Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Blog Tour: Recipe from One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour to celebrate One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft. The book is already out in the UK and you can click here to order your copy now. We have already shared our review with you here on the blog so you can click here to read our thoughts. Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour for more reviews and other exclusive content. 

Before I share a recipe from the book with you, here's what it's all about...

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.
So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.
Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

Davide’s Wild Mushroom Risotto

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
175g risotto rice
1l boiling water
400g mixed mushrooms
100g grated parmesan
1 tsp chopped fresh chives
1 tsp fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
White truffle oil for drizzling (optional)

1.       Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic in a pan until the onions are soft and transparent. Season with a pinch of salt.
2.       Once the onions are cooked, add the risotto rice and stir until the rice is very hot and beginning to turn translucent. Add the water, a little at a time and stir continuously.
3.       Cook for 18-20 minutes then remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand.
4.       In a separate frying pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil, add the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes.
5.       Once the mushrooms are softened, mix them into the risotto base and cook the first for a further few minutes.
6.       When the rice is completely soft, stir in the parsley and chives and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7.       To serve, place the risotto into four serving dishes and drizzle with white truffle oil if you choose.

Thank you so much to Sue for sharing with us today and remember to stop by those other stops on the tour!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Review: Bookshop Girl by Chole Coles

Bennett's Bookshop has always been a haven for sixteen-year-old Paige Turner. It's a place where she can escape from her sleepy hometown, hang out with her best friend, Holly, and also earn some money. But, like so many bookshops, Bennett's has become a 'casualty of the high street' - it's strapped for cash and going to be torn down. Paige is determined to save it but mobilising a small town like Greysworth is no mean feat.

Time is ticking - but that's not the only problem Paige has. How is she going to fend off the attractions of beautiful fellow artist, Blaine? And, more importantly, will his anarchist ways make or break her bookshop campaign?

Written by debut author and Foyles bookseller Chloe Coles, this is the first in a new laugh-out-loud and sparky teen series that will make you want to rush out and start your own bookshop campaign!

Review: Firstly, let it be noted that I laughed out loud at this book so many time whilst in a crowded airport and sitting on a full plane, so safe to say I enjoyed it a lot! I love the premise behind this book, a casualty of the high street that we have all seen a thousand times before, the local bookshop being closed. But it really does mean so much more to people that just a shop and I love that the heroine of this story is Paige Turner. 

This book is also awesomely feminist, at every turn Paige and her friend Holly are able to drop in something about being powerful women and not allow themselves to be objectified as 16 year old girls, I thought this was great! Paige is just a great character to read about and I'm so pleased to hear that there are going to be more books featuring her coming soon! She is strong-minded and mature but has just the same sorts of thoughts that we all did when we were 16 and so i defy any reader not to fall in love with her. 

As I've mentioned this book made me laugh a lot, it really is hilarious. Just some of the scenes that made me chuckle were during life drawing classes, moments with Paige and her friend Holly and moments where Paige is trying to play it cool in front of a new crush. So if those sounds like the kinds of things that would make you laugh then I suggest reading this book immediately!

The synopsis states that this book will make you want to start your own bookshop campaign and that is so true. This book is so much more than just some giggles an crushes. It has the whole massively feminist thing going on and also it has the support for an independent bookshop. They are becoming rarer and rarer these days and so this book is definitely in support of them and the importance of these institutions in our community. I can't wait to read more from Chloe Coles, this definitely doesn't read like a debut and you should all put it in your summer reading lists right now!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Guest Review: The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain By Ian Mortimer

Happy Fathers' Day! To celebrate I had my Dad write this review for me! Time for another in my series of guest reviews for sport/history books. This one actually sounds like one I'd love to read myself!
The past is a foreign country: this is your guidebook.
If you could travel back in time, the period from 1660 to 1700 would make one of the most exciting destinations in history. It is the age of Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London; bawdy comedy and the libertine court of Charles II — the civil wars are over and a magnificent new era has begun.
But what would it really be like to live in Restoration Britain? Where would you stay and what would you eat? How much should you pay for one of those elaborate wigs? Should you trust a physician who advises you to drink fresh cow’s urine to cure your gout? Why are boys made to smoke in school? And why are you unlikely to get a fair trial in court?
The third volume in the series of Ian Mortimer’s bestselling Time Traveller’s Guides answers these crucial questions and encourages us to reflect on the customs and practices of daily life. This unique guide not only teaches us about the seventeenth century but makes us look with fresh eyes at the modern world.

Review: I listened to this book, which is a guide to living in the latter part of the 17th century, in its audio version. It describes events from 1660 to 1700, from the restoration of the monarchy, following the period of the Commonwealth under the puritans, until the end of the century.

Three monarchs ruled the kingdom during this period. Firstly, there was Charles II. He was very conscious of the fact that his father Charles I had been tried for treason and executed in 1649, resulting in the Commonwealth until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, so was mindful that he had to rule with the co-operation of parliament. He was succeeded in 1685 by his brother James (James II of England and James VII of Scotland). James had converted publicly to catholicism. Although he was welcomed initially as king, he gradually came to be perceived as favouring catholicism too much in his various appointments and was ousted in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 when the throne was offered jointly to his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange (William III). In practice, and in keeping with the times, the power rested with William, although parliament passed statutes to ensure that the monarchs could not rule without its consent.

The forty-year period described by the book was one of great changes. Initially, the restoration in 1660 brought to an end an era of puritan rule in which traditions such as dancing around the maypole on May Day, going to the theatre or horse racing were banned. These resumed following the restoration. The following years saw many events taking place, including wars and riots. This was also a period in which many innovations took place, including advancements in science. It was during this period that the Royal Society was founded. However, it is the details of everyday living covering such things as food, drink, clothing, health, shopping and entertainment, that the book is mainly concerned with.

Two famous diarists of the period, Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, provide a lot of source material for the book, writing as they did about everyday life as well as the major events of the day such as the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666. Although the title of the book states that it is a guide to Restoration Britain, and Wales and Scotland are mentioned briefly, the two above diarists both lived in London and, therefore, much of the book deals with London.

I found the book provided a fascinating window into this period. One criticism I would make is that, too often, the description relies on a series of lists. Whether this was a consequence of my listening to it as an audio book and the lists would not be as apparent when reading the text, I cannot say. I would also add a cautionary note that there are some passages that are definitely not for the squeamish. One example is the operation that Pepys underwent to remove a bladder stone (remember, this was an era before the invention of anaesthetics). Happily for him, the operation was successful and he held celebratory dinners on its subsequent anniversaries.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Review: The Man Who Didn't Call by Rosie Walsh

Imagine you meet a man, spend six glorious days together, and fall in love.
And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything.
So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him.
But he doesn’t call.
Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they're wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence.
What do you do when you finally discover you're right? That there is a reason -- and that reason is the one thing you didn't share with each other?
The truth.

Review: This author's books always keep me reading way past my bedtime because I have to find out what happens. I finished this one in a hotel room at 3am on my Canada vacation because I had to find out what happened! 

One of the first things that struck me about this book was just how beautiful the writing is. When this author describes something to you, there is no doubt in your head about exactly what she's describing because she just uses such beautiful words and metaphorical phrases that I enjoyed right from the very first page. 

The setting of this one was also something I really enjoyed about the book. I could picture Los Angeles in my head easily and feel the heat the hits the characters at almost every turn. We also have scenes set in Gloucestershire and Leicestershire which felt comfortingly British.  I really liked the fact that our main character has lived in both the UK and the states and so has experiences and a personality made up from having lived in more than once country. I could recognise this and appreciated the fact that the Sarah showed this throughout the book. 

Sarah is a really interesting character because I didn't always like her as I was reading. I could definitely sympathise with what she was going through and the situations she was put in but I definitely found her more intriguing than likeable a lot of the time. I wanted to find out how her story was going to end and also how he story was going to begin because we meet her somewhere in the middle. The supporting characters in the book are great because they are much easier to like and are also very easy to recognise as people from our own families and friendship groups. All the characters are believable, as is the situation that Sarah finds herself in. 

In terms of structure, I really enjoyed how this book progressed as I turned the pages. There are letters, emails and texts as well as pages or narrative in the novel. We have a change in narrator and also some past events recalled as whole chapters. This meant that I kept turning the pages because I wanted to find out the impact of a letter or an event from the past and I did gasp aloud at a few of the reveals along the way. I also cried at a couple of points as well, including in my hotel room at 3am and so to me this book is also well rounded. 

If you're looking for something to keep you turning the pages this summer then I can definitely recommend this one and I can't wait to see what Rosie Walsh writes to keep me up late next!

Click the link to order your copy now: UK or US

Friday, 15 June 2018

Blog Tour: Extract From Summer of Love by Caro Fraser

I'm very excited to be bringing you an extract from the new novel by Caro Fraser Summer of Love, you can click here to order your copy. Here's what it's all about:

The dark days of the war are over, but the family secrets they held are only just dawning.

 In the hot summer of 1949, a group of family and friends gather at Harry Denholm's country house in Kent. Meg and Dan Ranscombe, emerging from a scandal of their own making; Dan's godmother, Sonia; and her two young girls, Laura and Avril, only one of whom is Sonia's biological daughter. Amongst the heat, memories, and infatuations, a secret is revealed to Meg's son, Max, and soon a terrible tragedy unfolds that will have consequences for them all. Afterwards, Avril, Laura and Max must come of age in a society still reeling from the war, haunted by the choices of that fateful summer. Cold, entitled Avril will go to any lengths to take what is hers. Beautiful, naive Laura finds refuge and love in the London jazz clubs, but Max, with wealth and unrequited love, has the capacity to undo it all.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content!

The air was full of the fresh, damp scents of early spring as Meg and Dan Ranscombe turned off the road and walked up the narrow path that led to the back of Woodbourne House. They made a handsome couple – Meg, in her early thirties, was vividly pretty, with dark eyes and chestnut hair curling to her shoulders; Dan, a few years older, was by contrast fair-haired and blue-eyed, his clean-cut features marked by a faint arrogance, a remnant of youthful vanity. They walked in thoughtful silence. It was four years since they had last been to Woodbourne House, the home of Sonia Haddon, Meg’s aunt and Dan’s godmother.
‘I’m glad we took the train instead of driving,’ said Dan, breaking the quiet. ‘I have fond memories of this walk.’
They paused by a big, whitewashed stone barn standing at the foot of a sloping apple orchard.
‘Uncle Henry’s studio,’ murmured Meg. ‘I remember that summer, having to traipse down every morning with barley water and biscuits for him while he was painting.’
Sonia’s husband, Henry Haddon, had been an acclaimed artist in his day, and in pre-war times to have one’s portrait painted by him had had considerable cachet. In Britain’s post-war modernist world, his name had fallen out of fashion.
Dan stood gazing at the barn, lost in his own memories: that final day of the house party twelve years ago, when he had come down to the studio to say farewell to his host. Finding Henry Haddon, his trousers round his ankles, locked in an embrace with Madeleine, the nanny, against the wall of the studio had been absurd and shocking enough, but what had then transpired had been even worse. He could remember still the sound of the ladder crashing to the floor, and the sight of five-year-old Avril peeping over the edge of the hayloft. Presumably the shock of seeing his daughter had brought on Haddon’s heart attack. That, and unwonted sexual exertions. The moments afterwards were confused in his memory, although he recalled setting the ladder aright so that Avril could get down, then sending her running up to the house to get someone to fetch a doctor, while he uselessly attempted to revive Haddon. Madeleine, unsurprisingly, had made herself scarce. And the painting – he remembered that. A portrait of Madeleine in her yellow sundress, seated on a wicker chair, head half-turned as though listening to notes of unheard music, or the footfall of some awaited lover. Haddon had been working on it in the days running up to his death, and no doubt the intimacy forged between painter and sitter had led to that brief and ludicrously tragic affair. The falling ladder had knocked it from the easel, and he had picked it up and placed it with its face to the wall next to the other canvases. He didn’t to this day know why he had done that. Perhaps as a way of closing off and keeping secret what he had witnessed. To this day nobody but he knew about Haddon’s affair with Madeleine. Had the painting ever been discovered? No one had ever mentioned it. Perhaps it was there still, just as he had left it.
Meg glanced at his face. ‘Penny for them.’
‘Oh, nothing,’ said Dan. ‘Just thinking about that house party, when you and I first met.’
What a fateful chain of events had been set in motion in the summer of 1936. He had been a twenty-four-year-old penniless journalist, invited to spend several days at Woodbourne House with a handful of other guests. Meeting and falling in love with Meg had led to the clandestine affair they had conducted throughout the war years behind the back of her husband Paul. Its discovery had led to estrangement with much of the family. Paul, a bomber pilot, had been killed on the way back from a raid over Germany, and the possibility that his discovery of the affair might have contributed in some way, on some level, to his death, still haunted them both. They never spoke of it. Meg and Dan were married now, but the guilt of what they had done remained. Meg’s mother Helen had been trying for some time to persuade her sister, Sonia, to forgive Meg and Dan, and today’s invitation to Woodbourne House was a signal that she had at last relented.

They walked up through the orchard, and when they reached the flagged courtyard at the back of the house Meg said, ‘I’m going to the kitchen to say hello to Effie. I don’t think I can face Aunt Sonia quite yet. I’ll let you go first. Cowardly of me, I know, but I can’t help it.’ She gave him a quick smile and a kiss, and turned in the direction of the kitchen.

About the author

Caro Fraser is the author of the bestselling Caper Court novels, based on her own experiences as a lawyer. She is the daughter of Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser and lives in London.

Follow Caro

Twitter: N/A
Facebook: @CaroFraserAuthor

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Review: How Do You Like Me Now by Holly Bourne

Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.'
Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?
There's no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. She's inspired millions of women to stick two fingers up at convention with her bestselling memoir, and she has the perfect relationship to boot.
But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.
Everyone around her is getting married and having babies, but her long-term boyfriend won't even talk about getting engaged. And when her best friend Dee - her plus one, the only person who understands the madness - falls in love, suddenly Tori's in terrifying danger of being left behind.
When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.
It's time for Tori to practice what she's preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?
The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is an exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.

Review: This book was just so great. It was everything I look for in a book; it has a character who is the same age as me, it has positive feminist messages by the bucket load and it made me laugh a lot whilst also making me think and making me cry just a little bit, what more could you want? Also: how this the first Holly Bourne novel I've read? I own all her others!

So obviously this book has had a lot of hype surrounding it for the best part of a year and despite having a copy of it for quite a while, I wanted to wait for the hype to due down a little before picking it up in the hope that it wouldn't skew my judgement in any way, but the hype was worth it. This is such a well-rounded novel and a novel that needs to be in the market today that it deserves all the hype it gets. If you spend any time on social media, you will be able to relate to this novel. If you have university friends whose lives are all going in different directions, you will be able to relate to this novel. If you have ever got just a little bit angry drunk, you will be able to relate to this novel. 

The main character in this book is great because despite being a best selling author and someone with a HUGE online presence and following, she is really easy to relate to. She has the same thoughts and concerns about her life, her body, her friendships and relationships that we all do and so she is just wonderfully easy to spend a book with. I loved her because she is straight talking and speaks with her friends and family the way I do. Her book was marketed on straight talking and in front of other people she is exactly like that. In her own space though, she has doubts but is in fact too bothered by what other people think and what society 'says' she should be doing to voice those doubts. We've all been there and that is why this book works. 

The setting of this book is relatable and even though Tori is very much famous on social media, that setting is also really relatable. Her feed is filled with wedding pictures, hen do groups and baby updates (before and after birth) and so their is so much in this story about how much of our lives we put on social media, the kinds of things we share and the kinds of things we don't/ It also brings up the point that is so prevalent right now, that the lives we see others putting online, might be just to tip of the iceberg of the actual lives they are living. It puts the importance on real relationships and checking in with people in real life rather than just online because those relationships are the kind that we need to nurture and the kind that will last the time. 

As I mentioned already, this book made me laugh, a lot! I was reading out bits of this novel as I was reading it to tell my husband exactly what I was laughing at and he laughed too. I think it made me laugh so much because of the things I've already listed, it just being so relatable. I could see all the little moments happening to Tori being played out in my own life over the years! I can totally recommend this book and I know this will be one that I will be tempted to come back and revisit in the future, I really hope there's more from Tori, or Dee. Once you've read it come back and talk to me about Tom, that's all I'm saying. You're going to love this book for so many reasons so definitely add it to your TBR right away!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Blog Tour: Review of A Cornish Secret by Emma Burstall

Be careful what you kiss for...
Esme Posorsky is an enigma. For as long as people can remember, she has been part of community life in the quaint Cornish fishing village of Tremarnock, but does anyone really know her? She is usually to be found working in her pottery studio or at home with her beloved cat, Rasputin. But when an old school friend turns up with a secret from the past, nothing will ever be the same again.
Meanwhile teenager, Rosie, is excited to find a bottle washed up on Tremarnock beach with a message from a former German prisoner of war. While the rest of the village is up in arms about a new housing development, she sets out to find him. Little does she know, however, that her discovery will unleash a shocking chain of events that threatens to blow her family apart.
Tremarnock may look like a cosy backwater, but some of its residents are about to come face-to-face with tough decisions and cold reality...

Review: This is Emma Burstall's fourth book set in the little Cornish seaside village of Tremarnock. I have read and enjoyed all three previous books in the series and have got to know the villagers, but this book, like the rest, can easily be read as a standalone if you are a first-time visitor to the village. 

In A Cornish Secret, we meet all the usual Tremarnock characters, with the addition of a few new faces, and we get to know one particular person a little better. The clue to that person's identity is on the book's beautiful cover, for there is Esme's ginger cat lying on the windowsill looking out through the village to the sea. Esme's quiet existence is quite shaken up when an old school friend comes to visit, bringing back memories and slowly revealing a secret from the past. There is a lot more going on in the village though. At the centre of all these stories is Liz and her daughter Rosie. The latter has found a message in a bottle washed up on the beach that, in a round about way, threatens her happy little family and cosy life. Then there is the threat of a housing development that would jeopardise the peace and tranquility of the village. Of course the inhabitants are not going down without a fight over this; once again, we see the tremendous community spirit in the village of Tremarnock. 

Esme's storyline this time was really interesting; it took us out of the village and I would never have guessed the secret that emerged. I also really enjoyed witnessing the development in Liz's daughter Rosie, who was quite young in the first book; she is growing up into a young lady now and had her own strong opinions on events in the story. However, her message in a bottle discovery brought a sinister element into her family's life that I really didn't like. I have very much enjoyed this book. Whether you are new to the series or have read one or more of the previous parts, I think it would make a great holiday read. As with previous books in the series, there is a mix of humour and drama. It was good to meet familiar characters and learn a little more about them.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

About the author
Emma Burstall was a newspaper journalist in Devon and Cornwall before becoming
a full
time author.
, the first novel in her series set in a delightful Cornish village, was
published in 2015 and became a top-10 bestseller.
Follow Emma
Twitter: @EmmaBurstall
Facebook: @emmaburstallauthor
About the author
Emma Burstall was a newspaper journalist in Devon and Cornwall before becoming
a full
time author.
, the first novel in her series set in a delightful Cornish village, was
published in 2015 and became a top-10 bestseller.
Follow Emma
Twitter: @EmmaBurstall
Facebook: @emmaburstallauthor