day, ignoring everything around me because I was so captivated and consumed by the story that Louise placed between these pages that I could not bear to break the spell before it was over. A bit like when you emerge from a virtuoso performance, slightly disoriented and blinking in the alien light of the real world, I came out of this reading experience, preoccupied and slightly bereft, but with the horde of emotions the tale had stirred up in me still buzzing through my veins.

One of the things that makes Louise’s writing so unique is that it defies genre pigeon-holeing. Everyone is different and unique, and you never know quite what to expect, except that you know it is never going to be straight-forward and that it will touch you in a million different ways. Here we have a mystery, a ghost story, a tale of love and rivalry and an exploration of teenage angst, ambition, and sacrifice. It has so many levels of complexity that it takes a while to sort out how you feel about the book once you have finished it, and it made me immediately want to go back to the beginning and start again so I could savour the tiny details I missed on my first impatient read-through where I both couldn’t wait to get to the end and could not bear to be finished either. These dichotomies will be familiar to anyone who has read Louise’s work before, and feed through to many aspects of her stories, a case in point here being the theme that it is possible to both love and hate someone at the same time.

This is a dual timeline story, set in the present day Dean Wilson Theatre where a revival of the controversial musical, Dust, is imminent; a musical which has profound meaning for our main character, Chloe, and its return stirs up painful feelings and memories from the past for her. We also then have flashbacks to one intense summer during Chloe’s teenage years, the events of which are now bleeding through in to the present. The narrative construct works really well to reveal pertinent facts to the reader at the same time as they are recalled by Chloe and impact the present day events, and it delivers a level of tension and urgency that it one of the main reasons I was unable to set this book aside during the first reading.

This page-turning quality is only one small part of what makes this book so compelling, though. The character development and exploration is also exquisite. Chloe is so well drawn, so sympathetic and recognisable a person to carry this book that the reader cannot help but be taken along on her journey and feel all that she feels along the way. The pain of her teenage years, of intense, unrequited love and those instant, fierce, emotional swings are so vivid and familiar, the story feels absolutely real, even when exploring the supernatural elements. There have been many books and movies that have  used the link between unchecked teenage emotion and psychic happenings, but here Louise draws Chloe’s angst so honestly and believably that the occurrences seem almost inevitable, as does her reaction to them, and to the pain of just being as a teenager. The book explores some difficult topics, but always sensitively, and my heart was just beating along with Chloe’s, feeling deeply what she is feeling throughout the story.

The other quality that makes this book extra special is the one I pointed out at the beginning, how the author has managed to encapsulate absolutely perfectly the dream-like feeling of a theatre production and bring it to life in the pages of this novel. That sense of being held in a bubble, separate from the real world, disconnected from time for a while and completely captive to the story. This ethereal, surreal quality to the reading experience is something I am not sure I have experienced before and I am not sure how she has managed to do it, I could not pinpoint what it is about the text that makes this so, but it is so magical that it left me almost breathless. It is a quality that makes this ghost story believable, because the whole story seems illusory, both past and present, as if there is a gauzy curtain between what is happening here and reality. It is very hard to describe, I think you need to read the book yourself to experience it, but it is quite startling in its originality and something very special.

My love for this book is unbounded. It is deeply moving in parts, it almost brought me to tears at the end, because the emotions bleed off the page. I could wax lyrical about what makes this book special all day and still fail to really convey what makes it outstanding, but you are probably already bored. So I’ll just finish by saying, you will never have had a reading experience quite like this and Louise’s chameleon-like abilities as a writer continue to amaze me with every new book. I was blown away by I Am Dust and it has flown into my top ten books of the year, please, please read it for yourself.

I Am Dust is out now as am ebook and will be published in paperback on 16 April, and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the I Am Dust blog tour, check out the details on the poster below:

I Am Dust BT Poster

About the Author

Louise Beech Author pic

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Connect with Louise:

Website: https://louisebeech.co.uk

Facebook: Louise Beech

Twitter: @LouiseWriter

Instagram: @louisebeech13

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The Cactus by Sarah Haywood Narrated by Katherine Manners #BookReview

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It’s never too late to bloom.

People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green – family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs. At 45, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward – a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one, a job that suits her passion for logic, and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other more intimate benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to get round to reviewing this book, I listening to it ages ago. I think maybe I have been afraid that I wouldn’t do the book justice, I loved it so much.

This book is the story of a very unusual woman, and her character is so perfectly formed and then tested by the author that I defy anyone not to be entranced by the story. Susan is a woman whose life is perfectly ordered. She knows exactly who she is, what she is doing, how she wants things to be, and she has it all arranged perfectly, from her flat, to her job, to her relationship of convenience with Richard, who seems to think exactly as she does. Which is a miracle, because nobody sees the world exactly as Susan does. The best thing about her, for me, is her absolute belief that she is always right, her way of approaching things is obviously correct and pretty much everyone else in the world is an idiot that needs to be tolerated at best. Her disdain for most of humanity as irredeemably stupid drips off the page and it is delightful.

You might think a woman like this would be hard to relate to as a character, but it isn’t so. I think because the author sets her up so early on with problems that we, the reader, can see are going to force her to adjust her view, because when we meet her family we can possibly understand that a great deal of her spiky ways have developed as armour against the tribulations of her early life and her dysfunctional family, and because other characters who are more likeable in the book see her as a redeemable character, so we do too. The writing is so clever in this regard, I have to tip my hat to the author.

This book is incredibly warm and funny. The situation that Sarah puts Susan in, finding herself pregnant in her forties, would be ripe for comedy in any situation but, given how ordered and uptight Susan is, the chaos of pregnancy and childbirth is magnified tenfold. There were parts of the book that had me absolutely howling with laughter. The part where she and Richard meet to discuss how they are going to handle the parenting of this unexpected child was delightful in its naivety for anyone who has children. Then the incident with the Bananagrams towards the end of the book made me laugh so hard I had tears in my eyes. I read someone else’s review of this book that claimed it was not as funny as Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I would beg to differ, I found this much funnier.

As I have now brought up Eleanor Oliphant, I want to say that anyone who loved that book will really enjoy this one. It is a similar social misfit tale, but a completely different story. Sarah obviously has so much love for the character of Susan, it shines from the page and makes the reader fall in love with her too. I listened to this book as an audiobook in the end, even though I originally got the book via NetGalley, but when I had finished it, I immediately went and bought a hardback copy for my shelves because I know I will want to return to it again and again.

I just wanted to say a word about the audio version of this book. I think listening to it via audio gave Susan a really strong voice for me. She is from the West Midlands, and the narrator has the accent down perfectly throughout. I am not sure about you but, when I read text, even if the author places the cast in a particular location, I never read with an accent in my head. Listening to someone read with the accent really cemented Susan as alive and kicking for me, and her tone and pacing was also perfect for the character. I think this is one of those stories where the audio really enhances the story and I would highly recommend it (although it did take me several days to get the Birmingham accent out of my head after finishing the book!). The narrator was perfect and I don’t have high enough praise for her performance, as the narration makes or breaks an audiobook.

The Cactus is already on the shortlist for being one of my Top Ten books of the year. I cannot express how much I adored it. It is no surprise to me that it was chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her book club and everyone who hasn’t read it should get a copy now. It is the perfect antidote to the dark days we are currently living through and you could do a lot worse that share your isolation with Susan Green.

The Cactus is out now in all formats and you can get yourself a copy here.

About the Author

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Sarah Haywood was born in Birmingham. After studying Law, she worked in London and Birkenhead as a solicitor, in Toxteth as an advice worker, and in Manchester as an investigator of complaints about lawyers. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and lives in Liverpool with her husband, two sons and two ginger cats.

Connect with Sarah:

Website: https://www.sarahhaywoodauthor.com

Facebook: Sarah Haywood Author

Twitter: @SarahxHaywood

Instagram: @sarahjhaywood

Blog Tour: When Life Gives You Lemons by Fiona Gibson #BookReview

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Sometimes life can be bittersweet . . .

Between tending to the whims of her seven-year-old and the demands of her boss, Viv barely gets a moment to herself. It’s not quite the life she wanted, but she hasn’t run screaming for the hills yet.

But then Viv’s husband Andy makes his mid-life crisis her problem. He’s having an affair with his (infuriatingly age-appropriate) colleague, a woman who – unlike Viv – doesn’t put on weight when she so much as glances at a cream cake.

Viv suddenly finds herself single, with zero desire to mingle. Should she be mourning the end of life as she knows it, or could this be the perfect chance to put herself first?

When life gives you lemons, lemonade just won’t cut it. Bring on the gin!

It is my turn on the blog tour today for When Life Gives You Lemons by Fiona Gibson. My thanks to Sanjana Cunniah at Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Fiona Gibson, and I’m now wondering why I haven’t read anything by her before because this novel was right up my street, definitely what I needed to cheer me up and take my mind off my enforced isolation.

It probably helped that the main character of Viv could, in many ways, be me. I haven’t related this closely to the main protagonist of a novel in a long while. It is so refreshing to see a menopausal woman of a certain age as the main character of a mainstream book, and one who is so unassuming but kickass as Viv. Although I have to say, the thought of having a seven-year-old at the age of 52 (which would be the equivalent of me currently being in charge of a toddler) filled me with abject horror! Those days are far behind me, thankfully (although dealing with teens can be just as bad) and I admired Viv’s fortitude in this regard.

The writing in this novel is light and upbeat and easy to read throughout and I fairly flew  through the pages. The plot and tone and characters are all very engaging, and it was very easy to immerse myself in their world and care about what was going on. I really loved the fact that Fiona did not make any of the characters canonised saints or absolute sinners, which sometimes can happen when an author wants us to sympathise with a protagonist and her decisions. Here, although Viv’s husband behaves like a cad, he is not a pantomime villain with no redeeming features, just an ordinary, if slightly weak, man, and this makes it much easier for the reader to believe in him and Viv’s reaction to him. All in all, I felt like all of the characters and their behaviour were realistically portrayed.

What made this book a real winner for me, though, was the painfully and brutally honest portrayals of peri-menopause and what it does to a woman, both physically and emotionally. As someone who is going through this stage of life at the moment and has, at times over the past three years felt like her body has been hijacked by an alien who keeps doing very undignified things to it, it was refreshing to see someone talking about this out loud and taking the sting out of it. At times this book had me absolutely howling with laughter. The part when Viv’s boss takes her out to lunch to discuss a potential new role for her in the company was a particular highlight. A good chuckle at women in my current situation was the tonic I never knew I was missing.

On the downside, I may never eat another Wotsit.

This book was funny and pacy and all-round delightful. If you looking for an easy, upbeat read to get you through quarantine, I highly recommend it.

When Life Gives You Lemons is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the blog tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Fiona Gibson is the author of 15 romantic comedy novels, including the best-selling The Mum Who Got Her Life Back (Avon), which celebrates the empty nester years. Under the name of Ellen Berry, she also writes the heartwarming Rosemary Lane series (Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane is out in January 2020).

Fiona grew up in West Yorkshire, before working on Jackie and Just Seventeen magazines – in those heady pre-internet days when it was thrilling to get a free plastic mirror taped to the front of your magazine. She went on to edit More! magazine, where she introduced the infamous Position of the Fortnight. After having twin sons and a daughter, Fiona started to write novels, usually at night with the house full of toddlers and builders. She was sleep deprived anyway so it really didn’t make any difference.

She also loves to draw, paint and run – by some miracle she managed to finish the London Marathon 2019. With the kids all grown up now, she and her husband Jimmy live in Glasgow with their collie cross, Jack.

Connect with Fiona:
Twitter: @FionaGibson
Instagram: @fiona_gib

 

Blog Tour: Summer at the Highland Coral Beach by Kiley Dunbar #BookReview

Summer at the Highland Coral Beach

I’m so pleased to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Summer at the Highland Coral Beach by Kiley Dunbar. Kiley is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and I could not wait to read her latest book. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Escape to the Highland Coral Beach – where broken hearts can be healed

Beatrice Halliday needs a break from life. Booking a trip to the Highlands on a whim, Beatrice hopes learning Gaelic in a beautiful Scottish village might help her heal her grief after losing her baby, her husband and her much loved job in a space of months.

But Port Willow Bay isn’t exactly as the website promised. Instead of learning a new language, she’s booked in to learn the ancient skill of willow weaving, her hotel room is Princess and the Pea themed (with a stack of mattresses for her bed!) and worse still, her tutor is Atholl Fergusson, grumpy landlord of the hotel where Beatrice is staying – and she’s the only one doing the course.

But as Beatrice finds herself falling in love with Port Willow Bay and its people, and as she discovers the kind heart beneath Atholl’s stony exterior, can she really leave?

At the very end of 2019, an author whose writing I had loved since I was in my teens very sadly passed away. That author was M. C. Beaton and the books beloved by me were the Hamish Macbeth stories. I spent many holidays in the Scottish borders as a child and in the town in which we stayed there was a newsagents, the Scottish version of W H Smiths, where I discovered the first Hamish Macbeth stories. I was in my early teens at the time and I immediately became addicted. As I am very old, this was in the days before Amazon, and I could not find these books in any local bookshops in the UK, so I used to wait eagerly for the summer holidays, saving up my pocket money, so I could rush and buy the next books in the series.

Several years later, the BBC made the Hamish Macbeth books into a delightful TV series, starring the gorgeous Robert Carlyle and set in a remote and dreamy part of the Scottish Highlands, and I was soon addicted to this too and still love it to this day.

Why is this in any way relevant to a review of the latest book by Kiley Dunbar, I hear you ask? Well, that TV series was filmed around the towns of Plockton and the Kyle of Lochalsh in the western Highlands, and this is a place I have been dreaming of ever since I first fell in love with these books and this show but I’ve never made it there, until now. Because Summer at the Highland Coral Beach is set in the fictional Highland village of Port Willow, which Kylie has based on that long-for destination of Plockton and the setting of the book is so gorgeous, so vivid, so…. touchable on the page that I feel like I’ve spent the last two days there, rather than stuck on my sofa at home. The book filled me with the same kind of joy and peace that made me fall in love with the portrayal of life in this small, remote Highland village and its eccentric characters in the M. C. Beaton books from my youth.

Anyone who read my reviews of Kylie’s previous two books will know I have waxed lyrical before about how wonderful her writing is at making a setting, location and a mood come alive on the page. It is a real gift, this ability to imbue the pages of a book with the spirit, the essence of a place so the reader is really there with the characters, in that place, at the time, and she really has it, possibly more than anyone I have read writing in this genre at the moment. If I really want to escape, these are the kind of books I want to pick up.

Setting aside, the characters in this book are just a delight, and I fell in love with the immediately. They are all warm and likeable and relatable from the off, and it doesn’t hurt that the main male protagonist is a hot Scot in a kilt. But it is the character of Beatrice that carries the book and made this particularly special and moving. For starters, the is in her late thirties, which is refreshing and relevant to us middle-aged readers, and she has been through something that is very moving and personal to me, because I have had a similar experience myself. I found the portrayal of Beatrice and her experience and the reaction to it very realistic and affecting, but it is written with love such and sensitivity and gentleness and understanding that, although it caused me to shed some tears and feel that little crack I forever carry in my heart give a shift, I also nodded along and smiled and acknowledged the truth of what was being shown in the story. This is a hard topic to write about, as well as to read, and it is done here with bravery and grace and I applaud the way it is handled. We must not be afraid to talk about these things, because they are the reality of people’s lives and should not be hidden and ignored.

I don’t want you to get the impression that this is a book full of sadness and pain, because it really isn’t. It is joyful and hopeful and truthful, full of warmth and sunshine and love and optimism. I adored all of the characters, the setting, the feeling of community and caring and family that flowed through it from first page to last. It was just what I needed to lift me at what is a dark time for a lot of people, and left me heart-warmed and cheered. Even in the darkest time, there is brightness and hope on the horizon. In fact, to steal a family motto from the book, ‘Dulcis Ex Asperis’. Let’s hope so.

Summer at the Highland Coral Beach is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out the other fantastic blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

Kiley Dunbar author portrait

Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

Connect with Kiley:

Facebook: Kiley Dunbar Author

Twitter: @KileyDunbar

 

Blog Tour: Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green #BookReview

Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Cafe

I’m thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the ninth book in this series, which I have been loving, Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Molly Hooper has a secret. It haunts her dreams and casts a dark shadow over life with her gorgeous three-year-old daughter, Eva.

Arriving in Sunnybrook has given her a glimpse of sunshine. The Little Duck Pond Cafe crew seem so welcoming and there’s even the chance of a new job. Baking delicious cakes has always taken Molly to a happy place, so the job – at the glorious Brambleberry Manor Cafe – might just be perfect for her. It would mean she and little Eva could finally put down some roots at last.

But is Sunnybrook the sanctuary Molly is searching for? Or will the past come back to haunt her, wherever she hides?

I have read all eight books in the series up to this point and I actually think this one might be my favourite. I’ll try and explain why, if I can articulate it into words, although some of it has more to do with feeling than anything else.

This book gives us the story of Molly, who has been a minor character introduced in the last couple of books but is now getting a full novella revolving entirely around her and part of the reason this book is one of my favourites so far is that she is a character that your heart cannot help but go out to. Molly has made a series of ill-advised decisions in her life that have led her to end up in an awful situation that she cannot find her way out of and she believes that she is all alone in dealing with it. Her struggles have made her cut herself off from other people and emotions, so she is solely focused on protecting her young daughter, Eva.

Of course, she has ended up in Sunnybrook, home of the most well-meaning busybodies that ever existed (in a good way), and the troops soon rally round in the usual way to try and help Molly out. The thing that makes this book stand out is Molly’s situation brings in to sharp relief a very real and terrifying situation that is a all too true for too many people in our society today. I doubt many of them are as lucky as Molly is in finding a supportive community to help them out and it makes me very sad.

The author’s writing is always warm and friendly and enticing, and Sunnybrook is a consistently enticing place to revisit and fans of the series will find everything they love about the series here, as well as new things to enjoy. For anyone who has not read the previous books, this works very well as a standalone, but you should definitely go back and catch up on what has gone before, because the whole series is a delight. Bring on book ten!

(I really hope that soon I will be able to buy all of the series in paperback format, I’d love to add them to my shelf to return to in years to come when I am in need of a mood boost.)

Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Cafe is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

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About the Author

Rosie Green Author Pic

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

​Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. The first two stories in the series are: Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe and Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Connect with Rosie:

Twitter: @Rosie_Green1988

#Blog Blitz: The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable #BookReview

The Faerie Tree

I’m very pleased to be taking part in this blog blitz for a book I have had sitting on my TBR since last summer when I bought a copy at the RNA Conference and the author was kind enough to sign it for me. It has finally reached the top of the pile and I am indebted to Rachel Gilbey for inviting me to take part in the blitz. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially. Make sure you check out the giveaway further down the post where you have the chance to win a copy of the book.

The Faerie Tree Cover

HOW CAN A MEMORY SO VIVID BE WRONG?

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

I really did not know what to expect from this book, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be fantasy or magical realism, either of which I would have enjoyed, but it is neither. It is a surprising, powerful and emotional story of relationships, family, grief, loss and the way our minds react to trauma. I found the novel profoundly moving and was hooked from start to finish.

The author draws a trio of very strong and likeable characters in the novel, in Izzie and Robin, who tell the story in a dual narrative, and Izzie’s daughter, Claire, who is both an anchor and a catalyst in the tale. The story moves easily between Izzie and Robin’s recollection of events, and between current and historic happenings – it is incredibly well constructed. I thought the premise was fascinating and deftly explored, how reliable are our memories of events and how much does our psyche alter them to protect us from ordeals that we are not emotionally equipped to survive.

The Faerie Tree of the title is symbolic, and represents people’s hopes and dreams, a place where the protagonists come to reveal their innermost wishes, offload their concerns and voice their fears in the hope someone can hear them and help them process these desires. It then represents a place of blame and haunting, when those hopes and dreams are dashed and there is no one else to inculpate. It draws the focus of the family’s pain and becomes a way of them reaching out to it, and then each other, to share and understand and come together. I thought it was a really beautiful idea that was carried off without any mawkishness or sentimentality. The author explores the ideas of our connections to nature and spirituality through gratitude to the earth and its bounty, how this is important to some but misunderstood and ridiculed by others but, in the end, it is something that is likely to be fundamental to the survival of our species and our planet. Jane does this very cleverly and subtley, without any hint of preachiness, but I felt it through the narrative and it really resonated in present times.

The core of this story though, is love and relationships, how difficult they can be when people can’t make themselves understood by one another, or really understand themselves. In the end, success really comes down to openness, open-mindedness, trust and commitment. It feels to me a very true and very resonating story, and it left me warmed and thoughtful. It also contained some gorgeous pieces of description.

I really loved this book and I hope it finds its way to a large audience because it is a thoughtful, insightful and rewarding piece of work.

The Faerie Tree is out now and you can get a copy here.

Giveaway

If you would like to win paperback copies of The Faerie Tree and Jane’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, enter the giveaway by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below:

Rafflecopter

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Please make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

The Faerie Tree - Jane Cable 2019

Jane Cable writes romantic fiction with the over-riding theme that the past is never dead. She published her first two books independently (the multi award winning The Cheesemaker’s House and The Faerie Tree) and is now signed by Sapere Books. Two years ago she moved to Cornwall to concentrate on her writing full time, but struggles a little in such a beautiful location. Luckily she’s discovered the joys of the plot walk.

Connect with Jane:

Website: http://janecable.com

Facebook: Jane Cable

Twitter: @JaneCable