*BLOG TOUR* War Clouds Over Blackberry Farm by Rosie Clarke

Today it is my pleasure to bring you my review of War Clouds Over Blackberry Farm by Rosie Clarke as part of her fabulous blog tour!

Cambridgeshire – March 1939

As the clouds of war begin to gather in Europe, the Talbot family of rural Blackberry Farm will be torn apart, just as so many families all over the world will be. Life will never be the same again.

Whilst in London, the Salmons family will feel the pain of parting and loss.

Brought together by war, the two families become intertwined and, as the outlook looks bleak, they must draw on each other’s strength to fight through the hard times.

Lizzie Johnson and Tom were sweethearts until a mistake caused a terrible rift. Lizzie takes herself off to London to heal the pain in a glamorous new job but she still loves Tom. His pride has been hurt – but deep down inside Tom still cares. Can they find happiness before their chance is gone and the whole word is swept into the terrible madness of war?

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you will know that I am a huge fan of Rosie Clarke’s Mulberry Lane series so when I was offered the opportunity to read War Clouds Over Blackberry Farm, the first in a new saga series, I jumped at the chance! I am pleased to confirm that I was not disappointed – Rosie Clarke knows how to write a good saga series!

In this first novel we are introduced to Lizzie and Tom, childhood sweethearts who are living under the cloud of a looming war. When a shocking incident occurs, Lizzie finds herself fleeing her home and heading for London where she aims to throw herself into her hairdressing. She has always wanted to compete with her hairdressing, and when she finds herself safe lodgings and a good salon, she finds herself attempting to heal, despite pining for her lost love with Tom.

Tom is hot headed and sometimes struggles to contain his anger. But he knows he would never hurt Lizzie, and he finds himself caring for her, despite what has happened in the past. As war becomes inevitable, Tom finds himself longing to bring Lizzie back home, away from the city in order to keep her safe.

I really liked both Tom and Lizzie’s characters – their thoughts and actions are very fitting for the time period but it was nice to see Lizzie’s ambitions shining through, despite what has happened to her. Rosie Clarke’s real success in her storytelling is her characterisation, and War Clouds Over Blackberry Farm is no exception. The themes of family, love and loss run strongly through her novels and they are clear to see here. The love and support within the Talbot family is beautifully described which left me keen to know more about other family members. It was also nice to see the clear contrast between rural and city life in 1939. With the Mulberry Lane series being set in London, I actually really enjoyed reading more about rural life in Britain as war started to become a certainty for all.

I am more than happy to recommend this novel to you all – I personally can’t wait for the release of the next in this historical saga series!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Rosie Clarke and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be part of this fabulous blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase Link

Amazon UK

Author Bio

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Shop Girls of Harpers and The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is an RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire.

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*BLOG TOUR* Escape to the Hummingbird Hotel by Daisy James

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Escape to the Hummingbird Hotel by the fabulous Daisy James!

When florist-to-the-stars Abbie Coleman catches a glimpse of her boyfriend through the window of Tiffany’s, she couldn’t be more excited. Keen to share her happiness, she organises a huge surprise party for all their family and friends… except things don’t quite work out as she expected, and instead of planning a flower-filled wedding, she finds herself single, and fired from a job she loves.

Desperate to escape her heartbreak, she jets off to her aunt’s quirky Hummingbird Hotel on the gorgeous island of Corfu. Little did she know that instead of spending her time lounging by the pool, drinking cocktails, and soaking up the sun, she’d be stepping into the role of the island’s newest hotelier.

The arrival of unexpected guests sends Abbie into a tailspin of panic, and she’s forced to turn to snippy, but charismatic, vineyard owner-turned-chef, Nikos Angelopoulos, for help. Why does the kitchen fill with smoke whenever she makes coffee? Why is there a naked man swimming in the pool? And why do the hotel’s toiletries turn their guests’ hair pink?

Despite all the chaos, the Hummingbird Hotel works its magic on Abbie, and she finds herself with a decision to make. Will she return home to the drizzly grey skies of London? Or will she take a leap of faith and embrace the new opportunities that little corner of paradise has to offer, and maybe, just maybe, discover a sprinkle of romance along the way?

Abbie is an amazing florist, working for FlowerEssence under her wonderful boyfriend Dan, who she knows is going to propose (she saw him going into Tiffany’s so she is certain it is happening!).

When she unexpectedly and rather brutally finds herself single and jobless, Abbie is left feeling completely lost. When she discovers that she has inherited the Hummingbird Hotel from the Aunt she has never met, she finds herself on a plane to Corfu in a daze, ready to sell the property to potentially fund her dream of an English cottage with beautiful garden, whilst also hoping to learn more about the Aunt who had been absent from her life.

Set in the beautiful Corfu, Daisy James paints a vivid picture of the peaceful Hummingbird Hotel, as well as the neighbouring vineyard. You can really immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings, whilst absolutely understanding Abbie’s predicament. She has spent the last year believing that her relationship and her job would replace her dreams of working at a famous garden (Kew was up there on the list!) as well as owning her own English cottage and garden. With family secrets playing on her mind, and her life in London looking a little bleak, maybe Corfu is just what she needs.

With a potential romance thrown in for good measure, this novel offers you everything that you want from a light hearted romance novel. There is some drama, family secrets, a beautiful setting (truly, this novel makes me want to get on a plane to Greece) and a beautiful resolution. This is the perfect summer novel, and i am more than happy to recommend it to you all. Like me, you may not be heading to foreign shores this year but don’t let that stop you dreaming of them. Grab yourself a cold glass of wine and a copy of the Escape to the Hummingbird Hotel – let me know what you think!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Daisy James and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy of this novel. This review is my own honest opinion.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Bio

Daisy James loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. She especially likes to create sunshine-filled settings in exotic locations – the Caribbean, Tuscany, Cornwall, Provence – so she can spend her time envisioning her characters enjoying the fabulous scenery and sampling the local food and drink.

When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter @daisyjamesbooks or on Instagram @booksdaisyjames.

Book Review: Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn

Christmas at Conwenna Cove

Book number 46 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn.

‘When Grace Phillips travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. Grace soon meets local vet Oli Davenport and initially finds him rude, but learning about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.

It’s been three years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.

As the snow falls and Christmas wishes come true can Conwenna Cove work its magic and help Grace and Oli find the happiness they both deserve?’ (Thanks Netgalley!)

Grace Phillips is a successful author, who has a close relationship with her parents and is more than happy being single.  When her parents move to Conwenna Cove, she follows them to help them settle in, always with the intention of returning to her flat in Cardiff.

Oli Davenport has spent the last three years just surviving.  His beloved wife lost her battle with cancer, leaving him alone with his two young children and his veterinary practice.

I must admit that I have not read Summer at Conwenna Cove – so I look forward to picking it up! At no point did I feel like I was missing any vital details in this novel though, so I can confirm that this can be read as a standalone.  This novel is full of festive cheer, which despite it being only October, I loved!  I really enjoyed both Grace and Oli’s characters, and following the journey that they are both on.  Both characters have suffered a great personal loss, and are able to relate to each other in a way that some others cannot.  Grace and Oli both feel guilt at their attraction to each other, something they each have to overcome during their journeys.

As I have said on many book reviews previously, nothing about this novel is a surprise.  You know how it is going to end.  However that is exactly the point.  This novel is a piece of festive escapism, set in a beautiful village with no surprises.  It is a lovely romance, and reading it is the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon with a glass of wine!  So go grab yourself a copy, whilst I go and grab myself a copy of Summer at Conwenna Cove and reacquaint myself with that gorgeous village!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Netgalley and Canelo for giving me a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Lies by Michael Grant


We’ve made it to book 17 in my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge: Lies by Michael Grant.

‘It’s been seven months since all the adults disappeared. Gone. It happens in one night: a girl who died now walks among the living; Zil and the Human Crew set fire to Perdido Beach; and amid the flames and smoke, Sam sees the figure of the boy he fears the most: Drake. But Drake is dead—or so they thought.

Perdido Beach burns and battles rage: Astrid against the Town Council; the Human Crew versus the mutants; and Sam against Drake, who is back from the dead and ready to finish where he and Sam left off. They say that death is a way to escape the FAYZ, but are the kids of Perdido Beach desperate enough to believe that death will set them free?’ (Thanks Amazon!)

So I have once again returned to Michael Grants Gone series, for his third instalment, Lies.  This series follows a group of children after the disappearance of any over the age of 15 from their town.  As the realisation sets in that the adults will not be returning, these children have to fight to live as they battle hunger and then, each other.  Lies join these children seven months after the disappearance of the adults.  Hunger is rife as all the food is gone and they are forced to forage, hunt and grow their own in order to survive.  Children are dying, and ‘lies’ start to circulate this young community as the number of children with mutations grows, which scares many.  A rumour starts to spread that death will set these children free, returning them to their parents and the inaccessible outside world.  Death also creates fear however, as no one knows for sure what happens as those left behind are forced to bury the dead.

I am really enjoying this dystopian series, which is based around the really interesting concept of children being forced to care for themselves when they find themselves trapped inside the FAYZ.  It brings out both the best and the worst in the older children, as they fight for power, food, order and an understanding of what is happening to them as mutant powers emerge.  It also very clearly highlights how vulnerable younger children really are when they are left with no one to care for them, which to me just shows how vulnerable we are as a human race.  Children are forced to make grown up decisions without any life experience or knowledge of what the consequences of those decisions may be.  I would advise that this is read as part of the series rather than as a stand alone book, but do give the series a go.  The characterisation is great and the plot is gripping.  The stage has been set for Plague, book four in the series and I look forward to reading it!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📗

Guest Book Review: Heroes of Olympus: Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

So following the resounding success of his brothers blog, which culminated in Cressida Cowell reading it and sending him a little tweet, Ed has now decided that he too would like to contribute to my blog.  His latest read was Blood of Olympus from the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.  Firstly, I cannot emphasise enough just how much Ed is enjoying Rick Riordans work.  He devoured the Percy Jackson series, loves the Heroes of Olympus and is planning on reading Magnus Chase.  He spends many a dinnertime teaching the entire family about mythology and Gods – I love how enthusiastic he is.  So, please enjoy his review.


The characters are Leo, Piper, Annabeth, Percy, Jason, Hazel and Frank.  I liked them all because they were dramatic, funny and crazy.  They all made the book good in their own way.


The plot is that Gaia plans to destroy the world.  She is the oldest Goddess and has been asleep for too many years.  Her children, the giants, plan to wake her but seven famous demigods stand in their way.

Your opinion

There wasn’t many scary bits but a lot of laughter.  I loved this book.  My favourite part was where Leo arrived at Ogygia for the second time when he face planted into the sand trying to make a heroic landing.


I would recommend this book to people who like small romance and huge comedy!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: The Kicking The Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins

Book number 16 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is The Kicking The Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins.

‘Meet the daughters of Iris Parker. Dee; sensitive and big-hearted; Rose uptight and controlled and Fleur the reckless free spirit.
At the reading of their mother’s will, the three estranged women are aghast to discover that their inheritance comes with strings attached. If they are to inherit her wealth, they must spend a series of weekends together over the course of a year and carry out their mother’s ‘bucket list’.

But one year doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for them to move past the decades-old layers of squabbles and misunderstandings. Can they grow up for once and see that Iris’ bucket list was about so much more than money…’ (Thanks Amazon!)

So I have a list – a bucket list – as I assume most people do.  A list of things we’d like to do, see and achieve within our lifetime.  What I enjoyed about The Kicking The Bucket List was the unusual twist on this concept.  Iris Parker had created her list, but rather than creating it for herself she had created it for her estranged daughters in the event of her death.  In order to receive their inheritance they have to spend the months following her death completing the tasks that she sets for them.

Iris’ list comprises of activities designed to bring her daughters together following her death, something she had sadly failed to do in life.  This fact comes across as both tragic and endearing: the fact that even her death wouldn’t stop her trying to bring them back together.

I really enjoyed reading about Dee, Fleur and Rose.  They were far more complex characters than I had expected when I first started reading this novel, and their back stories made me realise just why they were the way that they were.  As you move through the novel you can see why they have drifted apart, but also why they need to come back together.

This really is a lovely story that explores both life and death without any morbidity.  It’s a story of family relationships, both past and present, and shows us why we really do need the love of those closest to us.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Guest Book Review: How To Train Your Dragon: How To Steal a Dragons Sword by Cressida Cowell

So today is a special day…my 10 year old son has agreed (ok he was bribed!) to write a book review!  He is currently working his way through Cressida Cowell’s series, How To Train A Dragon.  It has taken me to book 9 to convince him to do this, so here goes!

‘The story continues in the ninth volume of Hiccup’s How to Train Your Dragon memoirs.

Bad times have come to the Archipelago. Ever since the woods of Berserk burned down, it is almost as if the world is cursed. Dragons are starting to revolt against their Masters. The waters have risen, flooding fields and washing whole villages away. But worse still, the wicked witch Excellinor has returned. Can Hiccup find the King’s Things and win the sword-fighting contest to stop Alvin the Treacherous from becoming King of the Wilderwest?’ (Thanks Amazon!)

Firstly I should say that of my two sons, it has taken me a really long time to convince Bill that reading is great.  He’s still very picky about what he reads, but Cressida Cowell has really captured his imagination for which I am very grateful.  Enjoy his review, all his own words!


The main characters in this book are Hiccup, Camacazi and Fishlegs.  They are all quite skinny and thought of as nerds.  The villains are Alvin the Treacherous and the Witch Excellinor.


Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is about to become King of the Wilderwest, but his unpleasant cousin Snotlout threw a stone at his helmet revealing Hiccups biggest secret: the slave mark.  This causes everyone to turn their back on Hiccup, leaving him to fight for his place as King of the Wilderwest!

Your Opinion

I enjoyed the book as I thought it was quite extreme!


I would recommend this as I enjoyed it so other people might.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📗

Book Review: Six Months in Montana by Pamela Kelley

So book number 15 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Six Months in Montana by Pamela Kelley.

‘Molly Bishop loves living in Manhattan and managing a boutique luxury hotel. She’s about to be promoted to her dream job of General Manager, the role she’s been striving for her entire career.

There’s only one thing standing in her way.

The will of her childhood friend, Christian Ford’s grandfather. She hasn’t even seen Christian in over ten years, but a recent run-in with his grandfather during a rare visit home, resulted in a new condition to the will. Christian will only inherit the ranch he’s been running and the real estate development business that he has expanded, if he marries Molly and stays married for at least six months.’ (Thanks Amazon!)

So this is a story about meddling family members if ever I saw one! Christian Ford’s grandfather seeks to push Christian into a more settled way of life as he creates a condition within his will, pushing Christian into an arranged marriage in order to inherit the ranch and business that he has worked so hard for.  Whilst his grandfather does not expect him to remain married, he does expect him to live as a married man for six months.  In addition to this stipulation within his will, Christian’s grandfather is very specific about who his grandson should marry: Molly Bishop.  Molly is a young woman with career aspirations in the hotel business.  In addition to this, she no longer lives in Beauville, Montana, her hometown.  Instead she lives in New York City, which she loves.

Christian and Molly, whom haven’t seen each other in over a decade, must work to find a way to coexist within a marriage that they find themselves part of.  This novel follows them as they navigate their way through the situation they find themselves in as they get to know each other all over again and they begin to assess what it is they are both looking for in life.

This is a really enjoyable, light read.  As previously mentioned, i’m really enjoying small town American novels at the moment and this is no exception – give it a try!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖

The Boy Who Lived. 20 Years On.

Harry Potter.  The Boy Who Lived.

In the last 20 years the literary world, particularly the world inhabited by avid children and teenager readers, has changed dramatically.  Whilst I don’t want to downplay amazing authors such as Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl (I honestly don’t think I can downplay them – they are awesome), J.K. Rowling opened up a new world of possibilities when she introduced Harry James Potter to the masses.

My 13 year old self was introduced to Harry Potter by my lovely English teacher, who was encouraging us to read all the books shortlisted for the Carnegie Award that year.  As an already enthusiastic reader, this was not a problem for me but i’m sure you can imagine some of the groans that were rumbling around that classroom.  That year however, those groans quickly disappeared as people argued over the copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone that was circulating the class.  At that age I was quick to devour any books that I could get my hands on (often having to be vetted by my parents as they weren’t always age appropriate!), and Harry Potter was no different.  Actually no, Harry Potter was different.  Harry, Ron and Hermione opened up a world like no other – one that I don’t think anyone expected.  From that point onwards I, like the many millions across the world, was hooked.  My (now) husband faithfully queued with me at midnight in 2005 and again in 2007 as I eagerly awaited the release of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince and then Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, knowing full well that I would not be sleeping until I’d finished them (secretly he was glad, because he knew he’d get his hands on them the next day without having to admit that he wanted to read them too).

I’ve spent many years being a little uncool because I love to read (the year I read Dracula whilst on a girly holiday to Magaluf sticks in my mind), however J.K. Rowling introduced a world that everyone wants to be a part of.  I love books, and I love the fact that you can disappear into a different world, if only for a short time.  Very few books however remain with you for quite as long as these seven books have.  For me, Harry Potter was part of my teenage years and early twenties.  What amazes me however, is that their longevity has meant that they continue to mean something, even now, 20 years on.  My 10 year old son has his copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone ready to read (once he’s finished the Percy Jackson series, obviously), and he’s excited to read it.  A new generation of fans is emerging with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – my other 10 year old son is less of a reader than his brother but he is enthralled with the wizarding world that he has discovered on the big screen, even buying himself Newt Scamanders wand at our recent trip the Warners Bros Studio Tour.  Not only has J.K. Rowling opened up this amazing wizarding world to us all, but she also created a whole generation of readers who can’t get enough of these fantastical universes in which they can immerse themselves.  Authors have found themselves with young readers who can’t get enough of their creations – Veronica Roth, Stephanie Meyer and Rick Riordan to name but a few.

Thanks to Harry, Ron and Hermione we now have a whole range of strong characters across a number of genres who show our children just what they can achieve if they really try.  I am proud to be part of the Harry Potter generation, and I am proud that my children are becoming fans of the wizarding world.

I will however always be a little disappointed when another birthday passes me by without the arrival of my Hogwarts acceptance letter.

Book Review: Waiting for the Bee Stings by Calvin Wade

I seem to have made it to book 13 (unlucky for some) in my Goodreads Reading Challenge!  My latest read was Waiting for the Bee Stings by Calvin Wade.

‘Mia Maher is nearing forty. She arrives at the funeral of an old friend, Chrissie, who has died suddenly. Happily married, with two school age children, Mia is unaware that this will be the day that changes everything and her life will switch on to an entirely new path.
‘Waiting For The Bee Stings’ is a story about the lives of four friends who met at Newcastle University in the mid-1990s. It is a tale of love, friendship, passion and betrayal.’ (Thanks Amazon!)

Waiting for the Bee Stings begins with Mia Maher attending the funeral of Chrissie, her best friend when she was young, but someone she had lost touch with over the years.  Mia, Chrissie, Gary and Jason had been firm friends throughout their university years when they had their whole lives ahead of them.  The novel is told from the viewpoints of Mia and Jason as they reconnect following Chrissie’s funeral.  With the story told from both characters point of view, we get a well rounded view of how Mia came to marry Gary, and how the four friends came to be estranged after having such a close friendship.

There’s very little more I can say without starting to give away how this story progresses.  I will say however that I enjoyed the different characters within the novel and whilst I did guess some of the plot, other parts remained a mystery which is always a winner in my view!  I felt that Mia was a little naive (if not a little stupid actually) as some of the things that happened were rather obvious, however I really enjoyed the character of Jason even if he was often a little wounded.  Well worth a read, and I will be exploring other novels by Calvin Wade.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖