#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

#Tour! #Review – The Wedding Girls -Kate Thompson (@katethompson380) @panmacmillan @jessduffyy

weddinggirls

Welcome to day two of the blog tour for Kate Thompson and ‘The Wedding Girls’, published on the 9th March 2017 by PanMacmillan. Huge thank you to Jess Duffy and PanMacmillan for asking me to be involved in the tour for such a beautiful looking book! On my stop today, I have a book review of ‘The Wedding Girls’, I hope you enjoy!

weddinggirls1

If a wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life, then the story starts with the dress.

It’s 1936 and the streets of London’s East End are grimy and brutal, but in one corner of Bethnal Green it is forever Hollywood . . .

Herbie Taylor’s photography studio is nestled in the heart of bustling Green Street. Tomboy Stella and troubled Winnie work in Herbie’s studio; their best friend and hopeless romantic Kitty works next door as an apprentice dressmaker. All life passes through the studio, wishing to capture that perfect moment in time.

Kitty works tirelessly to create magical bridal gowns, but with each stitch she wonders if she’ll ever get a chance to wear a white dress. Stella and Winnie sprinkle a dusting of Hollywood glamour over happy newly-weds, but secretly dream of escaping the East End . . .

Community is strong on Green Street, but can it stand the ultimate test? As clouds of war brew on the horizon, danger looms over the East End. Will the Wedding Girls find their happy ever afters, before it’s too late?

What does TWG think?

You are probably aware of the wedding programs circulating on the television, programs like ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ and ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’, yes? So many beautiful dresses and family traditions appear on the screen in such a short space of time, but HOW exactly did those things (wedding dresses/traditions), become such an important factor of a wedding day? How did those traditions begin? And there’s the photographs, the important memory of a wedding day…yet one of the most difficult to perfect…

The year is 1936, three years before World War II, but circumstances in London aren’t exactly rosy, yet the residents of Green Street pride themselves in solidarity through the hard times. In ‘The Wedding Girls’ we follow a group of best friends, Kitty, Stella and Winnie as they go about their lives working with wedding dresses and wedding photographs. Despite 1936 being eighteen years after the first world war, poverty is rife throughout the city and families are living in buildings where the word ‘inhabitable’ is a severe understatement. ‘Auntie’ wants to take a stand against their living conditions, especially since Kitty’s world has fallen down around her; but is ‘Auntie’s’ stand too late? All three girls want to do something with their lives, make a difference and be able to live without looking over their shoulders constantly. Little do they know that situations in Bethnal Green aren’t going to become rosy anytime soon.

Over the past few weeks, my love for historical romance/saga novels has increased dramatically; yet I still felt a deep hunger for a certain extra something within the books. I just had no idea what it was I wanted the book to tell me, until now. As soon as I began reading ‘The Wedding Girls’, I just knew that I was going to love it and putting the book down to do adult things wasn’t going to be an option. The cover of the novel may be all serene and beautiful, yet the storyline absolutely blew my mind, showing me that there was A LOT more to ‘The Wedding Girls’ than I originally thought. From a historical point of view, the entire novel kept feeding my knowledge and made me feel as though I was transported back to 1936 in reality. Every description of living arrangements became vivid imagery within my mind, opening my eyes to how much we take things for granted nowadays. I loved learning about the history behind wedding dresses and the wedding photography, it was interesting to see how popular traditions today, have travelled through times and how important they were back then.

If you’re thinking that this book is going to be as sparkly as Randy from Say Yes To The Dress, you need to think again. Whilst it’s sparkly in terms of beauty, the storyline contains enough depth to rival ‘How Deep is Your Love’ by the Bee Gee’s. It’s deep and incredibly moving. Kate Thompson has kept the historical events the gritty, gruesome, devastating moments that they were in 1936; and for that, I applaud her. Kate Thompson hasn’t shied away from those heart breaking moments where people lost lives and poverty was more than eating one meal as opposed to a usual three course meal. Instead the author has taken those memorable parts of our history, written about them in a way which a lot of readers will understand and digest, as well as giving us readers the opportunity to open our eyes to our own countries history. Where do you think some of the items we have now came from? Don’t get me wrong, some parts of this novel was quite shocking to read as it was pretty vivid and so heart breaking. But, saying that, it’s easy for me to say that now purely reading about it when, unlike thousands of other people, I wasn’t alive when people were getting killed for being….there.

From a fictitious point of view, I feel bad saying that I loved the storyline due to the emotional value that it contains, but, I did love it. It really is a book that just keeps on giving, especially as all of the main characters (not just the three girls), brought their own individuality to the novel in ways I had never seen before. ‘The Wedding Girls’ really did make me think. Yes, learning about where the wedding traditions came from and how brides just wanted one day to feel their most beautiful, was truly interesting and such a fascinating read. However, what really grabbed my attention was the community spirit that the residents of Green Street had. They all knew each other, helped each other and loved each other to their last breath. If one person required their help then the whole street would be out in force to support that one person. It didn’t matter whether the person was working or whether they were minding their children at home; they all came together. The community spirit within ‘The Wedding Girls’ puts our community to shame ten times over. In 1936 they only really had the clothes on their backs but they had each other, multiple skills and enough warmth in their hearts to keep themselves, and each other, warm.

I am in awe at Kate Thompson’s research skills, attention to detail and her strength to tell a gut wrenching story in such a black and white way, staying true to the thousands of men and women who stood up for themselves and what they believed in. Kate Thompson has written a mind-blowing, emotional, and powerful novel which is destined to say in your heart and mind for a very, very long time.

If I could hug the author right now, I would. I could carry on shouting about this novel for ages if you let me, but I know that I can’t do that, so you’ll just have to read it yourself.

Full of extremely poignant moments, emotional circumstances and heart warming friendships, The Wedding Girls is a book not to be missed. A phenomenal, eye-opening read about dangers from way back when, The Wedding Girls will fill your heart and soul with enough spirit so you too could feel like you’re indestructible.

This is by far one of my most favourite books ever and Kate Thompson, you are a literary genius. Truly.

Thank you so much Jess Duffy & Panmacmillan.

Buy ‘The Wedding Girls’ now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #WhatYouDontKnow by @joann_chaney @panmacmillan #TheSeeverEffect

jc1

It’s Wednesday 8th February 2017 and TWG is here with some breaking news for you this morning. For the third day running, bloggers across the globe have been involved in the secretive Seever Effect. According to Ms.JoAnn Chaney, #WhatYouDontKnow is….still to be revealed.
NEWS JUST IN: PanMacmillan will be releasing #TheSeeverEffect into the spotlight on 9th February 2017; be on your guard.

GLORIA SEEVER CLAIMS INNOCENCE
By Sammie Peterson
In a Post exclusive, Gloria Seever has finally broken her silence over her husband Jacky’s arrest for serial homicide. They have been married for almost thirty years but since her husband’s arrest in December last year, Gloria Seever has declined to talk to the press.
Police inquiry has found no evidence to implicate Gloria as an accomplice to her husband’s crimes, but questions continue to be raised amongst members of the community as to how someone living in such close proximity to his victims could be oblivious to their existence.
There is, to begin with, the question of the smell some neighbours reported omitting from the house.
“I remember that happening once or twice,” admits Gloria. “On hot days.”
When pressed she explains, “We always had a rodent problem. Jacky would set out the poison, and the mice would crawl up in the walls and die. Having that pond out back attracted all kinds of pests.”
I ask Gloria whether it was her husband that told her about the mice.
“Yes,” she replies instantly. “That’s what Jacky told me. Why wouldn’t I believe him?”
I suggest that Seever’s reliability might be up for debate considering his confession to murdering thirty-one people in her own home.
“The police cleared me as a suspect,” she is quick to state, and while Gloria Seever has been consistently firm on the matter of her innocence, her continued silence on the finer details of her life and marriage to Denver’s most hated man, will do nothing to quash rumours of her complicity.

jc
Buy ‘What You Don’t Know’ from Amazon UK
Buy ‘What You Don’t Know’ from Amazon US

JoAnn Chaney’s dark debut, What You Don’t Know, tells the story of the three victims the murderer didn’t kill but whose lives he ruined all the same . . .

A crime like this isn’t only about the killer. There are others to consider . . .

Seven years ago, Detective Paul Hoskins and his larger-than-life partner solved one of the biggest serial killer cases of the decade. They dug up 31 bodies in a crawlspace belonging to the beloved Jacky Seever, a pillar of the community and a successful businessman. Sammie Peterson was the lead reporter on the case. Her byline was on the front page of the newspaper every day. Seever’s wife, Gloria, claimed to be as surprised as everyone else.

But when you get that close to a killer, can you really just move on?

Today, Hoskins has been banished to the basement of the police station, Sammie is selling make-up at the shopping mall, and Gloria is trying to navigate a world where she can’t escape condemnation.

Then a series of copycat killings take place, with the victims all connected to Seever. While Gloria is determined not to be forced into the spotlight again, Hoskins and Sammie see a chance to get their lives back. But it could mean forfeiting their humanity in the process . . .

It isn’t over. It’ll never be over.

#BlogTour – Before You Go by @clareswatman. #review @jessduffyy @panmacmillan

byg

Today it’s TWG’s stop on the blog tour for Clare Swatman and her new release; Before You Go! Clare’s novel was published in e-book by Panmacmillan in December 2016, however, the STUNNING hardback book is set to hit the shelves 9th February 2017! How exciting, I wonder who I need to flutter my eyelashes at to get a hardback version as well! Huge thanks to Panmacmillan for the beautiful ARC!

Without further ado, here is my review!

byg1
Blurb.

Before You Go is powerful story of love and loss, by debut author Clare Swatman.

When Zoe’s husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?

You find your soulmate . . .

Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths – but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . .

Then the unthinkable happens.

One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she’s not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they’d built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.

Now it’s too late. Or is it?

What does TWG think?

Can I start by diverting your attention to the third and fourth from last words, on the very first sentence of the blurb; got it? Good, now keep those two words in your mind for now.

When I received my copy of the book with a distinctively different cover to the ones on sale (thanks Panmacmillan), time stood still. There I was sitting with a navy blue book on my lap, which featured gold embossed letters on the front as well as minimal amounts of information. Not only did the book look beautiful, it had already started to take me on a journey before I had even begun reading it. The clock on the front cover was ticking in my mind; time was of the essence but as for which character, I had absolutely no idea.

Due to the nature of the storyline, I am doing my review a little differently as usually I take time outlining the book with no spoilers, then proceed with my thoughts and feelings. Why am I doing it differently? Because, ‘Before You Go’ is a bit like a treasure map and a treasure chest combined; you need to read the book yourself to ensure that you have all of the map pieces in the correct order, without missing any vital pieces of information. Then, without even being aware, the storyline delivers a treasure chest full of eye-opening surprises, magic moments and enough gold to fill your heart with copious amounts of warmth and emotion. Outlining this book would be an insult to the authors enchanting work of art as it is a book that NEEDS to be devoured by your very own eyes, with your own imagination grabbing hold of every single glimmer of hope that is hidden within those black and white words.

At the start of this review I asked you to divert your attention to the third and fourth from last words, of the very first sentence of the blurb, remember? When I started the book, I didn’t read (or know) those two words that I just asked you to look at. Clare’s novel gave me goosebumps all over my body and filled me with emotion that, despite being weeks since I finishing the novel, still resonates with me now. ‘Debut author’ those two words say and ‘debut author’ are two words that I didn’t associate with Clare Swatman, not once. Her gritty, powerful yet delicate way of writing about such a harrowing yet undeniably heart warming storyline completely blew me away. If this is the work of a debut author, I absolutely cannot wait to the second novel from this author. It isn’t often that I have read a book by a debut author which has shown so much passion and has characters whose personalities literally jump off the page. For me, ‘Before You Go’ was such a flawless read from start to finish; I’m not even ashamed to say that I cried like a baby. ‘Before You Go’ is, without a doubt, a must read for 2017. You’ll be a fool if you didn’t put this beauty on your TBR pile right now.

Thank you Panmacmillan.

Before You Go by Clare Swatman is available for you to buy now in e-book format, with the hardback version following on the 9th February. You too can grab your copy now (or pre-order) from Amazon

#Review The House of New Beginnings by @LDiamondAuthor @panmacmillan #TheHouseOfNewBeginnings

ld1

Blurb.

Number 11, Dukes Square, looks just like the other houses on the Brighton seafront: a Regency terrace with elegant sash windows, a winding staircase, and post piled up in the hall for its tenants. It might be part of the city’s history, but it’s also a place of brand new beginnings.

Georgie has followed her childhood sweetheart to Brighton but is determined to carve out a career for herself in journalism. Throwing herself into the city’s delights is fun and exciting, but before she knows it, she’s sliding into all kinds of trouble . . .

Charlotte’s in the city for a new start, hoping to keep her head down and somehow get over the heartbreaking loss she’s suffered in the past. But Margot, the stylish old lady on the top floor, has other ideas. Like it or not, Charlotte must confront the outside world, and the possibilities it still holds.

A terrible revelation sent Rosa running from London to start again as a sous chef. The work is gruelling and thankless but it’s a distraction at least . . . until she comes up against the stroppy teenager next door who challenges her on her lifestyle choices. What if Rosa’s passion for food could lead her to more interesting places?

As the three tenants find each other, it’s as if a whole new chapter of their lives has begun. The House of New Beginnings is a moving and uplifting novel from bestselling author Lucy Diamond.

What does TWG think?

Bestselling author, Lucy Diamond, is back with yet another cracking novel. Just when you think her novels cannot get any better, she manages to raise the bar even higher for herself and write another heart-warming read.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t lust after a new start at some point in our lives, right? A change of scenery, fresh new faces, a brand new routine and seeing your old life without your rose-tinted glasses. We have all been there, and no doubt whilst you’re reading this, a lot more human beans are deciding to do just that; create a fresh start or a ‘new beginning’ if you will. Maybe a complete house full of new beginnings? I wonder…

Lucy Diamond’s latest novel follows three main characters in particular; Rosa, Georgie and Charlotte. Each lady has their own individual story to tell along with various skeletons in their closets as baggage. Each lady has their own reason as to why a fresh start was needed and, thanks to Number 11, Dukes Square, new life stories will be created. How long their chapters are though, remains to be seen.

Receiving this novel felt as though all my Christmases had come at once (thank you Panmacmillan!)! You know when you have admired an author from afar for years, never in a million years thinking that you would get a chance to talk to that very author, or that you would have a proof copy of their new novel pop through your door, so you jump up and down and stroke the book? Yeahhhhhh, that was me.

Not long after I had picked up Lucy D’s novel, I found myself entranced by every word in front of me. The storyline flowed beautifully and didn’t require too much brainpower to sail through it. The message throughout the novel is one that I feel will resonate with A LOT of readers as I am sure several of them would have been in that position once or twice. I know I have been. Despite that, Lucy Diamond told the story of three ladies life turbulence with such ease and poignancy, that the deep and secretive moments didn’t overshadow the true meaning of the story. As I said above, the novel didn’t require over thinking or the need to play detective when it came to characters pasts. Yes, the entire storyline kept me hooked and curious about the overall outcome, but it wasn’t forced. Every single line, every single chapter, every single emotion had a purpose within the storyline.

Ah-ha! It’s a relaxing sort of read! You know, the type of book that you want to snuggle up with, cuppa on a coaster and chocolate on your lap and just lose yourself in….magic. ‘The House of New Beginnings’ is just THAT. I’m frustrated with myself for not being able to get that out sooner, I do seem to go round the houses a tad, I do apologise!

‘The House of New Beginnings’ is a cosy, poignant and emotional read that may end up becoming your ‘go to’ book for 2017. Full of warm, hilarious moments that are guaranteed to make you smile (as well as shedding a tear), Lucy Diamond’s new novel is most definitely one to watch this year.

Effortlessly brilliant; another fantastic read from the genius that is Lucy Diamond.

You too can get your own copy of The House of New Beginnings right now from: Amazon.

#Tour! #Guestpost from @LizTrenow, author of ‘The Silk Weaver’. @panmacmillan

sw

 

I really think we should all take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the tour banner and book cover are!

I am absolutely thrilled to be today’s stop on Liz Trenow’s blog tour for her upcoming novel, The Silk Weaver, which will be published on the 26th January by Panmacmillan. If you haven’t come across the book as of yet, here is the blurb:

sw1

1760, Spitalfields. Anna Butterfield’s life is about to change forever, as she moves from her idyllic Suffolk home to be introduced into London society. A chance encounter with a French silk weaver, Henri, draws her in to the volatile world of the city’s burgeoning silk trade. Henri is working on his ‘master piece’, to become a master weaver and freeman; Anna longs to become an artist while struggling against pressure from her uncle’s family to marry a wealthy young lawyer.

As their lives become ever more intertwined, Henri realises that Anna’s designs could give them both an opportunity for freedom. But his world becomes more dangerous by the day, as riots threaten to tear them apart forever . . .

Inspired by real historical events and characters, The Silk Weaver is a captivating, unforgettable story of illicit romance in a time of enlightenment and social upheaval

The Silk Weaver by Liz Trenow can be pre-ordered now from Amazon , ready for publication on the 26th January (e-book & paperback).

Today, my tour stop consists of a guest post which lets us into Liz’s inspiration behind her novel, The Silk Weaver. Thank you Liz!
I was researching the history of my family’s silk weaving business, which started in

Spitalfields, East London, in the early 1700s (and is still weaving today in Sudbury, Suffolk)
and discovered that the first address was in Wilkes Street. Just a few yards away is the
house where the eminent silk designer Anna Maria Garthwaite lived at around the same
time. It was so exciting to imagine that she would have known and worked with my
ancestors.

Anna Maria was one of the most celebrated textile designers of the eighteenth century, her
silks were worn by royalty and nearly a thousand of her designs are in the Victoria & Albert
Museum in London. Yet no-one knows how she learned her craft or how an unmarried
middle-aged woman managed to develop such a successful business in a male dominated
industry.

It is this mystery that sparked the idea for the novel.

About the author.

sw2

Liz Trenow is the author of three previous historical novels: The Last Telegram, The Forgotten Seamstress and The Poppy Factory. Liz’s family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions.

This unique history inspired her first two novels, and this, her fourth novel.

Liz is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown-up daughter.