The House of Birds and Butterflies: Twilight Song by Cressida McLaughlin #bookreview (@CressMcLaughlin) @HarperCollinsUK @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TheHouseofBirdsandButterflies #TwilightSong #NetGalley

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“Spring is blooming at Meadowsweet nature reserve. Although the sunshine is drawing in the visitors like never before, events co-ordinator Abby knows she’s treading on thin ice. She’s spending more and more time with village newcomer Jack, and she’ll need to make a real success of the springtime camping extravaganza at the reserve if she’s to keep her disgruntled boss off her back.

Abby hasn’t thrown too many questions at Jack about his shadowy past – she’s enjoying the budding romance, so why break the spell? But when the secrets start spilling out and a glamorous blonde presenter from the nature show, Wild Wonders, turns Jack’s head, Abby knows it’s time to face the music…”

Part three of Cressida’s new four part serial and things are finally moving on between Abby and Jack – hurrah! Abby’s feelings for Jack have grown stronger along with mine as a reader, very cleverly managed by the author, and I am happy that Abby had finally managed to put her reservations aside and admit to herself how she feels.

However, there are still a few spanners to be thrown in the path of true love, as you would expect. Abby’s boss at the nature reserve is not happy that Abby is becoming distracted from her work as event co-ordinator, just when the reserve needs her most. Abby’s sister still has reservations about Jack and is not backward about sharing them, and Jack’s nemesis has come out of the woodwork to stir the pot and imply that Abby still does not have the full story about Jack’s troubled past.

I really enjoyed the camping weekend event that was organised at the reserve, and the first signs of thawing in the frosty Penelope, but the reserve’s situation seems to be coming ever more precarious and a sinister figure is now stalking the reserve to press the point home. We are left wondering if the reserve can be saved, what will be the fate of Swallowtail House and why is Flick Hunter hanging around? Is is because of Jack?

As a contrast to her wellie-clad work at the reserve, Abby attends a glamorous literary function with Jack as he tries to redeem his reputation in the literary world. This seems to be working until Eddie pops up, trying to scupper his chances and he draws Abby into his scheme to re-blacken Jack’s name. I wonder if Abby is prepared to be pulled out of her safe little world in Meadowsweet and into the spotlight, and whether Eddie will succeed in arousing further doubts in her mind about Jack.

Cressida does a great job of balancing the romance and tension and suspense in this instalment of the series, it was my favourite one of the series so far. We are fully immersed in the charming village of Meadowsweet and the travails of the reserve that they are as important to the reader as to the characters. At the same time, I am rooting for the romance of Abby and Jack.

My only problem with this book is that it was way too short and left on the cliffhanger of Jack finally revealing all of the details of his turbulent past. Will it be something Abby can live with? Will her sister’s doubts be allayed? What is the fate of Meadowsweet Reserve and Swallowtail House? Will Abby be able to do enough to save them? I am also sure that there is more to come from Flick Hunter and the presence of Wild Wonders at the rival Reston reserve.

Watch this space, the denouement is thankfully only a week away!

The House of Birds and Butterflies: Twilight Song is out now and you can buy a copy here. All four parts of The House of Birds and Butterflies will be released as a single paperback on 9 August 2018 and you can pre-order a copy here.

Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Amazon/Goodreads

About the Author

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Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.

Cressy’s favourite things – other than writing – include terrifying ghost stories, lava lamps and romantic heroes, though not necessarily at the same time. (Though perhaps a good starting point for a story . . ?)

When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful and romantic Norfolk coastline.

Connect with Cressida:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CressidaMcLaughlinAuthor/

Twitter: @CressMcLaughlin

Instagram: @cressmclaughlin

Website: https://cressidamclaughlin.com

Front Porch Lemonade by JudiLynn Taylor #bookreview #NetGalley #FrontPorchLemonade

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“On the front porch of one Victorian home in the small Southern town of Eubanks, six women gather to indulge themselves in some cutting up, cutting loose, and an unparalleled stream of blowing off steam.

While these friends cannot stop the events that at times attempt to knock them off their charted courses, they do find a way to embrace the changes in their lives—through each other’s support, laughter, and a healthy dose of Miss Abby’s lemonade. Hold the vodka?”

One of my favourite books, which I go back to repeatedly, is The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells and I am consistently drawn to any book that promises tales of warm, Southern life and female friendship. From the description, I thought this was going to be such a book, and the colourful jug of lemonade on the cover seduced me further but, having read it, I am afraid I have been left wanting.

This book centres around the friendship of six Southern women who gather frequently on the porch of their unofficial leader, Abigail Ashhurst, to drink her famous homemade lemonade (the recipe for this delight is in the front of the book and I am definitely going to give it a try soon) and put the world to rights. These women are strong and sassy and have each others backs through the onslaught of trials, tribulations and tragedies that befall them over the course of two years.

I say two years but the time frame is not clear as it is not a linear story but rather jumps around in time from one day to another and then weeks or months ahead and then back to a few days apart. It is often hard to tell exactly when in time we are in relation to the last chapter which made the read a little disorienting.

In addition, and to confuse things more, this is not a clear, linear plot but a series of vignettes and stories about each of the six women intermingled, so you are often trying to sort out which character is which, who their husbands/children/dogs/colleagues are and what they each do, as well as the relevance of the anecdote. It does not make for easy reading and I also found that the jumping around made it impossible for me to bond with any of the characters enough to particularly care about them. This became an issue when the author was trying to address some serious issues faced by a couple of the characters towards then end. I had no emotional investment in the characters which lessened the impact of these events. I think the author was trying to use these stories to reveal the character of the six women and the Southern way of life, but it really didn’t work for me at all.

There was some really good scene setting which gave us a feeling of what the town of Eubanks was like and an insight into the peculiarly Southern way of life but there wasn’t enough of this to satisfy me or make up for what the book lacked in other areas.

One of the main issues I had was the main character of Abby and trying to work out her character. I think the women are all supposed to be of a similar age – mid-40s – but a couple of them spoke and acted like teenagers and ‘Miss Abby’ came across as about 80. She was so uptight (she runs the local school of etiquette) with seemingly no private life and no sense of humour that she was totally impossible to relate to. I just did not connect with any of the characters at all which made this a tough read.

This isn’t a terrible book, I didn’t hate it. On finishing it I mainly felt a sense of relief and a certain dissatisfaction that I hadn’t gained anything from the reading experience.

Front Porch Lemonade is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and thewordverveinc for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Amazon/Goodreads

About the Author

JudiLynn Taylor is a Southern gal through and through . . . with an accent to prove it.
Her laugh is both unique and infectious, and she shares it generously, naturally drawn to the humor in life. When she is not spending time with her family and close friends—her greatest of joys—you may find her hiking along the Georgia trails, gardening in her yard or stirring up a batch of homemade chocolate truffles. Currently, JudiLynn lives in the North Georgia area with her husband Mike and their two Cocker Spaniels, Oskar Myer and Gracie Grace.

#BlogBlitz #Review #PublicationDay One Summer in Rome by Samantha Tonge @SamTongeWriter @rararesources @HQDigitalUK #OneSummerInRome

Since I’m not on this Blog tour, I thought I’d share with you this lovely review of Samantha Tonge’s new book ‘One Summer in Rome’ by the lovely Katie over at Katie’s Book Cave. Doesn’t it sound like the perfect summer read? I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Katie's Book Cave

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Today me and lots of other brilliant bloggers are joining forces to give Samantha Tonge a fabulous publication day. Do check out all the bloggers for their thoughts on this amazing book! Happy publication day Samantha, hope you enjoy it! Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

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One Summer in Rome by Samantha Tonge
Published: 9th May 2018
Publisher: HQ Digital
Rating: 5 stars

Blurb:

To Rome…with love?

Mary Smith is turning her very ordinary life upside-down! She’s bought herself a one-way ticket to Rome and is ready for a summer she’ll never forget.

Men might be off the cards for waitress Mary, but within hours of arriving at the utterly charming family-run La Dolce Vita pizzeria, she’s already fallen in love with the bustling capital!

Only Dante Rossi, the mysterious (and drop-dead gorgeous) chef seems displeased with her arrival. And in the…

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The Company of Eight by Harriet Whitehorn #bookreview (@H_Whitehorn) @LittleTigerUK @StripesBooks #TheCompanyOfEight #NetGalley

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“Cass has always wanted to audition as an acrobat for the famous Circus Boat that sails the warm seas of the Longest World. But when her chance is snatched away, she comes up with a new plan. Soon she has secured a job on the Palace Boat, following the circus around the islands. Yet Cass has been invited on the boat for a very different reason – and it’s not long before she is embroiled with thieves, sword fighters and a mysterious group of women called The Company of Eight…”

Middle grade fiction is not something I read a lot of but sometimes my daughters will insist that I read a book they have particularly enjoyed. Such a book I read earlier this year was The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave which Mini Me adores and has recommended to everyone she knows. When I saw this book on NetGalley, I thought I would give it a read and see if it was something she might enjoy. Plus, who isn’t a sucker for a story set in a circus?

This book does indeed have a lot in common with The Girl of Ink & Stars. A strong teenage female protagonist, exotic, foreign world and tales of derring-do. Plus, this book has the aforementioned circus (one which tours around on a ship, to add to the excitement), pirates, an island full only of strong women, sword-fighting a-plenty and a secret company of female…spies I suppose you might call them.

I really enjoyed this book. The world-building was well done, the story rolled along at a great pace and I really enjoyed the female lead, Cass. In fact, there were a lot of strong female characters in this book which is always something I am looking for, being the mum/step-mum of 5 daughters. I liked the way that the women were in charge of their own destinies, not damsels in distress waiting for the boys to sail to their rescue.

I wish there had been a little more time spent in the circus and more detail about the different acts and characters. The chapter where Cass finally confronts the pirates and the following chapter seemed a little rushed, as if the author could see the end in sight and were galloping to the finish, which made the pacing uneven at the end. However, these are minor niggles in a book that I don’t regret investing the time in.

I would definitely recommend this book for children who enjoy this kind of fantasy novel and I have now bought a paperback copy for my children to read. I’ll come back and give you their feedback once they have read it.

I believe this is the start of a series of books set in this world starring Cass and her friends and I look forward to the next one.

The Company of Eight is out now and you can buy a copy here.

My thanks to NetGalley and Little Tiger Group and Stripes Publishing for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Harriet Whitehorn is the author of the award-nominated VIOLET books, a middle-grade detective series from Simon and Schuster. Titles include VIOLET AND THE PEARL OF THE ORIENT, and VIOLET AND THE SMUGGLERS. Nominations include the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Award. Harriet lives in London with her husband and three daughters.

Connect with Harriet on:

Website: https://harrietwhitehorn.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harriet.whitehorn

Twitter: @H_Whitehorn

Instagram: harrietwhitehorn

#BlogTour A Clean Sweep by Audrey Davis (@audbyname) @rararesources #ACleanSweep #retroreview #miniblitz #bookbloggers

Clean Sweep

Today I’m delighted to bring you my stop on the Mini Blitz Retro Review Blog Tour for Audrey Davis’ book A Clean Sweep. Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

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“A CLEAN SWEEP is a laugh-out-loud tale of love, lies and second chances.
Love comes around when you least expect it. Fifty-something widow Emily isn’t expecting romance. Nor is she expecting a hunky twenty-something chimney sweep on her doorstep.
Daughter Tabitha knows something isn’t quite right with her relationship, while her boss – Abba-loving Meryl – thinks she’s found the real deal. Are they both right, or pursuing Mr Wrong?
Emily’s sister, Celeste, has the perfect marriage … or does she? Can a fitness tracker lead her down the path to happiness or heartbreak?
Susan is single, overweight and resigned to a life of loneliness. There was the one who got away but you don’t get another try, do you?
Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of emotions in a book that will grab your heart, make you smile and wish you had a chimney to sweep.”

Chimney sweeps, are they even a thing any more? I’ve lived in this house for thirteen years and I’ve never had my chimney swept. I may have to remedy that situation now that I’ve read this book as it can obviously lead to interesting encounters!

This is the story of a group of women – ordinary women with ordinary lives – and the not-very-extraordinary things that happen to them. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? Well, do you know what, there is drama and passion and tension and heartbreak and joy in the not-very-extraordinary lives of these women and the genius of this book is making a funny, page-turning and heart-warming story out of the ordinary things that happen to ordinary people like you and I.

Emily is a middle-aged woman, widowed from a mundane marriage and just happy trundling along day to day, not expecting much until a chance encounter with hunky Joe who comes to sweep her chimney (not a euphemism to begin with but it soon turns into one, and this book is full of them!) turns her life on its head. There is an instant attraction, but is the substantial age gap a stumbling block to a proper relationship?

“He is a twenty-something hunk who wouldn’t look twice at someone old enough to be his mother. Cougars, wasn’t that what they were called these days? Except Emily felt she was about as predatory as an ancient feline who craved nothing more than a saucer of milk and a good ear scratch.”

Emily’s daughter Tabitha has problems of her own. Stuck in a job she doesn’t want and a relationship that could best be described as ‘tepid’, her life is not at all what she imagined. Does she have the courage to make drastic decisions to change it all? And what will she say when she finds out about her mum’s toy boy?

“One old crone – who really should only have been let out at Halloween – had spent almost half an hour slathering “try me” samples of organically produced hand creams on her wizened claws. Then complained that the smells were ‘quite obnoxious’. As she scuttled off back to her broomstick, Tabitha resisted shouting after her that six different fragrances mixed together didn’t necessarily make for olfactory heaven. Maybe eye of newt and tongue of bat would have been more up her street. Up yours, Endora.”

Tabitha’s boss, Meryl, is searching for love online and thinks she may finally have found it in charming suitor, Miroslaw. But can you really know someone you meet online?

Emily’s sister, Celeste, is married to the love of her life, Martin. But ghosts from Martin’s past are threatening to upset the stability of Celeste’s seemingly charmed life, and she only has herself to blame.

Lonely Susan is battling life’s problems solo. When faced with the biggest challenge of her life, she wonders if things would have been different if she hadn’t thrown away her one chance at love twenty years ago. But there is no point is wishing she had made a different decision now, is there?

This book is set in an ordinary town that could be anywhere, it is not relying on a picturesque or exotic location for colour. These are women that you know, that you meet in every day life, that could be you. The things that happen to them are the things that happen to all of us, every day, everywhere. There are no shocking twists or outlandish escapades. The drama is the small drama that happens to all of us all of the time. The kind of thing that isn’t going to make ripples for anyone else in the wider world, it isn’t going to make the front page of the paper but that can change an individual’s life forever in an instant. The author very cleverly makes us care about the characters in this book so much that these ordinary things become as important to us as they are to the individuals involved and you become very invested in a positive outcome very quickly. Honestly, I was so impressed by how she has managed to draw such a poignant story out of things that, on the face of it, seem fairly undramatic.

This book is carried along by the author’s warm and engaging voice and the strong vein of humour that runs through the book. I was laughing out loud one minute and then my heart was breaking for one of the characters the next. I completely bought in to everything that was happening and really wanted everything to turn out well for them all. I read this book in one sitting, and the time just flew by. It is utterly charming and I would highly recommend it. It is refreshing to see such a fantastic story made out of ordinary lives, featuring real people. I loved it.

A Clean Sweep is available now and you can buy a copy here.

Follow the blog tour and find out what other readers thought of this book

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About the Author

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Audrey Davis survived secondary school on the West coast of Scotland. Rubbish at science but not too bad at English, she originally wanted to be an actress but was persuaded that journalism was a safer option. Probably wise. She studied at Napier College in Edinburgh, the only place in Scotland at that time to offer a journalism course.
Her first foray into the hard-nosed newspaper world was as a junior reporter in Dumfriesshire. Duties included interviewing farmers about the prize-winning heifers to reporting on family tragedies. She persuaded her editor to let her launch an entertainment column which meant meeting the odd celebrity – or just the downright odd. From there, she moved to the loftier rank of senior reporter back in her home patch. Slightly more money, less farm animals but a higher crime rate. As Taggart would say: ‘There’s been a murrrrder!’
After a stint in London on a video magazine – yes, she is that old – Audrey moved to Singapore with her fiancé. She tried valiantly to embrace the stinking heat, humidity and lack of jobs, although she did work briefly on a magazine which was banned by the government for ‘artistic’ use of naked men’s bottoms.
Next on her adventures was a land Down Under where her main focus was raising Cost Centre One (aka firstborn) and coming to terms with the imminent arrival of Number Two. Still, she loved the Aussie way of life – BBQs, beaches and bring your own booze to restaurants – so it came as a blow when OH announced a move back to the UK. Not a job between them, the climate a possible deal breaker and an Exorcist-style vomiting infant on the flight home didn’t bode well …
Always a survivor, Audrey sought out similar-minded friends (i.e. slightly bonkers), got the children into a good school and thought about taking up writing again. Sadly, thinking about it was as far as she got, unless you count shopping lists. Then, hubby drops another bombshell. Switzerland. As in – it’s packing time again. Off to the land of cheese, chocolate, scarily efficient trains and a couple of teeny, tiny issues. Like driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and speaking a foreign language (French). The former was conquered fairly quickly (we’ll skip over the wall demolition in week two), the latter remains an ongoing battle of the hopeful against the hopeless. At least she provides amusement for the local workforce.

It wasn’t until 2016 that Audrey rediscovered her writing mojo with an online Writing Fiction course. From there, her first novel – A Clean Sweep – was born, although it took a bit longer than nine months from conception. A short, darker prequel – A Clean Break – followed, and in November 2017 she published the first in a novella trilogy, The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One. Part Two is published on 21 March 2018, with the conclusion following in May/June. After which she might have a wee lie down …

Connect with Audrey:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/audreydavisbooks

Twitter- https://twitter.com/audbyname

Book trailer reveal!

I couldn’t resist sharing this book trailer for the brilliant Louise Jensen’s upcoming new novel. Doesn’t it sound intriguing?

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Ali thought there was nothing as frightening as being unable to recognise faces… She was wrong.

I’m so pleased to reveal the trailer for my forthcoming release, The Date, which you can preorder from your local Amazon, here. 

Over the next 7 weeks I’ll be sharing why I decided to write a story about face blindness, as well as giving away signed paperbacks and bookmarks. I can’t wait!

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Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s by Jane Lacey-Crane #bookreview @Aria_Fiction #SecretsAndTeaAtRosieLee’s #NetGalley

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“Welcome to Rosie Lee’s cafe in the heart of the East End – where there’s not an avocado, slice of sour dough or double-shot no-foam soy milk caramel latte on the menu!
Rosie-Lee’s owner Abby is a woman without a plan….and her beloved little cafe is business with a serious lack of customers. The Rosie Lee’s fry-up is legendary, but cooked breakfasts alone – however perfectly sizzled the bacon – aren’t going to pay the bills.  
Fast approaching forty and fighting a serious case of empty nest syndrome, Abby realises its not just her menu that needs a makeover. And when Jack Chance, her The One That got Away, saunters through the cafe doors and back into her life things definitely look set to change…

Abby has always believed a cup of strong builders tea makes everything better, but Jack’s reappearance is a complication even the trusty sausage sarnie can’t resolve….”

This has turned out to be a tough book to review, as I have mixed feelings about it. I’m still tussling with it a bit but, for better or worse, these are my thoughts.

There is a proliferation of books set in cafes at the moment and from the title, cover and blurb of this book you might be expecting it to follow certain conventions that have sprung up around these books, but you’d be wrong to do so. The cafe setting is completely incidental to the storyline, it really is not the focus or the driving force of the plot. I am not saying this as a positive or a negative – it depends entirely on why you have picked up the book.

This is a book about family and how complicated those relationships can be and how it affects every aspect of our lives. Abby’s family life growing up  can best be described as dysfunctional. Her father disappeared when she was in her teens, her relationship with her mother was always difficult and her best friend and first love, Jack, moved away just when she needed him most. Abby fell pregnant at 19 and ended up with a baby to raise alone. However, Abby has pulled herself up by her bootstraps, determined to give her daughter Lucy a more stable upbringing than the one she had, despite being a single parent. She has succeeded in doing this with the help of her brother, but Abby’s romantic life is non-existent, her relationship with her mother irreparable and her cafe in financial difficulty. The Jack walks back into her life and Abby’s life becomes even more complicated.

As Abby struggles with unresolved feelings for Jack and tries to find out why he left without a word all those years before, the secrets that Abby’s family have been keeping begin to unravel and she has to reassess everything she thought she understood about her past.

This is a book that has some real emotional depth and explores some complicated issues. I was pleasantly surprised at the places the plot took me. However, the problem I had was that, at the same time, the main character Abby displays some very contradictory superficial and immature behaviour that I found difficult to reconcile with the other aspects of her story. In addition, I was struggling to buy into Jack’s behaviour as a sympathetic romantic lead. I will try and expand on this in a way that will make sense without containing any spoilers.

Abby has managed to build a stable life for herself and her daughter from a young age without the support of either of her parents or a partner. Her daughter has turned out to be a wonderful young woman, so Abby has obviously dealt with her less-than-perfect situation in a way that has proved positive for her daughter despite huge obstacles. When all the family secrets start to come out of the woodwork, she manages to take them in her stride and deal with them fairly sensibly and rationally, which would lead you to conclude she has a certain level of emotional maturity.

At the same time her actions around Jack exhibit the opposite. She acts like a teenager, unable to make up her mind how she feels from one minute to the next, egging him on then pushing him away. This behaviour is repeated over and over to the point where it started to become irritating. She seems incapable of having an honest adult discussion with him about the past and how she feels. Her reasoning for not wanting to be with him mostly seemed to be that he was too rich and good looking for her. This was coupled with far too much focus on how physically attractive she found him every time he came near her – the point was laboured to the point of tedium – and I felt that this did Abby an injustice. I actually believe that she has more emotional depth and maturity than that. I could understand her insecurities about re-starting a relationship with an old flame given the changes the intervening years had wrought on her body. I could understand that she might not trust him not to abandon her again given his past form. These were motivations that were hinted at and would make more sense as valid reasons for avoiding getting involved to me but they were undermined by the rest of her thought processes which seemed inauthentic for a woman of her age and experience. I don’t know if the author was deliberately giving the impression that Abby’s romantic development was stunted as a result of her circumstances, maybe that is the generous assumption to make. I’m still undecided.

Jack’s motivations were even harder to fathom. He hasn’t seen Abby for 25 years but then, following a chance meeting, he is suddenly obsessed with her to the point of refusing to leave her alone, despite frequent requests by her that he do so. We are supposed to believe that he has been in love with her for the whole intervening period, but he has never made any efforts to contact her during that time, despite the fact that she is living in almost exactly the same place as she did the last time he saw her and would be very easy to track down. . I think his sudden relentless pursuit of her was supposed to be romantic and protective but he was so persistent in the face of rejection that it bordered on the edge of stalker-ish, especially given  the less than savoury behaviour of her ex. My feelings about him were ambiguous at best.

This book moves on at a cracking pace with plenty of events thrown in to push the story along. In fact, so much had happened by the time I was fifty per cent of the way through that I wondered what could possibly be left to carry the book on to the end but it did not let up. I really enjoyed the momentum of this book and the twists and turns of the plot, it definitely packed more punch that the gentle food-based story you might be expecting from its wrappings. I think it was a shame that some of the emotional developments didn’t match up to the rest of the story.

This is the author’s debut novel and it shows real promise, despite some of the issues I identified above. I think this is a book that will appeal differently to different readers and someone else picking up this book will read it in another way and not have some of the misgivings I had. I recommend that you read it and reach your own conclusions. It is a complex story that deserves attention and feedback and is more than the sum of its cover and title.

I apologise for the length and rambling nature of this review, I think it is an accurate reflection of my many and complicated thoughts about this book.

Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Aria and NetGalley for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Goodreads/Amazon

About the Author

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Jane has reached the age now where she no longer tells people her age! She’s old enough to legally be able to do everything and that’s all that matters. ‘Secrets & Tea at Rosie Lee’s’ is Jane’s debut novel. Born and brought up in London’s East End, she now lives in Lincolnshire with her family. Thankfully she recently discovered the joys of mail order pie, mash & liquor, so she can relive her youth anytime she feels like it!

Although writing stories was something that Jane had always done, she never thought anyone would pay her to do it so she focussed on learning to act instead, figuring that this was a much more reliable way to earn a living. Sadly, her career as an actress was shortlived, actually it was non-existent, so she turned her attention to another reliable line of work – Cable Television! This was where Jane managed to finally get paid (badly!) doing something she enjoyed – writing. She began with scripts for a series all about Serial Killers (imaginatively entitled ‘Serial Killers’) and then moved on to a series of history documentaries. This series never saw the light of day in the UK but Jane has been informed that it used be very popular with insomniacs staying in hotels in the Far East. This may or may not be true.

She is currently working on her second contemporary novel for Aria Fiction.

Connect with Jane:

Twitter: @JaneLaceyCrane

#CoverReveal The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part One: New Beginnings @emilyharvale @rararesources

Cottage on Lily Pond Lane Cover Reveal

I am SO excited today to be able to bring your the cover reveal for Part One of Emily Harvale’s fabulous new four-part serial set in the seaside village of Little Pondale. Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in revealing this cover.

The book will be published on 10 May and is available for pre-order here. Before I let you have a sneak peek at the gorgeous cover, let’s share some details of the story behind it.

“Mia Ward is amazed to be told she has inherited her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda.

She’s even more astonished to discover she’ll only inherit the place if she actually lives there for one year. Mia’s a city girl at heart, not to mention she’s afraid of water, so the fact the cottage backs on to a sandy beach, is not, in her opinion, a bonus.

But Mia’s struggling to pay her rent since being fired for inappropriate behaviour at the office party, and her boyfriend’s also dumped her. When her best friend, Ella and Ella’s brother, Garrick offer to help her move and settle in, Mia decides to see this as a new beginning. 

It may also be the start of an exciting adventure because now Mia wants to know just who, exactly, was great-aunt Matilda. And she’s determined to find out. But it soon becomes clear that someone is trying to make sure Mia doesn’t stay in Little Pondale….”

Doesn’t that sound intriguing? I’m particularly desperate to know what the ‘inappropriate behaviour’ was that was so bad Mia got fired! I’m going to be reviewing this as part of Emily’s blog tour on the 19th June, so make sure you check in on that date to see what I think of the book.

Now we’ve heard the story behind the cover, but what about the author behind the story?

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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.

If you would like to get to know Emily better, you can link up with her on social media via the following platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emilyharvalewriter

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: emilyharvale

So, here is the cover in all its glory

Lily Pond Lane FOR RACHEL

Isn’t it gorgeous? Just perfect for spring, I want to jump right in like Mary Poppins! Looking forward to reading the book very much.

Available for pre-order now here for publication on 10th May.

The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald #bookreview (@DMacDonaldAuth) @bookouture #TheRunawayWife #NetGalley

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“One evening in early August, while mashing the potatoes for dinner, Connie McColl decides she’s had enough…

Connie McColl is tired of solving one family crisis after another – usually involving her unruly grandchildren – while her husband Roger spends all day at his beloved golf course. Surely it must be time for her to shake off her apron and start living again?

So Connie packs a bag, gets in her little green car and drives off…

On her journey from England to Scotland, Connie stops in on long-lost friends and makes all sorts of colourful new companions along the way. As Connie has the time of her life, sleeping under the stars and skinny dipping in the sea, she finally begins to rediscover herself. And she starts to wonder, will she ever be ready to return home? 

Or will this summer change her life forever?”

It was the front cover that initially drew me to request this book. Its cartoon-like illustration made me think I was going to get a light, humorous and uplifting read that wouldn’t be too taxing and it definitely lived up to those expectations, but it was oh so much more on top.

I fell in love with Connie immediately. Any woman who has run a family (and let’s face it, that’s most of us) for any length of time are going to recognise aspects of themselves in Connie. Completely taken for granted by her neglectful husband, Roger and three grown up children, she finally snaps and takes off in her battered old car heading for who knows where in search of respite and excitement – who hasn’t dreamed of doing that from time to time? (Go on, admit it, the thought has crossed your mind!) You have to admire Connie for having the guts to do it and we are rooting for her from the start.

With no plan in mind, Connie goes where the whim takes her and, by a series of fortuitous accidents plus as a result of her warm and approachable nature, she makes some great new friends along the way, has some mild adventures and generally enjoys herself. Seeing her discovering herself as a individual along her journey and watching her blossom is heart-warming and you can’t help but privately cheer her on.

Meanwhile, back at home, her self-absorbed husband and spoilt children start to realise how much Connie has done for them in the past and how lost they are without her. However, they are still more concerned about the inconvenience to themselves that how she must have been feeling and this just made me feel even happier that Connie had left the selfish bunch behind and was finally having some fun. Consequently, whatever naughtiness Connie gets up to on her trip (and there is some, she is a feisty woman), you can’t possibly blame her, given what she has put up with over the years!

The one aspect of this book I was not expecting, and where I totally under-estimated it, was the real depth and poignancy that the storyline took on towards the end. This novel deals with some really serious issues in a way that was very unexpected from the cover. I don’t want to include any spoilers in the review so I can’t really say too much but I can say that the author has managed to weave these into an otherwise humorous story very deftly and it did not feel at all unbalanced or off kilter. I was really surprised and impressed with the subtlety of how this was done and, in my opinion, it took the book to a level I was not expecting when I started it.

Connie, of course, finally returns home – a new woman and ready to confront the issues she has with her husband and family. I thought I knew where this was going but, just when I was complacently settled in for my predicted ending, the author blew me out of the water again with a twist I did not see coming at all.

This book is a delight. It is really refreshing to see a book with a main character over the age of 40 and I enjoyed every minute of it. Pick it up, I promise you it delivers more than you might expect.

The Runaway Wife is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Goodreads/Amazon

About the Author

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The Runaway Wife is Dee’s first (published) novel but in fact she wrote her very first book – at around seven years of age! This was a love story which she duly illustrated before sewing all the pages together up one side. Writing was what she ‘was good at’ in school and she won several essay competitions, but then life got in the way and she didn’t pick up a pen again until after retirement.

Dee left Scotland and headed for London at the beginning of the swinging sixties. After typing her way round the West End she became an air stewardess on long haul routes with BA (then BOAC) for eight years. After that she did market research at Heathrow for both the government statistics and for BA, she became a sales rep., and was the receptionist at the Thames Television Studios in Teddington when they had the franchise.

She then ran a small B&B for ten years in Cornwall, where she lives with her husband. Dee has one son and two grandsons who live locally.

Connect with Dee:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeeMacDonald/

Twitter: @DMacDonaldAuth

#BlogTour The Ghost of Glendale by Natalie Kleinman #bookreview (@NatKleinman) @rareresources

The Ghost of Glendale

At last! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Natalie Kleinman’s self-published Regency novel The Ghost of Glendale and I am very excited to talk to you about this book. Huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part. Let’s have a look at the details of the book.

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“At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is, until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before.

Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.”

I have to admit, Regency romance novels are not a genre that I read. I have heard other people raving about Georgette Heyer and others of that ilk but have never been drawn to Regency as a genre. However, something about this book piqued my curiosity when I was offered the chance to read it and, now I have, I am wondering why it has taken me so long to discover it.

This is a rip-roaring tale of family feuds, restless spirits, rugged Scotsman and feisty heroines, wrapped up in the restrained and genteel conventions of Regency England which is an interesting juxtaposition. The heroine of this book, Phoebe Marcham, is forged in the best traditions of the tempestuous renegade, baulking against the confines that society placed on women at this time, in the vein of an Elizabeth Bennett or a Jo March. Considered to be an ‘elderly spinster’, unmarried in her late twenties, she is not unduly worried by her situation until the equally unconventional Duncan Armstrong storms into her life.

At the same time, an unsettled family spirit is demanding that Phoebe explore her family history and clear his blackened name so his soul can rest and she can bring a two hundred-year-old feud to an end. Along the way there are cousins to be married off, cantankerous aunts to mollify, nefarious suitors to weed out and the social whirl of Regency England to navigate. Never a dull moment.

This book was easy to read and tremendous fun. The author has done a wonderful job of reflecting the language and mores of the time period and developing some rounded and likeable characters, as well as keeping you hooked on the mystery of the family ghost. I am sure any of you picking up this book will be as carried along by the story as I was.

Thank you, Natalie, for introducing me to a whole new genre, I look forward to reading more of your work.

The Ghost of Glendale is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the blog tour, you can find the details below.

The Ghost of Glendale Full Banner

About the Author

Natale Kleinman - Author Photo

Natalie is a published novelist and short story writer whose addiction to the books of Georgette Heyer and love of The Regency have been the inspiration for her latest book, The Ghost of Glendale. 

Working on the premise that you never stop learning, she goes to any and every writing event and workshop she can. In addition she attends The Write Place Creative Writing School in Hextable in Kent, one of the rewards for which is an abundant supply of cream cakes to celebrate the frequent successes of its students. 

Natalie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She lives with her husband in southeast London.

Follow Natalie on:

Blog: https://nataliekleinman.blogspot.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatalieKleinmanAuthor/
Twitter: @NatKleinman