#BlogBlitz! #Review – Keep You By My Side by Callie Langridge (@clangridgewrite) @bombshellpub

Happy publication day to Callie Langridge and ‘Keep You By My Side’! I am honoured to be kicking off the blog blitz today with a review, many thanks to the publisher for the blitz invite and ARC.

Are family secrets the ties that bind or the lies that divide?

The secrets of one family live in the walls of a cottage perched high on a Dorset cliff. But secrets can only be kept for so long.

 Follow three generations of a family from war-torn London, to the permissive 60s and liberated 80s. Gertie, Rose and Abi live through joy, tragedy and heartache as they navigate complicated mother-daughter relationships and learn the importance of friends and finding love. When circumstances force them under the same roof, secrets begin to unravel and promises made in love threaten to tear them apart. 

 How far would you go to protect the people you love?

What does TWG think?

Having read and absolutely adored Callie Langridge’s debut novel, I could not wait to see what the author would bring out next. She had certainly set the bar high for herself with her debut, that’s for sure! I tried to ensure that I kept my mind open, reading the book as though I hadn’t read anything from the author before, purely because the bar was so high. I must admit that it didn’t always work though.

‘Keep You By My Side’ is gold from various viewpoints at multiple moments in time, with one character in particular telling her story during the war. It took me a little while to work out how all of the characters fit together, but when I did, I enjoyed being able to connect with the characters on a deeper level now that I was aware of their individual links in the storyline.

I would say that the romance element is evident throughout the entire novel, and it is also written in such a heartfelt manner so that even someone as unromantic as I, could fall under the heartwarming spell.

I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy ‘Keep You By My Side’ because I did, but for me personally, I didn’t find it as strong as the debut. Don’t get me wrong, Langridge told Gertie’s story beautifully and I was mesmerised by her journey, I just wanted more as I know the author has the outstanding talent to achieve that. This book was a very poignant and pleasing read, I just hope that the next novel comes back as strong as the first one.

As a story told by three generations, it was remarkable to see just how their personalities differed over the years, even though a lot of their choices and decisions were quite similar. My heart went out to Abi, but for me the star of the book was Gertie. I think that was because she reminded me of one of my own family members. Her story really touched me and I am delighted that I was able to be a part of that by reading it.

Overall, ‘Keep You By My Side’ was a very heartwarming and tender read which kept me cosy from start to finish. It is a lovely, lovely read which came across well, despite having to follow in the footsteps of the authors incredible debut novel.

Buy Now!

About the author.

Callie was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

 Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the nineties. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for history, working in marketing and communications for historical and cultural organisations.

 On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to pick up her pen and take the first of many creative writing courses. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London. Her first novel A Time to Change was published in September 2017.

 Her second novel Keep You By My Side will be published in October 2018.

 Callie lives in London with her long-term partner, an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities, and more books than any person really needs. 

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#BlogTour! #Review – The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke (@karenclarke123)

After seeing loads of pretty Christmas decorations in a shop today, I am very much in the Christmas spirit, just in time to review Karen Clarke’s newest novel. Thank you to Bookouture for the blog tour invite and the ARC. Here is my review:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the café at Seashell Cove, where there’s hot chocolate to keep you warm – and the man of your dreams could be waiting…

Interior designer Tilly Campbell loves being carefree and single. But her latest job is redecorating the cosy local café for a Christmas party, and when her friends confess their plans for the big night – including a proposal, a declaration of love and a pregnancy announcement – Tilly starts to wonder if she might be missing out…

Transforming the café into a winter wonderland is more of a challenge than she thought, so when she bumps into gorgeous newcomer Seth, Tilly welcomes the distraction. Seth is a single father, struggling to settle his son Jack into their new cottage, and Tilly is determined to help them make their house into a home in time for Christmas.

But with the café still in chaos just days before the party it looks like it’s going to be a Christmas to remember for all the wrong reasons… With friends old and new relying on her, can Tilly save the Christmas party?

And could she finally find love waiting for her under the mistletoe?

What does TWG think?

It feels like ages since I was last in Seashell Cove! I was so excited to catch up with all of the characters and find out what they have been up to since I last ‘saw’ them. At first I didn’t recognise the place, probably because I half expected to be back with Meg as the main character. It was wonderful to see snippets of her story live on in this one though, that’s for sure.

I did find the book to be a little of a slow starter as I took a while to warm up to Tilly, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the overall vibe of the book. Once I got further into the storyline, my opinion of Tilly changed and I found myself warming to her like marshmallows to a fire. How the hell she put up with her sister, Bridget, without committing a murder is beyond me!! Romy, Bridget’s little girl, had me in hysterics! She reminded so much of my own little girl. If only we all went through life without a care in the world like children!!

Tilly is a very independent character who is so set on doing things for other people, she sometimes forgets just how much one person can hold on their shoulders. Fortunately for her, newcomer, Seth, helps her see otherwise. As for his mother though, geezzzzzz!!!!!! I don’t get why he didn’t stand up to his mother! I know that Felicity wanted to do right by her grandson, but surely she must have realised that alienating him wouldn’t be the answer?

Even though this is a Christmassy book, the festive theme isn’t overpowering for those who dislike Christmas in October. I do think that as festivities were an apparent part of the book, that there should have been more oomph with it. That said, Gwen’s antics with the Christmas pudding kept Christmas on the map.

All in all, The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish, with Romy being my star at the top of the Christmas tree. I really do hope we get to see more from the gang in Seashell Cove, as I can’t wait to find out what else others are hiding! A fun, light hearted and addictive read – a great follow up novel in an already fabulous series.

Buy now!

About the author.

Karen is the author of the popular BEACHSIDE and SEASHELL COVE series of romantic comedies, published by Bookouture. 

She’s also written three romcoms with a paranormal twist, all available to download

When she’s not working on her novels, Karen writes short stories for women’s magazines and has had over three hundred published globally. Some of them can be read in her short story collection ‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS…and other Tales with a Twist’ 

Karen lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children, and when she’s not writing loves reading, walking, baking and eating cake.

 

Author Social Media Links: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.clarke.5682

Twitter:     https://twitter.com/karenclarke123

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Website: http://writewritingwritten.blogspot.co.uk/

#BlogTour! #Review – Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner (@ronnie__turner) @HQDigitalUK

Apologies for the late one this evening, however, I am absolutely DELIGHTED to be welcoming blogger turned debut author, Ronnie Turner to TWG tonight as I review her debut novel!!! I am so, so proud of her! Many thanks to HQ for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review of ‘Lies Between Us’:

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together  with devastating consequences . . .

 John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

 Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

 Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he cant have.

 They all have something in common, though none of them know it  and the truth wont stay hidden for long . . .

What does TWG think?

I cannot believe that I am reviewing Ronnie Turner’s debut novel! How exciting!!

I couldn’t help but be highly impressed by the complex intensity of this storyline. From the very beginning, Ronnie Turner created an element of suspense which was incredibly intense and very gritty.

For me personally, I ended up becoming very confused by all of the different characters, the different names, and the multiple throwbacks to the past. Usually I am okay with storylines which contain multiple characters, yet I felt as though I was missing something. It was as though there should have been another book before this one. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just easily confused (which wouldn’t surprise me!) as I ended up losing track of the storyline which made me struggle a bit.

However, I would say that the multiple characters weren’t so overwhelming in the last third of book and I pretty much had a lightbulb moment when things started to come together! I was so pleased that I was able to get into the swing of things, it made the whole thing even more enjoyable!

Despite my confusion, I cannot fault Ronnie Turner on her dark and twisted concept! I had tingles up and down my spine all the way through, and I would definitely say that this author has the skeleton of darkness and grit at the end of her fingertips, ready for another book.

A heart in mouth, chilling, pitch black read which made me severely nervous. A very promising debut novel – I’m really looking forward to reading that Ronnie Turner comes up with next.

Buy from Amazon UK

About the author.

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Ronnie’s debut novel, Lies Between Us, will be published by HQ Digital in October 2018.

 

Twitter:@Ronnie_ _Turner

Facebook: @RonnieTurnerAuthor

Instagram: @ronnieturner8702

Website: www.ronnieturner.wordpress.com

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RonnieT

#BlogTour! #Review – The Little Christmas Teashop of Second Chances by Donna Ashcroft (@donnashc) @Bookouture

I am thrilled to be able to share my thoughts of Donna Ashcroft’s latest novel with you all today, as I host today’s stop on the blog tour! Huge thanks, as always, to bookouture for the blog tour invite and the ARC. Here is my review:

Snow is beginning to fall around the cosy Castle Teashop, with its toasty log fire, scrumptious mince pies and delicious hot chocolates. Romance is in the air and Lily King is hoping some winter magic will help to make her dreams come true…

Twenty-five-year-old Lily King is wondering when her life is going to start. She adores working at the much-loved Castle Teashop, surrounded by familiar faces and delicious cakes. But she’s stuck in a rut. She’s just been dumped by her boyfriend and her dream job seems to be slipping through her fingers.

When her best friend Emily Campbell needs urgent help to organise her enchanting Christmas wedding, Lily realises it’s finally her moment to shine and reach for the opportunities she’s been wishing for. Can she pull off the biggest celebration Castle Cove has ever seen or will something – or someone – make things more complicated than she imagined?

Rebellious and handsome photographer Josh Havellin-Scott has always felt like an outsider, especially next to his perfect older brother, who is about to get married. At the last minute, Josh finds himself roped into plans for the Big Day, the very last thing he wants to do, until he is meets creative and quirky Lily King…

When Lily and Josh are thrown together, it’s clear they couldn’t be more different. But they begin to realise that opposites can attract – and sometimes when you’re not looking for love, it comes and finds you when you least expect it. With some festive magic, will they manage to work together and save the day?

And could they discover a winter romance of their very own along the way?

What does TWG think?

Oh my mince pies, could this book BE anymore fabulous?!?! I really did enjoy the first book in the series, but I have to say that this festive delight is something else! I was hooked from the very beginning, intrigued about Lily’s personal past as well as what made Josh tick. Yes, Josh is one of those characters who you should instantly dislike due to his arrogant nature, however I couldn’t help but be taken under his spell almost straight away. How the holly and ivy Lily managed to be immune to his charms for a little while was beyond me!

Even though this story is full of tantalising, stomach rumbling treats and friendships to last a life time, the thing that got right under my skin in such a beautiful manner , was the cleverly incorporated ‘hidden’ theme which made me relate to Lily on such a deep level. Take it from me, we have all felt as though we aren’t good enough, and I am sure we have always ensured other people were happy before ourselves. And, I am also sure that a lot of us have put our emotions aside and done something because of someone else, ignoring our own personal feelings about the situation. Yes? Of course we have – we are human. It’s not until you sit back and think about it or, in this case, read it in black and white, that you realise you have been living your life in the way that other people would prefer you to. Before anyone says anything, I know that it is our choice as to how we live our own life, but sometimes emotions get the better of us, just like Lily’s in this book.

Lily’s situation caught me off guard, despite seeing some of myself in the character. Weirdly, it was quite emotional. I also think that a certain family member of Lily’s needs to get caught by some holly and ivy. What a bleeping bleep bleep they are!!

I absolutely loved this book from reading about the yummy treats, to following the characters around as they plan nuptials, to watching Lily and Josh’s journey play out. Donna Ashcroft’s novel is such a feel good, life affirming, huggable and touching novel which will leave you wanting to plan your own nuptials to Josh. He’s definitely my sort of guy! Why are all the good ones fictional?!?! Pfft.

Honestly though, this book gave me the feels and I couldn’t have wished for anything more as Donna Ashcroft ticked every single box. In my eyes, she is now the Mrs Claus of Christmas reads.

Buy now!

About the author.

Donna Ashcroft was born in London and grew up in Buckinghamshire. She went to university in Lancashire and, among other things, worked as a copywriter, buyer, waitress, secretary and marketing manager. 

Donna wrote novels for over ten years before being published. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and was a joint winner of the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017. 
Donna loves a happy ending and is never happier than when she’s escaping into a romance novel or movie. When she’s not reading or writing she’ll probably be found hoovering … or negotiating with her teenagers about who is doing the washing up.

Author Social Media Links: 

Website: www.donna-writes.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaAshcroftAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Donnashc

#BlogTour! #Promo – Take Me, I’m Yours by Lizzie Lamb (@lizzie_lamb) @rararesources

I apologise for the…49 minutes lateness, however I am excited to be promoting Lizzie Lamb’s new novel as part of my stop on the blog tour!

India Buchanan plans to set up an English-Style bed and breakfast establishment in her great-aunt’s home, MacFarlane’s Landing, Wisconsin. But she’s reckoned without opposition from Logan MacFarlane whose family once owned her aunt’s house and now want it back. MacFarlane is in no mood to be denied. His grandfather’s living on borrowed time and Logan has vowed to ensure the old man sees out his days in their former home. India’s great-aunt has other ideas and has threatened to burn the house to the ground before she lets a MacFarlane set foot in it. There’s a story here. One the family elders aren’t prepared to share. When India finds herself in Logan’s debt, her feelings towards him change. However, the past casts a long shadow and events conspire to deny them the love and happiness they both deserve. Can India and Logan’s love overcome all odds? Or is history about to repeat itself?

For the duration of the blog tour – Take Me, I’m Yours will be downloadable for 99p

Purchase now from Amazon

About the author.

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. She went on to publish Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon and her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is a founder member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has co-hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington, talking about the research which underpins her novels. Lizzie latest romance Take Me, I’m Yours is set in Wisconsin, a part of the USA which she adores. She has further Scottish-themed romances planned and has just returned from a tour of the Scottish Highlands in her caravan researching men in kilts. What’s not to like? As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste. She is building a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing, and how to plan, write, and publish a debut novel. Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.

She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch . . .

Lizzie’s Links

Amazon

Facebook

Website

Newsletter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

Twitter

#Review – The Forever House by Veronica Henry (@veronica_henry) @orionbooks

foreverhouse

Would you know your forever house if you found it?

Hunter’s Moon is the ultimate ‘forever’ house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys’ home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets – and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past.

What does TWG think?

As soon as I saw that Veronica Henry had a new book coming out, I just knew that I had to get my hands on a copy! I’m not going to lie, I was overcome by incredible disappointment when I saw that the book was due to be released in May this year. Now, as I’m sure you’re all aware when you’re a massive bookworm, patience for upcoming books is pretty much non-existent (especially if they’re one of your favourite authors)! I took a chance by requesting the novel via NG and I danced around my living room when I had the e-mail stating that Orion Books had approved me for Veronica’s book! Thank you!!!

You know when you’re getting older when you dream of interior design, garden landscape and owning your very own house. Thinking about it, it really isn’t THAT much to ask is it? Well, unless you’re Belinda then yes, it is. Belinda Baxter gets to be amongst beautiful houses day in day out, as it’s her job to help other people find their ‘Forever House’, whilst secretly dreaming of her own. What’s even more bittersweet is that Belinda was SO close to owning that dream home, starting her dream life and actually feeling quite positive about her future; until the rug was pulled from under her of course. My first thought was ‘will Belinda get her happily ever after?’, as she was helping other people to find their dream home and not getting her own. Surely working as an Estate Agent with that mind set is similar to dangling a carrot in front of a horse?

I warmed to Belinda pretty much instantly. She came across as such a warm natured personality with an incredibly huge heart; how could someone hurt a personality like hers? All Belinda wanted was a happy life, a life to be proud of after all these years, and as a reader, I longed for her dream to finally come true. When I read that Belinda was about to help her latest client with their request, in regards to a sought after property which held a lot of memories, I began to see a completely different side of Belinda. The family involved in that  particular property, the Willoughbys’, had their own story to tell in more ways than one. Veronica Henry’s style of writing the storyline incorporated an emotional and beautifully written flashback to the past for two of the Willoughbys. So not only was I able to get to know the family from Hunter’s Moon in the present, I was also able to learn more about their family history at the same time. Such a wonderful addition to the book.

Picking up a Veronica Henry book to read is like holding a precious gem (garnet anyone?). Beautiful on the outside yet intricate, unique and special on the inside. I haven’t read a book of Ms.Henry’s that I disliked. Not only are her book covers absolutely stunning, the storylines themselves are like beautiful gifts.

‘The Forever House’ has quite a busy storyline with a lot of characters coming and going yet, unlike others, it doesn’t leave you feeling suffocated by information. Instead, the storyline leaves you feeling involved in each of the characters lives and as though you’re part of the community. This novel completely blew me away and I wish I could find the right words to explain my views properly, however I do feel that ‘The Forever House’ is a book where YOU need to be the one to unleash its beauty for yourself.

Reading ‘The Forever House’ made me feel as though I was reuniting with long-lost friends, and I was absolutely devastated to see the book come to an end.
Full of enchanting situations, heart warming history and beautifully written characters, ‘The Forever House’ is a book that needs to be read and cherished, forever.

It’s time to unlock the door to your new favourite read courtesy of Veronica Henry and the majestic, ‘The Forever House’.

Thank you Orion Books & Netgalley.

Buy ‘The Forever House’ by Veronica Henry on Amazon UK
Buy ‘The Forever House’ by Veronica Henry on Amazon US

#BookReview – The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton (@Julietstories) @simonschusterUK

24

Meet the residents of number 24 in the warm, witty and wonderful new novel from bestselling author Juliet Ashton.

When your marriage falls apart, the last place you’d want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.

A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?

The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom‘s zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can’t deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she’ll never act on it … but the air fizzes with potential. The sunshine doesn’t reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She’s about to find out that she can’t hide forever.

Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears.

Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

What does TWG think?

When writing my reviews, I usually write my overall thoughts of the book towards the end, using the top half of the review as a suspenseful build up to my oh-so-important views ;). This time however, I cannot review it that way. I’ve tried, but I just cannot write the build up to my views. I need to air them straight away, a bit like ripping off a plaster. I apologise in advance, I really do….but I have to be honest…

OMG I BLOOMIN’ LOVED THIS BOOK!!! HELLO NEW FAVOURITE BOOK!!!!!

Oh em gee!!!! I adore Juliet Ashton and her alter egos, she is an incredibly talented author and I have never read a book of hers that I didn’t like. I just knew that her newest book, The Woman at Number 24, would be included in my loved list alongside the others.

The first main character we meet at the start of the book is Sarah, a child psychologist whose own life has taken a tumble, leaving her feel unsure of her own self-worth. Not only that, a certain ex-husband of hers is living in the flat below hers, swanning about in his own egotistical bubble. My views on the ex? He’s a doorbell-end. There are a lot of colourful main characters in the housing block and the arrival of Jane and Tom, make the characters of the T.V. show, ‘Rainbow’, seem completely bland. Seriously. Jane is a HOOT! She is so real and has such an unhinged mouth which makes for excellent (and hilarious) reading. Honestly, she became one of my favourite characters rather quickly.

Hiding away from everyone else was yet another character, Mavis. She reminded me of a ‘wild card’ as she seemed to be the odd one out, giving off such marmite vibes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be changing your opinion on Mavis the whole way through. Do you like her? Do you hate her?

I have never come across a selection of mismatched characters such as these, before. The only way I can describe the overall house is by thinking of ‘Big Brother’, the T.V. show; although on an extremely loose basis (I said they were mismatched not completely barmy)! Each character (or miniature household) came with their own storyline and keeping up with several separate lifestyles wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I guess I expected to feel a little confused by the comings and goings, but I didn’t. In actual fact, I loved the complex storyline with the high energy situations, as well as the underlying hidden messages.

What really hit home for me with ‘The Woman at Number 24’, were the powerful and intense friendships and the lengths that the characters went to protect them. I guess it made me feel quite emotional as I have never had that kind of friendship before, yet each individual character ALWAYS thought of the ones that they held dear. If they didn’t seem them for a day or two, they would get worried and actively seek them out. If I went anywhere, would I be missed? Before I started reading this novel, my positivity about trust, friendships, and even feeling loved, was quite low. However, after I finished this novel, I found myself closing the book with a satisfied grin on my face and the feeling of hope surrounding me in a little bubble.

I am amazed that, despite the busy storyline and the multiple poignant situations, the storyline never lost its personality, nor was it stuck in limbo with any ‘blank’ moments.

‘The Woman at Number 24′ is a perfectly written, inspiring and heart warming novel which will leave you feeling like a puzzle; complete. Picture Mary Poppins’ never ending bag. Got that? Make that bag even bigger and you will have a clearer image of exactly how much Juliet Ashton’s novel kept on giving.

This book blew me away several times over. It made me incredibly emotional one moment and in hysterics the next. It opened my eyes to the true beauty of hope, true friendships and being loved for who you are.
More importantly, ‘The Woman at Number 24’ ended up being the puzzle piece that I didn’t even know was missing.
Outstanding and by far my most favourite book of 2017.

Huge thanks to Simon & Shuster.

Buy ‘The Woman at Number 24’ now from Amazon UK
Buy ‘The Woman at Number 24’ now from Amazon US

#Review – A Not Quite Perfect Family – Claire Sandy day Part 2 @julietstories @panmacmillan

csfamily

Funny, feisty and all-too-true, A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy is for anyone who loves their family so much they’d just like a weekend away from them.

Fern Carlile has a lot on her plate. It’s a good thing she loves her big, imperfectly perfect family, because she’s the one who washes their pants, de-fleas the dog and runs her own business. A hearty meal is the one thing that brings the Carliles together – but over the course of a year, the various courses also pull them apart.

Around the table sits an eight-year-old militant feminist, a pair of teenage accidental parents, and a cantankerous OAP. Fern’s husband needs an extra seat for his spectacular midlife crisis.

Will Fern’s marriage be over by the time coffee is served? Perhaps she’ll give in and have the hot new dish that looks so tempting. Decisions, decisions . . .

What does TWG think?

Part two of Claire Sandy’s publication day review posts has arrived! If you are only just joining in and are wondering what the fudge cake I’m on about head over to part one here, and then come back okay? Happy publication day to the hilarious Claire Sandy and her brand new novel, A Not Quite Perfect Family, which was published today by Panmacmillan. Enjoy my review!

As soon I my e-mail inbox pinged and Jess Duffy’s name appeared with the words ‘Claire…Sandy’, I ended up dancing around my kitchen like an absolute ding dong (and yes, the same happened when the book came through my letterbox). Huge fan much? It felt like ages ago since I last picked up a Claire Sandy novel so I was incredibly eager to start reading this little beauty.

Ahhh, mums, the glue that holds the family together when it comes to doing the laundry, cooking the dinner, sorting out birthdays, walking the dog, looking after the children, housework, dealing with family members you just cannot say no to…..sound familiar?! (Apologies if you’re a male and the glue to your family, but this novel has a mummy as the glue so don’t get your marigolds in a twist.)
For Fern Carlile it all sounds TOO familiar seeing as it’s pretty much her own self summed up in a nutshell! Her children, Ollie and Tallulah, couldn’t be more different if they tried; one of them is all for woman power and creating an insect hospital whereas the other is all for doing…WELL, y’know…
As for the man of the house, well, his midlife crisis seems to have taken away his sense of clarity! Adam wants excitement, a life without any ties; so he gets a face that cannot move and a penthouse..

My first impressions of the storyline after reading the first chapter were a bit jaded. I couldn’t seem to work out what made the Carlile family’s life book worthy. After all, they’re a totally dysfunctional and bonkers family just like a lot of the population are! But then, all of a sudden Tallulah came to life in the storyline, much like a Tasmanian devil with strong, feminist views which wouldn’t have looked out of place with the rest of the Suffragists. Tallulah is absolutely hilarious and because she is only eight years old, her views of the world are so innocent, she makes the toughest of situations ‘awww’ worthy. Plus, her interpretation of certain words and how they’re pronounced is award worthy in itself. I sniggered more than once! I probably shouldn’t have seeing as my three year old is venturing down Tallulah’s route already and I probably won’t be laughing when she turns eight, BUT, I can because it’s Claire Sandy’s book and…oh hell, it was hilarious.

Which reminds me, what would YOU call one of your dolls (if you had one)? Ford? Micra? Hatchback? Hm…

Just when I thought that the storyline had reached its peak in terms of bonkers-ness, Nora appears, then another colourful character appears and it’s all like ‘WOAH’. So many different personalities, beliefs and lifestyles all under one roof; it was like asking Dolly Parton, Status Quo, Korn, Steps and Justin Bieber to a party and asking them to talk about the elements!
In other words, it was rather comical to read!

I’m not going to say that I enjoyed every characters antics throughout the book because I would be lying. Yes, some of the situations did seem a little petty, BUT, it didn’t make me think any less of the storyline or the overall theme of the novel at all. I think that because I invest a lot of myself into the storylines I read, I sometimes forget that the characters aren’t real and I end up assessing them as though they are real. You can tell I’m a book nerd, right?

Despite the laugh out loud moments and the ‘cover face with hands’ cringey (yet funny) moments, Claire Sandy’s novel covers quite a lot of relatable and poignant issues. Obviously I can’t tell you what those issues are as it would be classed as a spoiler, however, adding those issues into the storyline has highlighted the fact that not all families are perfect. It also highlighted that not all families follow the same paths as their peers, they may end up making mistakes and deal with them in a way that will aggravate their family members. But that’s life. It was incredibly refreshing to read a storyline which contained more than one ‘taboo’ situation and owns it like it’s the ‘right’ way to live. Why SHOULD we be ashamed if our lifestyles aren’t like the rich and famous? Why SHOULD we be ashamed for bringing up our children differently to the Royal Family? Why SHOULD we be ashamed?

‘A Not Quite Perfect Family’ is a hilarious, refreshing and relatable read which completely modernises situations which society chooses not to. Not only that, the novel also has the power to fill you with a type of warmth you never realised you required.

A snort-worthy, side-splitting, hysterical read from start to finish, ‘A Not Quite Perfect Family’ is THE perfect book to lose yourself in, forget all your troubles c’mon get happy with, and read over and over again. Such a fantastic read, Claire Sandy is my go to author when I am in need of a pick me up and a giggle. She never disappoints…well…only when she writes ‘The End’ but I’ll left her off..

Big thanks to Jess Duffy & Panmacmillan.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Claire Sandy #TBT vs New book! Reblog – What Would Mary Berry Do?@julietstories @panmacmillan

I’m doing something a tad different today as I am sure you have guessed by the title, yes? Well, let me explain. A year ago last month when TWG was still a nipper and the GBBO was the nations feast for a Wednesday, I reviewed ‘What Would Mary Berry Do?’ by Claire Sandy, on my blog around that time. I’m not sure if you’re aware but Claire Sandy has a brand new book published TODAY!  Yes, I know, I nearly peed myself in excitement too when I found out, but it’s all good because I will be reviewing her brand new book on my blog later on today (1.30pm GMT to be precise), so make sure you check back for that later!
Before that though, to celebrate Claire’s publication day, I had the ultimate light bulb moment of re-blogging a review of one of her older books in one post, and then reviewing her brand new book in another. Double whammy y’see. So, that is exactly what I’m doing!
Please note that I have not changed anything about the way I wrote the review, I have literally copied and pasted it from its original post. Definitely an authentic book #tbt!! I hope you enjoy & make sure you’re back at 1.30pm for my review of Claire Sandy’s book baby!

What Would Mary Berry Do? was originally posted on my blog a year ago here: What would Mary Berry do?

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What would Mary Berry do? by Claire Sandy.
Published: 31st July 2014 by Panmacmillan.
ISBN: 978-1-4472-5349-5.
Available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

Marie Dunwoody doesn’t want for much in life. She has a lovely husband, three wonderful children, and a business of her own. But her cupcakes are crap. Her meringues are runny and her biscuits are rock-hard. She cannot bake for toffee. Or, for that matter, make toffee.

Marie can’t ignore the disappointed looks anymore, or continue to be shamed by neighbour and nemesis, Lucy Gray. Lucy whips up profiteroles with one hand, while ironing her bed sheets with the other. Marie’s had enough: this is the year it all changes. She vows to follow – to the letter – recipes from the Queen of Baking, and at all times ask, ‘What would Mary Berry do?’

Husband Robert has noticed that his boss takes crumb structure as seriously as budget cuts and with redundancies on the horizon, he too puts on a pinny. Twins Rose and Iris are happy to eat all the half-baked mistakes that come their way, but big brother Angus is more distant than usual, as if something is troubling him. And there is no one as nosey as a matching pair of nine-year old girls…

Marie starts to realise that the wise words of Mary Berry can help her with more than just a Victoria sponge. But can Robert save the wobbling soufflé that is his career? And is Lucy’s sweet demeanour hiding something secretly sour?

What does TWG think?

I must admit, I have asked the question ‘what would Mary Berry do?’ in my head multiple times, and not just for baking! What would she do? Maybe she is the sort of person that would go rock climbing! No, not rock cake climbing, actual rock walls. Oh never mind! Maybe I should tweet her and ask? Probably not a good idea. Don’t want Maz Bez to think I’m taking the mickey out of her buns…
Several readers over on my Facebook page: The Writing Garnet – Facebook Page. were curious about this book because of the cover. It’s cake, how can you NOT be curious about it. So I said that I would do them a humongous favour and read it for them! I’m nice like that.

Claire Sandy begins the book by introducing you to Marie’s fail-stopper….sorry, show-stopper. You got a rough idea from the blurb that Marie’s buns weren’t all that squishy, so she proves it in public, at the children’s school. Oh dear. Throughout the story you will meet characters from all walks of life in their cosy little neighbourhood. As always, not all neighbours get along with each other. Some things don’t sit quite right with a couple of the neighbours, they seem to be hiding something, but what is it?

Marie decides that it is time to actually use her kitchen and invites Mary Berry to join her. No, not the real Mary Berry; her cook book! Due to Marie’s nose being buried in copious amounts of flour and icing, she doesn’t notice that her husband and her son have their own personal anguish. Robert faces problems at his work and realises that it’s going to be make or bake…sorry, break, and he could face losing his job. Angus, her son, has his own trouble with the ‘clones’.  So out comes Mary Berry’s pal in book form, and fighting for the kitchen begins.  As you read more of the novel, you will find out the troubles that are under Marie’s nose. But is it too late for her to fix them all? Or should she just focus on fixing her buns?

Like my Facebook readers, this book had me curious straight away because of the cover and title. Everyone loves Mary Berry! Claire Sandy writes about a ‘typical’ mum in the kitchen, and I mean ‘typical’ in a good way because many of us have been standing cursing at our failed attempts in the kitchen. Just like Marie. Because she does curse, and so does Aileen. You will meet Aileen when you visit Marie’s work, you will love her. Just don’t have a drink in your hand when you read about her. She is probably one of my favourite characters in the book because she doesn’t give a donut! ‘What would Mary Berry do?’ is such a laugh out loud and warm book which tells the story of ‘friends’ coming together, and maybe soul mates being found. On more than one occasion I was laughing so hard (high-pitched squealing sort of laughter), that I thought my house was surrounded by dogs. They respond to high pitched noises don’t they? Hilarious and modern (because of the swearing) it was an absolute treat to read. High praise for Claire Sandy because it’s BRILLIANT! From start to finish it had me hooked and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves Maz Bez and the GBBO. You will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to read it again!

Luckily I can read it again whenever I wish as I have my own paperback copy -smug-. I hope you enjoyed TWG’s first book #TBT. Don’t forget that ‘What Would Mary Berry Do?’ is out to buy now here. Claire Sandy and I will be back at 1.30pm with ‘A Not Quite Perfect Family’. You really don’t want to miss it.

#BlogTour! #Review – The Second Chance Tea Shop by Fay Keenan (@FayKeenan) @Aria_Fiction

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Second chances, new loves and scrumptious cakes, in this heart-warming novel. Perfect for all fans of Fern Britton, Katie Fforde and Cathy Bramley.

Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it’s time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.

But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto the new life she has built.

This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.

What does TWG think?

It’s TWG’s stop on Fay Kennan’s blog tour today! I hope you enjoy my review of her debut book, The Second Chance Tea Shop.

Okay, okay, I’ll hold my hands up; I have to admit that I did groan when I saw that this was yet another novel with yet another tea shop/café in the storyline. At least I admit it though, right? Seeing as this book is Fay Kennan’s debut novel (and the cover is a tad more-ish), I decided to put my teashop/café vendetta to one side and feed my curiosity by actually reading it. Yes, as soon as I saw the cover I was intrigued by it, definitely not going to lie about that. I was just throwing a little wobbly about the overuse of a particular setting.

Anyway, needed to get my little grumble out of the way before I started singing Fay Kennan’s book baby’s praises! I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Second Chance Tea Shop’ from start to finish! For a couple of seconds max, the thought of the storyline heading down the candyfloss route did enter my mind, when in actual fact, it was the complete opposite!

After the heart ache that Anna has been through recently, she decides that a fresh start with her daughter, Ellie, would be the ideal solution to regaining control of her life. Whilst the village of Little Somerby may be brand new to Ellie, it isn’t for Anna and as she starts settling into village life yet again, she ends up recognising A LOT more than she bargained for. Will Little Somerby give Anna the second chance at life which she desperately craves? Or could certain pasts end up colliding and ruin her fresh start before it’s even begun?

I have been wracking my brain trying to think of what Fay Keenan’s novel reminds me of; a multiple layered cake, that’s what it reminds me of! Don’t laugh, hear me out. By looking at the cake (the book) we would assume that it’s just a book about a little tea shop, yet by reading every chapter and going through each individual layer of the storyline and the character’s personalities, it was just like enjoying all of the different layers of a cake. Each layer contained different hurdles, different characters and different emotions, allowing us to surrender to the storyline and the magic between the words. Just like a multi-layered cake layers, no two layers, (or chapters), were the same and that is what made Fay Keenan’s book baby stand out for me.

As I said above, a lot of books at the moment are set in the oh-so-popular tea shop or café, which can make it harder for a brand new author to find a way of standing out amongst the crowd. What could ‘The Second Chance Tea Shop’ bring to the table that was completely unique? A bit like ‘what’s your tea shop got that mine aint got’, kinda thing. But you know what, ‘The Second Chance Tea Shop’ is unlike all of the other similar books in its market and I’ll tell you why.

Firstly, the main character has already built up a life previously which didn’t contain any premises involving mini sandwiches. Unfortunately her life got turned upside down in a devastating way.

Secondly, the tea shop featured in this novel is already an established business, which means that Anna isn’t doing her own version of ‘Changing Rooms’ on the building.

Thirdly, there is A LOT more to this storyline that meets the eye; complex characters, devastating secrets, village gossip, heart breaking secrets, and enough warmth to keep your own house warm over the winter. No joke. Emotional it may be at times yet the heart warming factor trumps any sadness and uncertainty.

Fourthly, the little tea shop is portrayed as a character within the book, instead of being the hub of the storyline. It’s a fantastic addition to an already brilliant storyline, instead of being the centre of attention.

Personally? This novel has got to be one of my most favourite tea shop books out there. It has been brilliantly written (hard to believe it’s a debut book to be honest!), nicely structured with just the right amount of contrasting characters.

‘The Second Chance Tea Shop’ is just like drinking the perfectly made cup of tea; warm enough, sweet enough, not too strong and not too weak. In other words; perfection.

Thank you Aria.

Buy now: Amazon // Kobo // iBooks // Googleplay

Author bio

Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling back
in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she
teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband of fourteen
years, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village
in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.

Follow Fay:
Facebook: FayKeenanAuthor
Twitter: @FayKeenan
Instagram: @FayKeenan
Website: www.faykeenan.com

Make sure you pop into the tea shop as the tour continues with the bloggers below!

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