Monday, 26 October 2020

Review: A Friend of The Family by Lisa Jewell

 A stranger in your home can only mean trouble . . .

The London family is in crisis.

Newly-divorced Tony is fantasizing about someone he shouldn't.

Prize-winning writer Sean has a hot new girlfriend, and a dose of writer's block.

Their brother Ned has just come back from Australia, leaving his girlfriend behind.

And now they have a new lodger - a mysterious stranger.

But is he the friend this family needs, or a troublemaker they could do without?

Review: I really enjoyed this backlist Lisa Jewell title. I love books where we get to know a whole family and spend time with each member of that family. It reminds me of classic Marian Keyes or those kind of family dramas that revolve around siblings on TV. Whilst we have a mysterious incomer to the family in the form of an unexpected lodger, the title of this one could mean any member of this family, are they actually looking out for one another or just playing it that way on the surface. 

I was sucked into this story right from the beginning because I was so intrigued by how these brothers all related to one another. They've all found themselves at a crossroads of sorts and so have kind of come to rely on the family home and the unit to support them at these interesting times. I think I found myself siding with Ned a lot more than the other brothers because he had taken certain risks in his life that I admired although Toby did seem to be a support for every member of the family, including those who were related through relationships rather than by blood. 

One of the things that Lisa Jewell always does so well is to drip feed a small amount of information at a time when it comes to character development so we find out something about one character and then the story moves on to find out whats going on with another character so you have to keep turning the pages and reading on to find out how that information fits with the story and how the other characters are going to react to that!

I loved being back in a Lisa Jewell novel. This one reminded me of a cross between Ralph's Party, the Making of Us and The House We Grew Up In so if you liked any of those I am sure you will like this one too!

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

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Movie Review: Which Version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches Is My Recommendation?


Blog Tour: Tentoria by Sorin Banu @lovebooksgroup @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Tentoria by Sorin Banu. I have an interview with the author today and if you love the sound of this book you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews.

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

An army of bionic humans made up as a last ditch solution to establish peace will turn against humanity.

In the 22nd century, mankind enters into a new world war to produce the first generation of Tentorians. Cyborgs with functioning bodies and human intelligence, they are the first genuine success in the artificial improvement. In time, the Tentorians come officially to be a nation, showing more and more their true nature: blood and power-thirsty, human-bodied machines. Thus, in the 25th century, the great powers made up their minds to hunt them down all over the world and have them isolated inside a region called TENTORIA.

A Tentorian nation that will bear consequences on the past.

The action moves back in time 500 years, to the year 2024 and to a planet Earth consisting but of a piece of land surrounded by one single large ocean, and a population of 12 million people ruled by a secret organization. Cole is a 27-year-old young man leading a happy life in this peculiar world. As the story unfolds, he realizes the reality of his existence at break-neck speed on the edge of survival.

“Are you ready to forget the future?”

And here's that interview for you...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I have been entranced since an early age by questions like: "Where mankind is heading? How we really came into being? How large is the universe? Who or what lies behind the rules governing our existence? What is soul? What is life? etc., so I started with writing down all sorts of ideas and possible theoretical scenarios in a philosophical themed manuscript only to realize in time that I like words and enjoy building up ideas.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

Did more the few years before launching Tentoria. These days is just a bit during weekends. Hopefully, one day I will come back to the good habits of writing more.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

Not necessarily. It is worth mentioning I like Frank Herbert, George R.R. Martin, Isaac Asimov.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

I am not very good in developing complex characters, though I would like to improve on this skill. I develop characters to the strict necessary, based on the story needs; and not so much based on real people.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

As I’ve always liked action and Sci-Fi movies, and been an emerging technologies freak, I told myself it would be interesting to create an enticing story easy to be read; and I started from my philosophical notes wrote in the above mentioned manuscript.

That’s how "Tentoria" came to light and, leaving aside the ideas behind the story, I hope it is an absorbing narrative who will keep you glued to it up to the end.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

In short: I write a bit at a time, but is good to have an overall plan.

One of the things I enjoyed most: to have a puzzle built first and then to start taking it apart; to scatter its pieces along the narration, using some of the last pieces in the beginning without betraying the outcome, but trying at the same time to have the story flow and to hook the reader as often as possible.

At the beginning, it was hard to plan all these because I haven’t played previously with such techniques. As writer, in particular a debutant one, you experience a great satisfaction in having the reader at last finding the blanks in the puzzle as you orderly left them there.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

Not of me but a lot of my philosophy.

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

Quite some, e.g. medical, on technology, and a lot about Iceland, which I discovered more while writing Tentoria – a must visit country I would say. I have even done a lot of Google-ing on weapons (needed for the action in the book), so much that if someone had checked my profile based on my searches, he would have thought I am planning a terrorist attack .

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

Nowadays reviews are the most important marketing tool; these are vital especially for an unknown author like me. Many thanks upfront to every reader that could spend a few minutes leaving an honest review to my book.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

A few, yes. However, more important is that they helped me with lots of reviews. Through them, I learned what wasn’t working in same parts of the book and I made corrections. Good occasion to thank them again here.

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

The publication day was great, for both versions, Romanian and English. Being the first book, probably they were two of the most memorable days of my life.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

I am not a true fan of GOT nor read it entirely, but I really like how R.R. Martin writes.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

In the very little time I write, second volume of Tentoria. Yes, it should have a sequel.

Thank you!

Author Bio

Sorin Banu published his first book in May 2016, the dystopian novel "Tentoria". He has graduated in Economics and his professional career has been in the IT consulting. He was born in Bucharest and currently lives in Brussels. He is passionate about metaphysics and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality etc., areas that have undoubtedly inspired him in his first book.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Book Vs Movie: Did I Prefer Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca or Netflix’s Version?


Review: Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte

After calling off her fall wedding, horror novelist Amy Fox is left with a broken heart, a mega case of writer’s block, and a serious aversion to all things pumpkin spice. When she receives news that her grandfather has broken his wrist driving through a Dunkin Donuts—literally straight through the front windows—five hundred miles away, in her hometown of Autumnboro, New Hampshire, Amy has no choice but to return to check on him. If she doesn’t make sure that he’s back on his feet, Grandpa may be moved into assisted living, and Amy’s beloved childhood home will be put on the market.

Knowing she must return, Amy worries about the only thing worse than pumpkin spice—a reunion with Kit Parker—her childhood best friend, first love, and entire reason for skipping town in the first place. As the two reconnect, a second chance seems possible...if only Kit weren’t holding on to a secret that just might unravel everything.

Review: Oh this was such a cute story. I love a bit of small town romance an d I need a decent dose of it every now and again. This one had the added sweetness of those fall colours and that pumpkin spice scent. I also love a story about someone returning home. 

Amy is a great main character for this novel because she is heartbroken and so we start off by supporting her in that and also because she is a writer. When you read a book about someone who writes books it is always a fun ride. Amy hasn't always made the best choices but she is great at advocating for herself and I loved that about her. I also love the fact that family means so much to her. She has a great heart but isn't afraid to show her dominant side so we got along just fine. 

I also really loved the romance in this novel. The returning home and meeting up with a former love is definitely a trope I can get on board with and the romance in this book is just revved up by the fact that all of this is happening in a small town during fall with some Pumpkin Spice seasoning sprinkled on top. There is nothing raunchy or super sexy about this one and so it was a refreshing read because sometimes you just need more sweetness and less heat. I could see this one playing out as a hallmark movie and I was so happy about that. 

I did listen to this one on audio and the narration was really good but I did this as a buddy read and so I can vouch for the quality of the kindle book too. I really enjoyed this novel and it was the perfect fall version of a Christmas novel we all need right now. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US (still currently free on UK Kindle!)

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Review: One Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell

 After her number-one single she was never heard of again . . .

Fifteen years later, Bee Bearhorn is found dead in her flat.

Ana Willis always day-dreamed about the exotic half-sister she hadn't seen in years. Now she comes to London to sort through Bee's possessions, only to find a life more surprising and mysterious than even she imagined.

Along with Bee's closest friends, Ana sets out to discover exactly what happened to her half-sister, the one-hit wonder . . .

Review: This was a it of a slow starter for me, I took a little while to bond with these characters but once I got back into the swing of Lisa Jewell's signature slow drip of information when it comes to getting to know people in her books I race through the rest of the novel. 

I loved the mystery surrounding Bee as a character. I feel like we never really got to know exactly what makes her tick and so she is someone who has stuck with me long after reading the book. I found it so intriguing that Bee's family didn't really know her either and I like that Ana really tried hard to bond with a sister who was so absent. 

Ana on the other hand never really knew herself. She has played it safe when it comes to life and so looking into Bee's past really does help with her own future. I like that this was a coming of age novel if you're jut following Ana's story because she is a good person and I really enjoyed watching adventure allow her to blossom!

The idea of whether we really know those around us is fully explored in this novel and I think that although this was written a few years ago now, it is still timely and relevant today. There are many moments of Lisa Jewell's signature writing and character description and so if you have enjoyed her other novels, I am sure you will enjoy this one too. 

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

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Guest Review: One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.
And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…
As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?

Review: I always enjoy Sarah Morgan’s writing, and particularly look forward to her Christmas book each year; whenever it appears on my Kindle, I know I’m in for a treat. This one certainly didn’t disappoint, as it had me lost in the story in no time and rarely have I felt so disappointed to reach the end of a book and leave the characters behind.

The story revolves around the Mitchell family. Mother Gayle Mitchell is a successful New York business woman who, as a single parent, has brought up daughters Samantha and Ella in a way that she thought best prepared them for a hard world, but which, unfortunately, has ultimately driven them away. The sisters have not seen their mother for five years when a tragic accident has Gayle wanting to reconnect with them. She thinks that an ideal way of reuniting the family would be to spend Christmas together. Thinking back to their childhood Christmases with a mother who saw no point in all the celebrations, the girls are horrified at the thought of spending it with her this year. There is also the problem that a lot has happened in the time they were estranged - Samantha has her own successful travel business and Ella now has a husband and daughter. However, they all set off for a Christmas holiday in the highlands of Scotland, staying in a large country estate owned by Brodie McIntyre, his mother and sister. Samantha was due to pay a flying visit to this new holiday destination with a view to adding it to her recommended destinations for customers, but suddenly she is staying there for real as a tourist. Is this Christmas going to be the nightmare the girls imagine, or is it going to be the making of the family?

I can highly recommend this book to any reader looking for a heartwarming Christmas romance with a strong storyline. It has a wonderful mix of romance, humour and heartache. I found myself completely immersed in the Mitchell family’s world and was easily transported to the snowy Scottish highlands. The picture that the writing conjured up in my mind was so real that I was surprised not to find snow outside when I finally emerged from the book. I would love to be spending my holiday on that estate, but I fear I could never afford it. I thought the characters Sarah Morgan created were all very strong, if not all loveable. Gayle comes over as a hard-headed business woman, but as her story unravels as the pages turn her daughters and the reader begin to understand her parenting motivations and see the person underneath. In addition to the Mitchell family, the McIntyres, including the ruggedly handsome Brodie, also have their own interesting stories. This is another triumph of a Christmas story from a favourite author; I’m already looking forward to her next book.

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

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Book Vs Movie: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland, How Does the Amazon Prime Movie Compare?


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read Because They Were Recommended To Me 20/10/20

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.

This is a combination of books recommended to me by other BookTubers and books recommended to me by authors. There's always a lot of pressure to read a book when someone has recommended it to you but thankfully most of these were a hit for me!

Monday, 19 October 2020

Review: Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli

This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review from Penguin Random House Audio.

The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, featuring 100 immigrant women who have shaped, and will continue to shape, our world.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World is the third book in the New York Times bestselling series for children. Packed with 100 all-new bedtime stories about the lives of incredible female figures from the past and the present, this volume recognizes women who left their birth countries for a multitude of reasons: some for new opportunities, some out of necessity.

Readers will whip up a plate with Asma Khan, strategize global affairs alongside Madeleine Albright, venture into business with Rihanna, and many more. All of these unique, yet relatable stories are accompanied by gorgeous, full-page, full-color portraits, illustrated by female artists from all over the globe.

Review: This was such a great collection of stories to add to the Rebel Girls collections. I have loved their previous books but this is the first of their books that I have listened to on audio thanks to Penguin Random House Audio. 

I will say that I am going to be getting a copy of this book from my library so that I can look at the wonderful illustrations that these books always have. They find the most fabulous artists to collaborate with and that is one of my favourite things about this book. I will also be revisiting some of my favourite stories from the book that I listened to and reading them again. 

I like the fact that this audiobook had several different narrators to tell each woman's story. I feel like it brought the book to life that we had a different voice for each person. I was also surprised by how many new amazing women I was introduced to. I am not someone who follows sport and so to be able to hear about sporting women who are also immigrant women who have been just amazing in their field was a real treat. 

As I say I haven't done an audio version of these books before and although it was well narrated part of the joy of these books is the illustrations and is also being able to flick to a particular page you want to read and seeing that woman brought to life in front of you. I do love the fact that this is available on audio though because it means that even more readers can access this and listen to the stories of 100 amazing immigrant women who changed the world. 

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

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Guest Review: Written in History Compiled by Simon Sebag Montefiore

WRITTEN IN HISTORY celebrates the great letters of world history, creative culture and personal life. Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore selects over one hundred letters from ancient times to the twenty-first century: some are noble and inspiring, some despicable and unsettling; some are exquisite works of literature, others brutal, coarse and frankly outrageous; many are erotic, others heartbreaking. The writers vary from Elizabeth I, Rameses the Great and Leonard Cohen to Emmeline Pankhurst, Mandela, Stalin, Michelangelo, Suleiman the Magnificent and unknown people in extraordinary circumstances - from love letters to calls for liberation, declarations of war to reflections on death. In the colourful, accessible style of a master storyteller, Montefiore shows why these letters are essential reading: how they enlighten our past, enrich the way we live now - and illuminate tomorrow.

Review: This is a collection of over 100 letters, ranging from ancient to current times, compiled by the historian and writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. Unlike electronic forms of communication, letters can be preserved for posterity and, as such, provide a snapshot of a particular time in history. The book is divided into various sections covering topics such as love, discovery, power and downfall. Each letter is preceded by a short, explanatory introduction giving biographical details about the writer and the circumstances under which the letter was written.

The letters are mainly those of people in positions of power, or literary figures. These range from a letter from Mark Antony to Octavian written around 33BC to a letter from Donald Trump to Kim Jong Un written in 2018. Since Simon Sebag Montefiore’s area of expertise is mainly the history of Russia, or of the Soviet Union which governed the former Russian Empire for much of the 20th century, there are many letters by Russian, or Soviet, writers. However, there are letters written by less famous people. An example of this is a letter written by a British Army Captain to his mother describing the Christmas truce of 1914 between British and German troops during the First World War.

I found the book, with its array of famous, and some infamous, characters from history, a fascinating read. Because of the nature of the book, it is something that can be dipped into for a short period if you don’t wish to settle down for a longer read. One of the things that struck me was that some of the issues that were being discussed in letters from historical times are still relevant today. I think two of my favourite letters are: one from Josip Tito, president of the former Yugoslavia, to Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union, threatening the latter to call off assassins; and one left on the desk in the Oval Office of the White House by the outgoing president of the USA George Bush for the incoming president Bill Clinton wishing him well. With its wide cast of fascinating characters and covering a vast range of topics, there should be something amongst this collection of letters for everyone.

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

Friday, 16 October 2020

Giveaway & Movie Review: Based on the Inspirational True Story 2 Hearts (Giveaway now closed)

Want to win some money?

Leave me a comment on this video and I will pick one person to win $20 (USD) via paypayl or Venmo to celebrate the release of 2 Hearts. Giveaway closes Midnight 22nd October (MST)

Review: Because of You by Dawn French

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.
Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.
Anna leaves with empty arms.
Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.
The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.
Perhaps beyond . . .

Review: It has been a long time since a book has left me this emotionally drained. I loved every minute of this, I just could not put it down and I was left so emotional by the end of it. This is one of those books where you find yourself holding your breath without even realising you're doing it and just getting so behind these characters because you are so invested in their lives. 

I love the fact that this book surrounds two women from very different walks of life linked by the fact that they are giving birth on the eve of the new millennium in the same hospital. I loved Hopes fiery spirit and her determination to be happy in life. I loved the fact that she didn't care about material possessions, to her family and happiness were really at the heart of her reason for being and I just admired her passion so much. 

Anna is also very passionate but in a very contained way. Her life is almost the opposite of the way Hope aims to live. She is married to someone in a position of powers and so as she is giving birth she does have the possessions and the status but she doesn't have that deep rooted love with her husband. She has that strength that Hope does though, she just needed the events of this book in order to find it. I just fell in love with the women in this book. I loved how fiercely they lived and they were so well written I could imagine meeting them in real life and falling in love with them all over again. 

This book does come with care warnings for baby loss and also to keep tissues nearby because it is an emotional rollercoaster and you will find yourself finding joy in things you never thought possible.. There are a few villains in this story and I did spend my time hating on the characters in particular but I love when an author writes someone that I can feel passionately about so I have no problems with that. 

This is one of those books that you can't talk about this plot without giving away spoilers so I just urge you to read this one. It is brilliantly written so you find joy in the prose and just have to keep on reading reading reading because of the way it was structured. I am envious of those of you who will get to read this book for the first time because you are about to embark on a wonderful journey. This is definitely a new favourite for me-highly recommend!

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

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Blog Tour: Extract From Christmas With The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest @ElaineEverest #TeashopGirlsChristmas @ed_pr

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Christmas With The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest. I have an extract to share with you today but don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclsive content and reviews. Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £7.99 as paperback original. You can click here to order your copy now!

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

The friends return in a moving story of love, bravery and hope set in 1940 – a guaranteed winter warmer full of festive spirit. 

Bestseller Elaine Everest is the author of the muchloved Woolworths Girls saga series. 

It’s late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy. 

The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancé Captain Ben Hargreaves and she’s busy planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new stepdaughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother? 

When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that she’s hiding something… As the wedding draws near, the bombings intensify, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .

Here's that extract for you...

‘Oh Miss Neville, I’m that thrilled for you,’ the young Nippy exclaimed as Rose walked into the staffroom of the Lyons teashop she managed in Margate. ‘Fancy being engaged to an army captain! Show us your engagement ring?’

Rose smiled at the girl standing in front of her. ‘Thank you, Edie. I’m afraid I don’t have the ring yet – my fiancé is having it altered. His grandmother’s fingers were larger than mine,’ she explained as she looked down at the slim fingers of her left hand, thinking back to the moment Ben had slipped the ring on after formally proposing.

‘You mean it’s second-hand, Miss? I’d have thought a posh bloke like him could have afforded to buy you something new,’ Edie said, giving her a pitying look. ‘When my sister got engaged to her chap, she had a new ring, and he’s only a corporal.’

‘You are a silly child,’ a familiar voice said from behind Rose. ‘Do you not know that Captain Benjamin is a man who comes from the landed gentry of England? What our Miss Neville is to be wearing on her finger will be an ancient heirloom,’ Anya Polinski reprimanded the girl. ‘Show some respect to our manageress,’ she added with a dismissive sniff, looking down her nose at the younger woman – something that was easily done, since Anya stood a head taller than most of the staff in the teashop.

The younger staff members were unsure of their Polish colleague, who always carried an air of authority even though she was just like them, albeit a ‘Sally’ who looked after the front counter of the Lyons teashop, where she served customers with all manner of goods. The older staff found her helpful and knowledgeable, although they too were in awe of the woman who’d left her homeland and come all the way to Thanet in search of her pilot husband, Henio. When the couple had been reunited, more than one Nippy had been heard to sigh at the romance of it, remarking that Anya’s life was straight out of an edition of The People’s Friend.

Rose clapped her hands together to gain the attention of the other Nippies and Sallys. ‘Ladies, we have but fifteen minutes before the doors open to our customers,’ she said with a smile, before taking a look at the notes in her hand. ‘I would like to inspect your uniforms first, and then I will give you some news about a few staff changes that will affect our work here at the Margate teashop while I’m away in London. I trust you all to carry on your hard work while I’m absent.’

This was met with excited chatter and nods of agreement before a hush fell as Rose walked along the line of Nippies, checking their black uniform dresses, white cuffs and collars were clean. ‘Annie, your hem is coming down. You will find thread and needles in the drawer,’ she instructed a newer Nippy, nodding towards the large table where the staff sat while taking breaks for their meals. ‘There is also red thread, for any of you who have loose pearl buttons,’ she added as many of the women ran their hands down the fronts of their dresses, where two neat rows of white pearl buttons ran from their collars to the waistbands of their crisp white aprons.

‘Please, Miss Neville, I have a ladder in my stocking. If there is time, may I change it? I didn’t notice until I was on my way to work,’ an older Nippy asked. ‘Most certainly you may.’ Rose smiled, pleased that her team took such pride in their appearance. She’d not found one dirty fingernail, and each worker had clean, shiny hair underneath the white starched caps bearing the Lyons badge.

About The Author

Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women's magazine market. When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry. You can find out more about Elaine on Twitter @ElaineEverest or Facebook /elaine.everest

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Guest Review: A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley

It’s been a year since Lottie’s fiancé walked out, leaving her heartbroken. But things start to look up when she lands her dream job at a beautiful Lake District estate, with a handsome groundskeeper for a neighbour.
So when Lottie is asked to organise a last minute Christmas wedding at Firholme, she can’t wait to get started. Until she meets the couple, and discovers that Connor, the man who broke her heart, is the groom-to-be.
As snow falls on the hills, can Lottie put aside her past to organise the perfect winter wedding? And will there be any festive magic left to bring Lottie the perfect Christmas she deserves?

Review: As a big fan of all things Christmassy, this is an exciting time of year for me as all the festive reads begin to emerge. I always look out for my favourite authors in particular, these including Phillipa Ashley. Having read a good many of her books, I wasn’t surprised when this one began in Cornwall, but was equally pleased when the action then shifted for the main part of the story to the Lake District, an area I know well and enjoy visiting when I can. I was soon absorbed in the story and found it a quick and easy read.

The central character in the book is Lottie, an events planner working in Firholme, a country house standing on the shores of Derwentwater in the Lake District. She loves her job and the little cottage that comes with it. However, she’s not sure about her new neighbour, estates manager Jay, who is initially not very sociable, unlike his gorgeous black labrador. Lottie’s boss is keen to net a big event to showcase the house and its facilities, and is delighted when a couple show up desperate to have their wedding there the week before Christmas, only a few weeks away. Lottie knows she can pull it off, but the drawback is that she knows the groom, having been engaged to him briefly just a year before, his desertion having left her heartbroken. As the wedding and Christmas approach, Lottie has the additional worry of her ill sister and helping look after her young twin nieces who are increasingly excited amidst the festive preparations. Readying the house for the wedding means she has to work closely with Jay and she begins to get to know him better and understand his dislike of the festive season.

I have really enjoyed this festive and heartwarming story and can heartily recommend it. There are some lovely characters, a marvellous location and just the right amount of snow. The wedding is, of course, central to the plot, but there is plenty of other activity as well. Lottie’s sister and Jay have interesting storylines of their own that emerge as the story progresses. I didn’t take to the bride or groom; some of their demands at such short notice were incredible. Lottie, however, was amazing, getting everything done while caring for her immediate family and sorting out Jay’s problems too; I would definitely want her organising my event.

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

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Super Long Book Titles 13/10/20

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.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Review: One Family Christmas by Bella Osborne

A big family. A whole lot of secrets. A Christmas to remember…
This year, Lottie is hosting one last big family Christmas at the home she grew up in – just like her Nana would have wanted.
But when her relatives descend on the old manor house, Lottie gets more than she bargained for. Every family has its secrets, but in this family, everybody has one!
So, between cooking a Christmas dinner, keeping tensions at bay and a stray dog out of mischief, she has plenty on her plate (and not just misshapen sausage rolls and a frozen turkey). And then her first love shows up – nine years after he walked out of her life.
Can Lottie make their last family Christmas one to remember… for the right reasons?

Review: Ah this was one of those books that you can totally see playing out in front of you like a movie-this would make such a fabulous film. Terribly British and hilariously funny-everything that could go wrong with this Christmas, every soap opera cliches that could happen happened in this book and I loved every moment of it. I picked this novel up on Monday morning and didn't put it down again until I had finished it on Monday night!

Lottie was such a great character to spend this novel with because she is so easy to relate to and you will find yourself on her side 100% right from the word go. I love that she is trying so hard to make Christmas perfect for everyone but as the synopsis says, everybody in this family has secrets and so poor Lottie has a really hard time of it. I also really related to Emily.  have been the new person at a table at a bigger family Christmas than I am used so and so I could really sympathise with her and the position that she found herself in. I loved getting to know these women and I loved the bond that they formed. 

There are some absolutely hilarious moments in this novel. If you can think of something that could go awry whilst cooking or decorating for Christmas you will probably find it here. You want some ghostly presences? You got it! A cute relationship between a dog and a cat? Check! A blast from the past suddenly appearing again? Bella Osborne has got you sorted. 

There is some serious family drama in this book, some romantic moments and some good old fashioned family bonding. Overall though this book has a lot of heart in the relationships it explores and the humour found in every situation. I love that these characters take everything this authors throws at them and more and I am sure you will too!

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

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Movie Reviews: I Couldn't Finish Watching These New To Streaming Movies?!


Blog Tour: Extract From Coming Home to Penvennan Cove by Linn B Halton

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Coming Home to Penvennan Cove by Linn B Halton. I have an extract to share with you today and if you like the sound of that, you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

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

Can Kerra's Cornish hometown offer the fresh start she needs?

When Kerra left the quiet Cornish town of Penvennan Cove for the bright lights of London she didn't look back. But after the death of her mother, she's decided it's time to face her past and return to the place she called home. Her father needs her, and perhaps she needs him more than she's willing to admit?

Tackling town gossip, home renovations and a flame from her past, it's not quite smooth sailing for Kerra. Ross is the bad boy she was meant to forget, not a man who still sets her heart aflutter. As he helps bring her dream home to life, they begin to break down the barriers that have been holding them back and in the process learn things about themselves they never thought possible.

As friends old and new come together, the future in Penvennan looks bright.

Here's that extract for you...

There are tears in my eyes as I drive away from my London life, but there is also a huge sense of relief. Dad is trying his best to keep Mum’s dog-sitting business—Home from Home—going, but he was only ever a weekend helper before he gave up work. While there are perfectly good kennels in the garden, on my last trip home every available seat in the house had a dog curled up on it. He told me they only howl if he tries to use the bespoke accommodation. The truth is that they, too, miss my lovely mum and are pining for her. They don’t understand what’s happening and, sadly, neither does Dad. Mum would be horrified at his total lack of control and expect me to sort him out, which I will. But he needs time to adjust and I can’t just wade in; it would only add to his anxiety.

People came from miles around to entrust their beloved fur babies into Mum’s care, because she was a professional and had a true affinity with animals. They would return home better behaved because she was a nurturing woman, able to dispense tough love when it was required. Dad, on the other hand, is a pushover. If there was something I really wanted, I’d ask him first, then break the news to Mum. She would usually look at me, narrowing her eyes admonishingly. I’d keep my head down and stay out of her bad books for a while, until she eventually forgave me.

But running a business requires a multitude of skills. The fact that Dad isn’t good with paperwork or using the computer to figure out the electronic booking system, was a growing problem. However, it took a phone call about six months ago to alert me to that fact. My old school friend, Tegan Richards, rang me one day to give me an update and I realised that while Dad was telling me everything was fine, it wasn’t.

‘Your dad needs rescuing, Kerra. He really does. We’re all worried about Eddie. I don’t think the word “no” is in his vocabulary and it’s getting ridiculous. It was pouring down the other day and I caught up with him on what was obviously not his first walk of the day. He had three large and extremely energetic canines straining on their leashes wanting to get on. We spoke briefly and he apologised for having to rush off. He was already soaking wet at that point and admitted to me that he had another three lots of dogs to walk.’ I’d heard a real sense of concern in her voice and guilt had hit me squarely in the gut. ‘It’s too much for him without Meryn,’ she’d added sadly.

The mention of Mum’s name had instantly made my eyes prickle with tears and a trip down the following weekend turned them into tears of despair. However, slow and steady is the required approach with Dad and there was little I could do from a distance. I was heavily caught up in contract negotiations for the sale of the business at that point—something I didn’t want to bother him with, as I knew he’d worry. I wasn’t in a position to go anywhere until that was done and dusted. There was also the matter of getting my loft-style apartment in London ready to rent out. And serving notice to the tenant living in the little cottage I’d inherited from Grandma Rosenwyn, or Rose as we called her, in Penvennan Cove.

About the Author

From interior designer to author, when Linn B. Halton's not writing, or spending time with the family, she's either upcycling furniture or working in the garden. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her 'rock', Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she's an eternal romantic. Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and the Society of Authors. Linn writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Follow The Author

Twitter: @LinnBHalton

Facebook: @LinnBHaltonAuthor

Follow Aria

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction