#Review By Lou of Woman In The Middle By Milly Johnson #bookreview @MillyJohnson @SimonSchusterUK #TeamBATC @ed_pr #WomanInTheMiddle

The Woman In The Middle
By Milly Johnson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Moving with a personal feel to it is what Milly Johnson brings to her latest book – Woman In The Middle. It’s got a bit of a different feel from other books I’ve read and that’s still okay in this pleasant read that delves so much into family life. Thanks to Books And The City at Simon & Schuster for gifting.

Blurb

woman in the middle cover picThe emotional, uplifting and completely relatable new novel from Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson.

Shay Bastable is the woman in the middle. She is part of the sandwich generation – caring for her parents and her children, supporting her husband Bruce, holding them all together and caring for them as best she can.

Then the arrival of a large orange skip on her mother’s estate sets in motion a cataclysmic series of events which leads to the collapse of Shay’s world. She is forced to put herself first for a change.

But in order to move forward with her present, Shay needs to make sense of her past. And so she returns to the little village she grew up in, to uncover the truth about what happened to her when she was younger. And in doing so, she discovers that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find the only way is up.

Review

Shay Bastable has a lot to juggle in her family. Caring for parents, keeping her own family going will be relatable to many people. I certainly relate to the caring for parents, in my case to keep the rest of the more adult family than in the book, going in some ways. For Shay it’s a struggle to keep all the balls freely in the air and they do indeed come crashing down all around her. Shay also has children and all their demands, especially determined, strong-willed daughter – Courtney to take care of,then there is her son who is supposed to be getting married, but she is concerned that something isn’t right within the relationship.  You feel that this would no doubt have quite an impact. The book explores this as well as how her sister does little to help and her husband, Bruce is not at all useful and practically ignores what is going on around him, which makes matters even worse as there’s not the backup needed in such a situation. There’s definitely a lot to feel sorry for Shay and how her life is panning out. So, she tries to then put herself first, which seems somewhere between sensible and losing selflessness for awhile, but you can see where she is coming too and shows the challenges of life faced in this situation, trying to also take care of yourself as well as others.

You really get the sense that Shay is The Woman In The Middle instead of at the top of her family, yet is also the glue of her family holding it all together, even though the stickyness of that glue is waining along with her resillience as the weight of pressure, conveyed so well by Milly Johnson gets to her more and more, making its impact. You get the feeling that so much has shaped her life and is still shaping it, but not necessarily as she would have planned.

#Review By Lou – A Little In Love By Florence Keeling @KeelingFlorence @simonschusterUK #TeamBACT #DigitalOriginals @BookMinxSJV #Fiction #Romcom #RomanticFiction

A Little In Love
By Florence Keeling

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Little In Love is a laugh out loud rom-com and there aren’t many rom-coms I say that about. It’s so much fun. Thanks to Books And The City, Simon & Schuster for gifting me a copy of the book of which you can find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review below as well as praise by other authors for this book.

A Little in Love cover pic

Blurb

The little village of Weddington is fast becoming THE place to get married. With its stately home, castle and two churches it has something for everyone, and now, famous after appearing in huge romcom movie hit A Little In Love, it’s hosting a monthly wedding fayre…

Rose Pedal is the proud owner of Pedals & Prosecco, a brand new business serving ice-cold fizz from a vintage bicycle, and she’s excited to be attending her first wedding fayre. But, on the way to Weddington Hall she’s involved in a near miss crash involving dashingly handsome James from Blume’s Florist.

Arriving at the beautiful stately home drenched and disheveled, Rose is horrified to find James is not only not sorry for nearly knocking her off her bike, but he’s gatecrashing her allocated spot on the lawn. His arrogance gets her back up and it’s definitely a case of hate at first sight.  But as the wedding fayre season continues, James gently wins Rose over, and their relationship starts to bloom.

Can being just ‘a little in love’ help Rose and James find their own happy-ending…

Review

Rather apt for now, the book opens up with a bit about the environment and gas guzzling vehicles.
This is a gorgeous book about Rose Pedal and her new business – Pedals & Prosecco, set up after dropping out of university for reasons that are rather funny. She first gains some experience in the working world from working with Mr Booth at his off-licence and all wasn’t lost as there are connections to what she learnt there to her inspiration to what she would do in her new business, running from a vintage bike, complete with wicker basket and then she looks for a trailer to put her bottles of fizz in. She has a penchant for weddings, so makes this her customer base. The book is all rather warm and cute with an edge of conflict. At a wedding when a florist turns up and tensions arise. It’s great that Rose stands her ground. She’s a woman with some sass and gumption, which is great to see in such a book.

The book is rather fun, with that cosy, entertaining rom-com feel and it’s so easy to get swept along with the romance of the wedding atmosphere as well as seeing the changing atmosphere between James Blume and Rose Pedal. There’s the most fun conversations between Megan and Rose about James. The dates between Rose and James aren’t exactly what you would expect, certainly not traditional things to do at venues and there’s always something going on. There are also places like The Copper Kettle, a quaint cafe turns out not to be so easy to find either. The book becomes more hilarious as it goes on. It’s most certainly a laugh out loud book with chemestry and all the fun and splendour of weddings.

The book ended unpredictably and that was rather nice indeed.

The book is just perfect for sitting back with a glass of fizz as the words, creating fun scenes on the page lightly bubble through the book.

Praise for the Author By Other Authors

A warm, delightful joy of a book’ PATRICIA SCANLAN, Sunday Times Bestselling author

‘The perfect romantic read’ HEIDI SWAIN, Sunday Times Bestselling author

‘You’ll fall a lot in love with A Little in Love. Weddington is the village we all dream of living in, and there’s really no mystery why our heroine Rose falls for the handsome James. Secrets, romance, escapism – yes please!’ JULIET ASHTON, bestselling author of The Sunday Lunch Club

‘An absolutely charming and joyful read with lots of laugh-out-loud moments along the way.  Overflowing with fabulous friendships, dreamy romance and all things weddings, it really did warm my heart and leave me with a big smile on my face’ KIM NASH, author of Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove

‘I fell more than a little in love with this book. Florence is an incredible storyteller and this book is the perfect cute romance read’ LUCY KEELING, author of Just Friends

‘A warm, comfort read of a book with the kind of rom-com characters you recognise and root for’ ANNA MANSELL, author of What We Leave Behind

‘I thoroughly enjoyed this heart-warming and ever-so-cute story. What an adorable tale!’ LUCY MITCHELL, author of Instructions for Falling In Love Again

‘Fun, fresh and full of fizz, I loved it!’ LAURA KEMP, author of Under a Starry Sky

‘I absolutely loved this charming romance! It was funny, fresh and an utterly fabulous read’  HOLLY MARTIN, author of Sunlight Over Crystal Sands

‘Tender and engrossing, this romance will touch your heart and make you smile’ RACHEL HORE, Sunday Times bestselling author

‘A good old fashioned ‘will they, won’t they’ romance filled with as much fun and sparkle as the bubbles in Rose’s prosecco. Perfect escapism, best enjoyed with a glass of fizz!’ KATHLEEN WHYMAN, author of Wife Support System

#BookReview By Lou – Underneath the Christmas Tree By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @harriett_col @simonschusterUK @BookMinxSJV @TeamBATC #UnderneathTheChristmasTree #ChristmasRead #Fiction #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction #BlogTour

Underneath the Christmas Tree
By Heidi Swain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Halloween is now over, so now is the time that is ripe for thinking about Christmas. I am pleased to be on the blog tour for Underneath the Christmas Tree for some festive cheer. I thank Simon and Schuster for the book and for the other gifts too (please note my review is not influenced by this). Please find more in the blurb and then head down to my review.

Underneath The Christmas Tree pic

Blurb

***The sparkling new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain!***

Underneath the Christmas TreeWynter’s Trees is the home of Christmas. For the people of Wynmouth it’s where they get their family Christmas tree, and where Christmas truly comes to life.

But for Liza Wynter, it’s a millstone around her neck. It was her father’s pride and joy but now he’s gone, she can’t have anything to do with it. Until her father’s business partner decides to retire and she must go back to handle the transition to his son Ned.

When Liza arrives, she discovers a much-loved business that’s flourishing under Ned’s stewardship. And she’s happy to stay and help for the Christmas season, but then she has other plans. But will the place where she grew up make her change her mind? And can it weave its Christmas cheer around her heart…?

Underneath the Christmas Tree is the perfect festive read, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.

Review

It’s a joy to return to Wynmouth, on the Norfolk coast, and this book has so much warmth to it that makes it great for cosying up with thick cosy jumpers, doors locked and a nice drink and snacks so not much moving is required, until the end. Underneath the Christmas Tree is heartwarming in the colder weather, with life decisions to be made and a good dollop of Christmas cheer to brighten the darker days.

Things aren’t always easy or comfortable for Heidi Swain’s characters and this time it is Liza Wynter who has choices to make, especially about the Christmas Tree business – Wynter’s Trees that was once her dad’s. The business is full of Christmas cheer within its grounds and there’s a sense of heritage, of preserving what went before, which I like and appreciate and think is important, except this isn’t without its issues within the business itself as Liza wants to give up her shares in Wynter Trees, which she has with David and Edward (Ned). There’s the decision how to tell the public to be made, but there is also a feeling of gumption as she tries to do what she feels is right for her in deciding whether forging a new path, knowing the business could still be in good hands, is for her or not. There are sad an bittersweet moments with memories for Liza about her dad.

There is also Maya and a some jealousy emerges from Liza, even though Liza herself is more popular amongst the customers than she thinks. Tangled up in this is Ned and there comes a bit of a love story.

As with most books by Heidi Swain, there is some lovely sounding food and drinks to also get your appetite going.

This is a book that I thoroughly recommend to get you in the festive Christmas mood.

Underneath the Christmas Tree Blog Tour

#BookReview by Lou – The Heights by Louise Candlish @louise_candlish @jessbarratt88 #TeamBATC @simonschusterUK #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #blogtour

The Heights
By Louise Candlish

Rating: 5 out of 5.

louise candlish, the heights, the other passenger, our house

The Heights is a well-plotted, compelling psychological thriller with twists and large themes and buildings to explore… The Heights, by bestselling author – Louise Candlish, provides the reader with much suspenseful atmosphere and excellent characterisation, scenery and twists.
Find more about the book in the blurb and my full review below and then more about Louise Candlish and her exciting news about one of her books – Our House.

Thanks to Jess Barratt for inviting me to review as part of the blog tour and as part of Team Books And the City (TBATC) – Simon and Schuster and for sending my a physical proof copy of the book.

The Heights cover

Blurb

From the author of Sunday Times bestsellers OUR HOUSE (Winner Best Crime Novel 2018) and
THE OTHER PASSENGER, comes a nail-biting tale of tragedy and revenge

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building amongst the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace
so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed at all, if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat opposite.
But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognise anywhere.
He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him. Which makes no sense at all,
since he’s been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.
Because you’re the one who killed him.

The Heights pic 2

Review

The Heights pic 1The Heights tells the story from Ellen’s point of view and then from Vic’s viewpoint of what happened that fateful day and how they both view Kieran, within 4 parts of the book in this slow burn of a psychological thriller that will keep readers gripped and hanging onto the very end.
There are also several continuations of the newspaper article, titled – ‘Killing Time’, which is also a very prominent part in telling the story of what occurred…

The book begins with an article in the prologue about Felix Penney is a high profile author of crime novels and writing manuals. It starts with an acknowledgement of the underfunding of libraries. There are then more newspaper articles interjecting througout the story, an even bigger and darker story of a crime (yes, even more criminal than the underfunding of libraries)… one of every mother’s nightmare…
There is more to it than meets the eye in that first article, with a huge revelation at the end, as that first article comes full circle to reveal more…

louise candlish, the heights, the other passenger, our house

There is an absolutely striking first chapter, that takes readers to Shad Thames (Louise Candlish explains very well what this is, as well as who Kieran Watts was). It grips from here because of course, I wanted to know more about what he had done that was so awful to a person, that it could have destroyed his victim, and I think other readers will too. This isn’t as black and white as that though. This also adds intrigue as to what was so awful that he himself could be dead… but the book questions this in the beginning and also what really happened in The Heights… Louise Candlish tells a sinister tale of credible characters and towering buildings. It all adds to this sinister feel from the beginning and creates an almost claustrophobic atmosphere as suspense builds throughout. This tells a story of Ellen, Vic, Lucas and Kieran with well-plotted layers of twists, crime, suspense, emotion and a question of how the reader may react, all in a thriller that may just keep you reading into the wee small hours…

Then there is an Edwardian house, where the family relationships can be seen.  Attitudes to class, or rather those in lower classes, also comes into it and there is some great, cutting dialogue, that shows a certain truth of certain attitudes to those coming from different backgrounds from themselves and those usually around them.

Readers get to know Kieran, the crime and the criminal justice system pretty well. All of which has further depth and richness of what happened and is just as involving as this fascinating thriller moves ever onward.

In most pages, there are scenes that are rich and adeptly paint a picture in words, immersing the reader right there in the area and in the mood of what’s going on all around them.

This is a book that is easy to get so involved in and keeps you hanging on right to the end where there’s a clever twist and a huge reveal of what really happened in the characters lives, where not all, in a particular crime, is all as it first appears…

About the Author

Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of fifteen novels. Her 2018 thriller OUR HOUSE, which has sold over 250,000 copies in the UK to date, was a #1 bestseller in paperback, ebook and audiobook and winner of the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is soon to be a major ITV drama series made by Death in Paradise producers Red Planet Pictures. THOSE PEOPLE (2019) was a #2 Sunday Times bestseller in paperback and is in development for TV by Company Pictures.
THE OTHER PASSENGER (2020) is a Sunday Times bestseller in paperback and under option for a feature film with Moving Image Productions. Louise lives in South London with her husband and daughter.

The Heights blog tour poster

#BookReview by Lou Home by Penny Parkes @CotswoldPenny @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC #Home #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction

Home
By Penny Parkes

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Home is engrossing and warm as well as intriguing as you open each door in different parts of the country as you travel with Anna as she does her job and meet different people who own the homes in this intriguing, warm,’Must Read’ book that you may have to take with you through every door you go through as it’s so compelling to read.
Find out more in the blurb and more of my thoughts in my review and then a bit about the author.
Firstly, thanks to Books and the City – Simon and Schuster publishers for inviting me to review for the blog tour and for gifting me with the book that has many doors – Home. The book was published 8th July and is her 5th book. It is a standalone.

Home Cover Pic

Blurb

‘Moving, hopeful and heartfelt… an ideal book group read’ AJ Pearce (who wrote Dear Mrs Bird, Yours Cheerfully)

A gripping and heartfelt story about overcoming the past and finding where you belong.

Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives – caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously.

But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start.

Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.

Compelling, rich and evocative, Home is Anna’s journey to discovering that it isn’t where you settle down that matters, but the people you have around you when you do. 
Home Cover Pic

Review

What an invitation to open every door just by opening a book. Who could resist to see who lives behind each one and where in the country these lovely doors are located.

The book takes readers to different parts of the country on a journey, which means arriving, stopping for a bit before moving on and meeting more and more new people. It adds to the excitement and intrigue of this book, which is all very interesting. It also shows a certain way of life and the trade-offs, the need for self-protection, a certain strenght and resilience as well as maturity and more in Anna’s character makeup.

Live life in 2019 in: Oxford, Dittisham, Bath, London, Chipping Norton
Have a past between 1998 and 2019 in: Swindon, Coventry, Oxford

The book begins in 2019 in Oxford she then moves onto Dittisham and then Bath. Some owners she meets, others she doesn’t. The properties often sound wonderful and the people she does meet, colourful and full of life. Anna is in-fact a house-sitter and also has another dream job she is meant to be working on.
Housesittin sounds an amazing responsibility and wonderful job and one I didn’t know existed. I am now thinking of exchanging my job to be a house-sitter, this book makes it sound so interesting. 

The book shows that housesitting isn’t a walk in the park, with not only the house to keep safe and clean, but also sometimes pets and the comings and goings of other people and the rules that are left to follow to the letter.

Anna and her friend Kate are also into books in a big way and have a sense of joviality about them as well as the seriousness of life and how not even friendships are easy . They are terrifically conceived characters, who  have a certain pull and you want to get to know. What’s also great are these characters try not to take anything for granted, including their lives, the scenery, the architecture, they just take it all in and are continually awe-inspired

The book also goes back to Anna’s childhood and the social workers she had as part of her care package and what a hotchpotch of people she had. It also shows her growing up, so as much as lots of the book is set in 2019, this gives an interesting back-story. She also, in this time meets her dad, so you get to know him a bit and what happened that she was in care and in university. All in all it is nice to see her life to progress to where she is now, in 2019. It’s also interesting to see why she is how she is.

All that travelling and meeting new characters kept me absolutely engrossed! It is easy to say that I highly recommend this book.

About the Author

Penny Parkes survived a convent education largely thanks to a ready supply of inappropriate novels and her passion for writing and languages.
She studied International Management in Bath and Germany, before gaining experience with the BBC. She then set up an independent film location agency and spent many happy years organising shoots for film, television and advertising – thereby ensuring that she was never short of travel opportunities, freelance writing projects or entertaining anecdotes.
Penny now lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, two children and an excitable dog with a fondness for Post-its.
She will often be found plotting epic train journeys through the Alps, baking gluten-free goodies or attempting to reach an elusive state of organisation.
In 2017, Penny won the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Award. This is her fifth novel.
Follow Penny on Twitter and Instagram: @CotswoldPenny

Home Blog Tour graphic

#BookReview of A Taste of Home By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @harriett_col @simonschusteruk @TeamBATC #Fiction #Wynbridge

A Taste of Home
By Heidi Swain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am delighted to be on the blog tour for the delicious – A Taste of Home, the latest book by Heidi Swain. It’s a wonderful summer read down on the farm in Wynbridge.  Check out the blurb and review.

Available Now

A Taste of Home cover

Blurb

The delicious new novel from Sunday Times bestseller Heidi Swain:

Fliss Brown has grown up living with her mother on the Rossi family’s Italian fruit farm. But when her mother dies, Fliss finds out she has a family of her own, and heads back to England with Nonna Rossi’s recipe for cherry and almond tart and a piece of advice: connect with your family before it is too late…

Fliss discovers that her estranged grandfather owns a fruit farm himself, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, and she arrives to find a farm that has fallen into disrepair. Using her knowledge gleaned from working on the Rossi farm and her desire to find out more about her past, Fliss rolls her sleeves up and gets stuck in. But what will she discover, and can she resurrect the farm’s glory days and find a taste of home…?

Review

wp-1620377891927.jpgBeautifully written from the start, begins at a funeral in Italy. Through a short series of lovely composed letters by her mum, Fliss starts to learn a bit about Fenview Farm in Wynbridge and the significance.
There’s an air of excitement and intrigue to know more and to see how the next chapter in her life can begin. The book links past and present, exquisitely as Fliss goes on a journey of discovery. It sounds whimsical, but steers away from this. All isn’t completely well when she is in Wynbridge, starting with her grandfather, who she needs to connect with, but he is in a state of ill-health and until now, doesn’t know of her existance and the farm that is in desperate need of attention. The farm also bridges her Italian life and life in England as farms in both countries link as she draws upon her experiences for Fenview. Food is plays quite a significant part in this, from the fruit in the orchard to delights like cherry and almond tart.

Fliss also ends up acquainted to Eliot and Louise Randall, who her mother had written to and has to take her to the farm, where her mother had grown up.

There is a cosyness as life bumbles along and sparks of romance start to ignite. There is much flirtation and the subtleness is beautiful.
A Taste of Home has a feel-good atmosphere, that wraps around the challenges of life, a bit like a hug. There’s also the comfort of food here and there, so perhaps graze as you read or don’t read when feeling ravenous. There is a lovely tart and exquisite fruit to be found within the pages. Between that and the romance, it is sure to set people up for summer. It has a soft warmth in the middle of its complex, harder times. It’s easy to imagine it to be like the fruit tart within the book with harder edges and soft middle.

I thank Harriett Collins at Simon & Schuster publishers for gifting me the book, a packet of strawberry seeds, recipe and sweets. Please note, my review is purely based on the book and not been influenced by anything.

About the Author


Heidi Swain is the Sunday Times bestselling author of twelve novels. Heidi lives in beautiful
south Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm. She is passionate about
gardening, the countryside, collecting vintage paraphernalia and reading.
To find out more, follow Heidi on twitter @Heidi_Swain
or visit her website: www.heidiswain.co.uk