Tuesday 30 June 2020

Half Year Round up ~ Six in Six

It's that time of year when I take a look at the first six months of my reading year 

๐Ÿ“– Six authors who were new to me:
  1. Jeannine Cumins - American Dirt
  2. Ann Napolitano - Dear Edward
  3. Therese Ann Fowler - A Good Neighbourhood
  4. Catherine Jinks - Shepherd
  5. Wendy Holden - Born Survivors
  6. Kathleen McGurl - The Secrets of the Chateau

๐Ÿ“– Six authors I have read before:

  1. Dorothy Koomson - Tell Me Your Secret
  2. J P Carter - Little Boy Lost
  3. Linda Green - One Moment
  4. Lorna Cook - The Forbidden Promise
  5. Caroline Kirby - When We Fall
  6. Rosanna Ley  - From Venice with Love 

๐Ÿ“– Six books from authors I know will never let me down:

  1. B A Paris -The Dilemma
  2. Elly Griffiths - The Lantern Men
  3. Elisabeth Gifford - The Lost Lights of St Kilda
  4. The Secrets of Ironbridge - Mollie Walton
  5. A Ration Book Wedding - Jean Fullerton
  6. Up Close and Personal - Kathryn Freeman

๐Ÿ“– Six books that surprised me.....in a good way:

  1. The Home - Sarah Stovell
  2. Under the Stars - Matt Gaw
  3. Just Another Mountain - Sarah Jane Douglas
  4. The Lost Child - Emily Gunnis
  5. Cabinet of Comfort - Paul Anthony Jones
  6. The Weight of Small Things - Julie Lancaster

๐Ÿ“– Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past:

  1. Lady of the Ravens - Joanna Hickson
  2. The Foundling - Stacey Halls
  3. Echoes of the Runes - Christina Courtney
  4. The Book of Longings - Sue Monk Kidd
  5. The Silken Rose - Carol McGrath
  6. The Mysterious Miss Fairchild - Sarah Mallory

๐Ÿ“– Six books I am looking forward to reviewing:

  1. The Tuscan Contessa - Dinah Jefferies
  2. Liar - Lesley Pearse
  3. The Illustrated Child - Polly Crosby
  4. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon - Sarah Steele
  5. Daughters of Night - Laura Shepherd
  6. The Light Within Us - Charlotte Betts


to all these talented authors for sharing the gift of your imagination with me. 

So far in 2020 your books have taken me on the most wonderful adventures ๐Ÿ˜Š

Book Review ~ If Cats Could Talk… Would They Cry? by Anatoli Scholz ☼

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28 May 2020

A modern ‘Metamorphosis’ that speaks to the themes of our time – isolation, identity and desperation for connection

An entertaining novella with a philosophical outlook, If Cats Could Talk… Would They Cry introduces Julie Galles. An introvert in an extrovert’s world, Julie is stuck in a rut - until the day she wakes up as a cat. Can a feline perspective help her to reconnect with humanity?

Core issues of companionship, authenticity and purpose are explored with a lightness of touch and an off-beat charm. A book that readers can really connect to.

Beautifully illustrated with playful vignettes by Spanish artist Fรฉlix Diaz de Escauriaza.

What did I think about it..

Anyone who has cats will have said at one time, or another, that they wished they could live their life as a cat. My two are perfectly spoiled felines who have everything they need, want and desire. But would I really want to swap places with either Jaffa or Timmy just for the day....

Julie wakes up one morning and stretches in bed only to find that she has paws instead of legs and without really panicking she discovers that whilst she is still Julie, she has been changed into a cat who can speak. Considering this rather unusual event with remarkable acceptance what then follows is how Julie accepts that her life has changed in a very unusual way. By living as a cat Julie is given the opportunity to view life and observes what it means to be human in a unique experience.

With more than a nod towards Kafka's Metamorphosis,  If Cats Could Talk…  Would They Cry? takes us on a journey of discovery, and in Julie's case allows her to see, and interact, with the people she knows on a very different level. 

I enjoyed this novella and read it over the space of an afternoon. The author has a perceptive way of writing and throughout the story he creates a very plausible set of circumstances. Scattered amongst the narrative are coloured drawings which are beautifully simple and which encapsulate the story perfectly.

Quirky and unique, If Cats Could Talk…  Would They Cry? made me ponder all the more about what cats think about the world around them. I am sure if both Jaffa and Timmy could talk, they would never shut up ! ๐Ÿ˜ธ

About the Author

ANATOLI SCHOLZ was born in Moscow and raised in the US, Germany and Ireland. He has never lived in one place for more than two years and he speaks seven languages. He currently lives in Spain; before that he lived in Paris, in the very road where this book is set. This is his third book.

Twitter @CameronPMtweets


Monday 29 June 2020

Blog Tour ~ Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay by Katie Ginger ☼

☼ Delighted to host today's stop on this summery Blog Tour ☼

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HQ Digital
24 June 2020

Swallowtail Bay #2

My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to the Blog Tour

Grab your strawberries and cream and get ready to return to the beautiful Swallowtail Bay!

Summer is in full swing and the locals are getting excited for the launch of the Swallowtail Bay strawberry food festival. But will all run smoothly when festival organiser Hetty’s heart is torn between lord of the manor John Thornhill and successful bakery owner Ben?

What did I think about it..

Over this latest heat wave, I curled myself into my favourite reading chair, and with a deliciously cold drink at my side I became quite lost in the magic of Swallowtail Bay. It doesn't matter if you haven't read the previous story in this series as both books can be read as standalones stories and Summer Strawberries is a wonderful continuation about the townsfolk of Swallowtail Bay.

From the start I absolutely loved Hetty, she's an entirely capable woman who organises everything superbly well. She's also one of those gifted events organisers who you would really like to have on speed dial, as she can magic up a party at the drop of a hat. And yet, good though she is at her job, Hetty now needs something more challenging than creating superhero themed wrestling parties, and that's when she decides to resurrect the annual Strawberry Festival at Swallowtail Bay which has been lingering in the doldrums for far too many years. However, for it to go ahead properly, she really needs to enlist the help of John Thornhill, a local landowner, whose belligerent family also own the local stately home.

What then follows is a delightful rom-com which has all the right ingredients for a scrumptious summer read. The author brings such warmth and wit to her characters that you really want to spend time with them. I especially enjoyed reading of Hetty's preparations as she goes about organising such a huge summer event, which she does, of course, with great good humour. Her relationship with John Thornhill is beautifully explored and their shared differences only heightens their burgeoning relationship. Whilst there is a bit of will they, won't they romance, it's not all hearts, flowers and roses round the door, as both Hetty and John have other significant worries going on in the background, I thought that John's concerns about his family were particularly well handled.

Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay is a beautifully written rom-com about the joy of living in a small community where loyalty, love and friendship are so very important. I devoured the story in one sitting, stopping just for brief moments to top up my refreshments....and maybe a bowl of summer strawberries was also consumed as I spent a happy afternoon in Swallowtail Bay. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Katie Ginger lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and she really wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay is her fifth novel. The first, Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay is available now. Her debut novel The Little Theatre on the Seafront was shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and her stand-alone Christmas novel Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage was a US Amazon bestseller.When she's not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive their two children, Ellie and Sam. And there's also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes,he is named after the crisps!)

Twitter @KatieGAuthor


Sunday 28 June 2020

Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Catherine Kullmann ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

 I'm delighted to welcome author, Catherine Kullmann to our picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

It depends on whether we want finger food or if we can have forks as well. If the former, crusty rolls opened, spread with mayonnaise and filled with home-cooked ham, lettuce, tomato and cucumber. If the latter, a salad of new potatoes served with poached salmon and a samphire, asparagus and green bean salad. And, if we really want to treat ourselves, French-style strawberry tartlets, with the fresh fruit on a bed of confectioner’s custard. 

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial?

My favourite would be a chilled rosรฉ for flavour and chilled sparkling water to quench the thirst. And a flask of coffee for later on.

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside?

In the countryside

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

We have a rug to spread on the ground, folding chairs for anyone who might find it difficult to get up from the ground, and a cooler or coolers to keep everything fresh, chilled and intact. Plates, cutlery, glasses and napkins are in a carrier bag.

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

My absolute favourite is Glenmalure in Co. Wicklow. Coming from Dublin, it is one glen over from the more famous Glendalough but is really quiet. It is a twenty kilometre long u-shaped glacial valley. You can hike in or drive as far as the little stream that comes purling down from the hills. There is a ford, but it is best to leave the car in the car-park, cross the river and walk up the track edged with wild flowers, enjoying the rippling of the stream and the birdsong. The river bank is quite flat and there are several places that are ideal for a picnic. Here, ‘peace comes dropping slow’, as Yeats said. There is something magical about it. Anytime I have been there, I have always stayed longer than I meant to. 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today?

It would have to be people who would enjoy the simplicity. The March sisters from Little Women, perhaps or Jamie and Clare from Outlander. I could also see Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliott from Persuasion enjoying it, but not Darcy and Elizabeth. 

Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

Barbara Spencer’s new book, An Ocean of White Wings. Her magical realism will really suit Glenmalure.


What is your earliest summer memory?

The long evenings when we could play outside until bedtime. There were very few cars then and we played on the road—skipping, chasing, pussy-four-corners, statues—there were so many games. Or we’d sit in the grass and make daisy chains.

Do you have a favourite summer hideaway?

If I could wave a magic wand and be transported to anywhere in the world, it would be to the harbour of Chania in Crete to have an evening ouzo while watching the sunset.

Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery?

I don’t listen to music while I’m writing. I find it too distracting. My favourite summer song is Silent Noon, a setting of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is a beautiful love poem and really captures that hushed stillness of a summers day. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEo2e2PnhuM

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?

Not really. I read pretty much the same, all year round. What I read depends more on what new books are being released at any given time.

Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?

It is far more tempting to skive off for a day or more in the summer. Frequently, though, I can combine this with a research trip. You find Georgian houses, large and small, everywhere in Ireland, and fascinating small museums all over the country. Many of the country houses are now small hotels or guest houses and I love staying in them. 

Would you like to tell us a little about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?

Willow Books

My latest novel, The Potential for Love, is set in 1816. When Arabella Malvin sees the figure of an officer silhouetted against the sun, for one interminable moment she thinks he is her brother, against all odds home from Waterloo. But it is Major Thomas Ferraunt, the rector’s son, newly returned from occupied Paris who stands in front of her. For over six years, Thomas’s thoughts have been of war. Now he must ask himself what his place is in this new world and what he wants from it. More and more, his thoughts turn to Miss Malvin, but would Lord Malvin agree to such a mismatch for his daughter, especially when she is being courted by Lord Henry Danlow?

As Arabella embarks on her fourth Season, she finds herself more in demand than ever before. But she is tired of the life of a debutante, waiting in the wings for her real life to begin. She is ready to marry. But which of her suitors has the potential for love and who will agree to the type of marriage she wants? As she struggles to make her choice, she is faced with danger from an unexpected quarter while Thomas is stunned by a new challenge. Will these events bring them together or drive them apart?

Catherine, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @CKullmannAuthor

More about Catherine Kullmann

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. Widowed, she has three adult sons and two grandchildren.

Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. She loves writing and is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on for the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society. She is the author of The Murmur of Masks, Perception & Illusion, A Suggestion of Scandal and The Duke’s Regret. Her latest book is The Potential for Love.

☼Thank you for coming to our picnic☼Follow on Twitter


Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Josie Bonham ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

 I'm delighted to welcome author, Josie Bonham to our picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic? 

Fruit Scones with homemade plum jam.

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial?

Pimms with homegrown cucumber, prepared by my eldest niece who does amazing things with a jug of Pimms.

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside?

Seaside would be lovely. 

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

Let’s go for all the trimmings.

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

Tricky one this. There are so many lovely places. I was very taken with Lyme Regis, let’s go there.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today?

It has to be Jane Austen. I wonder what she will make of the changes at Lyme Regis?

Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

Frederica by Georgette Heyer.


What is your earliest summer memory?

Riding around the garden in a red pedal car when I was about three.

Do you have a favourite summer hideaway?

We have relatives in Devon. We stay in Exmouth when we visit them and always have at least one trip to Topsham Bay.

Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery?

I write best when it’s quiet so never play music. I’m easily distracted!

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?

To some extent. I love reading a Regency romance with at least a smattering of snow on the ground in the run up to Christmas. I like writing them too. 

Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter? 

Easier in summer I think, although Nanowrimo is a good idea. I wrote a novella last November by signing up. 

Would you like to tell us a little about your latest novel, or your current work in progress? 

My debut novel, A Good Match For The Major, is the first in a series of Regency romances with a good dash of adventure. Their heat level is warm.

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More about Josie

I’ve always been a daydreamer and a bookworm. For years I started writing things and never finishing them. My sister persuaded me to try a Future learn free writing course which was helpful. When my niece sat down and wrote a novel just after that I decided it was time to take it seriously. I joined the Romantic Novelists New Writers Scheme and the help and support I’ve had has been amazing.

Josie, where can we find you on Social Media?

Twitter @BonhamJosie

☼Thank you for coming to our picnic☼Follow on Twitter


Saturday 27 June 2020

His Fic Revisited ~ Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor

Another end of the month and another Hist Fic story from my past revisited 

Let's go back to... Restoration England

Penguin 2002
First published 1944

Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, 16-year-old Amber St. Clare manages, by using her wits, beauty, and courage, to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England—that of favorite mistress of the Merry Monarch, Charles II. From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London to the intimate passions of ordinary—and extraordinary—men and women, Amber experiences it all. But throughout her trials and escapades, she remains, in her heart, true to the one man she really loves, the one man she can never have.

Frequently compared to Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber is the other great historical romance, outselling every other American novel of the 1940s—despite being banned in Boston for its sheer sexiness. A book to read and reread, this edition brings back to print an unforgettable romance and a timeless masterpiece.

What did I think about it..

Forever Amber was one of my mother's favourite historical romances and I remember being thrilled when she let me read her copy of the novel when I was about 15. I think this is the pivotal novel which fostered my love of historical fiction, and even though it has been several years since I last read it, revisiting the story was akin to catching up with an old friend.

The story is huge, nearly 1000 pages, and follows the fortunes of the rather beautiful Amber St Clare as she embarks on a glorious hedonistic adventure, which takes her from a sleepy English village to the lively, and pleasure, seeking court of King Charles II. At times, penniless and destitute, whilst at others dazzlingly rich, Amber embodies all that was both tawdry, and yet splendid, about the Restoration period, and Forever Amber certainly covers everything in glorious detail.

The story meanders slowly and if anything seems slightly dated now with its sexual content hinted at rather than described in sensuous detail, and yet, when it was first published in 1944, the book was banned in many countries because of Amber's loose morals and the story's rather risquรฉ content.

This time around I chose to listen to the Audible recording which, at 42 hours and 11 minutes, takes a fair amount of commitment.  However, the story is beautifully narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki who brings the story to life, I think I will forever have her voice as Amber St Clare in my head.

Seventy-Six years after its original publication, Forever Amber has sold millions of copies world wide and still remains in print. It was also made into a mediocre film in 1945 by 20th Century Fox with Linda Darnell and Cornell Wilde as Amber St Clare and Bruce Carlton.

About the Author

Kathleen Winsor was raised in Berkeley, California. At the age of 18, Winsor made a list of her goals for life. Among those was her hope to write a best-selling novel. Winsor graduated in 1938 from the University of California, Berkeley. During her school years, she married a fellow student, All-American college football player Robert Herwig. In 1937, she began writing a thrice-weekly sports column for the Oakland Tribune. Although that job only lasted a year, Winsor later returned to the newspaper to work as a receptionist. She was fired in 1938 when the newspaper chose to trim their workforce.

Kathleen Winsor became interested in the Restoration period through her husband. Herwig was writing a paper for school on Charles II, and, out of boredom, Winsor read one of his research books.


Friday 26 June 2020

Blog Tour ~ The English Wife by Adrienne Chinn ☼

☼ Delighted to host today's stop on this lovely Blog Tour ☼

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One More Chapter
23 June 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my e-copy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to be part of this blog tour

Two women, a world apart.
A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945

As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.

Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

September 11th 2001

Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.

Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever..

What did I think about it..

This split dual time narrative moves forwards and backwards in time in a family drama which sweeps between the story of Ellie in 1945, and Sophie in both 2001 and 2011.

Ellie's story is much about her relationship with her sister, Dottie, and the two men who were to have such an effect on the rest of her life. Moving between England and Newfoundland, I found Ellie's story to be such an interesting account of the dilemma's faced by women when their menfolk were away fighting in the war. The reasons for her move to Newfoundland were particularly interesting.

Sophie's story is very much that of a modern, young woman, with huge career choices ahead of her, and the realisation that, if you work hard enough, you can have everything, but at what cost?

The story is well written, although it took me a while to get used to the three different time frames but once I had each of the main characters in my imagination, I found that the story became much more interesting. I really enjoyed spending time in the remote Newfoundland community of Tippy's Tickle, what a glorious place name, which is, for me, where the story came alive. The author describes everything so well that I felt like I had stepped ashore and mingled with the townsfolk as they went about their daily lives.

The English Wife is a nicely written family saga which takes us on an intricate and complex journey through a whole host of family secrets.

About the Author

Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife--a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland--is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer's Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.

Twitter @adriennechinn



Thursday 25 June 2020

Publication Day Review ~ The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina (Translated by Lucy Rand) ☼

 ☼ Happy Publication Day ☼

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Manilla Press
25 June 2020
Hardback, Ebook and Audio

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Based on an incredible true story, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, set in Japan, introduces us to Yui, a woman who has lost her mother and daughter in the tsunami and wonders how she will carry on. Struggling to come to terms with her grief, she hears a story about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel there from miles around. Soon Yui makes a pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss. 

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking...

What did I think about it..

Following the devastating Tsunami which hit the north-east of Japan in March 2011 thousands of people were left grieving for their lost loved ones. This tragedy, although mourned in privacy, left its mark. Struggling with grief, some of those who were left behind embarked on a pilgrimage to The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, a place of safety where they could talk to their loved ones on an old, disused telephone.

At the start of The Phone Box at the Edge of the World we are introduced to Yui, a woman who has lost both her mother and daughter in the tsunami, and also to Takeshi, a bereaved husband, who, after the death of his wife, is struggling to care for his small daughter. After hearing about the phone box, these two damaged souls find what comfort they can in their regular pilgrimages, and whilst neither Yui nor Takeshi had met before they soon find that their shared exploration of grief is far better than coping alone. 

What we discover is that visiting the phone box allows a brief respite in the daily struggle against loss and despair, and the poignant messages, and heartfelt conversations, which people have with their deceased, or missing loved ones, is so very special. Witnessing the pain of devastating loss reminds us that it's not just the important things you want to share with those who have gone, it's all the little things which make up the minutiae of daily lives which become such precious gifts.

Whilst this story is very much fiction there is, within the fabric of its pages, the very essence of all those pilgrims who make their own sad and special journeys to the telephone box at the end of the world, and in this beautiful story, both Yui and Takeshi encapsulate so many stories, which are, in effect, so similar to their own.

Beautifully written and filled with delicate and poignant detail The Phone Box at the Edge of the World takes you on a heartwarming and heart wrenching journey into the wilderness of bereavement and loss, and yet, throughout the story, there is always a tiny flicker of hope, and an overwhelming longing to keep those we have lost close to our hearts ❤

About the Author

Laura Imai Messina

Laura Imai Messina has been living in Japan for the last 15 years and works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children.

She took a Masters in Literature at the International Christian University of Tokyo and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Her novel The Phone Box at the Edge of the World has been sold in 17 territories.

Twitter @LaImaiMessina #ThePhoneBox


Publication Day Blog Tour ~ From Venice with Love by Rosanna Ley ☼

☼ Delighted to be one of the Blog Tour stops for this lovely book on its Publication Day☼ 

From Venice with Love
25 June 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of the blog tour

The bestselling author of The Lemon Tree Hotel returns with an enchanting new holiday read about family bonds and following your heart, wherever it might take you…

With her marriage in danger of falling apart, Joanna returns home to the beautiful but dilapidated Mulberry Farm Cottage in rural Dorset, where her sister Harriet is struggling to keep the Farm afloat and cope with their eccentric mother.

When Joanna discovers a bundle of love letters in the attic, written by a watercolourist named Emmy, she is intrigued and sets out to discover Emmy’s true story. Emmy’s letters take Joanna to the picturesque alleyways and bridges of Lisbon, Prague, and the most romantic place of all: Venice – where a whole new magical world seems to unfold in front of her.

Meanwhile, back at Mulberry Farm Cottage, a mysterious prowler adds to Harriet’s problems and interrupts her search for a perfect partner. Will she ever find true love? Where will Emmy’s mesmerising pathway lead? And more importantly, will Joanna and Harriet be able to rescue the cottage and finally be able to re-discover their sisterly bond?

What did I think about it..

Joanna returns home to rural Dorset where at Mulberry Tree Farm Cottage she hopes to come to terms with what's been happening in her broken marriage. Her arrival at the cottage is viewed with apprehension by Joanna's sister, Harriet who has been coping alone, running the farm, as well as caring for their elderly mother who seems traps in a world of her own.

What then follows is  delightful family drama, which this talented author does so well.  There are some really lovely moments, I especially enjoyed the rather fraught relationship, Joanna has with her sister, both of them have resentments, but Harriet particularly feels aggrieved and envious of Joanna's more successful life style. 

However, From Venice with Love isn't just about family angst, it's also a wonderful travelogue, the descriptions of which really bring the story to life. I especially enjoyed travelling to Venice, Lisbon and Prague with Joanna as she seeks to find answers to a tantalising family mystery, there's even a little bit of magical realism thrown in for good measure, which was an absolute joy to read.

Whenever I pick up a Rosanna Ley story I know that I am in for a very good read and From Venice with Love is no exception, in fact, I rather think that this is one of my favourite of her novels to date. It had everything I wanted, and so much more, from a summer story, sibling rivalry, friendship, family secrets, travel and a hint of romance, all are at the heart of this lovely family story which entertained me from beginning to end. I was even a little bit sad when the story ended as I didn't want to say goodbye to any of the characters ๐Ÿ˜Š  

About the Author

Rosanna Ley works as a creative tutor and has written many articles and stories for national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.

Twitter @Rosannaley #FromVeniceWithLove


Wednesday 24 June 2020

Blog Tour ~ The Half Sister by Sandie Jones ☼

  Delighted to host today's opening stop on this Blog Tour 

Pan Macmillan
25 June 2020
My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to the blog tour

Her arrival will ruin everything

Kate and Lauren. Sisters who are always there for each other. But as they gather for their weekly Sunday lunch, a knock on the door changes everything.

The new arrival, Jess, claims to be their half-sister, but that would mean the unthinkable . . . That she’s the secret daughter of their beloved, recently deceased father Harry. Their mother Rose is devastated and Kate and Lauren refuse to believe Jess’s lies.

But as the fall-out starts it’s clear that each is hiding secrets and that perhaps this family isn’t as perfect as they appear.

Where there was truth, now there are lies and only one thing is certain, their half-sister’s arrival has ruined everything..

What did I think about it..

When an unexpected visitor arrives at their mother's house announcing that she is their half sister - a half sister they didn't know existed - life will never be the same again for Kate and Lauren as this shocking discovery unleashes family secrets which they never could have imagined. Both Lauren and Kate are leading their own independent lives and yet, even they are hiding secrets which combined with the discovery of this new half sister, threatens to blow their lives apart.

The story is pacy and flows well and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of the characters, especially Lauren and Kate's mother, Rose who is equally as shocked by the unexpected arrival of Jess, the half sister. The story twists and turns, sometimes from the point of view of Lauren, whilst at other times Kate takes centre stage but throughout it all it's Jess, the half sister, who has the power to bring the whole of their lives tumbling down. 

The Half Sister is a complex family drama which has enough elements of surprise to keep you guessing as just when I thought I had the story figured out the whole thing would veer off into another entirely new and unexpected direction.

Secrets, lies, sibling rivalry and marital infidelity, this family drama has all the right ingredients to keep you guessing right until the end.

About the Author

Sandie Jones has worked as a freelance journalist for over twenty years, and has written for publications including the Sunday Times, Woman’s Weekly and the Daily Mail. She lives in London with her husband and three children. 

Twitter @realsandiejones #TheHalfSister


Tuesday 23 June 2020

Summer Read ~ House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey ☼

Choc Lit 

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret...

Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy...

Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father - the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher 'Bandit' Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.

After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies - and, all the while, becoming closer.

But Liam still won't let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts...

What did I think about it..

Maddie Frost escapes an abusive relationship and flees, with her tiny daughter, Poppy, to Wrea Head Hall, her father's hotel in Yorkshire, and even though Maddie's relationship with her father has been distant, she hopes that she will find a place of safety to escape from the danger posed by her estranged partner, Liam.

The story wasn't at all what I expected, I think from the cover I imagined a light family drama and what I got was a rather dark, suspenseful story which has all the necessary elements of surprise needed to drive the story along. However, it's not just a complex thriller although that is the focal point of the story, there's also an underlying historical mystery which offers a much needed respite from some of the darker elements of the main story. Whilst there was intrigue and danger aplenty there was also some light relief with a handsome hero with a heart of gold, and a couple of faithful hotel employees who are strong and sturdy when Maddie really needs their help. I also thought that little Poppy was a delightful addition to the story, as was the lively Springer Spaniel puppy, Buddy.

Overall I really enjoyed House of Secrets, it's a great immersive read and it's certainly been an interesting Summer Reading choice.

Just to add that House of Secrets was the author's debut novel in 2015 when she won the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition. Lynda Stacey has now gone on to write several more successful novels.

Twitter @LyndaStacey