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.

Escape to French Farmhouse BT Poster

 

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

Happy World Book Day #WorldBookDay 2020 #Books #Bookish #CrimeFiction #Fiction #NonFiction #Kidslit #PictureBook #HistoricalFiction #History #Romance #Biography #ContemporaryFiction

Happy World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.

Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.

I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.

In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.

I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books  about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.

This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.

I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.

#Review of The Minotaur’s Son & Other Wild Tales – A moving book with lots of humour, covering all the genres in short stories @kevinansbro #TheMinotaursSon #NewRelease #ShortStories #FlashFiction #Fables #HistoricalFiction #Fiction #Fantasy @BookTasters

The Minotaur’s Son
& Other Wild Tales
By Kevin Ansbro
Rated: 4 Stars ****

 

About the Author

Kevin Ansbro was born of Irish parents and has lived in Malaysia and Germany.

He was educated at Hamond’s Grammar School in Swaffham, and at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in King’s Lynn.

Kevin also has a background in karate and kickboxing and has travelled extensively – particularly in the Far East.

He is married to Julie, and currently lives in Norwich, England.

Click below for Kevin Ansbro’s website and social media.

Website
Twitter
Facebook

Blurb

“Once the evening’s entertainment was over the Minotaur, as naked as Nature intended, clumped into Pablo Zapata’s bar…”

A baby with a passion for theoretical physics…

A winged nymph who exacts terrible revenge…

A stolen coin that releases a wish-granting genie…

And where else would you see Ginger Rogers learning the Ali shuffle, or a humble fisherman making friends with Poseidon?

Charlatans and shapeshifters, lovers and leprechauns, ghosts and office creeps are just some of the characters that Kevin Ansbro brings to life in this volume of short stories. His tales span the globe and range from the wickedly funny to the sad and deeply unnerving. With his perceptive take on human failings, his vivid imagination and his glorious grasp of language, Ansbro’s thought-provoking stories will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

The-Minotaurs-Son-FRONT-COVER-JPEG1

Review

This is an excellent book to read all the way through and then later to dip in and out of. Kevin Ansbro takes readers on a journey through these “Wild Tales” from space to many countries on earth again. You will enter different ages from as far back as the Ancient Greeks to the days of the Raj, to war times to the present day. You will meet mermaids, Greek Gods, a talking cat and many other creatures and of course humans too, including the intrepid author of this book – Kevin Ansbro. You are in for a real treat. These are tales of humour, trepidation, emotion and have great twists. To write short stories is as skillful as writing a novel and Kevin does them well. There is something in there for all sorts of people. The construction of these short stories are very good, including the endings, which was very pleasing.
I recommend people give them a try. I certainly very much enjoyed the majority of them. There are stories that I am sure will suit most tastes as Kevin Ansbro has skillfully covered all  genres.

Below I have written a little bit about most of the short stories, leaving some for readers to also discover too.

First you’ll meet a mermaid, a talking cat and its owner – Jacob in Sirens. Then it is off to space to meet Captain Chuck Montana of the Galaxy Ship Orion in Chuck Montana and the 22 Century to learn what the Lurgians are. Back on earth there is a 60th birthday celebration, but things don’t exactly go as planned in Doth Thou Thinkest Me a Fool. There is also a story later on that returns to the space theme. It’s a thought-provoking story called Extinction. They are well-written and Sirens is a great way to start this book as it pulls and tugs the intrigue of this book a bit further.

You’ve got to Be Careful What You Wish For in Brighton when it comes to octogenarians – Horace and Ethel and a promise of 3 wishes that will be granted. All is mysterious and just might give them exactly what they want, but there’s a twist in this cautionary tale.

Cache en Pleine Vue or in English – Hiding in Plain Sight in the little French hamlet of Culbiso holds gossip and secrets. Madam Pettier harbours the greatest secret of all as she isn’t exactly what you would expect.

Well, what can I say, except, it’s a Fait Accompli when readers meet Charles Remington and Veronica Meyer. Everything seems like it could be too good to be true.

In The Minotaur’s Son, you meet the mythical creatures and it comes with a warning, not to take things for granted. You certainly wouldn’t want to mess with strong female, Isadora.

The Show Off really made me smile. It features Kevin Ansbro, the author of this book. Quite unusually so, for a book of this type. It has you willing him on to do well at the book talk and it has the happiest, most amazing of endings.

A Matter of Honour is set during the Crimean War and the aftermath is realised of how PTSD can really affect someone and a family. It is written sensitively, with a rawness but also, I felt with care and with such emotion that comes from a certain truth.

Meet Yara – a Maharaja’s Concubine in 1932 – the days of the Raj in The Concubine and the Postman She is nothing ordinary. There are lessons those men who are greedy could learn and beware of a curse. Read to find out about how a postman comes into this story and what happens. It may surprise you.

The Fable of the Fisherman’s Hat brings back Isadora with her husband Demetrius and also mermaids in the sea. It has adventure and trepidation and nothing will seem as it once did.

The Leech takes readers to Japan and the people creating prosperity for their economy. It isn’t just a story for Japan though, some of the themes of recognition for those who make a difference are world-wide and as a result, has thought-provoking qualities.

Dorothy in Oz is a different perspective on her re-telling her story. I enjoyed this because, of course, who would believe you when you tell people a scarecrow etc talked to you and you had to click your red heels 3 times to get home.

Meet a Leprechaun in Ireland (of course) in Pot of Gold. This has a human and ecological tale within it, which is incredibly relevant for today and especially in farming.

Waiting for Ryan is a bit of a love story between two different cultures – Ryan from England and Mishti originally from India. Set in present times, they meet in Thailand, just before the well-reported tsunami that occurred there. There’s enough of a hook to keep wanting to read to see if the couple will ever see each other again, especially since time moves on and Ryan also returns to England.

Pantheon is just incredibly funny. Who can this mysterious man be at Christmas time? Well, it is up to authors, a pop star, a soul singer, a dancer and a boxer to ponder.
Meet Dickens and Hemingway, Shakespeare, oh and Oscar Wilde gate crashing a conversation and then add David Bowie into the mix and Ginger Rodgers and Muhammad Ali, it makes for a surreal but hilarious tale.

With thanks to Kevin Ansbro for supplying me with an e-book copy of his book and for agreeing to me reviewing.

The Minotaur's Son and other Wild Tales cover 2

Review of A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K. Smith @NicolaKSmith @rararesources #ADegreeofUncertainty #Review #Debut #fiction #BlogTour

A Degree of Uncertainty
By Nicola K. Smith
Rated: 5 stars *****

I am so pleased to present my review of this excellently conceived, brand new contemporary book called A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K. Smith on the blog tour. I thank the tour organiser and Nicola for the opportunity and for the paperback copy.

 

About the Author

A Degree on Uncertainty Author pic Nicola K SmithNicola K Smith is a freelance journalist contributing to a number of titles including the The Times, Guardian.co.uk, BBC.co.uk, BBC Countryfile and Sainsbury’s Magazine. She lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, a town which inspired A Degree of Uncertainty, although it is set in the fictional Cornish town of Poltowan.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @NicolaKSmith

Instagram: Nicolaksmith740

Facbook: @NicolaKSmith74

 

Blurb

A Cornish town is slowly fracturing under the weight of its growing university…

Prominent businessman, Harry Manchester will not stand by and see his beloved hometown turned into a student ghetto – and many residents and sturents are relying on him.

But Harry’s stance sets him on a collision course with Dawn Goldberg, formidable Vice Chancellor of Poltowen University, who is set on doubling its size and cementing her career legacy.

As Harry’s marriage falls apart, his business comes under threat, and fellow traders accuse him of halting progress, Dawn is battling her own demons, not least to live up to her late father’s expectations and erase the memory of his tragic death.

There can only be one victor in this battle for the soul of a close-knit community…

A Degree of Uncertainty front cover

 

Review

I loved reading this book. It’s a contemporary book that is original, is wonderfully written, perceptive and got characters to cheer on and some who you may not wish to, but who are well written all the same in this well constructed book. This is a book reflecting a lot of what happens (not just with the fight for creating legacies and student accommodation) up and down the UK as a whole. This is a book that is for the 21st reader to ponder over and to enjoy as they not only discover issues facing the fictional town of Poltowan, but also the characters that inhabit it, their personalities, their lives in both the public-eye and private lives.
I will also mention, I reckon the artwork on the cover is excellently conceived and illustrates the book so well.

Instantly on the first page I’ve met Harry Manchester and Jenny Trundle talking about houses in Poltowan, Cornwall being planned to be built for students and a debate between the transient nature of students and those that are permanent residents. Familiar territory wherever you stay within the UK.  The issues seem pretty accurate that are covered within this book. Ultimately the future lies in a vote and the council.
It is pretty much character driven. Readers will find out about the love, the betrayal and the ambition of characters that inhabit this fictional Cornish town. 

I like Harry Manchester, he’s an interesting character and one that I find I am quickly willing him on to win the cause of protecting a community from becoming mainly just a transient place where only students reside and from the greedy landlords. Life however isn’t easy either, he has a personal life to deal with. He seems an incredibly well-written character. He could easily sit back and listen to his beloved Queen music, but instead, even though he is an estate agent who has obvious business interests, he makes a stand to protect Poltowan. This anti-hero has a tough fight on his hands. There is Dawn Goldberg – Vice Chancellor to contend with. She  ambitious and wants to make her mark in a big way. This is the woman Harry Manchester has to face during these challenging times that present a  degree of uncertainty. Dawn Goldberg also has her own wranglings to deal with too, even though she seem pretty formidable.

There is Ludo and Rockstr to follow too with their stories and emotions and views. There’s young talent within them and the story demonstrates what students think they need and their requirements in their accommodation challenges. This isn’t a one-sided story, it isn’t biased towards either side.

I really like the way this contemporary book reads so well. I feel that we get to know the characters and the issues facing Poltowan. It brings great sympathy. This is a book that is incredibly relevant and shows issues that rumble on for some time. Intertwined with this, is a well-crafted tale of the characters personal lives too, which show the complexities of life and are dealt with sensitively. In saying that, there are also light-hearted moments and a few twists and turns along the way. It is a book that is absorbing and provokes many emotions.
It is a pretty well paced, original book that will take readers into a community of conflicted interests and into the issues over-expansion can pose and the issues faced by small businesses. A town may seem small, but a lot can end up going on in it to survive and Harry Manchester is certainly trying to uphold a morality, which is impressive for someone in his business, but is still plausible. 

A Degree of Uncertainty is a debut novel I highly recommend reading. Nicola K. Smith is an author worth trying out. I was excited when it came through my letterbox and this well-constructed story did not disappoint. Although fictional, it feels quite an important book and one that will resonate with many.

*Many thanks for providing a paperback copy of the book.

 

A Degree of Uncertainty Full Tour Banner

*A review by Bookmarks and Stages