*BLOG TOUR* You Only Live Once by Maxine Morrey

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for You Only Live Once by the fabulous Maxine Morrey!

When Lily’s husband dies, she moves to the edge of a tiny village, settling into a solitary life, her only real company her brother and his family. A quiet life becomes her safe space, with no risk of getting hurt.

When her brother offers her spare room to his oldest friend, Jack, Lily’s reluctant – but knowing how much she owes her family, can’t say no. 

A lodger takes some getting used to but to her surprise, Lily begins to enjoy Jack’s company. Slowly but surely, Jack encourages Lily to step outside her comfort zone. 

But taking risks means facing the consequences, and telling people how she really feels, means Lily might have to face losing them. But as the saying goes – you only live once – and being brave could mean Lily gets a second chance at love…

I always find it exciting when Maxine Morrey has a new book due for release, and You Only Live Once was no exception to that rule!

We are introduced to Lily, a reclusive, widowed writer who has achieved amazing success with her novels. She is close to her brother and his family, but beyond that she barely leaves her home. She has struggled with the grief of losing her beloved husband for so long, that she has been determined to protect herself from any further heartache.

When her brothers best friend returns to the village, Lily finds herself with an unexpected new lodger. Jack knows and understand Lily’s reluctance to have him in her safe space, but as they settle into an unlikely routine, they find themselves becoming more and more comfortable in each others company.

Lily and Jack are both such lovely characters, it was easy to fall into their story. Lily’s grief and the ease with which she withdrew from society was both heart wrenching and understandable. Her fear of loss is something that most of us can relate to. Her brother and sister-in-law clearly adored her, but didn’t know how to pull her out of her safe space back into the real world. Enter Jack: The incredibly handsome landscape gardener with his own family issues. When pushed together they find themselves able to help each other in ways they didn’t realise they even needed help with.

I loved this novel. It was so easy to immerse myself in it completely – I was invested in all the characters, the small village setting was perfect with some lovely glamorous socialising thrown in for good measure! I am more than happy to recommend this novel, so go grab yourself a copy (and when you’re finished go to Maxine’s back catalogue – there’s not a single bad novel in there!).

Star Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Boldwood Books, Maxine Morrey and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting 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.

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Author Bio

Maxine Morrey is a bestselling romantic comedy author with twelve books to her name including #NoFilter and Things Are Looking Up. She lives in Dorset.

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*BLOG TOUR* Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons by Patsy Trench

Today it is my pleasure to bring you my review of Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons by Patsy Trench on day one of her fabulous blog tour!

London, 1905. A show. A stuttering romance. Two squabbling actresses.

Is it Shakespeare? Is it Vaudeville?

Not quite. It is Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons, a satirical play about suffragettes which its creators – friends and would-be lovers Robbie Robinson and Violet Graham – are preparing to mount in London’s West End.

It is the play rival actresses Merry and Gaye would kill to be in, if only they hadn’t insulted the producer all those years ago.

For Robbie and Violet however the road to West End glory is not smooth. There are backers to be appeased, actors to be tamed and a theatre to be found; and in the midst of it all a budding romance that risks being undermined by professional differences.

Never mix business with pleasure? 

Maybe, maybe not. 

Robbie Robinson is finally bringing his play, Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons to the West End, and he knows just who should produce it; Violet Graham. Despite her lack of experience, and probably because of his feelings for her, he know she is the woman to bring his play to fruition in Edwardian London. With actresses vying for the role, despite their insulting behaviour to Violet in a past life, this is a play with plenty going on back stage!

It is clear that Patsy Trench has previously worked in theatre, and she brings that knowledge so eloquently to this novel. From the casting, to the financing, to the finalising of scripts, she really seems to know about all aspects of producing a play and it really comes across within the novel. Its not all technical though, the characters are well-rounded and believable. You can imagine the upset felt by rival actresses Merry and Gaye when they discover that Violet, a woman they were once so insulting to when she was but a junior member of staff, is now in charge of a play that they both both so desperately want to lead!

This is a novel full of great characters, set in the bitchy world of theatre in Edwardian London with a budding romance thrown in for good measure – it is light and fun; a very enjoyable read that I am happy to recommend!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Patsy Trench and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a 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

Patsy Trench has spent her life working in the theatre. She was an actress for twenty years in theatre and television in the UK and Australia. She has written scripts for stage and (TV) screen and co-founded The Children’s Musical Theatre of London, creating original musicals with primary school children. She is the author of three non fiction books about colonial Australia based on her own family history and four novels about women breaking the mould in times past. Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons is book four in her ‘Modern Women: Entertaining Edwardians’ series and is set in the world she knows and loves best. When she is not writing books she teaches theatre part-time and organises theatre trips for overseas students. 

She lives in London. She has two children and so far one grandson. 

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*BLOG TOUR* The Love Island Bookshop by Kate Frost

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Kate Frost’s new novel, The Love Island Bookshop!

A dream job, two handsome men, one destructive act. Will Freya’s opportunity of a lifetime end in tears?

When Freya leaves her publishing job in London to be a barefoot bookseller in the Maldives, it’s the push she needs to move on from her sadness and reignite her passion for life.

While resort owner Zander is charming, it’s handsome dive instructor Aaron who befriends her when she needs it most. But all is not what it seems and there’s trouble brewing in paradise.

Taking a chance on happiness is harder than she imagined. Can Freya let go of her heartache and allow herself to fall in love again?

Freya makes a huge life decision – to quit her job and leave behind everything she knows for a job that is coveted by many – a barefoot bookseller on a luxurious island in the Maldives. What’s not to love?! I know that would be my dream job (although my husband and sons may have something to say about me running off to the Maldives for a few months!). With no ties keeping her in London and a job offer on the table, Freya is soon on a plane, leaving behind the grey humdrum, and heading towards paradise.

On her arrival, Freya finds herself in a luxurious island resort, where she, and she alone, will be responsible for the set up and launch of a bookshop in the most idyllic location. The resort owner Zander, former boyband member with a reputation, puts his faith in her to realise his dream of owning an exclusive bookshop in paradise, adding yet another piece of luxury to his already luxurious resort. Zander is direct, with a very clear vision of what he wants. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly, and Freya finds herself working hard to meet his goals and please him.

In contrast, Aaron, a dive instructor at the resort, is laid back and easy going. She quickly finds herself building a friendship with him at a time when she could have become lonely, despite the friendly staff and beautiful location.

Two very different men, one beautiful island and a dream job – something many of us can only dream about! Naturally none of it is plain sailing, and it would be boring if it was! Kate Frost has created a wonderful character in Freya. It would be easy to be jealous of Freya, however the way she has been written means that you find yourself rooting for her – you want the island, the job, and the relationships she forms to work out for her. Zander and Aaron are also both great characters in completely different ways – character progression is clear for them both, and i really enjoyed following them both. There are some twists in the novel that really work, and they certainly took me by surprise! It would also be remiss of me not to mention the location – Kate really brings to life the stunning, tropical location. She almost made me believe i was there!

I am more than happy to recommend this novel – it’s a great piece of escapism, and perfect for a summer read. So grab a copy, your sunglasses and a chilled glass of bubbles and lose yourself in the Maldives with Freya!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Kate Frost and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting 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.

Purchase Link

Amazon UK

Author Bio

Kate Frost is the author of best-selling romantic escape novels (The Baobab Beach Retreat, A Starlit Summer, The Greek Heart and The Amsterdam Affair), character-driven women’s fiction (The Butterfly Storm series and Beneath the Apple Blossom), and Time Shifters, a time travel adventure trilogy for children. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.

Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Frodo. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival that she co-founded in Bristol in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books.

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Book Review: Hiroshima by John Hersey

Hiroshima

So i’ve made it to book 20 (only 30 left to go!) in my Goodreads Reading Challenge.  My latest review is of Hiroshima by John Hersey.

‘The room was filled with a blinding light. She was paralysed by fear, fixed still in her chair for a long moment. Everything fell.’

2015 is the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima, when, on 6 August at 8.15am, an atomic bomb was dropped over the Japanese city, killing one hundred thousand men, women and children in its white fury. John Hersey’s spare, devastating report on the attack was first published in the New Yorker in 1946. Written in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, it chronicles what happened through the eyes of six civilians who survived against the odds. It is a classic piece of journalism, and a defining moment of the nuclear age.’ (Thanks Amazon)

So for the first time this year, i’ve chosen a non-fiction book to read as part of my reading challenge, and what a hard hitting, amazing piece of writing I chose.  This should be vital reading for all, not just lovers of History (we all know I love a bit of WWII history, whether it be fact or fiction).  In fact I truly believe all budding scientists should be made to read this important piece of journalism.  Our advances in technology are mind boggling, particularly, if like me, you are not scientific in nature.  This essay really highlights what effect these technological advances can have.  The atomic bomb was hailed as one of the most important advances in science and warfare in the 20th century, however the aftermath for those innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is horrifying.  John Hersey sought to bring clarity to the Allied countries as they celebrated their victory in bringing WWII to an end.  In an age where the news was only really accessible in newspapers, John Hersey wrote one of the most important articles of that time.  The New Yorker dedicated its entire issue on 31st August 1946 to his article, which follows six survivors in the aftermath of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

Instead of celebrating the Allies victory, he showed the world the cost of that victory.  Innocent men, women and children killed or severely injured, whole families wiped out, homes and businesses lost with no warning of what was coming.  He showed the world that the war was not won by wiping out an army, but by wiping out two cities filled with innocent people.

‘in general, survivors that day assisted only their relatives or immediate neighbours, for they could not comprehend or tolerate a wider circle of misery.’ (Hiroshima)

Thankfully the world has not had to witness the use of atomic warfare since that fateful day in 1945.  However, given that 70 years has passed and technology has moved on considerably, this article could not be more important right now.  As tensions rise across the world, I think it is vital that people have an awareness of the consequences of any action they may take.  The world lives in fear of a war breaking out that includes atomic warfare; this article shows that the world is right to be fearful.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde

A Vintage Wedding

Book 18 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde.

‘In a small Cotswold country town, Beth, Lindy and Rachel are looking for new beginnings.

So they set up in business, organising stylish and perfectly affordable vintage weddings.

Soon they are busy arranging other people’s Big Days.

What none of them know is that their own romances lie waiting, just around the corner…’ (Thanks Amazon!)

Beth, Lindy and Rachel are three very different women who are thrown together in the small village of Chippingford.

Beth has recently finished university, and finds herself in the village of Chippingford with the mammoth task of arranging her sisters wedding on a very small budget, whilst seeking some form of employment to enable her live more comfortably (and to stop accepting money from her Dad).

Lindy is a divorced mother of two, and a whizz on the sewing machine.  However, with a three and six year old, she has struggled making time to see friends and as a result has become quite lonely.

Rachel is a little older than Beth and Lindy, and definitely more cynical when it comes to matters of the heart.  She is efficient and organised in every way (useful, given that she is an accountant), with a touch of OCD thrown in for good measure.

Together the three of them form both a friendship and a business, as they create Vintage Weddings, not only to organise Beth’s sister Helena’s wedding but others too.  Like any good chick lit, we have some romance thrown in for good measure, as the girls get to know Angus, Raff and Finn.

As chick lits go, A Vintage Wedding has the right mix of love, friendship and drama.  It’s a great, easy read – perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon with a cheeky glass of wine!  Give it a go!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📗

Book Review: Lies by Michael Grant

Lies

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.

Characters

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.

Plot

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.

Recommend?

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!

Characters

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.

Plot

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!

Recommend?

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: 📖 📖 📖