Thursday, 23 January 2020

Review: Broken Hearts at Brightwater Bay by Holly Hepburn

PART ONE in the brand new series from Holly Hepburn.

On paper, Merina Wilde has it all: a successful career writing the kind of romantic novels that make even the hardest hearts swoon, a perfect carousel of book launches and parties to keep her social life buzzing, and a childhood sweetheart who thinks she’s a goddess. But Merry has a secret: the magic has stopped flowing from her fingers. Try as she might, she can’t summon up the sparkle that makes her stories shine. And as her deadline whooshes by, her personal life falls apart too. Alex tells her he wants something other than the future she’d always imagined for them and Merry finds herself single for the first time since – well, ever.

Desperate to get her life back on track, Merry leaves London and escapes to the windswept Orkney Islands, locking herself away in a secluded clifftop cottage to try to heal her heart and rediscover her passion for writing. But can the beauty of the islands and the kindness of strangers help Merry to fool herself into believing in love again, if only long enough to finish her book? Or is it time for her to give up the career she’s always adored and find something new to set her soul alight?

Review: A new series from Holly Hepburn set in Orkney? I am in heaven. I was eagerly anticipating this read hitting my kindle on release day (today) and did not disappoint, let me tell you. I loved meeting all the new characters, the new setting and I cannot wait to see what is going to happen with possible dramas and romances as this series progresses. 

Merry is such a great character to kick this series off with. She has had some trauma, that we find out all about in the prologue, and now she needs to get away from it all and get over her writers block to what better way to tackle that than fly far far away somewhere remote care of a wonderful library and librarian? I really loved spending time with Merry, She is very relatable and very open to possibility. She also has flaws which makes her easy to identify with. I can't wait to see how she grows as this series progresses. 

Then we have this epic new setting. I love that fact that way up there in Orkney we get such wonderful views and scenery as well as remoteness and the wild coast. I love that fact that this area is getting some love because there is such possibility in this part of the world and not enough people show it off in the pages of a book like Holly Hepburn is doing here. I'm looking forward to exploring the bay a little more as the weather improves and also getting to know the community and the library that lies therein. 

A whole cast of characters are introduced in this instalment and I am sure that there are plenty more to come and we continue with the series but I already recognise Sheila (and love her) and I am just so intrigued by Magnús and Niall. I can't wait to read more about them. 

This series is shaping up to be another winner from Holly Hepburn. I have all four books on pre-order so now all I have to do is wait with baited breath for the next in the series to hit my Kindle. 

To order your copy now, just click here.

To pre-order Sea Breezes at Brightwater Bay click here 

To pre-order Dangerous Tides at Brightwater Bay click here 

To pre-order Sunset Over Brightwater Bay click here 

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Blog Tour: Extract from The Place We Call Home

It's my stop on the blog tour for The Place We Call Home today. I have an extract to share with you and if you like the sound of that, click here to order your copy. All the author info is at the bottom of this post. Please remember to stop by the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about...

Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills...


Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan's is one of them...
Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they'd lead.
Ada has forever lived her life in her sister's shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.
Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she's unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what's she's been yearning for. The chance to go home.
Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he'll have to return to the people who always believe in him.

Ballycove isn't just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn't just the base of the famous mills. It's a place to call home.

And here's that extract for you...

Miranda stopped a moment, watching as a seagull swooped with precision into the water beneath her. She would walk to the cliff edge and back. It was less than a mile, and for many years, she had walked it easily, but these days, she was in the habit of moving more slowly, more thoughtfully. A fall at the end of last summer had left her with little more than bruises, but it set off a series of pains and aches that managed to slow her down whether she liked it or not.

In her mind, Miranda connected that fall with her almost heart attack. It reminded her that time was passing, she was getting older, and she did not have forever stretching out ahead of her. Not that she wasn’t still a busy woman. Miranda had no intention of sinking into old age anytime soon, but maybe she was coming close to being able to put some time aside just for herself. She was no longer a young woman and still sitting at the helm of the family woollen mills. Perhaps she didn’t travel as much as she used to, but her eye for detail was as sharp now as any young thing and her instinct for colour and trends had only honed with experience.

Miranda loved the mills. Ada accused her of loving them more than she had her own family, which of course was typical of her eldest child. Miranda believed Ada wanted no more than to make an old woman of her mother and to take over the reins of the family business. But Ada lacked vision. Ada’s strength was in saving, cutting and snipping. There would be no sentimentality, no thought to the men and women whose lives were linked for decades with the Corrigan family through working in the mills.

Ada was a tiny woman, in so many ways. She had always been a little sparrow hawk, with fine shoulder blades and delicate features in her pinched face. She wore her hair such a dark colour that it looked as if it might have been dipped in blue-black ink and it sat in a neat halo gently curled inwards around her head. She always wore a string of pearls at her neck and tweed suits of varying weight depending on the season. She was the quintessential bookkeeper, but she would make a poor leader. It was just a pity she could not see this for herself. She was forty-eight this year and her measured approach to life meant that she’d spent nearly five decades squeezing the good out of everything so she was left with only what had little value to her.

Of course, she cared for her mother; she had been the first one to the hospital when Miranda fell last year. Ada arrived, her eyes filled with concern, her slightly too high voice demanding the very best care for her mother. Poor Ada – Miranda was only relieved that she hadn’t brought along Tony. The arrival of Anthony Jackson might have just about finished her off, Miranda thought at the time.
Miranda took a deep breath. This place, the scrubby greens - surely there were more than just forty shades? The earth that could be brown, grey or black or any colour in between depending on the mood of the tide and the sky above, had been the reason why the mills had survived. Maybe it was why Miranda was walking here today. This place had inspired her when Paddy Corrigan died leaving her with a business on the brink of bankruptcy, a cottage on the edge of collapse and a family about her that she promised a better life than the one she had known herself.

Miranda had taken inspiration from the landscape around her to create an award-winning collection of products that had the good luck to resonate with customers from New York to Beijing. The first year had been hard, but she persevered enough to set them back on track and it took ten more to establish the Corrigan Mills as an international brand to rival the other big Irish exports of whiskey, pharmaceuticals and Guinness.

About the Author

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

Follow Faith:   
Twitter: @GerHogan
Facebook: @faithhoganauthor

Follow Aria
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Most Recent Additions to my Bookshelf 21/1/20

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I've bought and received a few books lately so here are my latest editions-it's a book haul!

Monday, 20 January 2020

Review: The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen by Juliet Ashton

It doesn't look like much from the outside, but Cherry Blossom Mews is a miraculous place. It's somewhere that finds you, rather than the other way around. 

Sadie McQueen has leased a double fronted space in this small cul de sac in a culturally diverse corner of central London. The cobbles muffle the noise of double-deckers roaring past the arched gates. Turn right and you are in a futuristic maze of corporate glass monoliths. Turn left and you see a wide street with many different houses. Towering above the mews are the degenerating tower blocks of an infamous estate. The old folks home and the nearby school are both in need of TLC; the private members' club that set up shop in a listed Georgian building has been discreetly refurbished at huge expense.
Into this confusion comes Sadie. She fell in love with the street the moment she first twisted her ankle on its cobbles. Her double-fronted unit is now a spa. She has sunk all her money into the lease and refurbishment. She's sunk all her hope into the carefully designed treatment rooms, the calm white reception space, the bijou flat carved out of the floor above.
Sadie has a mission to connect. To heal herself from tragedy. Sadie has wrapped the mews around her like a warm blanket, after unimaginable loss and unimaginable guilt. Her hard-won peace is threatened, not only by the prospect of the mews going under but by a man aptly named Hero who wakes up her comatose heart.  
Sadie has a lot to give, and a lot to learn, not least that some ghosts aren't ghosts at all.

Review: Well Juliet Ashton really likes to put her characters through it in her novels, she throws everything she has at them and this book is no exception. 

Sadie is such a complex main character. She has a troubled past and a positive present and she is such a solid part of her community. I loved what she tried to make happen in her little corner of the world and I also really respected where she had come from. There really is so much that has gone on in Sadie's past in so many ways that it is a surprise to us all she is living the life she is living. I love the storyline that this author wrote for Sadie and I really feel like I knew her as a real person by the end of this book.

This book has a whole host of side characters too, this is a really big cast and they really do each get their own slice of the pie when it comes to plot points. Each of them is well-developed and has their own drama going on either in their present or in their past. The trouble was, I was so invested in finding out about Sadie's past and her life that I didn't love the side plot as much as I should have done. I saw it a bit more as a distraction than as an enhancement to her world. I liked the little bit of romance that we had going on and the friendship but I didn't feel as invested in these other characters the same way as I felt invested in the main storyline. 

This book tackles some big issues and there are definitely some care warnings for domestic abuse, substance abuse and death that come with this book. This is not an issues based book though and I really feel like the substance abuse is dealt with really well over the course of the novel. If you love reading very character driven novels then this book is for you. 

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

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Guest Review: Glory, Glory Lane The Extraordinary History of Tottenham Hotspur's Famous Home for 118 Years By Mike Donovan

Glory, Glory Lane is the life-affirming history - including a momentous last season - of a world-famous football stadium, home to Tottenham Hotspur for 118 years. A Victorian structure turned wraparound 21st-century all-seater, it became a theatre of dreams for supporters all attracted by teams which played the 'Spurs way' to achieve glory. The Lane gave a stage to a conveyor belt of legends from Cameron to Alli via Nicholson, Blanchflower, Greaves, Hoddle and Klinsmann. It provided unforgettable memories in unforgettable atmospheres - heart-lifting, heart-breaking, nerve-racking. Its story veers from founders obsessed by Harry Hotspur to Harry Kane via Harry Redknapp; through matches, personalities, ground developments and threatened closure, all with first-hand accounts. It's hard to imagine how a new £750m stadium can ever replace the edifice which shut its gates for the last time after Spurs played Manchester United in May 2017, having created a daunting legacy.

Review: This book, written by sports journalist and Tottenham Hotspur fan Mike Donovan, is a testament to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and its famous ground, White Hart Lane. The club, founded in 1882, moved to the ground, the site of former nursery land behind the White Hart pub, at the start of the 1899-1900 season. The last match there was played at the end of the 2016-2017 season before the stadium was demolished to make way for the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The club played their home matches at Wembley Stadium until the completion of the new stadium, moving into their new home towards the end of the 2018-2019 season.

The book covers the formative years of this famous football club and its early grounds at Tottenham Marshes and Northumberland Park before moving to the ground that was to be its home for 118 years. There was extensive development of the ground during the early part of the 20th century, following the club's admission to the Football League. The club secured the services of the renowned stadium architect Archibald Leitch to undertake this work. Further developments took place over the years before the final ball was kicked at White Hart Lane.

The book is a testament to the old stadium and the famous managers and players that have graced it, including such legendary figures as Arthur Rowe, Alf Ramsey, Billy Nicholson, Danny Blanchflower, Jimmy Greaves, Glenn Hoddle, Gary Lineker and Harry Kane. The chapters cover the various decades throughout the club's history at the stadium and there are numerous photographs throughout the book. At the end, there is a statistical section giving dates and records of the players' achievements.

As a Tottenham Hotspur fan myself, I found the book to be a fascinating and comprehensive insight into the history of this famous club, but it should appeal to sports fans of all persuasions.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Friday, 17 January 2020

Review: Cinders and Sparks Fairies in the Forest by Lindsey Kelk

In this second hilarious Cinders and Sparks adventure, our chaotic comedy duo head for Fairyland to find Cinders’s mother – and get more than they bargained for . . . Perfect for readers of 7-9 and fans of Shrek and Frozen.
Cinders and her talking dog Sparks are on the run, in the Deep Dark Forest, after Cinders performed magic at the castle and made everyone think she was a witch. The hapless Hansel is on the run with them, but only because he ate some of an actual witch’s gingerbread house and she got cross. If they can reach Fairyland, maybe they’ll all be safe.
In the forest they will find three bears, a multitude of ridiculous adventures and one woman called Rapunzel in a tower. But Rapunzel may not be what she seems…
Will Hansel eat the three bears’ porridge? Will Sparks offer useless advice at every turn? Will Brian the fairy godmother appear and actually help for once?
The answers are: yes, yes and no.

Review: Oh my goodness I just love these book and I can't wait to hear what Cinders and Sparks get up to next. If you loved the last Cinders and Sparks book then  you are going to love this one even more. There are more funny moments, more silliness, more girl power and more fairy tales twisted and adapted for your reading pleasure. 

I just love how we can have a children's book that is silly and funny and yet have some strong characters who are good role models in the process. These books take what we know about fairy tales and turn them on their head. The stuff that remains is great fiction and something with a bit of a lesson along the way. 

I also really love the magic in this book. Again, I think that this has been ramped up for book 2 but it is a kind of realistic magic, something which characters often question and often pause before 'activating'. 

I definitely laughed during this book, it was a quick read and I enjoyed every moment of it. I'm headed to pre-order the next book in the series right now!

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

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Review: Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell

When you know how, you can make anything from scratch, including a new life after love...
When Leanne and Richard bought a dilapidated old seaside cottage to renovate together as their forever home, their future was full of hope and promise.
But heartbreak was just around the corner: fast forward a few months and Richard is gone. With his death, Leanne finds herself stony broke, faced with an uninhabitable home and lacking even the basic skills to do it up herself.
With the help of the friendly woman who runs the library and the reluctant assistance of the man who works in the local hardware shop, the cottage is lovingly restored. But broken hearts aren't so easy to fix... are they?

Review: Oh I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. It had heart, it had community, it had all the feels and I just loved spending time with Leanne over the course of this novel. 

Leanne is just a great character to travel this book with. She is hurting and she is healing but she is also determined to be an independent woman. I just loved the strength that she had been if she couldn't always see it herself. I also really loved the way she valued her friends old and new and was willing to try new things in order to be a part of the community. 

This book has such a strong sense of community and that is something which is often missing from our modern lives, particularly those of us that live in big cities. I really enjoyed getting to know the town of Rockgate Bay and its residents. I could definitely recognise them from the community I grew up in. Of course the fact that this is a seaside town, gave this book a certain holiday feel and I loved that having lived in a seaside town during off season. 

There are crafts galore in this book so whether you are into crafting and DIY or whether you just like to live that life vicariously through fiction characters like me, there is something here for everyone. I did feel like getting behind a sewing machine after reading this, but I'm thinking that might be somewhat ill-advised and I'm not sure where I'd find one. 

I just adored this book, it made me feel warm inside and I loved watching Leanne grow over the course of the novel. Highly recommend. 

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

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Guest Review: The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson

Celebrity photographer Grace Buchanan has always known that one day she'd swap her manic day job for the peace and quiet of her beloved childhood cottage, St Christopher's - she just didn't expect it to be so soon.
At the reading of her mother's will, she's shocked to learn that inheriting St Christopher's hangs on one condition: Grace must drop everything for two weeks and travel the country with a mysterious stranger - war-weary Royal Marine Alasdair Finn.

The Wedding Cake Tree by [Hudson, Melanie]

Review: This is the award-winning debut novel from Melanie Hudson. I must admit that I was not previously aware of this author, but was interested in the subject of the book. I found the storyline one of those that draws you in from the start and had me coming back for more until the very last page.

Grace Buchanan is completely dumbfounded when the provisions of her mother’s will are explained to her six months after her mother’s death. These involve her in a 10-day trip, stopping at various locations of significance to her mother’s past. At each stop, Grace is to read a letter from her mother and scatter some of her ashes. The most shocking part for Grace is that she is to be accompanied on her journey by Alasdair Finn, a military man who she has no recollection of having met before. At first hesitant, Grace embarks on the trip and learns a great deal about her mum and indeed herself along the way.

I very much enjoyed this book and am very glad that I picked it up on impulse. I found the idea of someone setting out on a journey like Grace’s exciting. It was particularly enjoyable for me as I have visited a number of the points on her trip and could envisage exactly where she was. I think Grace was an interesting character; I’m not sure I could have been as patient as her while she was dragged across Britain and beyond. Of course, she had an equally interesting companion, the ruggedly handsome Alisdair. You felt all the way through that romance might blossom between them. Melanie Hudson didn’t make it easy for them and added a lovely twist at the end. I would recommend this lovely story to anyone and will be on the lookout for more novels from its author.

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

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Discoveries Made in 2019 14/1/20

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Oh I love this topic today, I think I'm going to go for new to me authors I found in 2019...


Monday, 13 January 2020

Bout of Books 27 Day 7 Update and Wrap Up

Day 7 didn't end up being the reading day I thought it would be either, I'm actually quite shocked how poor the weekend has been for me and so I'm glad I made the progress that I did at the beginning of the week. Normally weekends are much better but it ended up being a busier one than expected this time. 

I have day 7's progress for you below and then my overall wrap up below that. Once my full vlog is up (tomorrow) I will link that below too. 

Overall I had a great readathon and stuck to my TBR. I took part in most of the instagram and blog challenges and both of the Twitter chats. I hosted some fun reading sprints and I loved being an expert once again...

I already can't wait until Bout of Books 28 in May!

Day 7 Reading Update

I finished Listening to The Whisper Man today (289 pages). I literally finished it at 11:57 at night, see my vlog tomorrow and I am very happy with that! I really wanted to finish One of Us is Next as well but I am really happy with my page count for the week anyway!

Reading Wrap Up

I listened to The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West-260 Pages

I listened to Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds-208 Pages

I read We Use to Be Friends by Amy Spalding on ebook-384 pages.

I listened to Inside Out by Demi Moore-272 pages

I listened to Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon-464 pages

I read Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell on ebook-260 pages

I listened to The Whisper Man by Alex North-355 pages

I read the end of Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman-178 Pages

I listened to the beginning of One of Us is Next by Karen M McManus-125 Pages

I listened to the beginning of The Photographer of the Lost by decided to DNF it-266 pages

Pages Read Today: 289

Pages Read This Week: 3072

Complete Books Finished: 7

Part Books Finished: 1

Books Partly Finished: 2