#Review By Lou of A Season For Love By Ally Sinclair @HeraBooks #AllySinclair #Romcom #ASeasonForLove is inspired by #JaneAusten in the modern world

A Season For Love
By Ally Sinclair

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Today I thought I’d share a review of A Season For Love. Let’s take a look at the blurb and then I have my no spoiler review.


Blurb

Can old-fashioned courtship survive in today’s dating world?

When Emma Love’s mother retires, it is time for her to take the reins of the family dating agency and build on its success. And she has a fresh new idea: to host a Jane Austen-style Regency Season of glamourous events where potential lovers can actually take the time to get to know each other in person, with no apps in between.

As the round of glamourous social events begins, we meet some of Emma’s new clients, and see her matchmaking skills in action.

Annie, who has a romantic soul but believes she lost her chance at love a long time ago; recently divorced Jane, who is not quite ready to see what her new love life might look like, and wild child Lydia, who is more interested in hooking up than finding her Mr Darcy.

All is going swimmingly but as the Season unfolds, there is a fly in Emma’s ointment – the irritating Mr Knight, with his casual attitude and gentle cynicism. Why is she allowing him to ruffle her calm, ordered life and why can’t she stop thinking about him? She has no intention of becoming romantically involved herself, of course; she is far too sensible to take a chance on love – isn’t she?

Jane Austen meets Sophie Kinsella.

Review

A Season for Love is very much in the territory of Jane Austen, in-fact so much so that it practically delves into the territory of Emma in both character and premise. It has Emma setting up a dating agency so she can play matchmaker professionally and host regency style balls. 

It is witty in places and very much feels like Emma in contemporary times. The best concept in the book is to see whether, what would be considered old-fashioned dating can actually work in today’s modern, high-tech world.

Overall, it is a pleasantly entertaining rom-com.

Thanks to Hera Books for a copy in exchange of an honest review.

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#Article by Lou – Celebrating Authors – Fern Britton @Fern_Britton #HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #CelebratingAuthors #ContemporaryFiction #LiteraryFiction #RomanticFiction #HistoricalFiction #TV #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #CelebratingAuthors

Celebrating Authors – Fern Britton
 By Louise – Lou

As part of my blog in 2023 until it reaches 5 years old in September, I will be celebrating an author or publisher every so often. Join me as I celebrate works of Fern Britton in this part of my series of blog posts. Find a short article and a bit about a couple of her books and links below.

A handful of books by Fern Britton

Fern Britton is a well-known TV presenter and author. She has successfully published over 15 books – stand-alone books, novellas and non-fiction over many years and at least one was a Quick Reads book in the Reading Agency scheme. She is also known for her tv presenting on programmes such as Ready Steady Cook, This Morning, Watercolour Challenge (rebooted), My Cornwall and many more.

I’ve read a number of books by Fern Britton, most pre-blog, so one day I will write reviews of more as I highly recommend her; but whilst writing my blog, I have had amazing opportunities such as to review her books and during lockdown, be part of a small group of people on Zoom to interview her in a Q&A set up by her publisher, all of which you can find in the links below in this short article. I was fortunate enough to attend an in-person talk at Good HouseKeeping magazine a couple of years later where she talked warmly and intelligently about The Good Servant as well as candidly about her life, including gardening. She also gave people opportunity to have a signed book and to meet her, which was fortunate for me as her kindness has been beyond and I like to thank people in person. I highly recommended her books, tv programmes and her talks.

Fern Britton’s tv programmes are inspiring, interesting and warm. Anything she touches, her passion and genuine curiosity oozes, pulling in her audience. It’s a great skill and no mean feat, considering the amount of programmes made on many channels.
Her books are excellent for curling up with for all year round reading with your favourite snack and drink, whatever the weather. They are evocative and compelling, whether it is romantic fiction, such as A Seaside Affair or historical such as The Good Servant. She has the mystique in her writing to enthral and enchant as she envelopes the reader in the scenery and gives them a clear window into many characters lives. She also has the ability to use facts as a base and fictionalise a story just enough to steer away from it becoming non-fiction as she has in Daughters of Cornwall and The Good Servant.

Daughters of Cornwall is fiction, but was inspired by her own family. It’s a fascinating story across the generations, taking in 1918, 1939 and 2020. It truly is a compelling read with bloodlines and secrets from start to finish.

Within the link for the blurb and full review, you will also find a write-up of the Q&A and about the online book launch. Daughters of Cornwall

The Good Servant is a fictional story based on fact about Marion Crawford (Crawfie) is a young Scottish woman who becomes a governess to two princesses – Princess Margaret and the princess who became our queen – Queen Elizabeth II. It is a thoughtful, interesting book that now holds a deeper poignancy than ever before.
There are twists and motives uncovered and a sense of duty revealed in this engaging read.

Find out more about the fascinating, well researched book in the blurb and review within the link. The Good Servant

#Review By Lou of Within You, Without You By Sara O’Donovan @saraodonovanwriter @valleypress @RandomTTours #BlogTour #WithinYouWithoutYou #Debut

Within You, Without You
By Sara O’Donovan

 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to Valley Press and Random T. Tours I have a review on a book reminiscent of the film Sliding Doors. So, slide down to discover the blurb and the review of this well constructed debut novel.

 

Kathryn Johnson’s life is at a standstill. Stuck in a lacklustre marriage, the spark that once burned so brightly within her has since been snuffed out by the monotony of the everyday.

Returning to England after many years of living in Ireland, she is shocked to discover a familiar face on the side of the road one dark and stormy night. But a person can’t just reappear like that. Not when they’ve been dead for twenty years.

Uncovering long-buried memories of first love and its devastating loss, Kathryn returns to the past to see if she can rewrite her present. But love divided by time is a complicated equation to solve.

Review

There’s a dreamy beginning as you enter Kathryn’s life in the prologue and then a startling revelation that is sure to reawaken your senses with a jolt, before slipping into the first chapter to see more of her life as it pierces with grief before swinging you into 1992 and there’s Ed and his love of horses and the racing fixtures. There’s also the life, culture and music of Liverpool, the 90’s films like Top Gun and Ed and Kat’s love blossoming. The party and drugs scenes, however are also in full flow. In fact, The Beatles had a song called Within You, Without You. It is worth a listen to, perhaps after reading this book. It interestingly does in some respects marry up to the book. I don’t know if this is what the author had in mind or the film Sliding Doors, or both, but this works pretty well.

It is an intense read, but quite compelling as you see her life in the past and present. It is quite sliding doors in a sense. This is what makes it compelling as you really need to get to the end to work it all out and what truly happened and also to find if and how lives work out. Investing time and required concentration in their lives certainly is worth it as you go through all the twists and turns and pangs of nostalgia throughout.

#BookReview of Becoming Ted By Matt Cain @MattCainWriter @headlinepg #ContemporaryFiction #RomanticFiction #LGBTQIA #BecomingTed

Becoming Ted
By Matt Cain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Matt Cain is the author of the successful and well received book -The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle. Now he brings his second standalone book – Becoming Ted and thanks to Headline Books for allowing me to review, which you can find below the blurb.

Blurb

A charming, joyful and surprising story about love, friendship and learning to be true to yourself, Becoming Ted will steal your heart.

Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice-cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea. 

But the truth is, he’s never wanted to work for the family firm – he doesn’t even like ice-cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world. 

But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …

Review


Matt Cain whisks readers off to the seaside where there’s hope, dreams and putting down new roots and creating a different life.
Ted Ainsworth has a dream and it is captivating to see if he reaches and achieves his goal. One he has been keeping secret. He’s into the Manchester music scene and he wants to pursue his dream of being on-stage and be part of this and the drag scene. He’s a fairly unassuming guy in his 40’s who works in the family business with life meandering along, not that he wants to be in the family firm nor has a passion for ice cream, but was moving along not too badly, until his heart is broken. You can really feel the weight of his pain, with the memories attached and all he really has is Lily, his dog and not his man as planned. This is testament of Cain’s writing and realism of how you break up with someone, but there’s still things to do, thoughts in the form of memories still persist, as they do when he was with Giles.
There is the sense of the seaside and how it was in its hey-day and how it is now.

There is also the story of Oskar who settled in St. Luke’s-on-Sea after relocating from Poland. He is full of hope of learning a new culture and of new things he had never heard of before.
There is also Trevor and his wife, Hillary dealing with a diagnosis to do with her health and Stanley wanting to make the most of what is left of his life, now he is 90. Suddenly there’s a few characters, including the supporting ones who suddenly, energy goes into rooting for from the moment they’re met to when more is revealed.

Readers can see who Ted Ainsworth and how he transforms and becomes Ted in what he becomes in what is an uplifting, charming book, even through all the emotion.

This is an author I’d certainly read again, having read two and now look forward to seeing what he writes in a third.

 

 

 

 

#Review By Lou of The Daughter-In-Law by Fanny Blake @FannyBlake1 @BookminxSJV @simonschusterUK #TeamBATC #BlogTour #RespectRomFic #ContemporaryFiction

The Daughter-In-Law
By Fanny Blake

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Daughter In-Law is a multi-generational contemporary, romantic fiction story with twists and turns that makes it irresistible to sit for that bit longer to keep reading. Thanks to Books In The City – Simon and Schuster UK for inviting me onto the blog tour. Discover the blurb and my full review below…

Blurb

When Hope’s only son Paul met and married Edie, Hope was delighted that he had found love and was settling down to make his own family. Hope has loved bringing up her own child, and is happy to step in and help out now and again – but is always worried about overstepping the line between grandmother and mother.
 
Edie was hoping that having children with Paul would fulfil her as much as her busy job as a barrister has. But the reality is far from her dream. And with her mother-in-law Hope constantly poking her nose in where it’s not wanted, she finds herself frustrated and alone.
 
Both women could be each other’s greatest ally, but both have secrets that could ruin their relationship. Secrets neither wants Paul to uncover…

It’s a multi-generational story as gran – Hope and her son – Paul and his wife – Edie and their very young family touch down in the Greek Island – Paxos. The family dynamics makes for great reading. Paul is a carpenter and Edie is a barrister, he gets on with his mother – Hope, whereas things are more difficult with hers. Edie isn’t Hope’s biggest fan and the feeling is definitely mutual and more from Edie. Paul on the other-hand has a more amenable attitude when it comes to his mother, then there’s the grandkids, who adore her, and she adores them.

The dynamic between high-powered job and being a mother is interesting within Edie. She’s a character who seems nothing and no one is quite good enough or exciting enough, especially in her home life, even though it is a pretty good one. She has her frustrations, she wants “her cake and eat it”, which in turn will either have readers frustrated at her (in a good way, it has a certain edge), or rooting for her is always after more and when Daniel, her ex is on the scene, secrets develop…
Hope herself is also at a stage of life, deciding what she wants and the book becomes a bit philosophical at certain points as she ponders many things that possibly crosses many people’s minds, such as what happiness is, where it comes from, her family and whether she is toeing the line or overstepping it. Hope, beyond that is also, in quite a turn of events, is also harbouring a huge secret. What the secret is, is quite unexpected as the book twists and turns and family life is even more complex than it first appeared.

The family sits on a knife-edge as readers become privy to what the secrets are, that can make or break the family. Each revelation increases how compelling it is to read.

 

#Celebrating #Author Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @BHHillustration @orionbooks @Gollancz @Leanne_Oliver1 @alexxlayt #CelebratingAuthorsSeries

Celebrating Joanne Harris

As part of my blog in 2023, until it reaches 5 years old in September, I will be celebrating an author or publisher every so often. Join me as I celebrate works of Joanne Harris. Here, after a little about her, are some links to some reviews of books I’ve read whilst writing a blog.

Joanne Harris has written over 25 books, features in many anthologies, has audiobooks, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical, attends book festivals and comic cons, judges competition, holds doctorates to universities, is a member of The Storytime Band and is the current Chair of Society of Authors. She has a great website you can browse here: Website

I have been reading books by Joanne Harris across 2 decades and always been impressed by the calibre of writing and ability to tell so many stories in different genres. She also gives author talks at book festivals, which are always fascinating and it is always an absolute pleasure to meet her.
Below is a photo of the books I own. It’s a mixture of books I have bought, been given as a present from family members and those gifted by her publishers – Orion Books and Gollancz. Also, discover what her new book at the end of this blog post… I have not got it yet, but it’s exciting to see that cover…


Joanne Harris has something for everyone. The genres span across cookery books, gothic contemporary fiction, romantic fiction, historical fiction psychological thrillers, short stories, folklore/fantasy each with compelling plots with human nature, community and issues of the day in many universal themes. The range in-which she writes in is impressive and admirable to say the least, each with much to explore in setting, characterisation and plot in general. There is that je-ne-sais-quoi in every single book that makes them compelling and terribly hard to put down, once opened, from the first to the last page.

Her stories don’t only stop at book or audiobook form, she also writes some short stories on her Twitter account (where she also talks about her shed in the most imaginative ways possible, a series of ten things that often consists of useful tips and advice on writing etc, amongst other things). She formed a band called the Storytime Band. I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the Storytime band, but it sounds great and another medium of her telling stories. The band consists of Paul Marshall: Keyboards, guitar, vocals, Kevin Harris: Drums, percussion, vocals. Duncan Parsons : Bass, effects, Joanne Harris: Flute,  vocals.

As you meander down, I have included links to some reviews I wrote on my blog, they are by no means all the books I’ve ever read by Joanne Harris, but those I read and reviewed from the time I began my blog to the time of writing this blog post. 

The Strawberry Thief is part of the Chocolat series. The order of which is: Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curè, The Strawberry Thief.
A series set in rural France, follows Vianne and her daughter, Anouk and later her other daughter Rosette. The series is a feast to the senses and a delightful look into society. It shows certain traditions and attitudes to newcomers, new ideas, different perspectives. There’s a traditional small community feel, friendships forged and naysayers gained and much to win over. The series sees the family’s journey evolve when they go to Paris in The Lollipop Shoes and eventually they return to small town life in Lansquenette-Sous-Tannes in The Strawberry Thief. There’s much imagery in the series. There’s a sense of certain things staying the same , such as Roux staying on his boat, where readers meet him in Chocolat and it is lent again, but there is also change in the air. People mellow and also grow up. There is now Rosette, who is known as Vianne’s “special child”, who is now one of the main focuses in what is another delightful book.
I have my full review of The Strawberry Thief, which I remember racing to buy, including the blurb in the link: The Strawberry Thief


A Narrow Door is part of her Psychological Thriller series – BlueEyedBoy, Gentlemen and Players, Different Class, A Narrow Door.

The series follow the characters in an all boys grammar school – St. Oswalds, in England. Every book is immersive and twisty. They all give great insight into the world of a boys grammar school. BlueEyed Boy also has music you can look up to accompany each chapter. As well as school life, it also shows the online world. Gentlemen and Players and Different Class takes you further into St. Oswalds, Roy Straitley and the pupils. As you delve further, you reveal more about the personalities of the characters and how everyone has a story to tell or is part of a story. A Narrow Door however shows a changing of times. A new headmaster – Rebecca Buckfast, but some of the staff such as Mr Straitley is the same and he has his followers in who are dubbed as “The Brodie Boys”. It is a powerful book of strong female character and it tackles patriarchy, but also within this comes a wonderfully sinister, complex and twisty psychological thriller.
Each of the books in the series are beautifully written.
Find out the blurb and my full review in the link: A Narrow Door
Joanne Harris also appeared at Bloody Scotland as part of her book tour with A Narrow Door. Here is the link to the blog tour I took part in for Bloody Scotland championing her: Bloody Scotland


The Blue Salt Road is a modern fairy story and yet also takes on The Child Ballads. Although there are a few – A Pocketful of Crows, The. Blue Salt Road, Orfeia, Honeycomb they are standalone. She writes these as Joanne M. Harris. They are mythical and fantastical with strong themes and storytelling.
The Blue Salt Road tells the story a Selkie, The Folk (humans) and the Kraken. There is however, 1 named human.
It is thought provoking about the natural world. It is emotional, romanticises nothing. There are gorgeous illustrations by Bonnie M. Hawkins.The drawings are expressive in this and Orfeia and perfectly illustrate and add to the mystique and emotions of the intriguing books that certainly piqued my curiosity and then grabbed me.
Check out the blurb and my full review in the link: Blue Salt Road

ORFEIA takes on another Child Ballad. It tackles grief and incredibly well. Queen of May had fallen in love with a man from the Folk and sacrificed a lot, so the tale goes. The grief of the loss of a child hits right to your soul. There is also the intriguing character of The Shadow Man. There are also atmosphere changes as there are jovial moments. It’s a richly, tightly woven story that also brings hope. It is again with more marvellous and dark drawings from Bonnie M. Hawkins. Find out the blurb and full review in the link: ORFEIA

Honeycomb is just one of the short story books Joanne Harris has written. Jigs and Reels and A Cat, A Hat, A Piece of String are others with some humorous tales to tell as well as emotional and rather serious ones. There are a couple of witty recurring characters.
Honeycomb – for this particular copy has a rather beautiful tactile material cover. It is enchanting book of 100 short stories. They are full of betrayal, gifts, magic, love, beautiful illustrations, this time by Charles Vess.
The book invites you listen to the tales of the bees, each one loosely interconnecting and overarching. Readers have a treat in relatable stories and with characters such as the Honeycomb Queen and the Lacewing King, a Chancellor, a Teacher, the Slightless Folk and the Silken Folk, Death and more…

The book is compelling as well as well as thought-provoking. They may be mythical fairytales, but each makes relatable points and doesn’t steer too far away from the world as we know it as it’s a very grounded book.
Discover the blurb and full review in the link: Honeycomb

Coming in May 2023
Broken Light