Thursday, 13 December 2018

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Rosie Clarke Author of New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke. I have a guest post from Rosie for you today talking about writing series versus writing stand alone novels. The book is available now and you can click here to buy your copy. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content. 

Here's what it's all about:

1943 Mulberry Lane, London. In the midst of another bleak winter, life is hard for the residents of The Lane.

When Rose Merchant arrives at Mulberry Lane, she is carrying a secret that haunts her. How can she tell her landlady and the Lanes’ matriarch Peggy Ashley that she is the daughter of a murderer? As Rose learns that she is amongst friends she gradually learns to trust and even to love.

But when Peggy's estranged husband Laurie returns home for good, both Rose and Peggy’s lives are once again turned upside down.

Can they both find their way through the heartache to find happiness?

Rosie says:
I am often asked where my plots come from and whether I prefer to write standalone novels or series. The answer is that I find writing series comes as a result of bringing the right characters to life.  Once you have people you really like writing about, then you want to go on telling their stories.  One off books are useful if you want to write something especially for Christmas or you’re trying out a period that you don’t know as well, because it gives you a chance to do things you might not be able to do in a series.

I was asked to write a Christmas book this year and the result was Christmas is For Children.  It was commissioned as a standalone and written as such.  However, I have already had readers asking if I’m going to write more stories for these characters.  I’m sorry to disappoint readers, but at the moment I haven’t thought about making this a series.  I am at the moment considering a standalone set in the period of the WW1 and that may well develop into a series if it comes to life with believable characters and a plot that will stand several more books. Also, another WW2 book with a different theme as it will be mainly set in the countryside.

 I think sometimes it is good to write the one off books, because not all readers follow all my books and perhaps it is annoying if you buy a book you think you will enjoy and then discover it is about number four or five in a series. I’ve done that myself and been disappointed. So now and then I write one for those readers who just want to read a book and not have to go searching for previous books.  At the beginning of Hetty’s Secret War – the third in the Women at War series – I’ve taken a brief look back at previous books in that trilogy so newcomers can catch up and readers who read the earlier ones months ago can refresh their memories.  I’m hoping that readers will find it acceptable and those who remember it perfectly do not have to read it!

I have almost finished book number five in the Mulberry Lane series and I am thinking of doing a sixth.  As number five is about the end of the war, I plan to take number six on a few years and then catch up on what has happened to the residents in the light of the eventful fifties.  It would be nice to hear whether readers would like to read the later book(s).  After that I’m considering another series with a central theme, but they are only fragments as yet, just beginning to take a shadowy form on the back burner of my mind.  It’s a bit like King’s Cross Station when all the platforms are occupied and other trains blow their whistles to let you know they’re on their way but are told to hold down the line and wait their turn.

I’ve always been a quick writer, though I do loads of revisions, and once I have an idea I start writing immediately.  Often, the first chapters will be erased or heavily revised, because they’re not right, but they sort out the gold from the dust.  As I’ve said in another blog post, it is the characters who decide what their stories will be and until I have them fixed in my mind I’m not always sure where the book is going.    So it is a case of playing about with words and ideas until they come into my mind and only when a first book is almost finished will I know if I need to make this a series and I’m lucky in that my publishers give me a chance to do both.

Whether you’re a fan of series or standalones, I hope you will try and enjoy my books.  

About the author

Rosie is happily married and lives in a quiet village in East Anglia. Writing books is a passion for Rosie, she also likes to read, watch good films and enjoys holidays in the sunshine. She loves shoes and adores animals, especially squirrels and dogs.

Follow Rosie
Twitter handle: @AnneHerries
Facebook: @RosieClarke

Thank you so much for stopping by today Rosie and sharing that post with us. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and more exclusive content!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Guest Review: Bittersweet by Veronica Henry

Curl up with a cup of tea and this delicious collection of short stories - a perfect slice of sweetness!
** Features an exclusive extract of her upcoming novel Christmas at the Beach Hut! **
A chance encounter on New Year's Eve brings one woman's dream alive; a woman begins her new life by the sea; and one strawberry tart can change everything...
From forgotten loves to second chances, new happiness and old friends, this is an uplifting and moving collection of short stories about how love changes, and how it changes us - from Sunday Times bestseller Veronica Henry.

Bittersweet: A short story collection plus extract of new novel Christmas at the Beach Hut by [Henry, Veronica]

Review: This ebook is a lovely collection of short stories from one of my favourite authors, Veronica Henry. In addition to the stories, there is a sizeable extract from Veronica's new festive offering, Christmas at the Beach Hut, which I have already read and can heartily recommend. 

The 7 short stories are each in some way related to Veronica's published novels, details of which are presented at the end of the individual story. The stories cover a range of situations, each showing the interaction between love and life. I enjoyed each and every one of them and I'm sure others will too, whether they are already familiar with the author or new to her work. An amazing bonus is that the collection is available to download free of charge. What a super Christmas present from Veronica. 

To order your free copy now, just click here!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Review: The City of Second Chances by Jane Lacey-Crane

Has she already met The One? What if Mr Right had come along at the wrong time...?
Evie Grant is forty-five years old, a widow, and single mum of two children about to leave the nest. Suddenly alone in the family home, Evie realizes she hates her job, hardly goes out and hasn't had a date since who knows when...
So it feels like fate when the opportunity arises for a girls trip to New York City. Staying with her sister on the Upper East Side, Evie is enchanted by a snow-covered city consumed by preparing for Christmas.
Bobble hat firmly on, Evie is walking through the city one day when she bumps into Daniel Roberts, Hollywood heartthrob and one-time boyfriend of hers.
It's now or never for Evie – but she open her heart to the possibility of a new beginnings and true happiness once again...?

Review: I am glad that I waited right up until Christmas time to read this book because it is well and truly festive and set in one of those cities where Christmas is super-magical. I just love love loved the setting and it was what really made it feel even more festive for me. If you like books with Manhattan settings then this is definitely one to go on your list, although I would love to know where the diner from this book is, it sounds great!
Evie is a great character to lead this book, its a bit like she has a clean slate. Her kids aren't at home anymore, she is a widow and she really needs to get rid of her awful boss and so she can really take you anywhere in this book, she has nothing to loose. Rachel and Kate are great supporting characters because they both have their own issues and we do see them work through those in over the course of the novel, but also they have been there for Evie before and they are ready to do it again! And then we have Evi's possible love interest who I am absolutely sure is actually Hugh Grant, he feels very like Hugh Grant and I pictured him as such when I was reading. I didn't warm to him 100% during the bulk of the story but I liked his ending...
There are a few subplots in this book that make it feel very real such as an engagement, trouble at work and a new friend met in a diner. Then there are a couple that provide reasons to go to New York that I would have liked to have seen developed a little more and left me with questions. I would have liked to have heard a little more about repercussions from Evi's job and also like to have been given an ending to the storyline involving Olivia. Aside from these points I thought that the secondary plot lines and the ending made the book feel very real and very festive. 
If you're looking for an ebook to download and enjoy over the festive period then I can definitely recommend this one. 
I will be on the blog tour for The City of Second Chances in a couple of weeks time so keep an eye out for the link on social media!
To order your copy now, just click here!

Monday, 10 December 2018

Review: Someday by David Lavithan

The sequel to the New York Times bestseller Every Day, now a major motion picture starring Angourie Rice.

Every day a new body. Every day a new life. Every day a new choice.

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person's body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn't anyone else who had a life like this.

But A was wrong. There are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to -- and what it's like to discover that you are not alone in the world.

In Someday, David Levithan takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the person they may think they know as Reverend Poole, exploring more deeply the questions at the core of Every Day and Another Day: What is a soul? And what makes us human?

Review: I was very excited to read the follow up to Every Day and the third in the Everyday Trilogy. I mean we all needed answers about what Rhiannon and A were up to now right? This was a great catch up with all your favourite characters from the previous two novels, including the wonderful Nathan and it was great to find out kind of 'where are the now?'. 

One of the things I first noticed about this novel was that it went a little more into their ins and outs of waking up every day in a new body. We discover this through a website that wasn't mentioned in every day and through a couple of new characters too. This novel, therefore, does become a little more sci-fi like because of the explanation about this concept, the discussion of what it means to get older and whether you can stay in one body for more than one day. 

I thought this novel did a really great job of catching up with the characters but not just writing off the history that has already happened and also the distance between them. A and Rhiannon don't even live in the same state anymore and so it wouldn't be realistic for them to have seen each other at all in fact. This jumps from where we ended in everyday and explores what's gone on in between times very well, 

This is definitely one of those sequels where you need to have read Every Day before reading but don't worry, if you've only seen the film then this will work as well! I definitely enjoyed this book, not as much as Every Day but it did give me the answers I was looking for and I think there might be more for A to say so I am keeping my fingers crossed for another book in this series!

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

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Movie Reviews: December 2nd-8th

In terms of movies this week I saw two new releases, got to see a classic favourite of mine on the big screen and then I'm giving a special shout out to a new addition to Netflix that DOES have a very limited release in the cinemas so...

As always, for more in depth reviews, go to my channel and watch my movie reviews video. I also have a book vs movie for the last one I talk about here if you're interested in that side of it. 

I walked out of this one. The acting was flat, it was pretty boring and I'm just not sure what it was trying to be!

This was great. I think it was better than the first because it had way more scope i.e. the whole Internet! There was humour, there weer messages about Internet safety, identity and friendship and it was just a jolly good time, highly recommend!

This is one of my all time favourite films and it was great to actually see it on the big screen. I wish they had done it as a double bill with you've got mail, now that would have been AWESOME!

This was such a feel good film and definitely captures the message of the book. There are quite a few differences between the book and the movie but I don't mind because this was just a fantastic movie in its own right and you will definitely feel uplifted after watching!

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Vlogmas 2018 Week 1

If you are new around here, you may or may not know I have a BookTube Channel. The previous 2 Decembers I have taken part in Vlogmas, a challenge where you post a video every day in December. Some people do this until Christmas and some do it until the end of the month and some just until Christmas. I find post 24 videos quite enough of a challenge and then getting back to normal videos so I will have a video on my channel every day up until Christmas. 

In celebration of this I thought I would share my videos posted in the first week of Vlogmas here for you. I have a Vlogmas playlist for every year I have taken part so far so you can find that on my channel, otherwise, here are my week 1 Vlogmas videos!

Friday, 7 December 2018

Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out...
Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.
Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?
It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Review: wow, I have loved Liane Moriarty's previous novels so this one had a lot to live up to and it really stepped up to my high expectations. Firstly, I loved the setting of this book. I have read other novels in the past set in spa or heath retreats of some kind and I just think that it is a great setting, people are exposed and vulnerable and I think the relaxing setting puts the reader at ease as much as it does the characters. 

Then we have this colourful cast of characters. Nine strangers. This author is the queen of slowly slowly eeking out the information regarding her characters and her plot and we really don't find out everything about any of these characters until the very end of the book. I thought that Frances, a menopausal romance writer acted as a kind of linchpin for the story and it is her that we meet first so you do feel a certain affiliation for her as the novel progresses. Carmel is a mother of four who is recently divorced and struggling to cope with her new body and new circumstances, again something very relatable. Tony is an interesting one who we really only learn in small chunks at spaced intervals. Then we have Ben and Jessica, a young couple with a lot of money, what could they have to be unhappy about and Lars, a successful family lawyer who does this kind of thing often. The Marconi family are the ones who intrigued me the most and their secrets just keep on coming, once we scratch the surface, there are some seriously dark things lying within. 

As I mentioned, this writer reveals plot points h so slowly as well so everything unravels and unfurls and twists and turns, it feels a bit like a tangled necklace that as you start to pull out the knots, you actually find that it is three very fine necklaces and they are way longer than you thought. Like Liane's other novels, there is a kind of thriller aspect to this one but we're just not sure how dark and sinister things are going to get and whether anyone is going to make it out the other side or not. 

The other thing I loved was that this book had an epic epilogue. There is one chapter which spans nearly a year and then about five shorter chapters after that that eventually sum everything up. It's not called an epilogue but it acts so well as one and I just loved every moment of it! Overall this was a really great read, I didn't really ever know what to expect when I started a new chapter and I was kept on the edge of my seat turning the pages right up until the end and even now I have questions. This was the first of her novels I haven't done on audio and it felt nice to read an as actual book, I would definitely recommend this one!

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

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Guest Review: Christmas Kisses at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

Part Two in the brand new series from Holly Hepburn.
There’s nothing more romantic than a winter wedding and sisters Sam and Nessie are delighted to play host at the Star and Sixpence to a party for two of Little Monkham’s most colourful characters. The celebration even sees the return of Joss, which results in rivalry between him and Gabe, and mixed feelings in Sam.
As the festive season looms, Nessie receives some heart-breaking news and Sam finds herself in an impossible situation that threatens to drive a wedge between her and Nessie. A Merry Christmas seems unlikely at the Star and Sixpence this time...

Review: This is the second part of a 4-part ebook series following events at the Star and Sixpence Inn and in the lives of its owners, Sam and Vanessa Chapman. The first part in this new series was set very much in autumn, but, as the title suggests, this one covers the festive season, a busy time for the pub and the Chapman family. I don't really think that this ebook could be read as a standalone; much better to read all the parts in order to keep track of the interesting characters and incidents. 

The story picks up where the last one finished, finding us witnessing a very special wedding for the village. It sounds absolutely lovely, with the ceremony in the little village church and the reception in the pub and on the village green. Sam and Vanessa are getting used to having a new member in the family in the shape of Laurie, the half-brother that they knew nothing about until he walked into the pub one day. Unfortunately for Sam, another person walks in unexpectedly as a wedding guest and disrupts the friendship she has developed with Spanish chef, Gabe. In fact, quite a few people turn up out of the blue in this story; they are familiar to readers of the last series about the Star and Sixpence and in the main very welcome. As well as happy events, there is tragedy in this story for one of the sisters and a great deal of worry for the other. All very dramatic against the backdrop of traditional Christmas festivities. 

This is a really lively story, with the customary festive events going on at the same as the main characters are experiencing major events in their lives, many of them heart-breaking. The author has written with great compassion about a tragic circumstance that will be familiar to so many people; be prepared with a box of tissues to hand. Both Vanessa and Sam are having a really hard time throughout the pages of the book and I was willing everything to sort out well for them. That's the only problem with a series like this; we have to wait many weeks before we can discover how things are going to pan out. That being said, I am still looking forward to finding out in the next episode. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

If you loved Part Two of the LAST ORDERS AT THE STAR AND SIXPENCE series, pre-order Part Three: Cosy Nights at the Star and Sixpence now! 

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

December 2018 TBR

It's the last TBR of the year-what's up with that? This month I'm basically going to try and get to some of the books I've bought recently and some that I've been wanting to get to for a little while. It feels right to be categorising like this at the end of the year. I have a couple of December releases and a couple of buddy reads this month as well as one that I started in November that I want to finish. I will also be switching to Kindle books at the end of the month so I have some 2019 releases on there that I would like to start! So there you have it! Do let me know in comments what your December TBR looks like in the comments!

December Releases

The One I Started in November

The Last Book in a Series

Buddy Reads

Token Festive Read

Other Books I Want to Read

Some 2019 Releases I May Start

Monday, 3 December 2018

November 2018 Wrap Up

Well November was actually a pretty good reading month, mainly because of the audiobooks that I was abe to listen to on the 2 long road trips that we took. I didn't get to everything on my list but I did get to others that weren't on my list thanks to library books I had on hold all coming in at once, isn't it always the way?

As usual I will break this down into the types of books that I read and also link to any reviews I have already posted!


Physical Books


Books Partly Finished

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Movie Reviews: November 25th-30th

So I only saw 3 movies in the theatre this week and I saw all of those on one day so I have some thoughts on them, that's for sure! I was going to see a fourth but I have moved that to next week so you can look forward to my thoughts on some more new releases next week. As always, check on my BookTube Channel for further thoughts on these movies (and for my vlogmas videos during December!)

I thought this was a great film based on a true story, I didn't know that this senator was based on Colorado so there were some great historical shots of Denver and some good shots of the Rockies as well! I thought it was a good film and I enjoyed it. There were quite a few moments where there were a lot of people talking and so it was sometimes difficult to hear what the main person in the scene was saying but I am glad I watched it and feel like I learned a lot from it. 

Oh my goodness this film was awesome and out of the three this is the one I would recommend seeing the most. This is another one based on a true story and all of these films had blurbs at the end telling you what happened to the people involved. This covered music, racism, New York, cool cars and a great male friendship. I loved the history in it and I loved the drama. It made me laugh and again it educated me!

I would also definitely recommend this film too, this was truly gripping and I didn't move from my seat the whole time during what is a fairly long film. I was also angered by this film and spent a lot of time worrying. Again there were some facts and figures towards the end including the fact that conversion therapy is legal for minors in 36 states still, shocking and that is why this film is so important. I saw this one with a friend and we had a LOT to say about it afterwards!

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

Today I am part of another very exciting blog tour. I have an extract for you from The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau. The book is out now and if you like the look of that extract, you can order your copy here. Here's what it's all about:

In eighteenth century England, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities.

In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice. 

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelein, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue… 

The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage. 

With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue? 

And are you ready to read that extract?

Extract from Chapter One

It is at that moment I see it one of Hogarth’s own prints hanging on the wall.
The party guests no longer exist as I make my way toward it. My grandfather owns a book of reproductions of Hogarth’s art, and I’ve seen his paintings mounted at the Foundling Hospital, which he generously finances. But now, with a shiver of awe, I look upon one of the artist’s most famous prints: a pretty, innocent young woman from the country, holding the pincushion of a seamstress, inspected by a crone in front of a crumbling London building. Two leering men hover in the background.
“A fine Harlot’s Progress, wouldn’t you say?” rasps a voice.
I whirl to face a man lower to the floor than myself, a hunchback in fact, and not a day under seventy. His bloodshot eyes gleam with amusement under a wig perched precariously on his narrow skull. No doubt he wishes to embarrass me with his question.
“Yes, that is the title of this series of prints,” I say calmly. “This country girl arrives in London, seeking honest work, and is taken up by procurers and pimps, determined to ruin her. Which they do, of course. She’ll die of the pox in a few years.”
A sound emits from the man, half laugh, half sputtering cough. “A prim and proper young lady who tells a tale of a prostitute without a blush?” he says. “I must know your name.” He crouches a few more inches in an attempt at a bow. “I am Joshua Holcroft.”
“I am Genevieve Planché,” I answer, “and I am here to represent my grandfather, Pierre Billiou, who was invited but sadly could not attend.”
Mr. Holcroft thinks for a moment. “I am acquainted with Pierre Billiou, a fine painter, yes, but I haven’t set eyes on him in five years, at least.”
“Grandfather was invited to this party, be assured, Sir.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that he was invited. Hogarth casts a large net, as you can see with your own eyes. But Billiou is a Huguenot, living among his people, the silk weavers in Spitalfields, if memory serves. I can’t believe a French Protestant would send his own granddaughter here alone, disastrously dressed.”
Taken aback, I look down at my best wool dress of darkest green, trimmed with white lace. “Disastrously?”
“My dear, it’s not a dress for society.”
“I suppose that is why no one has acknowledged my existence here,” I say, chagrined. I must make a proper impression on Hogarth himself. Nothing should detract from the seriousness of my request.
“Hasn’t your grandfather taught you anything? Even if your frock were acceptable, it’s not possible for a man to approach a woman standing alone at a party such as this. Your lack of escort creates an insurmountable problem.”
You surmounted it.”
“I am old and ugly and —” he holds up his goblet — “more than a little drunk. Perhaps if there were another female present, she could take you in hand and smooth matters over.”
“And there are no ladies here, anywhere?”
“Of course, of course, some wives of wealthy art patrons are upstairs, sitting comfortably with Mistress Hogarth or gossiping together. And that is all. There’s no place for a young woman in the world of art besides the sort we see here —” His eyes, twinkling with malice, swivel to the wall where A Harlot’s Progress hangs.
I can feel my cheeks flush at his disdain. This is what I’ve faced since my teacher chastised me for filling my copy-book pages with drawings of people instead of lessons from Scripture. “Females cannot be artists,” the teacher shouted. Tonight, here, I will set matters right. I just need to speak to William Hogarth himself. The man who captures with brilliance the lives of human beings, their sufferings under injustice, will understand.
“Where is Mr. Hogarth now?” I ask.

Meet the Author

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyleDuJourRolling StoneEntertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at City University of New York and a regular contributor to Town & CountryPurist, and The Vintage News.

A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel and an Oprah pick, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013. The third in the trilogy, THE TAPESTRY, was published by Touchstone in 2015. Her fourth novel, THE BLUE, will be publishing on 3rd December.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Twitter: @tudorscribe

Thank you to Nancy for stopping by today and sharing that extract with us.