#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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#Review of Whatever Happened To Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man by @laurajanekemp @aria_fiction #Tour

vickyhope1
Blurb.

A tender, funny and haunting coming-of- age novel which asks if the past
can ever be part of your future.

Twenty-one and insecure, Vicky Hope comes up with a plan on the eve of travelling the world with her high flying friend, Kat Lloyd: if she isn’t married by the time she’s thirty, she’ll marry her geeky best mate Mikey Murphy.

Fast-forward eight-and-a-bit years, Vicky, now Vee wakes up on her thirtieth birthday in Brighton, expecting a proposal of marriage from her arty boyfriend Jez. Instead he tells her their relationship is over and she has no choice but to return to her parents’ home.

Devastated and alone in her childhood bedroom, she decides she has nothing to lose and tracks down her two old mates. With shock, she discovers Mikey, now Murphy, is a successful app designer driven by his tragic upbringing. Kat, or Kate, never made it – but she hides a devastating secret, which threatens the happiness of all three.

What does TWG think?

I would hang my head in shame seeing as I managed to worm my way onto this particular blog tour, but I’m not going to. Instead, I am going to get my pom poms out, sprinkle a bit of glitter and be honoured that I am able to help champion Laura Kemp’s latest novel. Be prepared though; this book takes you on a walk down memory lane and BOY does it feel good. It’s even better than a Tamagotchi (and that’s saying something).

Cover + title = one rather curious reader. How could anyone NOT be intrigued about a back up man? Ahhhhhh, oh to be 21 again! I say that like I’m in considerably older (I’m not, i’m nearly 27), but memories of our youth can always stir up a teensy bit of nostalgia. Well, unless you’re Vicky of course! A teensy bit is quite an understatement. You see, Vicky made a plan; a plan to have a back up man if she wasn’t married by the time she turned 30. No pressure, right? What Vicky didn’t really account for was life, and how fast that bad boy moved. She decided to see the world, be free, live a little, find her inner peace….and end up on her own. It is safe to say that Vicky’s fool-proof idea didn’t exactly go to plan.

Fast forward nine years where Vicky finds herself at a crossroad; make…or break?

Delving into Vicky’s youth had me in absolute hysterics! The reminiscing of childhood favourite items and go to things, made me put my head in my hands and forget how to breathe due to my oh so sexy, full-blown belly laughing. Laura managed to keep those all time favourite memories in their own little bubble, without tainting them in today’s world. In my eyes, Laura had reached legen-DARY status with that alone. Genius.

As I sunk my teeth into more of the storyline, it soon became clear that the novel had more to it than just laughter. The characters had depth, quirky personalities and most importantly, relatable emotion. I didn’t dislike any of them either, I just understood some of the characters more than others.

I’ll cut to the chase; I absolutely LOVED this book. There was just something rather special about the entire storyline and I cannot put my finger on exactly what that is, even after having weeks of letting it settle in my mind. It was just…unique. Fragile perhaps. Maybe even soulful. No, definitely soulful. Yes, the humour was off the chart; but so was the emotion, lifestyle turbulence of the characters and the ‘I cannot stop reading this book’ factor.

Laura Kemp has written such a down to earth, relatable and highly amusing read which takes hold of your soul, emotion and all of the cringey memories from your youth that you wanted to hide (but secretly think about). Absolutely brilliant read, I cannot recommend this book enough.

Thank you Aria & Netgalley.

Whatever Happen to Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man is available to buy now from the following:

Laura’s previous book, THE LATE BLOSSOMING OF FRANKIE GREEN is available
now:

About Laura Kemp.
lk

 

Laura lives in Penarth, Cardiff with her supportive husband, gorgeous son,
playful dog and ancient cat. Writing is compulsive to Laura. With 15 years
journalistic experience and several successful books to her name, writing is her
escape and her love.

Follow Laura

Publication #review of Sister Sister by Sue Fortin (@suefortin1) @HarperImpulse @TheRomaniacs

sister-sister
Blurb.

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.

What does TWG think?

How on Earth do I review this book?! There have only been a couple of books that have completely taken over my mind whilst reading them (in a headfunk, fabulous kind of way); until now. Sue Fortin’s new release, ‘Sister Sister’ has become the latest book to leave me questioning EVERYTHING, including my name.

What would you do if a family member had just…vanished? ‘We will be back’ they said. Now, unless there was a million car back log on the M25 and all flights were cancelled indefinitely, you would pretty much expect them back, yes? After all, they did say…
Clare and her mother have an unfinished chapter in their life story. A chapter which can only be completed by one person; Alice. If only Alice was able to find her way back to the memories once known…

I finished ‘Sister Sister’ a couple of days ago and yet I STILL continue to mull over the storyline. From the get go, there is bucketful’s of juicy storyline to sink your teeth into, especially where the past is concerned. I had no idea what to expect, nor what route I felt the storyline would take as I kept reading. But, I’ll be honest; all thoughts of my surroundings and trying to do guess work with the storyline, vanished from my mind the more of the book I read. I had to surrender to the storyline very quickly as I began to lose my mind with the intense, white knuckle contents of ‘Sister Sister’.

Every single page felt like Pandora’s box. Every single chapter contained another hurdle for the characters. Every single word Sue wrote was laced with a hidden agenda. I could not stop reading; even though there were moments of ‘can I really continue?’. Not due to the likeability factor of the book, no! But, erm, because I was emotionally and physically exhausted by the rollercoaster I was on, even though I couldn’t get off it!

There is absolutely nothing that I can find fault with when it comes to ‘Sister Sister’. Nothing at all. I really did love how each character stood out and seemed to have their own place within the book; nobody was there to just ‘fill a gap’. I really do think that that helped keep the gritty momentum of the storyline.

‘Sister Sister’ completely messed up my head, had me looking over my shoulder and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. What a SUPERB book! Full of grit, rollercoaster moments and enough psychological imbalance to make a psychologist cry, ‘Sister Sister’ is definitely going to be a tough act to follow for the rest of 2017.

In my opinion, Sue Fortin stands out from a lot of people thanks to her latest release. Her way with words and incredible talent at creating such intense situations, is mind-blowing. Absolutely fantastic.
Unplug the house phone, put your mobile on silent and dedicate a few hours to Sue Fortin’s ‘Sister Sister’, interruption free. This is a book you DO NOT want to miss.

Even though we are only six days into 2017, ‘Sister Sister’ has set the bar high and is definitely one to watch.

Thank you HarperImpulse! Happy publication day Sue!!

Sister Sister by Sue Fortin, published by HarperImpulse is available to buy now in e-book from Amazon UK! Don’t fret though, if you’re more of a paperback reader, keep your eyes peeled for the 20th April! You can pre-order your paperback now from Amazon.

Review – ‘A Cornish Christmas’ by Lily Graham (@lilywritesbooks) @bookouture.

accBlurb.

Nestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic …

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead. It soon emerges that Stuart has been keeping secrets from Ivy, and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever.
When Ivy stumbles across a letter from her mother hidden in an old writing desk, secrets from the past come hurtling into the present. But could her mother’s words help Ivy in her time of need? Ivy is about to discover that the future is full of unexpected surprises and Christmas at Sea Cottage promises to be one to remember. 

What does TWG think?

Having fallen in love with Lily’s previous book; The Summer Escape, I had extremely high hopes for ‘A Cornish Christmas’. I just couldn’t wait to see where it was going to take my imagination. When the story begins, it feels as though you’re walking into a story half way through, there is no gradual build up to each character or their lives as they’re right there, waiting for you to find out more about them. What a way to start a book, it pulled me in straight away and the book didn’t leave my hands until I had finished it. I just couldn’t put it down, something special had me hooked, but at that moment, I couldn’t quite place what it was.

‘A Cornish Christmas’ follows the lives of Ivy (a children’s book illustrator) and Stuart (mr jam man). After jumping many, many hurdles, Ivy is finally pregnant. The thing is, when you’re pregnant, the only person you really want…is your mum. Ivy’s mum passed away a few years prior, and she is now getting round to looking through her mum’s old desk. Ivy stumbles across a little something that unearths a lot of questions, some that may be left unanswered.

At first when I met Ivy and Stuart, I thought that their life would be straight forward. After all, their relationship is cosy, I didn’t want to think that the storyline would go any other way except happiness! Such wonderfully written characters. Further into the story, a little Christmas magic begins to happen, and oh my goodness me!!! I could not fathom exactly what was happening. I was in shock, my arms were covered in goose bumps, and I had to work out how to prop my kindle up as one hand was covering my mouth. Beautiful, just…beautiful. Whether you believe in a bit of magic or not, I don’t think it matters as the way Lily wrote the Christmas magic into the storyline, will have anyone and everyone believing it. I did.

Unfortunately, there is one character that made me think ‘oh mistletoe!!’, quite a few times in my head. There is nothing worse than an interfering person, but, after a few stern words with Rudolph, I had to grit my teeth and just go with the snow…sorry…flow. Ahem.

The Christmas magic situation does pop up multiple times with the storyline and as the book went on, the more powerful the magic became. I’m sure you know where I am going with this now, yes? Yes, I sobbed my heart out; not in a devastatingly sad way, but in a ‘that melted all the ice around my heart’ type of way. The emotion that poured from the book was unbelievable, so much feeling and heartache in so few words, yet the story became an intense and powerful work of art.

When it comes to Christmas, everyone associates it with magic and cosiness. ‘A Cornish Christmas’ is both of those. Not only does the book contain heartache, tragedy and jam, it oozes love, warmth and magic. I cannot fault Lily’s novel at all, the whole thing from start to finish was absolutely magnificent. I knew that Lily was a fantastic author, but after reading this, wow, I am in awe.
Inspiring, emotional and completely magical; if I could have ‘A Cornish Christmas’ under my Christmas this year, I will be one very happy lady. Another fantastic book from Lily Graham, ‘A Cornish Christmas’ is one of my favourite books of all time. Just, wow.

Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley – I received a complimentary copy in return for my honest opinion.

‘A Cornish Christmas’ by Lily Graham, published by Bookouture, is available to buy 30th September from Amazon UK

#Bookreview – The Paris Effect by Karen Burns.

The Paris Effect by Karen Burns.
Published 31st May 2016 by Velvet Morning Press.
Available to buy from Amazon US//Amazon UK

‘Friendship, loss… and a tantalizing trip to Paris in this highly praised debut novel!

Amy and Kat had a plan: A secret trip to Paris. Even Amy’s husband wouldn’t know about it. But when Amy loses Kat, the “friend of her heart,” to cancer, she knows the plan, too, has disappeared forever. Or has it?

Guided by memories of her friend and dissatisfaction with her own calorie-counting life in Phoenix, Amy sneaks off to Paris while her husband is away on a business trip. Once there, she’s robbed, stalked, arrested and kidnapped (almost). Worse, she finds that her numerous issues have come right along with her.

Through her adventures, laced with luscious descriptions of food and Paris, Amy learns that often in life, love and friendship, nothing is exactly as it seems. Grab a croissant and settle in for a decidedly non-touristy trip to the City of Light.’

‘The Paris Effect’ is a book that I have seen pop up on my Twitter feed more than once. At first I had no idea who wrote it (sorry) because I was memorised by the cover. I saw the colours, the word ‘Paris’ and it went straight on my TBR list. The more I saw it, the more intrigued I became. I did want to read it but every time I saw it, I was already ‘booked’. Then one day, the lovely Karen Burns sent me a lovely e-mail asking me to review her book ‘The Paris Effect’. It was one of the nicest request e-mails that I have ever received, plus it wasn’t a book I was going to turn down, obviously! Thank you Karen for sending me the copy of the book and for your truly lovely e-mail!

I did make room for this book I’ll be honest (read it the day after I got sent it!).
Have you ever made a pact with a best friend, to do something completely outlandish, planned to the last detail, with the only participants being you and your best friend?
But what if you could no longer make that pact a reality?
When Amy loses her best friend to cancer, she has not only lost her best friend; the one person that truly knew her, she has also lost Kat’s words of wisdom and friendship. They had a plan to go to Paris, everything was planned, outfits organised, itinerary known..but one important thing was missing. Kat. Amy could go to Paris with her husband, after all, it is a romantic city, she could go on her own with no husband and no Kat, or she could not go full-stop. Where do Amy’s priorities lay? With her husband, herself or her best friend that is no longer with her?

I was slightly disappointed when I began the book and read a chapter or two as there were rules on dieting and being obsessed with calories. As a person that has struggled with eating disorders and weight for many years, it caught me off guard a little bit. However, once I had removed my own personal struggles from the concept of the book and how that tied in with Amy’s character, my disappointment soon went and I began to enjoy it. The rules for dieting turned out to be quite cleverly done too.
I did feel quite sorry for Amy, she had just lost someone close to her and her husband was being a gigantic pain in the pear tree. Amy goes on her journey making some rather questionable decisions, but you can tell by the emotion within the story, that it was right for her despite the consequences that she will face.

I adored feeling as though I was getting a tour of Paris, monuments and well-known spots being described brilliantly. Well, I say brilliantly, I have never been to Paris but if I do go, I’ll expect it to look like what Karen has described it to be! No pressure haha. Despite the chic lit background what with the obsession with food and best friend plans, ‘The Paris Effect’ had some rather fast paced situations which bumped the book up another level for me, personally. I felt that it gave the story another dimension to it.

As Amy continued her journey she came across a selection of very different people. At first glance they were just the ‘average Joe’, but Amy soon released that people, and places, aren’t always as straight forward as we believe. My opinion of Amy differed immensely throughout the book because of every choice that she made. Part of me felt sorry for her, another part of me felt she needed to grow up, but then another part of me wanted to support her. How can you support someone who seems such a lost cause though?

I loved how each character stood out of the book in their own ways and weren’t just part of the story to make up numbers so to speak. ‘The Paris Effect’ was the first book that I had read of Karen’s so I was looking forward to finding out her style of writing. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Despite my earlier reservations, after a couple of chapters, I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down and I was eager to find out what happened to each character and what path they were destined to be on.

‘The Paris Effect’ is a novel full of emotionally charged situations. A novel that opens your eyes to people’s motives, including your own. A novel that will take you on a journey around Paris and show you that it’s okay to eat nice things. A novel that will make you question whether you’re on the correct path for YOU or whether you are going along for the ride. A novel that, if like me, will leave you thinking that you have something ‘in your eye’. A novel that will make you message the author and ask her whether there will be a next book…..

Such a brilliant read, I would read it again in a heartbeat….unless the next book comes out and then I will read that first!

#Review of ‘Chances are’ by Wendy Lou Jones.

Chances are by Wendy Lou Jones.
Published 25th June 2016.
Available to buy from Amazon UK//Amazon US

‘Luke is the man with the money, the fast car and the hot woman. There’s no way he would even think about getting serious, but a face he can’t remember soon threatens his calm.
Rebecca isn’t interested in a relationship, and definitely not with him. How could she, after all he put her through? She’s spent the last 4 years hiding away from society, a one woman crusade for children’s road safety. Who would have thought one fateful day, it might almost be her … again.
As two worlds collide, will opposites attract?
Not if she can help it’

I would like to start by saying thank you to Wendy for putting this lovely book under my nose, and I want to apologise for keeping you waiting with the review. I would say that I have been chasing my tail, but then I would be insulting myself by saying that I am indeed a dog!

A man who has it all; money, career, lifestyle and the ability to click his fingers and a woman would come running to him.
A woman who is afraid of having it all. Afraid of putting her heart on the line. Afraid of history repeating itself.
After all, it nearly did repeat itself. Rebecca lost the man that she loved, the man that she was supposed to marry and ever since that day she has tried to make the roads a safer place. Then one day, along comes Luke, trying to multi-task whilst driving and nearly sends Rebecca to the same place as her fiancé.
Is Luke really that arrogant where women are concerned? Or is Rebecca too guarded after her past? The ‘chances are…..’
At first, I disliked Luke with a passion. Arrogance in men does not appeal one bit, especially when they think they are the be all and end all. He could have caused a terrible accident, yet ‘that woman’, Rebecca, is on his mind. Seriously? Surely you would avoid contact with a person that you nearly put in an unfortunate situation? I’m not nitpicking at Wendy’s writing, definitely not. Despite my early opinion of Luke, as the story progressed, my opinions changed for the better. Which, if I’m honest, was a surprise to me!
But then there is Rebecca. A lost soul and extremely guarded after everything she has been through, and thanks to an idiot in a car, she gets to re-live the past to a certain extent. No wonder she wants to stay clear…at first. My heart definitely went out to her because she seemed so lonely and without a purpose.
The way that Wendy incorporated chalk and cheese personalities, and completely turned them and the storyline around, takes such talent. She has created very complex characters with highly strung personalities and a lot of baggage. To fit all of that, and the future into just one book, made for an exciting yet emotionally charged read.
Watching the characters grow as they dealt with their own pasts and feelings made me feel like I was walking the journey with them. When the characters were happy, I was happy, when they were sad, I was crying like a baby unable to breathe and looking like I had met Ruldolph for a slush puppy (red nose).
Even though I found ‘Chances Are’ a very moving story, crying with the events within the book felt like the natural step. Every situation flowed and every word had its place. I am in awe of Wendy and how she has written such an emotional, rollercoaster ride of a book, with such a BEAUTIFUL cover! A pleasure to read.

**New Feature** 1st class mail from TWG & friends – A letter to your younger self!

Welcome to yet another brand new feature on The Writing Garnet! A couple of weeks ago I put multiple posts out on social media asking for people to get involved, and by golly they did! What would YOU tell your younger self if you could? Would you give them advice based on what you know now?
Those were the questions I had everyone keep in mind for writing their letters. Hopefully people (you) will continue to be involved as this feature will only run as long as I have your lovely letters to post.
If you fancy getting involved by writing a letter to your younger self, e-mail me at kaishajayneh@gmail.com. Thank you to those who have e-mailed me so far!

Okay, so this is how the feature is going to work. Each Sunday until further notice, I will share each of the letters that I have received so far. Seeing as some of the letters belong to authors and bloggers, their social links will also be included so you can see what they are up to now compared to the contents of their letters! Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an author/blogger to take part. Anyone can!
Now I have told you all of the important information, let’s get this show on the road!

young self

TWG is delighted to welcome fellow blogger and new-found friend, Jo Robertson, to the blog! Get ready for honesty with a few giggles as here is what Jo would write in a letter to her younger self.

Dear Joanne,

I should probably start by reassuring you that the path you have taken, although not the one you planned on, is a good one and you will be in a happy relationship with a wonderful husband and children (plus grandchildren but I don’t want you to freak out about that! Yes, you’ll be a young Nana but it’s amazing!).

You won’t be going to uni to study English like you wanted but not getting those grades means that you will become part of the wonderful NHS caring for people who is what you do best. Just have the confidence to know what is right for YOU! Don’t be pushed down a road you don’t want to travel down.

Those books that you hide away to read, keep reading them! Books will always be part of your life and one day you will find that the knowledge and background that they gave you, will lead to one of the most exciting times of your life! You will become part of a community where you aren’t looked at as some kind of nerd. You will have found your place.

Don’t be ashamed that you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye!!! Have the confidence to tell people why you throw it in the New Year bonfire!! And life is too short to read Ulysses by James Joyce. Just leave it on the bookshelf!

You won’t ever be that writer you wanted to be, life gets in the way, but be amazed at how ahead of your time you were! Those exercise books you steal in school to write those instalments of your “novel” when you’re 16, the ones that you used to pass around all your friends, well they were the way forward! The adventures of Christie, the teenage pop star and her liaisons with her fans and her much older manager were a little bit shocking for some of your friends (and the mother who felt she had to have a word with mine!) But I wish you had kept them!! You could have been the first E.L. James!

And wear a bikini!!!!! Yes you may be pear shaped with a big bum and tiny waist but embrace your curves, there’s not an ounce of fat on you. Someday you will be Apple shaped and wish you had that body now that you have the confidence to wear that bikini! And don’t worry about that gorgeous curly hair you are bullied about, GHDs are on their way and anyway, those curls are your best feature, embrace them too! And keep drinking all that water! Your 51 year old face will thank you for it!

Lots of love

Jo (Book reviewer and blogger at mychestnutreadingtree)

Thank you so much Jo for kicking off TWG’s new feature! You look younger than me so go rock that bikini!!!!

Here are Jo’s social links so you can find out what she is about now!
Jo’s Blog
Jo’s Facebook Page
Follow Jo on Twitter

Book review of ‘Summer at Skylark Farm’ by Heidi Swain.

Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain.
Published 2nd June 2016 by Simon and Schuster.
Available to buy from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

‘Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn’t quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it. 
 
Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined – it’s cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling. 
 
But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?’

If you had to choose between a life in the city or a life in the country, which one would you choose? Would your answer still same the same if, say, you had only dabbled in one of those lifestyles and not the other?
When I was younger I used to prefer being in the hustle and the bustle of the city and only liked the countryside for the views. However, now that I am much older, I do enjoy going to the city as long as I’m left alone ha! To be honest though, if I had a new adventure to begin at Skylark Farm, I probably would get upon my sheep(!!) and head for a life in the countryside! (Note: I wouldn’t ride a sheep…I’d fall off).

Amber is going from strength to strength in her job in the city, and so is her relationship with her new man, Jake. Amber starts to realise that her workload doesn’t seem to be  showing signs of slowing down anytime soon, this leaves her questioning the amount of quality time that she has with Jake. Jake gets to dabble in life in the countryside with his Aunt whilst Amber dabbles in her life of last-minute work requests, but is it enough? Amber wants to try something new and rid herself of the rut she is stuck in and Jake may just have the solution to her problems. But can Jake persuade Amber to step out of her comfort zone and try for a new life, where her work outfit would consist of wellies? Will Amber put her relationship with Jake before her relationship with work?

Welcome to Skylark Farm! A farm where nothing is ever as straight forward as you would like, but the reward are overflowing. My heart went out to Amber throughout the story because she was thrown into the deep end on more than one occasion and nobody seemed to want to tell her complete stories, just snippets. Luckily for her, Jake’s Aunt Annie was always on hand to give her the confidence boost she needed, or grated potato…whichever came first! Skylark Farm was more of a shrine than a working farm, so when the opportunity arose for Amber to offer some input, she did just that.

‘Watching’ the changes and mini makeover happen on Skylark Farm felt like watching the film Calamity Jane. You know the part where she goes from hard as nails and potty mouth, to house wife donning a floral apron with white kitchen furniture? It was like reading a 21st century twist on a classic film, especially when Amber got her hands on the cottage (eventually).  I felt like I was ‘watching’ something magical happen as I read the story. It was as if the changes created a new life, not only in Skylark Farm, but Aunt Annie too. You really cannot put a price on a feeling as magical as the one you get from well written words.

Nine times out of ten when you meet new characters within a book, there are going to be some you instantly like, and some you instantly dislike. Summer at Skylark Farm was no different! Several characters made their way into my heart quite early on in the story, however, one or two characters couldn’t seem to find the right key. I didn’t seem to warm to them because their actions annoyed me! I get very involved with the characters in every book that I read! Each and every character is very unique, a few of them with more dented personalities than others, but I loved that because it gave the whole story more character.

What I admired most about Summer at Skylark Farm, was how it contained the ‘take a chance’ message. One day you might think that something is impossible to achieve, or that you don’t have the confidence to just go for it. But, if Amber can completely change her life and see more of certain animals than she bargained for, then maybe you could just take the chance?

Heidi has written such a cosy, comforting and warming story. So cosy in fact, that I just wanted Aunt Annie to come and give me a hug whilst I finished reading it. If you’re undecided on whether you should take a chance and head to Skylark Farm for a summer full of adventure, then the answer is YES. Just go for it, but remember to take your wellies!

No longer ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’, more ‘Hiya younger Ruby!’. Courtesy of A.L.Michael.

Seeing as A.L.Michael and I enjoy bringing something different to TWG, we obviously need to keep that momentum going. Obviously! The last blog post we had, featured a wonderful cake recipe. Any of you made it yet? If you don’t know what I’m on about, take a nosy here —> Love cake, ‘Ruby Tuesday’, cake, A.L.Michael and…cake? <— and go into the kitchen and make cake!

I hope the title of the blog, or part of it, sounds a bit familiar to you. Author A.L.Michael released the first book in a series back in April, called ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’.
Goodbye Ruby Tuesday by A.L.Michael. Book Tour!
The second book in the series is released in August, and I am already very impatient because I want to read it yesterday! A.L.Michael has put together these posts for me so I can get my fix of her amazing book whilst I’m pacing the floor waiting for the next one. Well, she didn’t know that bit, but she does now. Hiya!!!!

Today’s post is yet again something different. A character from the book,  Ruby Tuesday has written a letter to her younger self, and it certainly isn’t one to be missed. Powerful words. Enjoy.

What I would tell my younger self
by Ruby Tuesday
This feels kind of like a school report, one of the ones I would have bunked off doing, and somehow managed to get away with, instead of an article for a magazine. It’s funny how
things end up seeming the same.
I loved being young, there was nothing better than being seventeen and in love with every
boy who jutted his lip and looked at you like you were a delicious piece of pie, or the most
glorious ice cream sundae. I loved the power I had then, people just seemed to do what I
want without me even really trying. I know that sounds stuck up, and no doubt there’ll be a headline in a tabloid newspaper tomorrow saying ‘Ruby Tuesday thinks people love her’,
but it was true. Something about having nothing to lose, I guess.
I was never mean, I don’t think, and I can be proud of that, but I had to be in control.
I loved my friends, like, my school friends, more than anything. I had moved so many times by that point, foster home to foster home, and I knew none of them would ever stick, because I always caused trouble. I just couldn’t help it, it was my way. But I wouldn’t tell myself to cause less trouble, because that’s how I found my friends. In detentions and after school sessions, random and peculiar punishments (are they still getting kids to scrape chewing gum off desks and put dots in every corner on a page of squared paper, because that’s a real fucking waste of time – give them a newspaper and tell them about the world, would you?) is how I made friends. And enemies. Maybe that should be my advice, to have made fewer enemies, been nicer about everything.

I had a certain thing I liked to do, and I thought I was being good, a vigilante for justice, and female empowerment, as much as anyone knows what they’re doing at seventeen. I used to test their boyfriends, used to see if they’d cave and fall for flattery and flirtation. The boys who fell for it were publicly shamed and their girlfriends were told. They were found unworthy, and it proved to me just how fickle men were. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t have based my opinion of all men on the pricks of horny teenage boys, but I did. And the weirdest thing happened – the girls stayed with them. They blamed me, and they stayed with the boyfriend, convinced it was my evil feminine wiles, and not their less than significant others. And that was the way of the world then, and it’s the same now.

So I play the part a little more. I put on my make up and I curl my hair and I sing to the world that the boy is treating you bad, and I want to be your friend and I wish you would listen. I want to save every one of those women from throwing themselves away on someone who’s unworthy. But…it made me a bitch, obviously, so maybe I should tell my younger self to stop all that shit. Maybe I should have told her to chill with the drinking and the need for drama, to stop acting like every day was her last on earth and just do her fucking maths homework. No wonder I got screwed in my first contract – could they add that to the syllabus as well?

Learning about percentages would be so much better in context! I think I would tell Ruby to wait, not to run whenever things got hard, not to be so eager to dish out the advice and so unwilling to take it. I loved people and I still held them away from me, never letting them see the whole. And now everyone sees Ruby Tuesday, and Ruby Montgomery, that poor little girl with no parents and no lunchbox, who grinned and caused trouble, well, there’s only three people in the world who still remember her.
And maybe I’ll get really lucky, and they’ll read this, and know how much I miss them.

The next book in the House On Camden Square series, is available to pre-order right now via Amazon UK.
Big thank you to A.L.Michael for yet another wonderful post. If you wish to keep up to date with the latest from her then you can do so via Twitter.

My thoughts on ‘Time after Time’, NO, not the one by Cindi Lauper! Written by Hannah McKinnon.

Time after Time by Hannah McKinnon.
Published 2nd June 2016 by Maze (an imprint of HarperCollins).
Available to buy in E-book format from Amazon UK.

‘Have you ever wondered ‘what if?’
When Hayley Cooper goes to sleep wishing for a different life, then wakes up in bed with her first boyfriend, she can’t believe her eyes. She hasn’t seen Chris in over twenty years – but now she’s married to him. And Hayley is in for a few more romantic surprises . . .
Over a single weekend, Hayley lives her life time and time again, and as each of her former loves resurface, Hayley starts to realise that there’s some truth in the saying ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Yes, the past two years with her husband Rick have been tough, but is the grass always greener?’

Such a good question; have you ever wondered ‘what if?’. Have you ever wondered what things would be like if you had taken a different path in life? Have you ever wondered what your acquaintances from the past would be like after you have moved on? Lets just pause for a second whilst you get into the ‘what if?’ mind-set….

Have you thought about it yet?

What about now?

Now?!

We’re only human, of course we are bound to wonder ‘what if?’ whenever relationships end, or we make a huge decision in life. However, we cannot wave a magic wand, or close our eyes and be back in time, to a life that never was. Well, WE can’t, but there seems to be just one person that can. Does the name ‘Hayley Cooper’ ring a bell to you? No? Well it should! (Why haven’t you read this book yet?! :o)

Hayley Cooper is in a difficult situation in her current life and it’s safe to say that she is pretty peeved with the way things are going. She wants a different life, and it gets her wondering about her ex boyfriends. Little did she know she would come face to face with them when she woke up the next morning.

That reminds me, what day is it today? Monday, or Saturday?

The cover of this book totally threw me. I had seen it multiple times over on Twitter and Amazon but hadn’t had the chance to click buy. So, when Avon publishers tweeted about it again one night, I made sure I got it there and then. Not only is it a memorable cover, it is also a very romantic looking cover, although I stupidly judged the book by its cover and wondered why I was getting confused. Only a smidge though, honestly…

Hayley is the main character of the story. She is married with children but there is something about her life that isn’t sitting right with her. Something doesn’t seem quite right and she cannot seem to put her finger on it. That is of course, until she follows all the paths of her past that she never took. Hayley seems to like the weekend in this book because she re-visits the same day multiple times! If you went back in time to visit all of the ‘what ifs’ of your past, do you think that you would be met with positivity, with everything the same as you have always dreamt about?

That is a tough one to answer. Although in Hayley’s case, it was definitely an eye opener for her (and for me, her past is fascinating!). My opinion of Hayley changed throughout the book because of how the story unfolded. One moment I felt incredibly sorry for her, another time I felt infuriated with her because she just could not see what she had which meant her decisions were otherwise jaded. Hayley’s best friend is a hoot, my sort of person with a mouth that’s always on fast forward.

Considering the amount of to-ing and fro-ing this book does, it didn’t actually get me flustered, which is surprising. Books like that usually do, but maybe because the switch was always expected, it didn’t confuse me. Whilst the book contains very funny moments, as well as some difficult situations, it made me think about my life. What if I had chosen different paths? Obviously I can’t do anything about it now, but it’s only natural to wonder.
Hannah has written such a heart warming and emotionally driven book, which was full of depth and relatable situations. The message behind the story is a rather powerful one, however, the added softness in terms of humour and sarcasm, turns it into a light-hearted read as well.
I must say, I am looking forward to whatever Hannah has up her sleeve next. I can promise you one thing though, I won’t ever be thinking ‘what if’ about this book because I know I took the right path by reading it!