#BlogTour! #Review – #SummerAtTheKindnessCafe by Victoria Walters (@Vicky_Walters) @TeamBATC @AnneCater @SimonSchusterUK

vickywalters
Next up on the blog this afternoon is my review of ‘Summer at the Kindness Cafe’ by Victoria Walters. Happy publication day! Many thanks to Anne for the blog tour invite, and huge thanks to the publisher for the ARC (and the Brew)!!

Summer at Kindess Cover
Welcome to Brew, a cafe where kindness is almost as important as coffee… almost!

Abbie has fled London and the humiliation of not being able to make rent after being made redundant. Her sister, Louise, unlucky in love, has thrown herself into her career at the local hospital. And Eszter, who has travelled from Hungary with her daughter Zoe, is hoping to fulfil her husband’s dying wish: to reunite his family.

This summer, three very different women are inspired by the random acts of kindness written up on the Kindness Board at Brew, and decide to make a pact to be kinder to others and to themselves.

Can a little bit of kindness really change your life? Eszter, Abbie and Louise are about to find out!

**Summer at the Kindness Cafe was previously published
as a four-part serial titled Random Acts of Kindness.
This is the complete story in one package.**

What does TWG think?

I’m just going to chuck this straight out there – what a breath of fresh air this book is! I have never, ever, rooted for three characters as much as I did Abbie, Louise, and Eszter! I really wanted them all to have their happily ever afters, I was even half tempted to do a Joey Tribianni and step into the book instead of a map!

All three ladies have their own story to tell, each of which are explored as the storyline progresses, and all three women have fled to Littlewood to restart their lives. Thanks to a ‘Kindness Board’ in local cafe, Brew, their lives take an interesting turn which allows them to revaluate their fears and attempt to make a decision that will change their lives forever.

Putting it like that, I guess it sounds pretty dramatic! It isn’t, not really. I mean, Abbie has ventured to Littlewood to see her sister, Louise, after being made redundant (there’s more to that story!), Louise arrived few years prior after a relationship breakdown, and Eszter brought her daughter, Zoe, to the little village from Hungary…of all places, to fulfil one last wish. Could they BE any more chalk and cheese? I think that’s why I thought they worked brilliantly together. Each woman had their own way of doing things, and brought different wisdom to the table whenever it was needed. I loved their diversity and the fact that wanted to go all out to help people they barely knew, just because. No hidden agenda. No guilt attached. Nothing. They were kind because, guess what? THEY WANTED TO! I know, people seem to think that being kind is hard!

I ADORED this book! I loved how infectious the authors determination to be kind was, and I just loved how satisfying the entire book was. If you feel as though you are needing a pick me up, or if you feel like you’ve misplaced your reasons to get up and go, I highly recommend reading this book to help you put things in perspective. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to tell you how to live your life or tell you the answers to your questions – it’s not a Magic 8 ball, however the story really does have its own magical powers in the sense it makes you look at situations from a different angle. Instead of sitting and worrying about looking like a ‘lumpy sausage’ in a dress, just go and get a new one. It sounds very simple, but when you’re in amongst things and are struggling to think logically, you just don’t find the answers to things as quickly as you usually would.

‘Summer at the Kindness Cafe’ also had a wonderful character who had me in hysterics and left me clapping my hands in glee; Ben. What a wonderful, wonderful addition to an already beautiful book. He is brilliant and definitely worth its weight in gold!

As I said, I cannot recommend this uplifting, joyous, poignant and utterly divine book which will open your eyes to different paths on journeys you may embark on. Victoria Walters brings happiness and warmth to this poignant and heartwarming novel, in the most unique and unforgettable way. Such a joy to read – I’m envious of anyone and everyone who gets to read it for the very first time!

Buy now from Amazon.

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#BlogTour! #Review – #TheSundayGirl by #PipDrysdale @SimonschusterUK @AnneCater

Last up on the blog today is something a bit dark and devious, my review of ‘The Sunday Girl’ by Pip Drysdale. Many thanks to Anne for the blog tour invite, also thank you to Jess and the Simon & Schuster team for the ARC.

Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.’

Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge.
Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: ‘Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.’
So Taylor consults The Art of War and makes a plan. Then she takes the next irrevocable step – one that will change her life forever.

What does TWG think?

‘The Sunday Girl’ has a very dark premise to it, one which some may find quite unbelievable. However, the topic of revenge via social media in regards to personal videos etc, is actually a lot more ‘popular’ than people realise. I don’t mean ‘popular’ in the sense that it’s going to the new craze, I just mean that it happens a lot more than people realise.

Taylor is broken hearted. She has split up with her boyfriend Angus, and doesn’t quite know what to do with herself. Angus on the other hand, has many ideas of his own, one of which he has turned into a reality rather quickly. Once Taylor realises what her ex-boyfriend has done, revenge seems to be the only comeuppance she can think of. But if a person is capable to stoop so low as to try and ruin another person’s life, is it wise to try and give them a taste of their own medicine yourself?

Taylor is a unique character, one I didn’t really warm to as her personality made me eyeroll more often than not. That said, I did feel for her due to the situation she found herself in. Angus really didn’t do himself any favours!

I thought ‘The Sunday Girl’ was such an addictive, compulsive, and gritty read which had narcissism at its core in a relatable manner. The pace was on par with the vibe of the book, and the level of suspense, alongside the dark notions of revenge, was just bang on. Pip Drysdale’s book may not have been what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it and cannot wait to see what else Drysdale has to offer!

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – #PoppysRecipeForLife by Heidi Swain (@Heidi_Swain) @TeamBATC

Poppy's Recipe For Life Blog Tour Graphic
Eeeek! It’s finally my turn to shake my Swainette pom poms for Heidi Swain’s new novel, ‘Poppy’s Recipe For Life’. Hugest of thanks to Harriet and the lovely team at TeamBATC for the ARC goodies and blog tour invite. It is such an honour to be involved in this tour, so thank you. Here is my review:

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Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.
 
She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.
 
But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

What does TWG think?

Oh she’s a good egg this one, isn’t she? Heidi Swain has delivered yet again. Never mind Poppy creating recipe cards, I think this author needs to create her own recipe cards so we all know how she does it!

I have been a huge fan of Heidi Swain’s novels from the very beginning, and I can honestly say that with each new book she releases, the standard just gets higher and higher. She truly does not disappoint at all.

We are back in Nightingale Square, but this time with a new resident called Poppy. She was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to move into her dream home due to her mothers selfishness. However, Poppy had her own little guardian angel who helped make her dream come true and she swiftly became the new name on the garden’s rota.

Unfortunately for Poppy, her happiness was short lived. Families eh, who’d have them? I won’t delve into the why’s and wherefores, but let’s just say that the phrase ‘you can’t pick your family…’ is very apt in this book, that’s for sure.

‘Poppy’s Recipe For Life’ had me changing emotions like the weather. One minute I was feeling all tender and warm due to the community spirit, and then the next I was angry because of stupid choices which had a domino effect on the rest of the community. I just wanted to knock some of the characters heads together and tell them to stop being so stupid, and no, I don’t mean Poppy and Mr Grizzle…..!!!!

This is such an uplifting, cosy novel which took me under its wing from the get go. In no time at all I was able to lose myself in Poppy’s life, watch the community in Nightingale Square go from strength to strength, and be a part of several characters journeys to self discovery. I never knew that a garden could have so many magical powers, yet this particular garden went above and beyond with the magic, and so did the people involved. I have never read a story which enveloped me in such love and joy, all because of a garden, as ‘Poppy’s Recipe For Life’ did.

Heidi Swain really knows how to make her characters come alive in a way that will have her readers hanging onto her every word, wishing that the story wouldn’t come to an end. Another story which has been written from the authors heart, straight into the hearts of the readers in the way that only Heidi Swain can. A tender, uplifting, and huggable novel with humour that will make you add ‘snorting like a pig’ to your list of party tricks on Tinder.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla (@DanielKalla) @SimonSchusterUK @AnneCater

Many thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite for ‘We All Fall Down’ by Daniel Kalla, and to Simon & Schuster for the ARC. Here is my review:

…**THIS IS A GOVERNMENT ALERT**IF YOU EXHIBIT SYMPTOMS, STAY IN YOUR HOMES**PLEASE REMAIN CALM AND DO NOT ATTEMPT THE RESCUE OF OTHERS**THIS IS A GOVERNMENT ALERT**IF YOU EXHIBIT SYMPTOMS, STAY IN YOUR HOMES**PLEASE REMAIN CALM AND DO NOT ATTEMPT THE RESCUE OF OTHERS**THIS IS A GOVERNMENT ALERT**…

IT STARTS WITH ONE PATIENT

A woman is dying in an Italian hospital, coughing up blood, convulsing and barely conscious.

BEFORE IT SPREADS TO THE TOWN

Dr Alana Vaughn, an expert from NATO, confirms everyone’s worst fears: the woman has the highly infectious disease that swept through Europe eight hundred years ago. The Black Death.

AND TAKES THE CITY

The sickness is spreading so quickly that soon the outbreak becomes a global pandemic. Markets crash and governments fall as quickly as the citizens they govern.

THEN THE COUNTRY

As panic takes hold and the death toll climbs, the consequences become horrifically clear – Alana must discover a way to stop the disease or it will be the end of us all.

THEN THE WORLD – AND WE ALL FALL DOWN

What does TWG think?

I was so looking forward to reading this one! I don’t know what it is about medical novels and medical memoirs at the moment, but I just cannot get enough of them.

With a storyline as black as the epidemic ‘Black Death’ itself, ‘We All Fall Down’ explores the devastation of a disease that wiped out millions of people hundreds of years ago. The author states at the end of the book that, whilst the building blocks of the storyline are indeed fiction, the cement which holds them together, ie the medical knowledge, is indeed fact.

I did feel as though I had walked into a storyline half way through, because I felt like I was missing something at the beginning. Unfortunately that feeling did stay with me until the end, so I did spend a lot of time confused and wondering whether I had missed a book beforehand or something. I don’t know.

That said, the contents of the novel was written in such a gutsy and chilling manner, with the author describing the events with astute attention to detail, I often felt as though I was in amongst the devastation myself.

‘We All Fall Down’ is very graphic and very gripping so, despite being confused by the shell of the book, I was able to appreciate the medical side of the book like a duck to water.

Daniel Kalla is such a powerful and intelligent writer – I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

Chilling, disturbing, eventful, and extremely eye opening, ‘We All Fall Down’ is a gritty and dark read which makes you reach for the anti bacterial handwash, ten times more than usual.

Buy now.

#CoverReveal! #PoppysRecipeForLife by Heidi Swain (@Heidi_Swain) @TeamBATC

Cover reveal number two is here!! Some of you may remember this author from Nightingale Square, or even The Cherry Tree Cafe! Heidi Swain is back with a bang and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on her upcoming novel. So, without further ado, here is the stunning cover for ‘Poppy’s Recipe For Life’ by the amazing, Heidi Swain:

Treat yourself to a glorious novel full of food, sunshine, friendship and love

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.
 She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies. 

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

How gorgeous is that!!!! I have every single one of Heidi’s novels in paperback,  and this one will look STUNNING beside the others!! If you are very eager and want to pre-order your copy of ‘Poppy’s Recipe For Life’, you can do so now via Amazon UK as it will be released into the wild on the 30th May.

#BlogTour! #Review – #AYearatCastleCourt by Holly Hepburn (@HollyH_author) @SimonschusterUK @TeamBATC

Finally my stop on the blog tour is here!!! I am super excited to be sharing my review today, of Holly Hepburn’s latest release, ‘A Year at Castle Court’. Huge thanks to Harriet from Simon & Schuster for the blog tour invite and the beautiful paperback. Here is my review:

Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.
 
They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cathave the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb‘s cocktail bar on the third floor!

What does TWG think?

Oh my – if only Castle Court really existed!! Well, having said that I know I would be bankrupt and the size of a house, but at least I’ll be a content, bankrupt house!!

‘A Year at Castle Court’ follows the lives of Sadie and her best friend, Cat – two ladies who are trying to make their dream come alive with their delicious baked goodies. However, a perfectly baked biscuit isn’t everyone’s idea of happiness (I know, I reckon those types of people must be robots or something!!), and it doesn’t take long for things in Castle Court to get a little heated. Other businesses in the court feel as though their noses have been pushed out of joint, and they seem determined to make Sadie and Cat’s venture a bit of a burnt one.

I absolutely L-L-LOVED this book and every little thing about it! Firstly, I am the human version of Cookie Monster so the addition of biscuit heaven was definitely a plus. Secondly, Cat and Sadie are like chalk and cheese with their personalities, and I loved being able to follow their journeys both on a professional level as well as a personal one. Whilst I gelled with Cat from the onset, I couldn’t help but relate to Sadie a lot more due to her being a single mum, and my heart certainly went out to her when the storyline focused on her child’s father. That said, I couldn’t understand why she put up with it for so long and refused to listen to her heart. But that’s just me – everyone is different!

It was great to read about all different walks of life with each of the owners of the other businesses! Each character seemed to have their own journey to tell and I really enjoyed being able to get cosy and delve into their stories.

For me personally, ‘A Year at Castle Court’ ticked all of my boxes and more. The storyline was full of drama, yet was made level with the emotions behind Sadie and Cat’s heartbreak. Holly Hepburn writes from the heart in every sense of the word – she doesn’t half tell a story and expect her readers to make up the rest, no. She tells the full story in such a way that readers cannot help but get caught up in every little detail from the design on the biscuits, to the aroma of the other delicacies around the court.

I thoroughly enjoyed being able to lose myself in Holly Hepburn’s entertaining and magnetic story telling – hands down one of my most favourite books this author has written.

Buy now!

I am running a giveaway to win a paperback copy of Holly Hepburn’s novel, over on my Facebook page The Writing Garnet. If you live in the UK (sorry folks) and wish to be in with the chance of winning, check out the pinned post Here!!! Giveaway closes on Saturday 12th January at 11.59pm.

TWG’s #TopBooksOf2018! (@Bookouture @littlebookcafe @PanMacmillan @HarperImpulse @Headlinepg @TeamBATC @bwpublishing @MichaelJBooks @TransworldBooks @OrionBooks @AvonBooksUK @QuercusBooks @Aria_fiction) & more!

Oh my goodness me, what a PHENOMENAL year its been for books! I have had the pleasure of reading some truly amazing books this year, and whittling my 368 reads down to a selection of my favourites was incredibly difficult.

2018 has seen the growth of debut authors with debut novels, brilliant additions to intense series, and authors bringing out standalone novels which made me laugh out loud and my toes curl (clearly I mean two different genre’s…obviously!). Before I start sharing my favourite reads of 2018 with you all, let me just take this moment to say a MASSIVE thank you to all of the publishers who have sent me ARC’s in the post, approved me on Netgalley, asked me to be on blog tours – I am so honoured to work with every single one of you! Huge thank you to the publicists and blog tour organisers who also invite me to take part in some rather fabulous blog tours and who share my posts left right and centre, it is an absolute pleasure to work alongside you. Lastly, thank you SO much to all of the authors who continue to give me the escape and distraction I need from my everyday life with their incredible words – I am so excited to see what the new year brings for all of you. You are all amazing.

Actually, one last thing; thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for just being you and for supporting my posts, especially when I end up being on 6 blog tours in one day. Your support means the world to me and I cannot wait to follow your blogs again next year to see what fabulous reads have tickled your fancy.

So, let’s get to this list shall we? I’m cheating a little bit in my list as I have combined series as I couldn’t pick just one book from the series…so I chose them all. You’ll see what I mean when I get to it. This list is in no particular order, however when I get nearer the end, I will put a couple of the books in order to share my top read of 2018.

Ready? Let’s go!

#Review – The Endless Beach by @JennyColgan @littlebookcafe #TheEndlessBeach #publicationday

#BlogTour! #Review – #WeOwnTheSky by Luke Allnutt (@lukeallnutt) @TrapezeBooks

#BlogTour! #Review – #OnlyChild by Rhiannon Navin (@RhiannonNavin) @JessDuffyy @Panmacmillan

#BlogTour! #Review – The Little Wedding Island by Jaimie Admans (@Be_the_spark) @HQDigitalUK @NeverlandBT

#BlogTour! #Review – The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley (@ZaraStoneley) @RaRaResources @HarperImpulse

#BlogTour! #Review – The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans (@HarrietEvans) @headlinepg @Annecater @Bookish_becky

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Next Girl by Carla Kovach (@CKovachAuthor) @Bookouture

#Review – You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac (@CatherineIsaac_) @TeamBATC @SimonSchusterUK @BookMinxSJV

#BlogTour! #Review – #LittleBigMan by Katy Regan (@katyreganwrites) @panmacmillan @MantleBooks @ChablisPoulet

#BlogBlitz! #Review – One Way or Another by Colleen Coleman (@CollColemanAuth) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Gravity of Love by Noelle Harrison (@NoelleHarrison) @bwpublishing

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Almost Wife by Jade Beer (@JadeBRIDES) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Island Villa by Lily Graham (@LilyGrahamBooks) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister (@GillianMAuthor) @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90

#BlogTour! #Review – #NowYouSeeHer by Heidi Perks (@HeidiPerksBooks) @arrowpublishing

#BlogTour! #Review – Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman (@KathrynFreeman1) @ChocLitUK @RaRaResources

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheLightBetweenUs by Katie Khan (@Katie_Khan) @TransworldBooks @hannahlbright29 @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

#BlogTour! #Review -Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas (@jo_thomas1) @AnneCater @HeadlinePG @Bookish_Becky @DavidHHeadley

#Review – My Mad Dad by Robyn Hollingworth (@MyMadDadStory) @trapezebooks @orionbooks

#BlogTour! #Review – In Bloom by C.J.Skuse (@CJSkuse) @HQStories

#BlogTour! #Review – Kiss of Death by Paul Finch (@paulfinchauthor) @AvonBooksUK #KissOfDeath

#BlogTour! #MiniReview – #WhileIWasSleeping by Dani Atkins (@AtkinsDani) @simonschusteruk @TeamBATC

#BlogTour! #Review – Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne (@Raeannethayne) @MillsandBoon

#BlogTour! #Extract – Perfect Silence by Helen Fields (@Helen_Fields) @AvonBooksUK

I’ve popped one book here for Lisa Regan and D.K.Hood, but for me the entire series are absolutely brilliant and I urge you to buy them all!

#BlogTour! #Review – Her Final Confession by Lisa Regan (@lisalregan) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Crying Season by D.K.Hood (@dkhood_author) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review -Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer (@kelrimmerwrites) @headlinepg @phoebe_swinburn @annecater

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Last Lullaby by Carol Wyer (@carolewyer) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul (@GillPaulauthor) @Headlinepg @annecater

Right, we are nearing the end now so here are my favourite reads of 2018 numbers 11-2 (in no order)

#BlogBlitz! #Review – Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood (@lwestwoodwriter) @aria_fiction @rararesources

#BlogTour! #Review – I Wanted To Tell You By Anna Mansell (@AnnaMansell) @Bookouture

#Review – How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (@katherinecenter) @Panmacmillan @EllisKeene

#BlogTour! #Review – The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper (@ItsEmmaCooper) @HeadlinePG @AnneCater

#BlogTour! #Review – The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis (@EmilyGunnis) @HeadlinePG @AnneCater @Phoebe_Swinburn

#BlogTour! #Review – This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell (@JillMansell) @Headlinepg @AnneCater

#BlogTour! #Review – The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@HollyACave) @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheConfession by Jo Spain (@spainjoanne) @QuercusFiction @AnneCater @QuercusBooks

#BlogTour! #Review – I Give You My Heart by SarahJane Ford (@sjfordauthor) @RaRaResources

#BlogTour! #Review – #MakeOrBreak by Catherine Bennetto (@cathbennetto) @Simonschusteruk @TeamBATC

I just want to say a special mention to Sarah Vaughan’s ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ – I read that book this time last year before it was released early 2018, and it’s a book I will forever be shouting about until I am blue in the face. I’ll even go as far to say that it is still a top book of mine a year after reading it. You can read my review here:

#BlogTour! #Review – #AnatomyofaScandal by Sarah Vaughan (@Svaughanauthor) @simonschusterUK

We have reached TWG’s Top Book of 2018!!!! I may be slightly cheating here as this book isn’t out until 1st February 2019, but due to the fact that I actually read this book this year, I felt that I was able to include it in my favourite reads of this year. I’m sure you’re wondering what that is……

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I haven’t written a review of this book yet as I am on the blog tour for it next year. However, ‘The Day We Met’ by Roxie Cooper completely blew my mind and left tears rolling down my cheeks like a homemade waterfall. Stephanie and Jamie are two, highly complex, emotional and brilliantly written characters, I cannot see how anyone wouldn’t fall in love with them like I did. For me this book was everything I could have hoped for and more.

I will do a full review on the blog tour next year, but if you fancy pre-ordering your copy now based on my views above, you can do so now here!

That’s it folks! TWG’s Top Books of 2018! How many have you read? How many are you going to read? Let me know in the comments and keep me posted! Thank you all so much for sticking with me for another year, here’s to yet another fantastic year for books.

See you next year, folks!!

Kaisha x

#BlogTour! #Review – Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain (@heidi_swain) @simonschusteruk @teambatc

I am beyond honoured to be one of today’s stop on Heidi Swain’s blog tour as it’s publication day! Huge thank you to Harriett Collins for ensuring I got a space on the blog tour and for the ARC. Here is my review:

After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .
 
Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.
 
As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.
 
Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself?

What does TWG think?

I am probably going to sound like a worn out record here (if you’ve read my other reviews for Heidi Swain’s previous books you’ll know what I’m on about…), but I am just going to come out and say it anyway because as always, I 100% mean it:

Heidi Swain, you absolute gem!!!!

Can’t I just get away with Writing ‘beautiful!!!’ as my review? No? Okayyyy.

This book is absolutely beautiful though and, once again, Heidi Swain has delivered a deliciously festive novel which is set to rival Christmas Day itself. Seriously. I adore Wynbridge. Every time I go back there with new characters, I feel as though I’m catching up with old friends, making new friends, as well as feeling severely content when The Cherry Tree Cafe gets mentioned as that’s where Wynbridge began. I love how the author manages to include characters from her previous book, in the storyline for this book, bringing all of the stories together like a proper community.

Yes, each one of Heidi Swain’s novels could be seen as a series, however due to the way each book is written, they can be read as a stand-alone with no problem at all. I will also say that each book is divine and you certainly wouldn’t be losing out if you chose to visit Wynbridge from the very beginning.

There is a lot of romance, humour, and festive delights in this book to warm your cockles ten times over, and whilst I would love to have a natter about each event in the book, I would hate to ruin it for everyone else. Basically that is a nice way of me saying to go and buy #SnowflakesandCinnamon, you really won’t be disappointed.

Despite being a light hearted, romantic, heartwarming read, Heidi Swain still incorporated an emotive journey into several of her characters lives. Journeys which I couldn’t help but be touched by. I adored the vibe in Wynthorpe Hall and couldn’t help but feel the love from every single character who lived there.

#SnowflakesandCinnamon truly is the perfect read to snuggle up with this Christmas and every single day of the year. My Christmas Wish this year is for more Wynbridge tales as my life wouldn’t feel complete without the books that allow me to escape to a place where everyone is loved, regardless of your past, present, future outlooks – anything.

A spellbinding, captivating, and outstanding novel which has the perfect recipe on how to do life for YOU – what more could you want? This is by far one of the best books I have read this year. Simply stunning!

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #MiniReview – #WhileIWasSleeping by Dani Atkins (@AtkinsDani) @simonschusteruk @TeamBATC

While I Was Sleeping Blog Tour Banner
Today is my stop on the #WhileIWasSleeping blog tour! It is very rare that I do this, but today instead of writing a full review for Dani Atkins’ soon to be published novel, I am writing a mini review. Why? Because I completely underestimated how much this book would shred my emotions, so much so I actually haven’t finished reading the book yet because I have had to take time to pause and gather my thoughts before continuing. Now, before anyone says anything about me reviewing a book that I haven’t finished, I would like to state that I am reviewing the parts of the book I have read, aka Part 1 and Part 2, therefore turning this into a mini review. I will also be writing another mini review once the book is completed. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for the blog tour invite and the ARC of the book. Here is my mini review for part one and part two:

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What if someone else was living your happy ever after?

When Maddie wakes up in a hospital bed, she can’t remember anything about what happened to her or what has changed.

She just remembers she was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.
But it seems life has become a lot more complicated while she has been asleep …

What does TWG think?

I feel like I should be crying. I feel like I should be curled up in the foetus position, cuddling into my tear soaked pillow, waiting for someone to tell me, ‘it’s okay, it was only a dream’. Should I be concerned that when I look at my reflection in the mirror, a tear stained face isn’t staring back at me? You want to know something though? I am utterly, utterly broken. My emotions are a bit backwards, lets be honest. When I am devastated, heartbroken or similar, my body doesn’t release tears. In fact it doesn’t release anything. Why? Because it shuts down. My body shuts down to protect the rest of my emotions, my soul, and everything in-between. I guess to anyone who hasn’t read this book yet, or any of Dani Atkins’ other novels, you may think that I am being melodramatic. I’m not. Dan Atkins doesn’t just write stories about people who go to bed, wake up for work, and then go out on Friday nights to meet a partner of their dreams, just so that they can sit together every Saturday night to watch ‘oh what’s their name?!’ competing in Strictly Come Dancing. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that at all, yet this author fills her stories with raw, poignant, and naked emotion which will leave readers shivering due to unshed tears…

A bit like ‘While I Was Sleeping’.

Maddie was full of excitement. Hope. Love.

She had her whole future in front of her. Her marriage to her fiancé literally round the corner. A new life waiting for her to begin as the new ‘Mrs Turner’. Life can be cruel though, can’t it?

Forgive me for being vague here, but I owe it to the authors complex and beautiful storyline to be just that. Having been a fan of Dani Atkins’ writing for quite a while, nothing could have prepared me for what lay beneath the front cover of ‘While I Was Sleeping’. Nothing at all. And, you know what? I am so pleased that that happened as not only did I get a jaw dropping surprise, my reactions to the events within the story were one hundred percent natural and unguarded. We may think we know an authors writing style if we have read many of their books, but we don’t, and Dani Atkins proves that theory as, whilst her previous books were beautifully written, the calibre of ‘While I Was Sleeping’ went from strength to strength with every turn of the page.

You know, I struggled to even work out where real life ended and fiction began. Maddie’s life reached deep into my soul, allowing me to invest myself completely to her trials and tribulations, her fears, her worries, her hopes. ‘While I Was Sleeping’ wasn’t just a story to me, it was way more than that. I wanted to reach into the page and give Maddie a big hug, telling her that everything will be okay even though I had no idea if it would. I had high hopes that the puzzle pieces of her life will be put back together again – who wouldn’t? Dani Atkins, despite making me completely heartbroken, ensured that I kept the faith as the story progressed, sowing tiny seeds in other characters actions, ready for them to bloom in a later chapter.

‘While I Was Sleeping’ puts you in a position which you can only hope you would never, ever find yourself in, yet it also puts the reader in a safe, beautiful, and peaceful bubble thanks to the authors magnetic and enchanting story telling.

Dani Atkins is a one of a kind author who goes from strength to strength with every novel she writes, but with ‘While I Was Sleeping’, she has completely outdone herself and created a poignant, life affirming masterpiece which will not only stay in my mind for a considerably long time, it will also have a special place in my heart for the rest of my days. THIS is what its all about. THIS is why I love books. And THIS is definitely a one of a kind read – mesmerising and inspiring, ‘While I Was Sleeping’ is a book that I will forever treasure dearly.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Extract from #TheBookNinja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus (@thebookninjas) @simonschusteruk


Second day of the blog tour for ‘The Book Ninja’, and the tour bus stops here at TWG! This book is on my TBR and I aim to get to it very soon, but until then I have an extract from the book to share with you all today. Before I do that however, here is a little bit more information about Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus’ new book:


‘Frankie, think about it. Literature is your life. You’ve been trawling Tinder looking for well-read intellectuals, but it’s not working. Let’s shake things up! Just use your favourite books to find a man.’ 

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried – Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough.

With the help of her best friend and colleague Cat, Frankie decides to embark on the ultimate dating experiment. Inspired by her surroundings at The Little Brunswick Bookshop where she works, Frankie places her hope in her favourite books to find her the perfect man… Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books. The only flaw to the plan? That she may never get her books back!

But that turns out to be the least of her worries… In between crazy dates and writing them up on her blog, Frankie stumbles upon her perfect man. There’s just one problem…Frankie is strictly a Jane Austen kind of woman and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Seriously, obsessively into it…

Can Frankie overcome her book snobbery for the man of her dreams? Or will she be left searching the trains for her modern-day Mr Darcy forever?

You can purchase ‘The Book Ninja’ now from Amazon

Extract – chapter 1.

If Frankie’s life were a book, she would title it Disappoint- ment, named aptly after the disaster that was her career, her family and, of course, her love life.

Frankie’s alarm blared accusingly, declaring that she was already twenty minutes late to get out of bed. She sighed, rolled over, and buried her face in her shabby copy of Emma, which she had shoved under her pillow the night before. Then she bit her lip, thinking she would never be remarkable enough to have a book named simply after her first name.

But Frankie never judged a book by its title. Nor by its cover. She liked to judge a novel purely by its opening sentence, which she and her best friend Cat dubbed a ‘book birth’. InEmma’s birth, Austen described Miss Woodhouse as ‘hand- some, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition’. By contrast, the opening sentence of Frankie’s birth was her mother proclaiming, ‘She’s bald and has her father’s big nose.’

Frankie pulled her blanket over her head and drank up the words on the page in front of her. She knew she was approaching the proposal scene, and closed her eyes tight. Just like a good chocolate bar, she wasn’t sure whether she should indulge in its goodness right now, or savour it later. And just like that, the jarring ring of her phone solved the dilemma for her. Frankie picked it up and saw her mother’s name flashing on the screen. She rolled her eyes, clicked ‘ignore’ and slowly dragged herself out of bed.

Searching for an outfit that was easy to put together, she SY picked up a loose cotton dress from her floor and flung it on. Scooting through her bedroom door, she walked towards her pride and joy – her precisely colour-coded bookshelf. Filled with 172 of her all-time favourites, the bookshelf lined a full wall of her living room. Beginning with reds on top, the wall shaded into oranges, yellows, pinks, purples, greens, blues, greys and, finally, blacks. A rainbow of books. Her happy place. She dragged her fingers absently across the cloth-bound Austen’s, along the hardcover Fowlers, over the Brontës and then stopped haltingly at the muted green book with ‘Frankie Rose’ embossed on the spine. She picked it up cautiously, as if it were a snake about to bite, and peeled open the first page.

To Mum, Dad, Cat, Ads and, most importantly, pizza. For all the love, support and cheesy goodness.

Frankie slammed the book shut and threw it to the other side of the room. She grabbed her handbag, which lay beside the couch, slipped on a pair of red sneakers and ran out the door of her too-small Richmond apartment.

After digging for the keys in the bottom of her bag, Frankie let herself into The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop; her home away from home for the last year and a half, right about the time her dreams shattered and her life fell apart. Working at the bookstore had saved her, in so many ways. It reminded her of the three months she had spent working at the famous Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, before she returned to start her Masters of English Lit at the University of Melbourne.

Free of responsibility, Frankie had relished this time spent lost between bookshelves, writing, and eating almond croissants. That same carefree feeling washed over her every time she entered The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop. She loved watching people from the inside out, like a backwards kaleidoscope of literature lovers gazing into their beautiful front windows from vibrant Brunswick Street. She loved being surrounded by powerful women such as Angelou, Atwood and Adichie. And most of all, she loved working with Cat. Cat’s husband Claud had inherited The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop from his grandparents, and when he – an accountant at a small city law firm who maintained long hours and an intense knitting hobby – was unsure how he would juggle a second job, Cat had the genius idea of selling the books in the front, while he, occasionally, managed the books from the back. And when Cat offered Frankie a job, it didn’t take long for her to say yes, yes, yes!

Since the days spent penning love letters to Mr Darcy instead of practising algebra in Year 8 maths, their bond had endured even though Cat, pregnant with her first child, now spent Saturday nights watching reruns of The National Knitting Evening on Netflix with Claud, and Frankie, pregnant with last night’s pizza, spent hers on awful first dates. And now, with their days spent surrounded by, discussing and reading books (and of course appraising everyone else based on their book choices), Cat and Frankie were closer than Horatio and Hamlet.

Frankie wound her way through the shelves and unceremoniously flung her bag beneath the front counter. She cranked on the air conditioning, sank into the seat behind the register, placed her feet up on the counter and returned to her worn copy of Emma. She had just turned the page when the front door chimed open and Cat marched into the store. Her red SY frizzy hair was everywhere, sweat dripped down her face and she wore a hot pink knitted top, black lycra pants and bright orange sneakers.

‘Catherine,’ Frankie nodded from behind her book. ‘Frankston,’ Cat nodded back. She joined Frankie behind

the counter, grabbed her copy of Jasper Jones and propped her feet up next to Frankie’s.

‘What’s with the sweat?’ Frankie asked.

‘I had another K-Pop dance class this morning – which was amazing, by the way – but their showers are broken and I couldn’t be bothered walking home to change and then coming all the way back here, so I thought if I just stood outside for a while I would dry. But I forgot that it’s going to be thirty-two freaking degrees today! Plus, these knits Claud keeps making me do nothing for sweat absorption. Look at me dripping, I’m like an ice cream!’ Cat grabbed Frankie and tried to pull her head into her sweaty chest.

If Frankie was the queen of dating, Cat was the queen of exercise classes. From barre to one very confronting summer of pole dancing, Cat became obsessed and then unobsessed with every sort of exercise and health kick imaginable, before dropping it like Marius drops Eponine. It all started a few summers ago and, at first, Frankie thought the fixation on fitness was simply Cat wanting to be healthier and more toned, but lately she had wondered whether it tapped into a deeper insecurity. Cat used to relish watching heads turn at her overly attractive husband, but was she starting to feel overlooked?

‘What are you up to?’ Cat asked, glancing at Frankie’s battered book.

‘Almost at the proposal,’ Frankie gushed.

‘Aren’t you sick of reading the same books over and over?’

‘You’re reading Jasper Jones for the fourth time,’ Frankie countered.

Cat spread her arms as if to say touché.
‘So, something pretty weird happened at K-Pop today.’ ‘Oh?’ Frankie asked.
The front door opened, halting their conversation. Frankie

and Cat shut their books, dropped their feet to the floor and looked up, alert. A stout, slightly balding man walked in.

‘Sci-fi!’ hissed Cat.
‘War biography!’ spat Frankie.
The man, red in the face, smiled at Frankie and Cat. They smiled back sweetly and asked if he needed any assistance. He shook his head and then proceeded to walk excruciatingly slowly around the bookstore, scratching his head, not touching anything. The women stared at him, examining his every step.

‘Just make your move,’ Cat whispered at him.
‘He’s about to pounce!’ hissed Frankie.
After what seemed an age, the man stopped in the science fiction section and grabbed two Stephen King novels, placing one swiftly under each armpit.

‘Damn it! Shirt but no tie. Dead giveaway,’ Frankie said, disappointed.

‘Pay up, Frankston.’ Cat held her hand out in front of Frankie’s nose, wiggling her fingers in anticipation. Frankie slowly dragged a five-dollar note out of her wallet and slammed it into Cat’s hand.

‘Just these two wonderful sci-fi books, then?’ Cat said to her customer while smiling devilishly at Frankie.

‘Yes, I love a good Stephen King,’ said the man, dropping the books on the counter for Cat to scan. ‘I was actually going to try my hand at that war biog, The Crossroad, by Mark someone-or-other. You know the one I mean? But then ISY thought, why stop at a good thing? And King – well, he’s a very good thing!’ he chuckled.

Frankie stared, and Cat held back a laugh as she slid the two Kings into a paper bag.
‘Have a lovely day. I’m so glad you decided to go with

King over a war biography. King really is such a good thing,’ chirped Cat.

‘He really is! Well, toodaloo!’ the man trumpeted as he walked out the door, the bell ringing behind him.

‘Go you good thing!’ Cat shouted after him, pumping her fist triumphantly.

‘He was going to buy a war biog! Give me my five dollars back!’ Frankie grabbed at the note, but Cat pulled away.

‘He was going to. But alas, he didn’t! The fiver is all mine,’ said Cat smugly.
it.’ Frankie sighed. ‘You don’t have to sound so pleased about

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Cat said, smiling, and sounding even more delighted with herself.

Frankie frowned. Balancing their legs back on the counter, they reclined in their chairs. The growing heat of the day pressed its way under the gap beneath the front door, only to be stunted by the harsh air conditioning in the store. Beads of cool sweat trickled down Frankie’s neck and into her cleavage.

‘Sorry, I’m in a silly mood,’ Cat said.

Silence. ‘“Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way,”’ Frankie quoted the Austen she was reading, to a tee.

Cat smiled as Frankie gave a little bow of her head.

‘So, why the silly mood, Kitty Cat? What happened at K-Pop? Are you moving to Korea?’ Frankie joked.

‘Oh, it was nothing. I’ll go get the coffees.’ Cat jumped up just a little too quickly and grabbed her bag.

‘Cat! Seriously? What happened at K-Pop?’ It was unlike Cat to be so evasive. Frankie usually got the lowdown from her about everything, from what she had for breakfast to the romance between the two buskers who sat opposite the bookstore.

‘Nothing. Nothing.’ Cat’s face bloomed even redder, and her eyes darted towards the door.

‘Catherine Adeline Cooper. Tell. Me. Now.’ Frankie squinted suspiciously at Cat.

Cat stared back just as intently, and for a minute – a record for them – they had an ice-cold stare-off.

‘Oh, all right, fine!’ Cat threw her arms in the air, defeated. ‘Yes?’
‘Well, at K-Pop … there’s this really cute dancer. A guy.

Called Jin Soo.’ ‘Jin Soo?’

‘Yes, Jin Soo.’
‘And?’
‘And … Jin Soo.’
‘What about Jin Soo?’
‘Well, I sort of, accidentally, slept with him a few weeks

back,’ Cat covered her mouth with her hand and bolted for the door.

‘WHAT! Cat? Cat, come back!’ Frankie shouted, refusing to believe what she had just heard.

Cat, cheating on Claud? No; Frankie knew it was impossible. Cat would never cheat on him. Cat and Claud’s marriage wasn’t perfect, but whose was? Cat loved Claud. In his stupidly good-looking, knitting-obsessed entirety. And she was four months’ pregnant with his child, for God’s sake.

Frankie jumped up from her seat and raced after her sweaty, SY recently adulterous friend. As she pulled open the front door she stopped. Instead of Cat, before her stood a man. Possibly the best looking man she had ever laid eyes on. He was tall; he was burly. He was, to her mind, the perfect mix of John Knightley, Mr Darcy and Edmund Bertram all rolled into one.