Escape To The French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas @jo_thomas01 @TransWorldBooks #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #Fiction #BookReview #EscapeToTheFrenchFarmhouse

Escape To The French Farmhouse
By Jo Thomas
Rated: 4 Stars ****

Today I present my review of a book that is a treat for the senses and a great French escape that has its twists and warmth.
Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the Random Things Blog Tour and publisher Transworld Books for sending me a PDF copy of the book. My review is unbiased.
The book is published 9th July 2020.

About the Author

Jo Thomas Author Pic (1)Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children.

Blurb

Escape To The French Farmhouse CoverCan she find her recipe for happiness?
Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier… a new life in France – without Ollie.
Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? Discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?
A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence.
Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.

Review

I felt to get me in the mood for my adventure to France, I would surround myself with French classical music, just for fun as I immerse myself in France amongst lovely patisseries, market places, coffee shops, lavender and the French Farmhouse, Del has escaped to. This is far from a whimsical story. It is one of courage, hope, sadness, happiness and moving onwards with life. It makes for a great escape to Provence, France. It is a very pleasant read indeed and one that I enjoyed.

Rifts appear in relationships as other things happen in life and just mount up. This is what is portrayed with great emotion and tenderness at the start of Del and Ollie’s tale. This is a tale about entering into a new era of life. For Del and Ollie it will be apart.
France however sounds idyllic with its market stalls selling anything from chandelier’s to lavender and then there are the patisseries with their lovely baking. For the bakers out there, there’s plenty of inspiration from macaroons to using lavender as a herb for tulles.
The contrast is stark between this and the other realities of life that Ollie and Del have to deal with. A place can look nice, but there can still be so much going on, including the challenges that being expats can impose and the decisions that have to be made, whether to stay or leave. It casts a story of how being an expat takes some getting used to as there is a whole new way of living with so many differences, even small ones, to get used to and it isn’t that you wake up in another country and can or should expect it to be like that one you left.

There is strength of character depicted through Del, it’s realistically written though, from the heartache and difficult decisions to make, to the moving onwards with her life. She does however make a friend in Carine and her dog – Ralph as you follow their lives and follow the scent of lavender throughout.

Taking second chances and giving second chances also features as does romance and emotional challenges to overcome when people move on. There are however some really nice feel-good factors and warmth to be found throughout this book.

Although occasionally rushed near the beginning, the book is a very good read and I recommend it. So, escape to the French Farmhouse and explore a new life in this vibrantly bound book.

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#Review of Summer on a Sunny Island by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK #BookReview #Uplit #Fiction #feelgood #RomanticFiction

Summer on a Sunny Island
By Sue Moorcroft
Rated: *****

I’ve come to really enjoy Sue Moorcroft’s books, so I was so happy to see that I was approved for reviewing Summer on a Sunny Island by Avon. This book was worth the wait.
It is perfect for some escapism at Summer Cottage. There’s sun, sea, sand, a harbour, food and characters with their reasons on why they are on such an otherwise, idyllic, beautiful island. It’s enough to sweep you away in an imaginary holiday of your very own, from the comfort of your own home.

Summer on a Sunny Island cover

Blurb

The #1 bestseller is back with your perfect holiday read!

When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus after his gambling problem becomes too much to handle, she decides to take up her mum Dora’s offer of a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dora introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that sparks will fly under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work and that needs to be her focus.

Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for a romance – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?

A heartwarming, escapist book to lose yourself in this summer from bestselling author Sue Moorcroft, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Cathy Bramley.

Review

The book is set on a Maltese island, where the main characters, Yorkshire girl Rosa and Cornish guy Zach, who she is seeing on a date that isn’t really a date.
Rosa and Marcus have split and she is escaping it all in Malta, except  her mother would really like for her to have a summer romance and is trying to play cupid and has set her up with a date, in this idyllic setting with sun, coastlines and harbour and other gorgeous views. It’s almost dreamy and is very easy to slip into and escape the outside world for a bit. We may but not be able to physically go on holiday, but with this book, we certainly can in our imaginations and still return with a positive effect. The book does however carry substance. Sue Moorcroft balances it out divinely.
Zach has secrets from Rosa about not talking to his father and his grandad having dementia, who his nanna cared for.
On the night out readers meet Elsa from Edinburgh and Luccio who Zach met whilst during volunteer work for a youth organisation and has been lured into hanging out with a not so pleasant crowd.
Dory is an interesting character who is a food writer. The mediterranean food sounds delightful. This is a book that could truly make you hungry. Over delicious sounding food and wine, Rosa’s mother possibly taints the relaxed atmosphere a little by probing into the date that wasn’t a date, or as Rosa will stand firm about in her belief.
It’s interesting to read about Marci and Zach’s parents and Rosa’s parents with connections to the army and with how Dory became famous and has a bestselling Sunday Times book. It’s also interesting to read the grittier, not so wonderful parts too with Luccio heading towards trouble and with Dory’s publication issues. Elsewhere there are relationship anxieties and a disclosure of a miscarriage. It’s all sensitively written and doesn’t go too heavily into details. The book never loses that totally relaxing feel.

It’s fun seeing the relationships between the characters and seeing them develop, seeing the moving on process and romance develop and the interactions.

About the Author

Award winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Wedding ProposalDream a Little Dream and Is This Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

The Christmas Promise was a Kindle No.1 Best Seller and held the No.1 slot at Christmas!

Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.

You can follow Sue on Twitter @SueMoorcroft, find her on Facebook and visit her website.

The Midas Cat – The Harrington Collection by Tommy Ellis – A Highly Entertaining Read #TheMidasCat #TommyEllis #bookreview #humour #fiction

The Midas Cat – The Harrington Collection
By Tommy Ellis
Rated: 5 stars *****

 

About the Author

Tommy is an author and saxophonist. He’s played alongside Chas and Dave, Mud, The Troggs and Earth Wind and Fire, to name a few. He’s played in a nudist camp where he felt a tad over dressed and had to run away from a gun-toting audience member. He’s also had terrorists threaten to blow up two of his gigs! He is the author of The Midas Cat books; a series of surreal dark humour featuring an Adam Ant loving, talking feline that’s being tracked down by an unscrupulous banker. Think The Pink Panther as if re-imagined by Tim Burton. Available now: The Midas Cat: The Harrington Collection. A 3000-word short read. E book only. The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby: A 30,000-word novella available as an e book and paperback. The survival of Ralph’s marriage is dependent upon him capturing a hundred million dollar talking cat. Standing in his way, however, is the cat itself, Lord Lucan, an imaginary game show host, and a voodoo death spirit. Follow Ralph into insanity as the cat tears his life apart piece by piece.

 

The Midas Cat The Harrington Collection pic

Blurb

Discover the insane world of the rarest and most valuable feline on earth: An auction, an Elvis automaton, a truck load of jewels and the midas cat!

Review

Having enjoyed The Cat Wears Prada, I had high hopes for the next book. I wasn’t disappointed. It meets up with Ralph again, in a very sorry state of affairs for himself, after that book. Again, it is a brilliant quick story, of only a few pages and two chapters in length. It is a perfect, speedy story for adults, if you’ve little time on your hands and yet need some time to escape from the world for a bit.

There is a certain balance of humour and the somewhat downtrodden Ralph who is someone who readers can feel sympathy for, even though life is like no other, that I know anyway. There is an absurdity about it and yet that is exactly what makes for an amusing read. It’s also what makes for a most unusual cat that is worth following.

The story takes place at an auction house, with some collections that wouldn’t look out of place in the tv series Flog It and then there is the even more random. There is however The Harrington Collection, which has a very expensive pink diamond in it. The Midas Cat, that caused so many issues in the previous book (The Midas Cat Wears Prada), and who is worth a whole lot of money, is discovered now lurking around the auction house.
With references to Elvis, Postman Pat, When Harry Meets Sally and Peaky Blinders, this is a highly entertaining read.
I highly recommend it for the sheer fun of it all.
This can be found in e-book form and I am informed by the author, that it also may become an audiobook. So it could be worth also keeping an eye out for that in the future.

Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin @julietconlin @bwpublishing @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today, I am also pleased to present the blurb from a great sounding book called Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin. So why not take a look to see what it is all about. Also take a look at what exciting things the publisher is doing too. You will also find a link to be able to purchase the book. Please note, I do not get anything from this.

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Blurb

Berlin 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the city is gearing up for a celebration of unity and liberation. But, beneath the surface, are those for whom the divisions and allegiances of the past remain close to home.

In her hushed and leafy corner of Berlin, Nina’s life is a comfortable, conventional one– until her younger sister Marie, a free-spirited writer, is attacked and left for dead.

For Nina, Marie’s brutal demise – and that of her unborn child – tips her own carefully controlled life into a nightmare. Stonewalled by official incompetence and subterfuge,

Nina begins to realise that her sister’s past and the secrets of the once-divided city are connected in unimaginable ways. As she seeks out justice for Marie, Nina becomes caught in a tangle of obsessions, lies and hidden truths that threatens to destroy her marriage, her livelihood and all that she holds dear.

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Author

Sisters of Berlin Juliet Conlin 8 Annette KorollJuliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).

Buy Link

http://blackandwhitepublishing.com/shop.html

Sisters of Berlin_RGB (2) cover

 

Publisher

Black & White Publishing was founded in 1999 by Managing Director Campbell Brown and Publishing Director Alison McBride. Since then, the business has grown into one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers with over 300 books in print across a variety of genres. Committed to publishing the best books from the most talented writers in the UK and beyond, some of our bestselling authors include Daniela Sacerdoti,  James Robertson, Estelle Maskame, Nick Alexander, Richard Gordon, Alex Norton, Millie Gray, Sally Magnusson and Tony Black. We produce an extensive range of titles, including general non-fiction, biography, sport and humour, as well as selected fiction, young adult and children’s books.

This year, we’ve started an exciting new alliance with PGUK who now provide sales representation for our titles, and GBS continue to distribute our books. Our eBooks are distributed by Faber Factory. Over recent years, our range of fiction has grown following recent eBook successes such as Daniela Sacerdoti’s Glen Avich series, which has sold nearly a million copies to date. These new alliances and our e-book successes are helping us shape and develop the list in new ways to bring more exciting new titles to both local and global markets.

#Review of Letters From the Past by Erica James @TheEricaJames @orionbooks #LettersFromThePast #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

Letters From the Past
By Erica James
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thud!!! The book hit my doorstep in quite a fashion, life no other. It is incredibly welcome post, rather than the anonymous letters the characters within this book recieve. It is a book I am so excited at being invited by Anne Cater for the blog tour. Today I present my review of Letters From the Past, which is a glorious read from start to finish and is highly addictive. I also thank the publisher – Orion Books for sending me a delightful advance review copy (ARC) of the book.
Here you will find out a bit about the author, the blurb and my review.

 

About the Author

Erica James Author PicErica James is the number one international bestselling author of twenty-two including the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers Summer at the Lake, The Dandelion Years and Song of the Skylark. She has sold over 5 million books worldwide and her work has been translated into thirteen languages.
Erica won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award for her novel Gardens of Delight, set in the beautiful Lake Como, Italy, which has become a second home to her. Her authentic characters are thanks to the fondness of striking up conversations with complete strangers.

Blurb

A compelling story of family, love and betrayal.

Autumn 1962, in the idyllic Suffolk village of Melstead St Mary, four women recieve anonymous letters which threaten to turn their lives upside down – and to unravel a secret that has been kept hidden for years.

Meanwhile, in the sunbaked desert of Palm Springs, Romily Devereux-Temple is homesick for her beloved Island House. But on her return, shocked by events in her absence, she finds herself reluctantly confronting her own long-held secret. Can Romily save the day, and seize some happiness for herself at the same time?

 

Letters From the Past cover

Review

Focussing on the late 30’s/ early 40s, but predominantly the early 1960’s, this is one totally fascinating story of secrets, posion-pen letters and relationships, history. This book has it all I loved it all. This is wonderful book that shows so much life and yet can be read with consummate ease as it has a magic of drawing you into everyone’s lives without a second thought. This is a book that spans across many generations and would appeal to many generations.

The book starts with the scars of the war. The book fascinates me because it mentions about the RAF (my step-great-grandfather was part of the RAF in both world wars). The book also takes readers to Bletchley Park, which has just always interested me.
Then there’s the 1960’s, such an interesting period of time. From beginning to end I just loved this book, it swept me up instantly and carried me away. Time didn’t matter, I was hooked and kept wanting to know more about the people within Melstad St Mary in Sussex and in Palm, Springs and the secrets that mount up.

Poisoned pen letters appear on people’s doorsteps. Every so often you get to see what the accusatory content of these letters are. There are twists and turns and abuses of power to be discovered in this book. It may be set in between the 40’s and the 60’s, but some of the themes feel very current.

Hope is an author and she and Romily helped get a small library off the ground. Again, this makes me smile because I know myself what it takes to do that, as I’ve done that in recent times. Funny how books can resonate with people, and that’s the thing with this book, there is plenty to capture people’s imaginations and plenty that people who did live through certain periods of time, will have memories of.

There are many characters to meet, but they are  nicely split up into short chapters of mostly the main characters, with others being weaved in. The book is just over 500 pages, but it really does not feel it because the chapters are so short, the story so absorbing from beginning to end. There is also the fact that the characters are divinely interesting and the more the book delves into them, the more I wanted to know about them, their lives and why they were getting the poisoned pen letters.

The book begins with Evelyn, such an interesting character with immense secrets from having worked in Bletchley Park. It is interesting seeing Evelyn’s life in the 1940’s and in 1962. There is Isabella, an actress who had finally made it and wasn’t only starring in films, but being recognised. Meanwhile there is Romily, who has impressively hidden a secret for a long time. There’s a love story going on with Stanley and Annelise (He is illiterate and insecure and yet reinvented his life, but still nervous around women. His scars from war and the way his own mother treated him are telling as his life story opens up more, revealing darker beginnings. Red is a Hollywood scriptwriter, but all isn’t well.
There’s also a glimpse into abusive relationships, abuses of power. There are twists and turns in all of the characters lives, no one’s life is straight forward.

This is a glorious book sweeping over history of the world war and 1962. Lots of the events are all mentioned from the storm, to Australia doing a £10 deal to attract UK citizens to set up residency there. It is fun reading about the dance moves to pop songs that were becoming trendy. The book glides along beautifully in its mix of fiction and historical facts and always at the centre of it all are the characters and their lives. I love that Erica James isn’t too heavy-handed on getting every fact down. The balance between fact and fiction is perfect. The story is perfect. This book has made me want to read many more books by Erica James. Of course I’d heard of her and I’d read a couple of years ago and enjoyed them, but this book has compelled me into wanting to read more.

All in all, I highly recommend this brilliant book, which was published just a few days ago.

*Please note, all views are my own and unbiased.

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An Online/Virtual Event with Erica James @EricaJames #LettersFromThePast #VirtualEvent #NewBook

So, regular readers of my blog will know, that I have been attending some online events and writing some of them up on my blog. Today I sat in a room and watched the author Erica James do a Q&A session. So take a look to find out a snap-shot of her new bestselling book and a little bit about this very successful author.

Letters From the Past cover

A New Book

She has a new Bestseller called Letters From the Past, set in the early 1960’s. It may be a large book, but the chapters are lovely and short and it sounds a book that many will enjoy. It is a sequel that to Coming Home to Island House, but stands perfectly well as a standalone.
Erica James talked of her sons living in Seattle and Tokyo and it was when she was in Seattle with her son there, driving by movie stars houses, that she then decided to set the scene for her character.
I have been very lucky in being given the opportunity to review this wonderfully interesting sounding book on the 20th of April, so you will find out my thoughts and a little more about the story then, that will hopefully inspire you.

Inspiration

A place, something she sees, something that touches a nerve can inspire her.

Swallowtail Summer is set in Norfolk and for research she read up on, which she sounded quite taken by, and then travelled there to be in situ.

Pastimes

Erica James likes watching  some sport such as ice-skating and  gymnastics, her icon there being Olga Korbut. Her favourite sport of all is F1 racing. She also likes to do gardening and knitting. She clearly enjoys reading too as she has many books on her shelves.

Writing and Reading

For budding writers, she says read, write words on the page and don’t worry about who will read it, it might just be for you and that’s okay and enjoy the process.

Erica started writing as a hobby for escapism and then went on a writers course and a conference and it sounded like someone helped her out and she got an agent from Curtis Brown, who she is still with and got published by Orion. The writing came from a love of reading and she wondered if it was as fun writing a book as it was reading and it turned out, for her, it is and she has now written many books.

The covers of books have changed over the years to suit a new audience and as fashions change, book covers change. 

She enjoyed writing Letters from the Past and many of her other books.
She really likes A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, although perhaps one of its time and people find they themselves change over the years. It was interesting hearing her talk so candidly about going back to a book to re-read after many years.

She says A Breath of Fresh Air is a book of hers that would be great for escapism. I reckon, all of them are really good to try for that.  Also try out her latest, enticing sounding book – Letters From the Past.

A few of her many books