*BLOG TOUR* A Village Affair by Julie Houston

Today it is my pleasure to share with you my review for A Village Affair by Julie Houston on her blog tour.

Cassie Beresford has recently landed her dream job as deputy head teacher at her local, idyllic village primary school, Little Acorns.  So, the last thing she needs is her husband of twenty years being ‘outed’ at a village charity auction – he has been having an affair with one of her closest friends.

As if it weren’t enough to cope with, Cassie suddenly finds herself catapulted into the head teacher position, and at the front of a fight to ward off developers determined to concrete over the beautiful landscape.

But through it all, the irresistible joy of her pupils, the reality of keeping her teenage children on the straight and narrow, her irrepressible family and friends, and the possibility of new love, mean what could have been the worst year ever, actually might be the best yet…

I was very excited when I heard from Julie Houston and she told me about her new novel, A Village Affair.  When you live in a village, you are all to aware that everyone around you knows a lot about you, sometimes too much!  A Village Affair highlights both the good and bad sides to this.

Cassie Beresford is very happy.  She has a long, loving marriage, two wonderful teenage children and she is just about to start her dream job as Deputy Head Teacher at her local primary school.  So it comes as a shock when she finds out in front of the whole village that her husband of 20 years, Mark, has been cheating on her with her best friend Tina.  To add insult to injury, she then finds herself in the position of Head Teacher the day before term starts.

In the face of all of this stress and trauma, Cassie also finds herself at the forefront of a fight with some developers who are seeking to build on the local green belt land surrounding the village.

The number of challenges that unexpectedly face Cassie take her through many emotions, as she seeks to find her place in the world again whilst fighting a number of battles.  A Village Affair is a story about a women who has to find herself when she thinks she is lost.  It is a story about reaffirming relationships, forging new ones and discarding broken ones.  Cassie is a strong independent woman, she just doesn’t know it yet!

I am more than happy to recommend this novel.  I really enjoyed following Cassie and her family as they faced these intense challenges, overcoming them together.  If you are looking for a novel with a bit of heart, this is the novel for you.  Let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Julie Houston, Netgalley and Aria for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you also to Vicky Joss as Aria for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Julie Houston is the author of The One Saving Grace, Goodness, Grace and Me and Looking for Lucy, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle Number 1 bestseller.  She is married, with two teenage children and a cockerpoo, and like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village.  She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

*BLOG TOUR* The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr

It is my pleasure to help kick off the blog tour for The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr on publication day!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.

Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.

It is rather apt that I should be able to read such a book when we are so close to the centenary of the end of the First World War; the war to end all wars, although we now sadly know this not to be true.

The Poppy Field is set in two time periods – both present day and war time – and tells the story of two strong women, both of whom have seen unimaginable things in their roles as nurses.  One works on the frontline, tending injured soldiers whilst the other is a trauma nurse who is seeking to work out what she wants from her life.  Both show tremendous courage in the face of an uncertain future after dealing with trauma and tragedy, both professionally and personally.

The two women are linked across the decades by a series of letters, written by Alice Le Breton from her frontline hospital and discovered by Gemma as she renovates an old farmhouse in France.  Despite the different expectations placed on them by society, both women seek independence, stability, peace and love.  Alice’s letters bring to life a time long since gone by but never to be forgotten as she sees the impact of war on hundreds of young men, some of whom will never again return home.  In present day, Gemma is dealing with her own tragedy and can relate to Alice’s life, despite the fact that they lived almost a century apart.  With the help of Tom, an ex-military man who is assisting her with her renovations, and Alice’s letters, Gemma attempts to create herself the life she never knew she wanted.

The Poppy Field is such a lovely novel – I always enjoy novels set during the war and this is no exception.  I really loved the way that Alice’s letter linked her time with the present – I felt that this was beautifully and seamlessly achieved.  I therefore have no hesitation in recommending this book, which is published today!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Rachel at Rachels Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and to Deborah Carr for writing such a lovely novel!

Purchase Link: http://mybook.to/ThePoppyField

 

Author Bio

Deborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs.  She became interested in books set in WWI when researching her great-grandfather’s time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.  She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years.  Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WWI and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a ‘special commendation’ in the Harry Bowling Prize that year.  The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.

*BLOG TOUR* The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

It is my pleasure to be today’s stop on the blog tour for The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble.  Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter.  United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing women’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store?  Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

As we all know, I am a fan of a historical novel so I jumped at the chance to be involved in this blog tour and get my hands on this lovely novel, and I was not disappointed!

The Mistress of Pennington’s is set in 1910, a slightly earlier time period than I usually read so it was nice to read something a little different.  It is set as the suffragette movement is gaining momentum with women try to cement their position in society as equal to men.  Elizabeth Pennington is the perfect heroine for this novel.  She is the only child of Edward Pennington, a wealthy widowed man who owns the large and prestigious department store in Bath.  Elizabeth has spent years attempting to prove herself within her fathers store, acutely aware that Edward Pennington is sorely disappointed that he doesn’t have a son to take over the store from him when the time comes.  Edward Pennington is struggling with the changes in society, believing women to be far inferior to men, and also believing that the wealthy upper classes are far superior to their working class counterparts.

Elizabeth seeks change along with many of her female peers, and as a result of her relationship with her father she is wary and mistrustful of men.  When she meets Joseph Carter, a glove-maker, she finds a heartbroken man with drive, ambition and the same ideals as her.  The difference in class between Joseph and Elizabeth is clear, with the descriptions of both of their lives being very clearly defined. Together they aim to change the ethos of Pennington’s, giving more equality to men and women, as well as allowing the working classes into a world previously only accessible to those in the upper classes.

Bath is a beautiful city setting for this novel, and Rachel Brimble really describes the opulence and almost majestic beauty of Pennington’s, along with how people such as Joseph Carter found it was an inspiring place to visit.

This is a beautifully written novel, and I am more than happy to recommend this to you all!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

*BLOG TOUR* Confetti and Confusion by Daisy James

Confetti & Confusion Cover

It is my pleasure to bring you my review of Daisy James’ Confetti and Confusion as part of her blog tour.

The Paradise Cookery School is officially open!

Stepping in for a celebrity chef, Millie Harper is feeling the pressure to make the first ever Paradise Cookery School classes a dazzling success and ensure that bride-to-be Imogen and friends have an unforgettable experience.

Meanwhile, Millie is trying to play it cool around handsome estate manager Zach Barker. But whenever he is near Millie cannot fail to notice the chemistry between them – until someone from Zach’s past arrives and any potential romance seems out of the question.

When disaster strikes and the wedding is in jeopardy, Millie realises she may have to go above and beyond to make sure the school is a success. Can Millie manage to create a day that dreams are made of, and will she find a way to tell Zach how she feels?

Allow yourself to be transported to the balmy St Lucian sunshine by this uplifting summer read – perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan.

So, Confetti and Confusion is the second book in the Paradise Cookery School series, following immediately on from the events in Sunshine and Secrets (a book I have also reviewed – see here).

If you have read my review of the first novel in this series you will know just how much I loved the setting of the Paradise Cookery School.  It is set within a luscious cocoa plantation in St Lucia, a Caribbean island known for its vibrance.  I am a big fan of novels set in beautiful locations (its helps me add to my ever increasing list of places to visit), and this novel was no exception.  I loved learning more about St Lucia, loosing myself amongst the cocoa trees, experiencing the daily deluge of rain that disappears as quickly as it appears – it really does set the scene, and provide a wonderful backdrop for Millie Harper’s experiences in the Paradise Cookery School.

This takes us neatly onto the characters within the novel.  We return to Millie Harper, the lovely Ella Johnson and of course, Zach Barker.  In addition, we have a range of new characters – the first attendees of Claudia Croft’s prestigious cookery course in her newest venue in St Lucia; Imogen, the bride to be, attends with the female members of her bridal party in the week preceding her luxurious St Lucian nuptials.

As we learned in Sunshine and Secrets, Millie Harper has a habit of finding trouble (or trouble finding her!), and it is no exception in the latest instalment in this series.  With a cookery course to unexpectedly provide, a wedding that suffers unexpected setbacks and a bride to keep happy, Millie finds herself pushed to her limits, both professionally and emotionally.  Throw into the mix the dashing Zach Barker and we have a novel full of twists and turns!

I really enjoyed this novel, and it couldn’t have been published at a better time.  It is a perfect beach read, and if you don’t find yourself on a beach this summer, you’ll at least be able to imagine yourself on the stunning island of St Lucia.  I definitely recommend this novel – it’s light, fun and you get to revisit old friends at the Paradise Cookery School as well and making new ones.  I’m already looking forward to the next instalment, Mistletoe and Mystery, out later this year!

Have you read any of the Paradise Cookery School series? If you have, let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Canelo and Daisy James for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful blog tour!

Author Bio: 

DaisyJames.2e16d0ba.fill-300x300

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

Author Social Media Links

Twitter: @daisyjamesbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daisyjamesbooks/

*BLOG TOUR* Girlfriend, Interrupted by Patricia Caliskan

Girlfriend, Interrupted

Today is my turn on the Blog Tour for Girlfriend, Interrupted by Patricia Caliskan.

What do you do when the love of your life is already somebody else’s dad…?

Ella Shawe was undomesticated, unattached and uninhibited.

Until she met Dan.

Sexy, charming and funny, Dan ticked all the right boxes and Ella threw herself head-first into the whirlwind romance.

But now she’s moved into his family home, complete with two demanding children and a hyperactive dog.

Throw in Dan’s impossibly perfect ex-wife, Ella’s interfering sex therapist mother and the snooty and dismissive mother-in-law from Hell, and Ella is almost ready to throw in the towel.

But, ready or not, Ella is part of the family now, and getting it right for Dan’s kids means getting it right for everyone. She just needs to figure out how to include herself in the mix…

So I was very much looking forward to reading this novel – the blurb sold it to me as a light but funny novel, looking at a romantic situation that is oh so common these days.  Ella has fallen in love with Dan, and their whirlwind relationship has found them living together.  Ella knew Dan had two children, Grace and Ethan, and had already formed a relationship with them both. What she hadn’t anticipated was those relationships changing when she moved in…  Throw into the mix Dan’s perfect ex-wife Bryony, his over-bearing mother Pippa and her own sex therapist mother and you can rightly expect some funny and cringe-worthy moments!

This novel gives a lighthearted look at step families and what really goes on behind closed doors.  It shows how hard life can be when you are the step parent, and how looks can be deceiving – a perfect life is not always what it seems.  It highlights that no matter how hard you try, sometimes it just won’t be enough but it also shows that sometimes you just don’t know what other people think of your efforts.  All step families are different, but I loved the angle taken in this novel – it really shows the good and the bad side to such blended families, and that they cannot always be taken at face value.

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted read that explores both romance and family life then this is the novel for you!  Let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you very much to Sapere Books for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Author Bio

Following a childhood spent writing her first books, most notably, Our Book about Jesus – a self-help guide for fellow young Catholics, and, The Sleepover – a compelling tale of a midnight feast, shockingly intercepted by fictitious parents with badly drawn hands, Patricia Caliskan always liked to play with words.

Patricia first saw her name misspelt in print aged 17, interviewing hungover rock stars and illegible actors for an Arts and Entertainment magazine. After graduating from the University of Liverpool, Patricia joined Trinity Mirror Newsgroup, working as editor across a portfolio of lifestyle magazine titles.

Patricia likes a good pair of boots, wearing perfume with her pyjamas, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Because without it life feels far too grown up for her liking. Told with mischievous humour, Patricia’s stories explore family dynamics, office politics, and the divergent roles of women throughout their lives.

Girlfriend, Interrupted is Patricia’s second novel: her first, Awful by Comparison, will be reissued by Sapere Books this summer. 

 

*BLOG TOUR* Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne

Mary Rosie's War - Cover

Today it my pleasure to bring you Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne as part of her blog tour.

WW2 has been declared. A strange find on the beach gives Mary Rosie the chance to fulfil her dreams and contribute to her country, but all is not what she imagined.

After witnessing the first bomb to be dropped on mainland Britain, Mary watches her friends leave to join the forces and longs to be with them, but is held back by loyalty to her widowed mother.

France has capitulated. Johnny Allan’s regiment has been annihilated by German troops north of Paris. Johnny has to find a way to get home and to the girl who no longer waits for him.

Leisel is a German Jew who lost her family to the Nazis and has to make her way in Britain, a strange new country, while harbouring a desire for revenge.

Their lives become entangled in a way that no one could have envisaged.

A story about war, family ties, love, loyalty and loss.

As you are all aware, I love World War II historical fiction, particularly when it focuses on the plight of women during that era.  That is why I jumped at the chance to be a part of this blog tour and read this lovely book.  I must admit that I devoured this novel, reading it over a couple of evenings.

The novel focusses on Mary Rosie and other characters who touch her and her family.  I must confess to not having read any of the other 4 novels in the Raumsey series, however I did not feel I was missing anything by not doing so.  This book than therefore definitely be read as a standalone.

Mary is a young woman living in Scotland with her widowed mother.  When the first bomb drops nearby, she witnesses firsthand the death and destruction the war is causing.  She is desperate to follow her female friends into war, but is held back out of loyalty to her mother.  When an opportunity presents itself, Mary Rosie leaves home and signs up to the war effort.

Whilst the novel does follow Mary, it also touches on the lives Chrissie, Mary’s mother, Johnny, her childhood sweetheart and Liesel, a German Jew whose life is crushed by loss as she seeks revenge.  Their stories are intertwined as they each forge their own path through six years of hardship and loss whilst trying to find their way back to family and love.

I found that Mary Rosie’s War really depicted the tragedy of war, but also the amazing determination and hope that existed during such a hard time full of loss and devastation.  The descriptions of pain and love, hope and loss are beautiful and ring true, all set against a Scottish landscape.  This novel was reminiscent of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a book I read last year that I really loved (check out my review here).

If you enjoy historical fiction then I would definitely recommend Mary Rosie’s War to you, go and grab yourself a copy and let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to a part of this wonderful tour, and providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Author Bio

Catherine Byrne always wanted to be a writer. She began at the age of eight by drawing comic strips with added dialogue and later, as a teenager, graduated to poetry.  Her professional life however, took a very different path.  She first studied glass engraving with Caithness Glass where she worked for fourteen years. During that time she also worked as a foster parent.  After the birth of her youngest child she changed direction, studying and becoming a chiropodist with her own private practice.  At the same time she did all the administration work for her husband’s two businesses, and this continued until the death of her husband in 2005.  However she still maintained her love of writing, and has had several short stories published in women’s magazines.  Her main ambition was to write novels and she has now retired in order to write full time.

Born and brought up until the age of nine on the Island of Stroma, she heard many stories from her grandparents about the island life of a different generation. Her family moved to the mainland at a time when the island was being depopulated, although it took another ten years before the last family left.

 An interest in geology, history and her strong ties to island life have influenced her choice of genre for her novels.

Since first attending the AGM of the Scottish Association of Writers in 1999, Catherine has won several  prizes, commendations and has been short-listed both for short stories and chapters of her novels. In 2009, she won second prize in the general novel category for ‘Follow The Dove’ 

In 2016 The Road to Nowhere  won second prize in the Barbara Hammond competition for Best Self Published novel. The follow up, Isa’s Daughter won 1st prize in the same competition the following year.

Although the books follow the fortunes of the same family, they are all stand-alone.

The fifth book in the Raumsey series is  Mary Rosie’s War.

Catherine Byrne lives in Wick, Caithness.

*BLOG TOUR* Mulberry Lane Babies by Rosie Clarke

Mulberry Lane Babies

Today it is my absolute pleasure to kick off the blog tour for Rosie Clarke’s Mulberry Lane Babies.

1941 Mulberry Lane, London. War rages but new life brings new hope.

Times are hard for all on Mulberry Lane as the war rages into yet another year. Desperate times push people into dangerous situations, and the residents of Mulberry Lane are not exempt.

Menacing shadows lurk on dark street corners, threatening the safety of those who are alone and vulnerable. When Peggy’s twins are born early Maureen and Nellie are there to lend a helping hand.  The mothers of Mulberry Lane stick together despite the grim conditions of war torn London and a shadowy fear that stalks their lives. Neighbours and friends look out for each other and new life brings hope and joy to the Lane.

Mulberry Lane Babies is the third in the Mulberry Lane series from Rosie Clarke, and I am pleased to say that I have had the pleasure of reading all three.  I am a huge fan of fiction set during World War II, particularly when it centres on women during that time. It was a period of substantial change for women, as men were drafted up and sent to fight in a war that went on for 6 long years.  With the majority of able-bodied men gone, women were expected to step up to keep things running back home.  Finally, women were given more opportunity to leave their homes and make a difference for their country.

Mulberry Lane Babies continues the stories of Peggy, Jane, Maureen and Anne as they deal with their new lives whilst their men are at war, or lost due to the war.  Each of their lives takes a different turn as the gruelling war continues, and they are forced to push forward with their lives with only each other for support.

I liked the fact that this novel introduced characters that had only briefly been mentioned in previous novels in this series – most notably Ellie.  Ellie had previously been introduced as a young, naive new wife, who just wanted some fun when her new husband left her behind for war.  In Mulberry Lane Babies we learn far more about Ellie and what life has in store for her.

If I have any comments about this series, it would be that you need to read them all, in order.  What you learn about these characters in each novel is so important, and I probably wouldn’t recommend reading them as standalone novels.  This is not a bad thing though.  The character development, and the stories that surround each of them are enthralling.  I already cannot wait for the next instalment in this series.  I know that Rosie Clarke has suggested there may be 4 books in this series, but more if that’s what the readers want – I would definitely be happy with more!  I love to read about characters in a real life historical setting, and the Mulberry Lane series is now exception.  Go and grab yourself a copy of this lovely novel!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📗

Thank you to Rosie Clarke, Aria and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

About the author

Rosie is happily married and lives in a quiet village in East Anglia.

Writing books is a passion for Rosie, she also likes to read, watch good films and enjoys holidays in the sunshine. She loves shoes and adores animals, especially squirrels and dogs.

Follow Rosie

Twitter: @AnneHerries

Website: http://www.rosieclarke.co.uk