#BookReview By Lou – The Dog Share by Fiona Gibson @FionaGibson @ElliePilcher95 @AvonBooksUK #UpliftingFiction

The Dog Share
By Fiona Gibson
Rated: 5 stars *****

Uplifting and sweet, The Dog Share by Fiona Gibson is a great entertaining escape!

Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for sending me such a delightful book to review.

Please discover more further down in the blurb and then onto my review.

The Dog Share

Blurb

The next gloriously uplifting book from the #1 bestselling author of The Mum Who Got Her Life Back.

Suzy Medley is having a bad day…

… when a shabby terrier turns up at her door. Just like Suzy, Scout has been abandoned, although only Suzy has been left with a financial mess and a business in tatters thanks to her ex.

Suzy takes Scout in and her chaotic world changes in unexpected ways: strangers have never been more welcoming and her teenage kids can’t wait to come home to visit.

Then a chance encounter on a windy Hebridean beach makes things more complicated, because Suzy isn’t the only one who needs a friend.

Scout has plenty of love to go round… but does Suzy?

A wonderfully funny and uplifting story about friendship and second chances (and whisky!), perfect for fans of Gill Sims and Jill Mansell.

The Dog Share pic

Review

It’s a dogs life that is very sweet and entertaining to read about and there is whisky and delicious food amongst the island and city life that can sometimes be a bit more complicated than it first seems. The Dog Share makes for a great story to escape into. It’s also fun, feeling like you’re legitimately snooping around the lively WhatsApp chats in the book.

Suzy and Paul are going to the Hebrides with her mum, from York whose reaction is quite funny because there is something recognisable about her reaction. Things, however zany and unsettled with many work plans, there is something really sweet about Suzy and Paul, as well as a sense of lightness and fun about them 2 years ago, but then the book brings readers up to the present and the atmosphere changes when holiday plans aren’t happening as expected.

Set between York and (primarily), Scotland – between Glasgow and the Hebrides, this is a rather uplifting story, with a kindness and sense of caring for each other is enough to warm anyone’s heart. There is also a dog, who just turns up and it is fun, yet true about how people talk to dogs. Suzie then sets up a dog sharing arrangement with Cara, who she later meets.

There is also Ricky in Glasgow, who is a tutor around schools and enters one where Arthur is attending and Ricky can already guess how that would be seen. This adds even more interest in the story and a plays well off of the contrast on the island life. There’s humour to find in all parts of the characters lives. It really is an entertaining and uplifting read with plenty that people will be able to relate to, whether it is about the dog, food, business as she picks up the pieces of her life. She isn’t totally altogether, which makes it seem realistic. All in all, it’s a rather pleasing book to sink into and relax and read.

#BookReview by Lou – Happy Publication Day to @HollyH_Author for Coming Home To Brightwater Bay by Holly Hepburn @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

Coming Home To Brightwater Bay
By Holly Hepburn
Rated:  5 Stars *****

Coming Home Graphic

It is with great pleasure that I am kicking off the blog tour for the delightfully romantic – Coming Home To Brightwater Bay. It is a book that will charmingly feed all  senses with its scenery, food and lush looking guys, that may well have readers wanting to visit Orkney.

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review and for sending me a book via Simon and Schuster publishers.

Follow onto a bit about the author, the blurb and full review to read more of my thoughts on this wonderful book.

About the Author

Holly Hepburn Author PicHolly Hepburn is the much-loved author of commercial women’s fiction. She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite.

Follow Holly on Twitter @HollyH_Author.

 

Blurb

**The BRAND NEW series from Holly Hepburn, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Katie Fforde**
On paper, Merina Wilde has it all: a successful career writing the kind of romantic novels that make even the hardest hearts swoon, a perfect carousel of book launches and parties to keep her social life buzzing, and a childhood sweetheart who thinks she’s a goddess. But Merry has a secret: the magic has stopped flowing from her fingers. Try as she might, she can’t summon up the sparkle that makes her stories shine. And as her deadline whooshes by, her personal life falls apart too. Alex tells her he wants something other than the future she’d always imagined for them and Merry finds herself single for the first time since – well, ever.

Desperate to get her life back on track, Merry leaves London and escapes to the windswept Orkney Islands, locking herself away in a secluded clifftop cottage to try to heal her heart and rediscover her passion for writing. But can the beauty of the islands and the kindness of strangers help Merry to fool herself into believing in love again, if only long enough to finish her book? Or is it time for her to give up the career she’s always adored and find something new to set her soul alight?

The brand new series from Holly Hepburn, first published as four ebook parts: BROKEN HEARTS AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, SEA BREEZES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, DANGEROUS TIDES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY and SUNSET OVER BRIGHTWATER BAY.

Coming Home Brightwater Bay Cover

Review

Merry Wilde (Merina) , a bestselling author and her other half, Alex,  just no longer fit together as snugly as, say, a jigsaw piece as that uncomfortable relationship chat comes. Whether you’ve been the instigator of it or on the receiving end, the feeling is relatable. She then moves to Orkney to begin a new life, after seeing an advertisement for a Writer in Residence ro promote reading for pleasure around the island and work with the libraries, despite currently having a case of writer’s block to deal with. On the island she meets Bridget McGinty, who is a friendly, welcoming sort of woman, who intorduces her to Niall. It is great that he isn’t “typical” librarian-like in how he looks.

The author – Holly Hepburn seems to have a passion for Orkney that oozes out of the pages in the tone and descriptions of the island as Merry sets out on her new life adventure, looking for escapism and to start her new job.

The book is warm with glints of humour sprinkled throughout, the type that is laugh out loud and is a joy to read. Readers attitudes and attitudes to events, especially when held in a library, is captured especially well and are slightly pointed, which is brave realism and will perhaps have people really taking note and find thought-provoking, before turning to a positive to her Merry’s actual writer’s event to have the story carry readers onwards.

Magnús Ólaffson may well be a Viking, readers will have to find out, but he captures Merry’s eye, so does Niall.  As Merry is such a likeable character, she is easy to root for, hoping she gets a good life in Orkney and that her broken-heart does mend. She is also a character with anxieties of doing events and also not wanting to jump into any new relationship straight away and commit, which is rather commendable and also plays on the “will she, won’t she” element. There is also the ex, who left her in a state, leaving her little texts. This is a book that also heartwarmingly demonstrates strong friendships and just what that means, but there is some tension there too, over a guy.

There is the romance of the scenery, food and the lighthouse, which just delights on the pages.

Coming Home to Brightwater Bay has a warm, cosy feeling to it, that whisks readers away for some escapism. This charming book keeps you guessing until the end as to who or even if Merry will ever fall completely in love.

Brightwater Bay BT Poster (1)

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves @g_c_reeves @AllenAndUnwin @RandomTTours #BookReview by Lou of #VictoriaPark #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction

Victoria Park
By Gemma Reeves
Rated: 3 1/2 stars

Well observed and captures the essence of Londoners, Victoria Park takes readers through a rich tapestry of various people’s lives. Also check out the wonderful cover, look through the window and then delve into the book to see what is beyond it. Please find out more about the author, the blurb and full review as you read through this blog post of the penultimate day of the blog tour.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review on this blog tour and for a physical book.

Victoria Park Graphic

 

About the Author

Victoria Park Gemma Reeves Author Pic

 

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.

 

Blurb

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.

Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.

Victoria Park cover Image

Review

Wolfie seems quite the busy man, with a wife – Mona. As well as building a shed for his garden, he also opened a deli near Victoria Park and certainly has a love of food. There’s a bit of history told about Victoria Park and why it was built, which is absolutely fascinating. There’s also all manner of life of people going about their business in the book. It’s one for those who like to observe life. There’s love, attitudes and sometimes waspishness and sometimes hardships and sometimes there are pockets of it being uplifting. It’s interesting reading about this community in London and it certainly feels very London like in many aspects. There are moments of aloofness and a sadness that hangs in the air.  It’s soft in pace, a bit like strolling through a park, as revelations then appear bit by bit as readers are taken through people’s lives one month at a time, during the course of a year, with the ever changing situations as the book focuses on twelve Londoners.
It’s a book that would feed curious minds as to what it can be actually like, living in London, largely away from all the main landmarks and activities that the city is known for, which gives people outwith London a look into how living there can be as it takes readers through the tapestry of various people’s lives. It shows that there are eperiences and behaviours that are not just unique to the city. There are also things to ponder, especially for people living in towns and cities, and also some nuggets for people in the country to consider too.

Victoria Park BT Poster

#BookReview of a #Newbook by Lou – The Unravelling by Liz Treacher @liztreacher #ContemporaryFiction

The Unravelling
By Liz Treacher
Rated: 4 stars ****

I’ve read two books by Liz Treacher before – The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction and enjoyed them. They were set in the 1920’s and quite comedic. Unravelling is different in that it is set in contemporary times as readers are invited to follow the character Ella’s life as it changes in a space of a week.
I thank Liz Treacher for inviting me to review Unravelling and for sending me a copy with a beautiful personalised message in it.
Read further to find out the blurb, review and about the author and links…

The Unravelling cover.jpg

Blurb

‘The Unravelling combines sinister atmosphere with witty insight, and characters we can relate to facing the supernatural fear of our most human nightmares’ – Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers

‘A cappuccino.’ He spoke clearly but slowly, as if he were a stranger here.
‘One shot or two?’
He gazed at me with thinly veiled contempt. ‘Oh, you only get one shot.’

For Ella Aldridge, a brilliant Classics student, life was supposed to be exciting. Thirty years on, she’s stuck in the suburbs in a boring job and a failing marriage. Even her daughter, the one she gave it all up for, seems distant.
But a sinister encounter on platform three is about to change everything. Under the watchful eye of a shadowy ticket inspector and his mysterious associate, Ella finds herself spiralling into a murky underworld where portentous signs appear from nowhere, thoughts are stored on memory sticks and speeding express trains may be more than they seem. As she begins to lose her grip on reality, Ella embarks on an extraordinary journey that touches everyone around her, forcing her to confront the biggest question of all.
By turns poignant, chilling and tinged with dark humour, The Unravelling is a novel full of heart and beauty, about the myth and magic of everyday life, and the sacrifices we make for what really matters.

Review

A lot can happen in a person’s life between Monday to Friday and it certainly does in Ella’s. She has quite a romanticised view of love and wishes things to be better between her and Derek and for him to essentially be driven wild with jealousy that others could fancy her as well. There is so much more to her than this though, as she travels by train and potentially is being watched, starting at the train station she uses to catch the train. There is a slightly unnerving quality about the writing, within some of the atmosphere that is created, as the week progresses.

Ella’s behaviours come to light as she displays, whether she wants to or not, her insecurities, especially, now her marriage is failing and her job, her life begins to unravel as reality and fantasy start to almost merge. The book has a firm grip on reality, but slowly, Ella is increasingly losing hers and the effects are beginning to manifest themselves both psychologically and physically.

There is an interesting insight into all of the characters within the acutely observant writing as the story goes primarily between Ella, Derek, Brenda and Lily. They are characters that are believable and are easy to care about what is happening in their lives.

About the Author

Liz is a writer and an art photographer and a love of images influences her writing. She is married with two children and lives in the Scottish Highlands by the sea.

Liz was drawn to writing after she discovered a tiny suitcase belonging to her grandmother. It was tied up with gingham ribbon and full of letters sent by two soldiers on their way to the First World War. The cheerful tone of the soldiers and the way their letters seemed to conceal more than they revealed inspired Liz’s first novel, ‘The Wrong Envelope.’ She has since written a sequel, ‘The Wrong Direction’ and a darker, contemporary novel, ‘The Unravelling’.

 

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