Lou Presents an #Extract of The Farmhouse – A Southern Gothic Ghost Tale By L.B. Stimpson  @zooloo2008 @stimsonink @QuestionPress #TheFarmhouseOfPeaceandPlenty

Today on day 1 of this blog tour, I present an extract from The Farmhouse by L.B. Stimpson. Thanks to the author for providing the extract and Zooloo Blogtours for inviting me onto this.
Follow onto the Blurb and Extract and take a peek at a bit of this interesting, evocative, atmospheric book, that may well have your spines tingling, to see who lives in a house like this – an ageing, spooky farmhouse that just may put you in the mood early for Halloween!

The Farmhouse Book Cover

Blurb

The house, for all of its solitude, seemed incredibly noisy

The Farmhouse, having stood against time and history for nearly 160 years in the Virginia countryside, was forgotten and abandoned until Kyle and Jenny Dowling moved in during the summer of 1972.

The Dowlings, married just a year, were struggling to repair their broken marriage. It was to be the perfect place, away from it all, to heal their relationship. Jenny would write and Kyle would tend to minor renovations. The rent was cheap.

The realtor warned them, however, against staying beyond the final days of fall.

Extract

Late Spring 1972

Jenny Dowling bit her lower lip in a failed attempt to keep her opinion to herself. She had promised her husband she would keep an open mind, but she didn’t expect the house to be so dilapidated. She swallowed her doubt and concern as they traveled down the gravel road, it was so worn and lonely and if she had to admit, the surrounding fields appeared frozen in time and she and Kyle were emerging through a portal, far from modern society, disturbing the past. Haunted. Yes, haunted was the perfect description. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the past, when wagons rolled and seclusion was necessary for survival at times.

“Oh, Kyle, you can’t be serious,” she finally blurted out as her eyes wandered along the overgrown driveway beyond the padlocked cattle guard gate which appeared to be holding in the decay spilling forth from the broken windows lining the front of the house. Empty, hollow eyes. Oh, he can’t be serious, but yet, he was.

Kyle reached over and grasped his wife’s hand. “Look, I know it doesn’t, well it might not be the secluded getaway you said you wanted, but it has some charm and it’s cheap and near enough to the city if I need to get back to the university, but I doubt that anyone will be calling. Besides, it has electricity and the realtor said she would cut us a break on the rent if we fixed up a few things.”

Jenny pulled her hand away and cranked open the window. The air was still. It was as though it was holding its breath lest a breeze break through the last shards of broken windows protecting the house against the elements. The house, this house, was exactly what Kyle had always wanted. Of course he would have chosen such a place–lonely and secluded.

The Farmhouse Book Tour Poster

#BookReview by Lou of Hot Desk by Zara Stoneley @ZaraStoneley @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK #Romcom #Fiction #OfficeReturn #OfficeRomance #Humour #Uplifting

Hot Desk
By Zara Stoneley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hot Desk provides great escapism that is packed full of delightful entertainment  with really good humour and romance.

Thank you to One More Chapter (Harper Collins UK) for gifting me a copy of Hot Desk and giving me the opportunity to review.

Follow onto the blurb and my full review below.

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Blurb

Same desk, different days. A post-it note is just the beginning…

A must read for fans of Beth O’Leary, Mhairi McFarlane and Sophie Kinsella!

Alice loves her job and wants to keep it – whatever the price. But then she’s told the company is switching to flexible working and hot desking…Alice’s desk might look a mess, but she knows exactly where everything is. Or she did. Until she found out she’s going to share it with the most annoying guy in the office.
 
Jamie can work from anywhere. He’s quite happy to sweep his work life into a box at the end of the working day. But can sharing a desk with Alice be as much fun as teasing her in person?
 
With no option but to try it and see, will their relationship turn into open warfare or will it ever progress beyond a post-it note?

Review

Hot DeskHot Desk is set post Covid-19 and people are adjusting to being back in the office with new working practices. Something so many office workers would now be able to relate to. This reality is there, but it’s not all about Covid-19. This is about Alice and how she handles going back to the office of ‘We Got Designs’. It presents itself, even from the first page, to be a very funny book indeed. The comic-timing in the writing is divine. A little bit further in and there is the clear signs of romantic frission between her and fellow colleague – Jamie and it is so well written. It’s great that this is set out near the beginning and then to see how this progresses. It’s a bit like listening into office gossip when reading Hot Desk. It’s all rather a deliciously enticing book that is so entertaining that it compels you to read to see how it all plays out.

There are serious notes to the story too, one being the real fear of the office’s future. There is also the whole fear of hot desking looming and then becoming a reality, with all the terms and conditions attached and the emotion that goes with it. Readers will be able to relate to how things can be when a desk is no longer your own. Alice finds out she has to hot desk with Jamie, so confides in her friend Lou quite a bit.

There is a sweet growing romance that sprouts in the office and yet in a light way, also brings endangered animals and conservation into the conversation. It’s lovely to organically watch Alice and Jamie getting to know each other.

Ultimately this is a rom-com that is properly funny and properly romantic. The mix of these ingredients with the premise of returning to the office and having to share a desk works wonderfully well and makes me smile. Readers can watch this office to see if the spark of their romance grows further into a sizzle or not, even with all the new things to get to grip with, this element still lives on.
After a hard day’s work, whether you’re in an office or not, Hot Desk provides entertaining, sweet and touching escapism that hits the spot very well indeed.

#BookReview by Lou of Frontline By Dr. Hilary Jones @DrHilaryJones @welbeckpublish #WorldWar1 #HistoricalFiction #SpanishFlu #Frontline #GeneralFiction

Frontline
By Dr. Hilary Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Frontline takes those at war in the First World War and in the medical profession and creates an intensely emotional, knowledgeable book that expertly weaves fact and fiction together to create a tight-knit story, very apt for our times. From the cover to the end of the story, it is intensely poignant in many ways.
Discover more in the blurb and the rest of my review and where you can buy Frontline.
I thank Welbeck Books for gifting me a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

Frontline cover

Blurb

The doctor hits the spot and deserves to be read’

JEFFREY ARCHER

A SWEEPING DRAMA SET ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF EUROPE AS A GLOBAL INFLUENZA PANDEMIC LOOMS . . .

Frontline is the first book in a series charting the rise of a prominent British medical family in the twentieth century. From wars to a pandemic, the discovery of penicillin to the birth of the NHS, successive generations of the Burnett family are at the vanguard of life-saving developments in medicine.

Frontline is the story of an aristocrat’s daughter who joins the war effort as a nurse. In a field hospital in rural France she meets Will, a dockworker’s son serving as a stretcher-bearer. As rumours of an armistice begin to circulate, so too does a mysterious respiratory illness that soldiers are referring to as the ‘Spanish flu’.

Review

Frontline coverEvie is one of the characters who start off this book, which begins in 1910 and makes a shift to 1914. She has a baby and her story is sure to tug on many heartstrings, even the most hardened of hearts. It’s one of woe but also of courage of those around her.

Readers also follow Grace and other nurses as well as tells of how things were from a soldier, like Will’s story too and how they are linked and it becomes about them and their lives and needs to survive and what was happening in the world at the time, that they had to find ways of living in and doing their duties.

There’s a real rawness to one of the letters written, which gives further insight into what was going on and the fears that were there.

There’s the sense of life, distinct of the times and it feels like a lot of research went into this as well as passion for the subject matters. It may not be an easy read, but its authenticity and realism through fiction really shines through and develops into a great read. It takes readers to the heart of war, including The Somme, but also what it’s like to be home on leave, as Will is when he returns to Grace. There are also some lovely heartwarming moments too, that saves this book from being too bleak and in some instances, shows some humanity in the world too, especially when Christmas arrives.

Frontline is very apt for our times, as we try to survive Covid-19, this book also shows people trying to survive a pandemic too – Spanish Flu and the devastation to life between that and war. I think it could serve as something more thought-provoking about their own behaviours in present times.

The book is an intense but pertinent read. Dr. Hilary Jones has also left an “Author’s Note” at the back of the book that adds a little more about what is dubbed as “The Great War” and is poignant, as are the acknowledgements. I agree that there are some parallels that can be drawn from today between Spanish Flu times and Covid-19 times. It’s hard not to notice, if you know a bit about way back then too and thinking about it, even if you don’t, you’ll be able to find this by reading this book.

Clearly Dr. Hilary Jones is writing from what he knows from his medical background, but he’s intelligently combined this with war, of those fighting in it and of women who are not. There is a rich tapestry that runs through it and there is a sense that it’s a bit of a nod in a way to those who came before him and that sits very well with me, and I think it will with many other readers too.

Buy Links

Amazon                Waterstones

#BookReview of amazing 5 star book – The Things I Want To Say But Can’t By Carla Christian @Carla_C_Author @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t
By Carla Christian
Rated: 5 Stars *****

Not so long ago I revealed the cover for The Things I Want To Say But Can’t. Now I have the priviledge of sharing my review of its contents. Readers are in for a treat! This is a debut novel, but it feels like this author has been writing for years. This book seriously reads like there have been many books under her belt, even though there is not. It’s seriously impressive and hard to put down.

One emotional journey of life! That’s what this story is. It’ll grab you and hold you so you can’t let it go and will stay with you for a bit longer as you come to terms with what just happened. I don’t think readers will be disappointed. I certainly was not.
In the acknowledgements, Carla Christian credits being inspired by One Day by David Nicholls. It’s certainly almost as good as that, but with a bigger intensity. Both One Day and The Things I Want To Say But Can’t, hook you into characters lives, but different genres. Then there is “You” in the story…
I thank Love Books Tours for inviting me on the blogtour to review. I thank Carla Christian for signing the book and for Lets Get Booked for sending it. Please note this has no bearing on what I have rated or written in the review. I have based it on its own merits. 

Find out more below in the blurb and my review.

About The Author

CopenhaganMe (1) (2)Carla Christian lives in the Lake District in the North of England. A busy working mum of two teenagers, she has a passion for writing, art and travel, and these interests have been a part of her for as long as she can remember. 

Constantly inspired by both the good and the bad in the world around her, she spends much of her time creating in one way or another; be it painting canvases for the blank walls of her new home, sketching pictures to capture memories of the many travel adventures she’s been lucky enough to go on, baking fantastical cakes with her daughter, or writing endless beginnings to a million unfinished stories.

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t is her first novel.

Blurb

‘A lifetime of endings, a million goodbyes. None of them right. It’s funny what you remember when you’ve got nothing else to think about. All those things you should’ve said while you had the chance. You never learned, did you? You never, ever learned.’

Belle has a habit of losing things. Her friends. Her lovers. Her mind.

Everything ends eventually, or at least that’s what life has taught her. But what if everything she lost came back again? What if she got a chance to finally have her say? To face her past. To put things right.

Second chances aren’t easy when memories are all you have. So, when Belle invites the nightmares of her past back in, is she willing to deal with the consequences? Because maybe, just maybe, this time she’s getting what she deserves.

What I Want to Say Cover

Review

Sharp, cutting and moving from the start, this tells the story of Isobel’s life. It’s definitely one powerful story that Carla Christian has written. The pain is striking! The sense of real emotion is written with a light touch and yet so excellently observed. It starts at a funeral to a new love and beyond. The pain is physical, psychological, emotional. It’s uncanny how recognisable it is, right to every nuance. I, who rarely cries, wants to, but doesn’t, and instead, I carry on in amazement at the writing, wanting to know more as it’s off-set with some joyous moments before turning a deep, dark corner. It’s quite extraordinary and incredibly enthralling and good!

There’s a new potential lover who comes onto the scene in a bar. She can’t take her eyes off this person. I can’t take my eyes off the words leaping off the page as the intensity increases. This is clever. The writing remains taught, even when Isobel is recalling compliments. Everything becomes heightened. What if her lover – referred to as You, discovers too much about her?

Butterflies do come into it when Isobel comes across Amy. She has a jar full of caterpillars because she wants to see them turn into butterflies. It’s sweet and innocent, mostly. Do take note of the dates as there are some that go back to the time of childhood. It works incredibly well in telling a bit of back story, which eases off the tension a little, before ramping it up again in Isobel’s adult life, especially with “You”.

The contrast between the beauty and vividness of butterflies and the darker edges of human life is stark and paints a picture itself. One that twists to some dark places of human behaviour and the cruelty that can occur in life that can creep up and subtly build and build, before you know what’s going on. It makes for a fascinating read of cause and effect and how the past is often still there and how it can mould, shape and transform life.

Interestingly, readers can, in part 2 of the book, see what happened before “You”, when there was the relationship with Matthew, which is when life begins to slide. Then there is the third and part of what happens after “You” and things change again, with so much to face and overcome. The fourth part is The End that is shocking! Brilliantly written, but shocking, not for art’s sake of creating a crescendo, but because it is fitting with the story.

Those caterpillars, earlier, in the jar, waiting to be beautiful, elegant butterflies becomes more and more nuanced in adult life. What seemed innocent in childhood, becomes less so later on, I realise as my mind casts back and then to the current pages, as it becomes more apparent that there’s a lot more than the lust of earlier, it turns into something ugly and would make anyone wonder if she’s always going to be trapped like those caterpillars or if there will she be able to fly away, like the butterflies?
Read this amazing book to find out if she, like the caterpillar, can transform?

Buy Link  Amazon

#BookReview by Lou – Freckles by Cecelia Ahern @Cecelia_Ahern @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK @RandomTTours #Freckles #Fiction

Freckles
By Cecelia Ahern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Freckles Graphic 2

Freckles is a warm and well-observed book with interesting concepts.
Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review below, as well as a bit about the author.
Firstly, thanks to Random T Tours for inviting me to the blog tour to review and to Harper Collins for this opportunity and for an e-book.

Freckles Graphic 3

Blurb

Freckles Graphic‘Freckles is a beautiful, hopeful book when the world needs hope most. Cecelia has written a novel about our search for our authentic selves in a crazy world. Like all her novels, it’s inspiring, life-affirming and full of insight’ CATHY KELLY
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with… When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city.
But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future?
Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.
Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin.
Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.

Review

Freckles 3D CoverFreckles is a bit like 6 degrees of separation in some ways and an interesting concept to find connections. Allegra Bird is otherwise known as Freckles, who is by and large an interesting character and yet someone readers will be able to connect to. It begins with her connecting her own actual freckles in different, creative ways and gets her thinking about life connections and how it can shape a person. It’s a though-provoking concept and one that makes you think about who are the 5 people you are most connected in life and in what ways they play a part in making you who you are as she tells you that you are the average of 5 people.

Freckles is a “plan A” type of person and has grit and determination to stick with it, no “plan B”, until the first plan doesn’t work and she ends up being a parking warden with Fingal County Council, so she’s not totally inflexible and it’s close to her desires. She’s an enjoyable character to discover more about, as is where she is based – Malahide, a real place, near Dublin, with its beautiful scenery, which Cecelia Ahern presents so well and truly paints a picture of there and Valentia.

Freckles tells her story in the first person and of the people she meets and the routines she has, such as the bakery she goes to and who serves her. The writing is so accomplished and is so well thought out that it is almost like you are following Freckles around her lifestyle. From the start you’re pulled into her life in the present and also get a peek into her past, when she was at boarding school. The past, especially is written in such a way that you could be sitting next to Freckles having a wonderfully fascinating conversation.

Readers will meet Becky and Donnacha, who she babysits for;  Pops, who loves music; Paddy who is a work colleague; a person who is a Great Dane Walker and Spanner who is a baker, each with interesting lives, some also with secrets. There’s friendship and human connectivity at the heart of this story, how people’s paths cross, how some become part of routines, yet not taken for granted. It also tells a story about how lives aren’t always rosy. Freckles however seems a positive and friendly person to get to know and it is fascinating to see who outwith her family at each stage of her life had some influence in her character building. It’s a book that may make you do some introspection too as Freckles leads you down the path of self-discovery and also having the desire, even if it seems impossible to write letters to certain people, which certainly brings a different slant to things, with some added warmth and humour.

Freckles is a heartwarming and entertaining book to explore and by then discover who connects to who and how they all connect back to Freckles.

About the Author

Cecelia Ahern Author PicCecelia Ahern is one of the biggest selling authors to emerge in the past fifteen years, having sold more than 25 million copies worldwide in over 50 countries.
Two of her books have been adapted as major films and she has created several TV series in the US and Germany. Her novel PS I Love You was a New York Times bestseller and huge #1 bestseller in Ireland and the UK. In 2007, it was made into a major film starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler and most recently,
Cecelia wrote the sequel- Postscript which was an instant bestseller.

Cecelia has written 13 bestselling novels including two YA novels and a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, ROAR which is being produced by and starring Nicole Kidman. Her novels have resonated with readers everywhere through their thoughtful, unique and inspiring storytelling and have won numerous awards.
Cecelia lives in Dublin with her family. To find out more please visit http://www.cecelia-ahern.com

Freckles BT Poster

Ahead of my #Freckles Review – a Reblog of my 2020 Write Up of Q and A with Cecelia Ahern @Cecelia_Ahern @BeccaKBryant @LizDawsonPR @fictionpubteam #Postscript #Freckles

Q&A with Cecelia Ahern
Ahead of the paperback publication of Postscript
the sequel to PS. I Love You!

I have been given a great honour of joining a small group of book bloggers to collaboratively interview PS. I Love You author Cecelia Ahern. She has now published the sequel – Postscript, in which the hardback is available now. The paperback is available 1st October 2020.

First – the blurb of Postscript and a short review, with a more full on review to follow at a later date. Do follow the blurb, the short review and then onto the Q&A where you can find out some really exciting information about Postscript, what she is writing next and much more…

The PS, I Love You Club.

These are the six words written on a card handed to Holly Kennedy. They’re words that are engraved on her heart – because PS, I Love You is how her husband, Gerry, signed his last letters to her, letters that mark a year she will never forget.

Now, the mysterious club wants something from her. And if Holly can find the courage meet them, she’ll learn what it really means to live life to the full.

Because every love story has one last thing to say…

Postscript pic

Short review

Postscript is just amazing as it tackles so many themes from health issues to grieving. It’s a beautifully written book that has so much emotion within it. The health issues have clearly been researched, but don’t dominate. There is plenty of positivity in this book. It is, even after all these years, is at least as good as PS I Love You, if not a bit better in how it is written. Nothing is lost and there’s everything to gain when reading this, including feeling that it is a really emotional journey, but one taken with passion and feels heartfelt. It’s a great book to get reacquainted with Holly and other characters and meet some new ones too.

Cecelia Ahern pic    Postscript pic  
Q&A

How did you spend Lockdown?

Building Hogwarts Lego. That took about 4 weeks and worked on it for about an hour every evening.
She danced and cooked and walked a lot and got excited when the Irish government also increased the distance of travel from 2km to 5km and could go to a coffee shop to buy a coffee.

Cecelia also has 3 children of the ages of a nearly 1 year old, an 8 and a 10 year old. She hopes never to do homeschooling again.

Do you think as a writer lockdown suited you well?

She reckoned it doesn’t suit everybody, perhaps not extroverts who get their energy from being around other people. She is comfortable about not socialising all the time. She did however miss her family.
She was on maternity leave until May. She then started to edit her new novel (more about that later).#

What sort of research she went into for health issues within the book, such as Cancer and MS?

She wanted to not get into Hollie’s appointments too much to get a balance. There were many drafts and some were more involved than others. There were 4 people who were ill. She wanted more of an introduction to each illness. MS she was fairly familiar with beacause she takes part in the MS Readathon in every year in Ireland.
She wanted to introduce a brain tumour so Hollie was watching a young man going through the same thing.
She thoughtfully pointed out that everyone doesn’t experience the same thing in every illness. She didn’t want to be vague or wishy-washy, but also not too caught up in it. She wanted to concentrate on some of the hope.
She also talked candidly about emphasemia, which is in the book too, as her grandmother had it and had smoked all her life. She talked how there was still humour, even though she was going round with an oxygen tank near the end of her life and wanted some of the humour to come through, which she does well.

From Writing PS I Love You and so many years later, Postcript. How was it for you to write the sequel?

She was never going to write Postcript as she was perfectly happy with how it ended and PS. I Love You was a huge success. PS. I Love You made her and she didn’t want a sequel to break her. She also likes writing different books year on year.
In 2012 she thought about the things that you do for people you’re going to leave behind, so got inspired to write a story from the opposite perspective of PS. I Love You and also then from the perspective of people about to say goodbye and the preparations. She really wanted to put Hollie in it and look at it from Gerry’s perspective. She then had to find the seeds she planted in PS I Love You, like sunflower seeds within that book.
She talked about how it was really challenging to write. In Postcript she has to look at the letters again and looking at the positives and not so and wanted to address how there was conflict between them.
She started to write before she told her publishers to see if she could and felt emotional enough about it, which she did.

Who did you write the book for?

She wrote it for her and those who really love PS I Love You and had it in mind that so many people loved that book. She also looked at the tone of the book and also show the writer she was then and the writer she is now, but without taking too many wild leaps, like in her short story collection, and went back to the humour and sweet tone of PS I Love You.

How did you feel when Postcript went out to readers?

She said that a lot of people have read it before-hand and tries not to get hung up on that, but hopes it is better than the first novel.

The members of the PS I Love You Club. How did you decide which problems to bring into the club and are there any you thought of and discounted?

I wanted to have different illnesses. She knew from the beginning she wanted a mother and the Will idea. Geneka is her favourite. She wanted a mother and a Will and having her want to learn to write letters for her child.

Film

Postcript will be made into a film. Hillary Swank emailed Cecelia wanting to read Postcript. She will be in the film because she said of all the films she has made, PS I Love You is mentioned the most and everyone involved in that film say the same thing. The same production team and writer will be involved again in the film. She has a lot to juggle from the book and the PS. I Love You film.

What author inpires you in your work most of all?

She reads fiction and loves crime fiction, especially Karen Slaughter and Lee Child and Jane Casey. She loves One World Publications because they publish and translate from all over the world. She also loves poetry, such as those from Sarah Cross. She also reads YA novels.
If she ever wrote a crime novel, she would write golden-age crime novel, not the forensic side.

Her next novel is called Freckles, due in autumn 2021. It’s works around the theme that comes from a phrase “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
It’s about a character who is very logical and straightforward parking-warden. She hears this expression and starts to look at the people around her and wonders if she wants to be the average of those five people and if she could curate her life in who she wants to be. So, she reaches out to certain people to see if she can be the average of those.
There is also a lot going on in her life that makes her want to do this.’

Postcript is published in paperback on 1st October 2020.

Postscript pic