#Review By Lou of The Echoes of Love By Jenny Ashcroft @Jenny_Ashcroft @HQstories #HistoricalFiction #WartimeFiction #WW2 #1970s #1930s #1940s #RomanticFiction

The Echoes of Love
By Jenny Ashcroft 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Echoes of Love is a historical fiction novel that transports readers between the mid to late  1930’s to the 1940’s and then to 1970’s. It takes readers into the depths of love and war and how it reverberates years later. It’s a book I highly recommend. Find out more in the blurb and my thoughts in my review below. I also thank HQ Stories for the book and extra gifts of delicious Baklava.

Blurb

Under the Cretan sun, in the summer of 1936, two young people fall in love…

Eleni has been coming to Crete her entire life, swapping her English home for cherished sun-baked summers with her grandfather in his idyllic shoreside villa. When she arrives in 1936, she believes the long, hot weeks ahead will be no different to so many that have gone before.

But someone else is visiting the island that year too: a young German man called Otto. And so begins a summer of innocence lost, and love discovered; one that is finite, but not the end.

When, in 1941, the island falls to a Nazi invasion, Eleni and Otto meet there once more. But this time Eleni has returned to fight for her home, and Otto to occupy it. They are enemies, and their love is not only treacherous, but also dangerous. But will it destroy them, or prove strong enough to overcome the ravages of war?

An epic tale of secrets, love, loyalty, family and how far you’d go to keep those you love safe, The Echoes of Love is an exquisite and deeply moving love letter to Crete – one that will move every reader to tears.

Review

Beginning with a transcript in 1974 about Eleni Adams at Broadcasting House. It is an interesting way to start and leads back to the events in 1936, Crete, with the transcript intercepting the main story, giving extra insights. A dangerous time and not far off the cusp of war as Hitler is on the march and the likes of Punch Magazine depicting the road to war in satirical cartoons and trips through Italy with Mussolini in charge have to be made. The book is set between Portsmouth in the UK and Crete, a Greek island. There’s almost an innocence of how this time must have been, against the ensuing darkness that looms, with Hitler being more in the news reels and then an innocent kitten being around and the emotion surrounding that. The characters do enter war times and everything changes as he begins his invasions and what he thinks of the Jews and of Jazz and Swing music.
It, however, never loses sight of it being a war-time story of love and how things change and how it is remembered. Not everything where love is concerned is simple as the book slips through the three very different time eras with great fluidity.

The book is poignant with the reverberations of love and atrocities of war and what the German Nazis had created can be felt deeply and yet it has beautiful writing that has a truth, and yet a softness and not a coarseness surrounding all the events of the day and the people affected in so many different ways.

At the end is an author’s note about how the book was, in part inspired by her own family and about Crete and more… This is a book I highly recommend you lose yourself in.

 

Advertisement

#BookReview By Lou of The Set-Up By Lizzy Dent @DentLizzy @VikingBooksUK @EllieeHud #LobsterArmy #Romcom #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction #WomensFiction #Summer #SummerReading

The Set-Up
By Lizzie Dent

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Set-up is a sweet and funny rom-com that captures the heart. Today I am reviewing the latest stand-alone book by Lizzy Dent. The first was The Summer Job. Thanks to the publisher – Viking for gifting me the book to review from. Find out more in the Blurb and the rest of my review below…

Blurb

There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.

 Mara Williams reads her horoscope every day – but she wasn’t expecting to be in a whole other country when destiny finally found her. Just as a fortune teller reveals that her true love is about to arrive, a gorgeous stranger literally walks into her life. And now Mara is determined to bring them together again . . . Surely even fate needs a nudge in the right direction sometimes?

But while Mara is getting ready for ‘the one’, the universe intervenes. Her new flatmate Ash is funny, and kind, and sexy as hell . . . There was no predicting this: it’s as if her destiny just arrived on her doorstep.

So will Mara put her destiny in fate’s hands – or finally trust herself to reach for the stars?

*An edgy, hilarious rom-com from the author of The Summer Job. For fans of Beth O’Leary, Starstruck and New Girl.*

Review

The Set UpI was delighted to be given the opportunity to review The Setup after falling in love with Lizzy Dent’s debut novel – The Summer Job. Lizzy Dent absolutely has the knack of writing rom-coms that are properly funny and captures your heart. The Setup is another absorbing summer read where time just flies by when reading in the sun.

The book is character driven by characters that you want to keep reading about until the very end and Mara, the main protagonist is one very interesting character to get to know.
Mara is going through some life changes and is into astrology. She studies and truly believes in horoscopes in such a big way that she totally follows their every word and absolutely believes in fate. It becomes apparent that horoscopes, clarevoyance, fate are a bit like a comfort blanket for her, concealing her insecurities and anxieties that do then begin to emerge to the surface. There are quiet introspective moments, giving readers an opportunity to see what’s going on in her head as the character development builds up. There’s a bit of repetition here and there, but that felt right as it felt like it was just part of Mara’s personality.

There ends up being 2 men in her life. This is far from being a conventional love-triangle.
There is the  wonderful and sexy dream of a guy who becomes her flatmate – Ash and talented cello player – Josef. There’s a choice to make – to follow what she thought was steadfast and true – the fate in the stars or be brave and step a bit into the unknown, where the rules and conclusion isn’t so clear-cut and follow her heart.

Mara is also a film buff and there are wonderful references to many films, which really adds to the fun. They’re intelligently woven through the story for a purpose – to send messages, but the question is, whether Mara actually sees what they are or not?

This is a rom-com perfect for a summer read, with complexities and humour.
Lizzy Dent absolutely nails it!

About the Author

Lizzy Dent (mis)spent her early twenties working in a hotel not unlike the one in her first novel, The Summer Job. Soon to be a TV series! She somehow ended up in a glamorous job travelling the world creating content for various TV companies, including MTV, Channel 4, Cartoon Network, the BBC and ITV. She writes about women who don’t always know where they’re going in life, but who always have fun doing it. The Setup is her second novel.

#Review By Lou of Summer at the French Cafe By Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK #RomanticFiction #WomensFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Summer #SummerReading

Summer at the French Cafe
By Sue Moorcroft

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Summer at the French Cafe is unputdownable, may keep you up for longer than you thought and will most certainly transport you to a French idyll where the food is good and where you’ll meet characters to embrace and be enraptured by.
Read onwards to the blurb and the rest of my review below. First, thanks to Avon Books for the review copy.

Summer at the French Cafe

Blurb

As soon as Kat Jenson set foot in the idyllic French village of Kirchhoffen, she knew she’d found her home. Now she has a dreamy boyfriend, a delightful dog and the perfect job managing a bustling book café in the vibrant Parc Lemmel. ‘

But when she learns her boyfriend isn’t all he seems, it’s the start of a difficult summer for Kat. Vindictive troublemakers, work woes and family heartache follow, and the clear blue sky that was her life suddenly seems full of clouds.

Then she gets to know the mysterious Noah, and her sun begins to shine brighter than ever. But Noah has problems of his own – ones that could scupper their new-found happiness. Together, can they overcome their many obstacles, and find love again?

The perfect summer read for fans of Trisha AshleySarah Morgan and Carole Matthews.

Review

Whether you are avoiding the airport queues or having a staycation or travelling to France, Summer at the French Cafe will get you in the mood for whatever your plans are.

Summer at the French Cafe provides wonderful escapism and great story-telling. There’s lots to entice – food, romance, friendship, humour to get bound up with this summer. Kat is a great character to get to know. She works at the cafe/bookshop that she has 100% embraced.

Life, despite the idyl of the the parkland backdrop and the setting of the lovely cafe, life isn’t as easy as creating tasty pastries. Kat has come from a broken home life, with many issues, that she then proceeds to try to resolve with her brother and father, to try to re-establish relationships. As she does this, along comes Noah. Noah is kind and understanding, but this is also not always an easy relationship as Kat’s previous relationships in romantic entanglements have also been troubled, even her work takes advantage. The book covers coercive relationships well. That being said, there is an air of the upliftiing summery spirit as Kat is strong and independant and doesn’t allow all the emotional baggage to weigh so heavily to have her completely crumble.
She also has an important and perhaps, life changing decision to make – to open herself up to romance with the lovely Noah or not. Noah also has to work out what to do for best for his daughter too and whether and how he can continue to be the perfect boyfriend and take care of his daughter’s sensitivities.

Summer at the French Cafe is unputdownable and a perfect read to escape into and not exit until the very end.

#BookReview By Lou of Beach House Summer By Sarah Morgan – Happy Publication Day to @sarahmorgan_ @HQstories #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction

Beach House Summer
By Sarah Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Beach House Summer (1)

Today I am absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour of the wonderfully compelling book – Beach House Summer on Publication Day – Happy Pub Day to you Sarah Morgan. Thanks to the publisher – HQ for gifting me a copy of the book and for the invite to review. Find out more in the blurb and my full review below…

Beach House Summer

Blurb

A marriage in the spotlight

Joanna Whitman’s high-profile marriage held more secrets than she cares to remember, so when her ex-husband dies, she doesn’t know what to feel. But when she discovers that he’s left behind a pregnant young woman, Joanna is forced to act. She knows exactly how brutal the spotlight on them both will be…unless she can find a way for them to disappear.

A beach house hideaway

Ashley Blake is amazed when Joanna suggests they lie low at her beach house in her sleepy Californian hometown. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley needs all the support she can find.

A summer of new beginnings

Joanna’s only goal for the summer is privacy. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby’s future. But when an old flame reappears, and secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is put to the test….

Review

Beach House SummerBeach House Summer is an excellent book to totally escape into. It is told by Ashley, Joanna and Melanie and will get you in the mood for summer and sand. It begins so touchingly and says a lot about the importance of good mums and the role they have when their offspring are growing up. Ashley is alone now, without the safety net of mum, but now she is with a megastar cruising along in his car. The author, however has made some thought-provoking points along the way into these riches, Ashley is now surrounded by, until tragedy strikes and she has no back-up plans.

This is when things start hotting up further as things become much more complicated, when Joanna finds out about her ex-husband’s death on breakfast tv, and later about his new partner, who she ends up helping…

Melanie is having a whole mix of troubles – and and daughter trouble as Eden is at that stage in life where she has finished formal schooling and could go onto higher education, but instead has other plans, not to her parents liking. Melanie (Mel) also works in the family business a cafe, that seems quite buzzy with an influx of life about it; but then there’s also Nate and where her heart lies.
Joanna and Mel were also friends, but things happened and even the past hurts and things are awkward.

Sarah Morgan writes all the entanglement of emotions that aren’t so straight forward and shows that nothing is clear cut in this situation, very compellingly well.  It really is a rollercoaster of a ride through her characters lives, that are enthralling to follow through romance and  unlikely friendships, bringing optimism.
This is a great summer read!

Quote                            Quote

#BookReview By Lou of The Summer Fair By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @simonschusterUK @harriett_col @BookMinxSJV #TeamBATC #FeelGoodFiction #ContemporaryFiction #RomanticFiction #TheSummerFair #BlogTour

The Summer Fair
By Heidi Swain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Summer Fair is a pleasure to read and it’s great to return to Nightengale Square with it’s charm, warmth, romance and challenges to overcome.
Check out more in the blurb and my thoughts in my review below.
Firstly, thanks to the publisher – Simon and Schuster for inviting me on the blog tour to review and for gifting me a book and a cake mix to bake (still to be baked but I think it may be a sweet bit of deliciousness. Time will tell. Pics will come on Twitter in all good time).
*Please note, that my review does not reflect these gifts, lovely as they are, my review remains based on the book alone and without bias.

The Summer Fair cover

Blurb

Join Sunday Times best seller Heidi Swain back in Nightingale Square for a sunshine and celebration filled summer….

Beth loves her job working in a care home, looking after its elderly residents, but she doesn’t love the cramped and dirty house-share she currently lives in. So, when she gets the opportunity to move to Nightingale Square, sharing a house with the lovely Eli, she jumps at the chance.

The community at Nightingale Square welcomes Beth with open arms, and when she needs help to organise a fundraiser for the care home they rally round. Then she discovers The Arches, a local creative arts centre, has closed and the venture to replace it needs their help, too—but this opens old wounds and past secrets for Beth.

Music was always an important part of her life, but now she has closed the door on all that. Will her friends at the care home and the people of Nightingale Square help her find a way to learn to love it once more?

Review

It is such a delight to return to the people in the Nightengale Square community and to meet some new people along the way.

There is warmth, community spirit from people who like to help when services closedown. There is also heartache, otherwise buried by enthusiasm that not everyone gets to see. The reader however does in this book as what was secreted away comes to light.

It sounds whimsically idyllic from the title, but this book has substance and depth when you get to know the people who have experiences and feelings like anyone in the real world and not just on the written page.

Beth works for the Edith Cavell Care Home and life has been tough, with her mum dying after a stroke. The book is so eloquently written from the beginning of reminisces of music that has now also died with her…. The readers are then taken on a journey into Nightengale Square, its residents, the workplaces and Beth’s life.

Beth is a popular carer at the home and loves her job, but behind all that is sorrow and denial of the things she loved before the death of her mum, realised even more when she goes with Harold to the community garden, but she does have a houseplant called Aretha, named after Aretha Franklin as it is strong. There is a point to this plant and its character that is clever in tying in with part of Beth’s personality, which shows thoughtfulness and writing with great creativity. 

Beth is house sharing with a few people and not altogether satisfied at this position that she has found herself in, but fortunes change as she has the opportunity to move to Nightengale Square, a place which is so idyllic that I am sure many readers can imagine living there, with its caring, supportive community and Winter Gardens, featured in a previous book, but mentioned in this. This time, instead of Winterfest, the community want to host a summer fair.

This is about community coming together to create something good and inclusive, with the backdrop of people’s personal lives and stuff they’ve kept to themselves for so long, but like for Beth, certain things have impact and open old memories, widening past wounds. It’s pure escapism and romance, all with a bit of grit, showing that not everything is always idyllic as it may first seem in everyone’s lives and tumultuous moments between people; that’s what gives it a good grounding and saves it being whimsical. It’s enjoyable from start to end with hearfelt warmth.

I highly recommend The Summer Fair for a gorgeous summer read, whether you’re on holiday or in your garden, soaking up the rays of the sun and the atmosphere of the book.

The Summer Fair Blog Tour (1)

#BookReview By Lou of The Wedding Crasher By Abigail Mann @abigailmann @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK #romanticfiction #humour #book #bookblog #BookTwitter #fiction #TheWeddingCrasher #bookrecommendation #RomCom

The Wedding Crasher
By Abigail Mann

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Lonely Fajita and The Sister Surprise PB with text

Lots of humour, romance and a passion for photography is in store for the very entertaining Wedding Crasher by Abigail Mann. This is one of the funniest I have read of this author’s books, so far… Thanks to One Chapter/Harper Collins for inviting me to review. Discover more in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in the review below…

.

Blurb

The Wedding Crasher coverPoppy got married young. Too young in fact, and she put her dreams aside for love. Fast-forward eight years(ish) and now it’s time to reclaim her life and first love – photography.

What better way to celebrate her new-found freedom than a blissful week alone on an island with just her camera for company. Until her best friend has a catastrophe with the high-profile wedding she’s planning and begs Poppy to help. After all, she owes her.

Poppy doesn’t expect to recognise the groom as an old friend, nor for the bride to get cold feet but what’s a wedding without a little drama. And as the wedding week – yes, week – gets underway, Poppy might find happiness again, just not in the way she expected.

If you love Mhairi McFarlane, Marian Keyes and Beth O’Leary, you will love Abigail Mann.

Review

Let the countdown to the wedding begin…
The Wedding Crasher is entertaining from the start. Dare I say it, but this may be one of the most entertaining books from Abigail Mann. It is so enjoyable getting to know Poppy, Lola and Will. The humour all starts in a rather rocky dinghy and some witty chat and repartee.

Poppy it turns out, has a love of photography and teaches it in a school that is teetering on the edge with the eyes of Ofsted on them. Then there’s also the awkward relationship complications between Poppy and Josh. Poppy then ends up involved in taking photos for a wedding that is a week long, including all the build-up to it. It’s high profile and the very rich groom is certainly a kaleidoscope of personality and life. In saying that, Poppy has gumption and inner-strength, especially when it comes to her own relationship with Josh and how that is hitting the rocks.

There are islands – Orwell and the much more glamourous Loxby Island with its Art-Deco designed archticture to explore, with beautiful, idyllic backdrops. The book as whole is just so easy to be swept along by. 

There are also moments focused on the current debates around sport, but you really don’t have to be even remotely a sports fan to get enjoyment from this book as far, far from the dominant part of the book.

The comedic moments keep coming, which is impressive; even when there are serene moments of reflection and emotion, this isn’t lost sight of and put altogether, makes a great mixture for this book.