Somebody Else’s Boy: St Nicholas Bay series by Jo Bartlett book review

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Somebody Else’s Boy: St Nicholas Bay series written by Jo Bartlett, publisher Accent Press is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Somebody-Elses-Boy-Nicholas-Bay-ebook/dp/B01IDPQBSI/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1475259677&sr=8-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Will Nancy and Jack be allowed to embrace the future, or will their histories forever bind them to the past?

Drama teacher Nancy O’Brien puts her ambitions on hold to support her family, and returns to her idyllic seaside home town, St Nicholas Bay. Jack has his own reasons for heading to the Bay; a young widower desperate to come to terms with his loss, he hopes setting up home there with baby son, Toby, might just enable him to survive the future.

As Nancy and Jack become closer, not everyone is thrilled, in particular Toby’s grandmother, who can’t bear to see her late daughter ‘replaced’. When Fraser – the only man Nancy’s ever really loved – reappears, her living arrangements with Jack seem set for disaster.

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I’d like to thank the author, Jo Bartlett, for an arc in return for a review.

This is the first book I’ve read by Jo Bartlett and after reading this novel Jo will be going straight onto my favourite author’s list.  Somebody Else’s Boy is book one in the St Nicholas Bay series.  I was initially drawn to this novel by the gorgeous cover with it’s quaint illustration of a coastal community.  I do prefer illustrated covers to photographic ones, they appeal more to me.

Within the first few pages of this novel Jo Bartlett takes you on an emotional journey with the two main characters Nancy and Jack experiencing such tragic events in their personal lives that change their outlook forever.  My heart was breaking for them both.  Their situations were quite different but they were both experiencing great losses in their lives.  A chance encounter brings the two strangers together and a solution to one of their most recent dilemmas is resolved.  Nancy and Jack are joined together in a community project bringing a theatre group to the local community centre.  Jack helps with the screenplay for a new pantomime.  The community is brought together for the pantomime with some comical results.  However, the panto does not bring happy times to all of the residents in the community as one of their own is faced with a terrifying ordeal.  Friendships and families are put to the test with events from the past and present changing the course of the future for Nancy, Jack and their close-ones.

Jo Bartlett has written a wonderful tale set around an idyllic coastal bay in the south of England with characters that are easily relatable and you find yourself loving as each page is read.  I instantly fell for little Toby.  This story subtly deals with grief, loss, betrayal, abuse, new beginnings all with such a warmth that you get enveloped in the emotions the characters are feeling but you don’t feel depressed … a story with hope and strength emanating from new beginnings mixed with a big dose of love.  5/5*

I am really looking forward to continuing falling in love with the characters in the St Nicholas Bay series.

To find out more about Jo Bartlett and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.jobartlettauthor.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/Jo-Bartlett-1561636457477078/?fref=ts

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/J_B_Writer

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Peppermint Park by Stephanie Harte book review

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Peppermint Park written and self-published by Stephanie Harte is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Peppermint-Park-Stephanie-Harte-ebook/dp/B01I74SXVS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474895616&sr=1-1&keywords=peppermint+park

Product Details (as per amazon page)

The tree-lined street in the affluent suburb of Chigwell, Essex was made up of extravagant mansions. Peppermint Park looked picture perfect on the outside, but behind closed doors, it was a different story. It concealed a life of torment, where family secrets were hidden from public view.
In the swinging sixties, Violet boards a plane bound for San Francisco with her boyfriend Bradley, to start a new life at Happy Acres, a hippie commune. Once they stepped inside the boundaries, they entered a different realm, one without clocks and calendars. Where naked yoga sessions and howling at the moon were compulsory activities, and people experimented with marijuana, magic mushrooms and moonshine as a daily pastime.
Violet and Bradley were having the most amazing time of their lives. They were living the dream. But was their amphetamine-fueled existence about to come crashing down around them? Surely you can never have too much of a good thing, can you?
Join Violet and Bradley on their journey as they take a leap of faith into unknown territory in search of a new beginning, set against the stunning backdrop of Northern California.

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I’d like to thank the author, Stephanie Harte, for a copy of this ebook in return for a review.

The first thing with this ebook that caught my eye was the cover, it was such a calming image of the minty green large townhouse against the lavender backdrop.  However, once I started reading the book there was definitely more to this gorgeous property … appearances were undoubtedly deceiving.  This beautiful property held secrets.  Violet and her mother were living in constant danger with an abusive father and husband.  As this abuser held a high position in the police force and was a pillar of the community the women felt they were trapped by this outside view of their lives.  Violet did however, gain enough strength to escape and she fled the country with her boyfriend Brad to set up home on a commune in rural San Francisco.

I loved reading about Violet’s escape to San Francisco, this carefree, organic, free spirited life back in the 1970’s.  It all sounded so colourful and serene.  We follow Violet’s journey coping with this new lifestyle which took a little getting use to at the beginning but with having Brad by her side experiencing these new days made her feel more at ease.  Since escaping her troubled past Violet was learning to love life and love herself again.

Years passed by blissfully for Violet and she grew to become a key member of the commune.  Unfortunately, the free access to drink, drugs and free love was too much of a temptation for some.  Violet’s happiness was cut short and her past was beginning to haunt her again.

This was an enjoyable story set in the 1970’s on a commune in rural America.  It was quite a different life and I believe it’s what was needed at the time for Violet to break away from her past.  The hope and optimism the members of the community gave Violet the much needed strength to carry on.  The author dealt with a serious issue effectively giving colour and light to outweigh the dark times and managed to bring hope, optimism and love to Violet and her mother to help them move on from their hellish past. 4/5*

To find out more about Stephanie Harte and her writing please visit the following pages:

http://stephanieharte.com/

Jolly Good Tea post: Jollybrew tea review and Q & A with the Team

 

 

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I’m a big tea drinker and just lately I’ve been indulging in loose leaf tea.  Via social media I came across Jollybrew Tea company, I soon placed my order and was excited to receive the above delivery.  How cute are these tins?!  They are stackable too.

Why choose loose leaf tea?:

  • a purer product; loose leaf tea consists of larger leaves which provides a greater aroma and flavour and holds the health benefits better than tea bags were the leaves are ground down to almost dust particles.
  • there is a lot more variety with loose leaf tea; i.e. black, green, white, oolong, rooibos, herbal.
  • makes tea time more of an occasion, brewing loose leaf tea in a pot or in a filter via your cup/mug takes a few minutes longer than dunking a bag in your mug. Take time to appreciate the steeping of the leaves and enjoy the timeout.
  • certain loose leaf teas can be steeped multiple times to enjoy several cups of tea.
  • loose leaf tea makes a wonderful gift that can be enjoyed every time you put the kettle on.

I’ve now had chance to try all the teas in my order and here is my review:

Marvellous Mango White Tea

Steeped for roughly 5 minutes to create a lovely golden amber liquid.  At first taste you experience the delicateness of white tea with it’s gently sweetness and calming flavour  Then you get a subtle tropical hit of mango.  This is a lovely drink to be enjoyed anytime of the day.  White tea is becoming one of my favourite drinks.  I bet this is lovely as an iced tea on a balmy, hot day but I wouldn’t leave this just as a summer drink.  This drink with it’s subtle tropical flavour could be a welcome distraction on a cold, wet, gloomy day.

The English Answer (decaff)

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I tried this everyday decaff black tea with the teabag filter also purchased from Jollybrew.  The teabag filters are such a clever idea, just add a teaspoon of your favourite leaves to the filter bag and hang the end over the edge of your mug, fill your mug with boiling water and let the magic happen with the steeping.  This was a lovely black tea with all the taste of an everyday brew but without the caffeine … perfect for evening drinks.  At the moment you can only buy this variety of tea in pouches online but I’m informed by the Team that the tea will be available in tins soon 🙂

London Calling

London Calling is Jollybrew’s own Earl Grey.  Earl Grey is one of my favourite teas but quite a few years ago when I first tried it I wasn’t keen. The new earl grey teas are a lot more subtler with no overpowering strong flavours.  London Calling is so pretty to look at as a loose leaf tea with the dark leaves interspersed with vivid blue petals and tiny little flower buds.  I still get amazed that leaves and petals steeped in hot water create a wonderful drink.  I prefer my Earl Grey black with no milk.  This is a lovely Earl Grey, subtle, refreshing and honest to it’s origin.  A great pick you up brew.

Cracking Cranberry Apple

Cracking Cranberry Apple is a fruit infusion tea.  As soon as you open the tin the cocktail of aromas hit you.  It has a wonderful tartness with the cranberry but the apple softens the edges slightly.  This is gorgeous and does what it says on the tin “fabulously fruity infusion.”

I am so pleased with all the teas that I ordered, contact with the company following my order was very efficient and delivery was within a few business days.  I will definitely order again from Jollybrew.

(Disclaimer:  This is an unbiased review of a product I have purchased for my own use.)

Q & A with Team Jolly

When was the company formed?

We launched the company in 2014, although the idea was brewing for a quite a while before we actually pressed the live button on our website. We celebrate our 2nd year anniversary at the end of November. When the idea came about there didn’t seem to be many loose leaf tea companies on the market, but in the last two years that has changed a lot, as we thought it would. Jollybrew was created to bring loose leaf tea into everyday life and we’ve witnessed many conversions from the tasteless traditional tea bags to the wonderful world of loose leaf. This makes us very happy indeed 🙂

Do you have a retail shop, if so, where can we find you?
Yes, we have a shared store in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. You’ll find our full range in with a suburb selection of imported Italian produce. The two seem to work really well together.

Have your teas won any Taste Awards?
We’ve been asked on a number occasions for our teas to be put forward for an award but so far we haven’t actually taken entered any of them. Maybe next year.

What are your bestsellers?

Our top 5 at the moment are probably:

Tea English Answer (aka T.E.A)

London Calling

Proper Peppermint

Barmy Berry

Cheeky Caramel Crème

For a tea novice what would you recommend for a first buy?
For something different most certainly London Calling. Both Earl Grey and non-Earl Grey drinkers respond very well to this blend. For caffeine free we’d probably recommend Cheeky Caramel Creme (Vanilla/toffee like Rooibos).

Are you working on any new blends at the moment?

Yes, we will soon be launching our Winter/Christmas blend, which we’re really excited about. We’re always working on new blends, so expect more early next year. We’re also updating some of packing at the moment with temperatures, times etc…along with some different designs. We will also be launching a much bigger size tin next month, which will hold almost triple what our current tins hold. The current tiny tin will still remain a much loved Jollybrew product.

Thank you so much Team Jolly for joining me on my blog today.  To order your very own jolly good tea from Jollybrew please do visit their website and connect with them socially on the links below.

Website:  http://www.jollybrew.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jollybrew

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jollybrew?ref=hl

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jolly_brew/

Pinterest:  https://uk.pinterest.com/Jollybrew/

There Is Always More To Say by Lynda Young Spiro book review

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There Is Always More To Say written by Lynda Young Spiro, publisher New Generation Publishing, is available NOW in ebook, harcover and paperback format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/There-Always-Lynda-Young-Spiro-ebook/dp/B01EN3OVZE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1474354498&sr=1-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Soho 1984: Two people meet and their worlds are changed forever. An unexpected meeting – a look that means their lives will never be the same again. In “There Is Always More To Say”, Lynda Spiro chronicles the lives of the couple through friendships, marriage, fleeting moments and snatched time. It is a passionate account about a connection between two people that never dies even when tested by distance and when life throws the unexpected at their feet. “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there is any reaction both are transformed.” C G Jung

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I’d like to thank the author, Lynda Young Spiro, for a copy of this novel in return for a review.  This is quite a short story at just over 100 pages in ebook format and 168 pages in printed form.  The story is quite poetic in it’s narrative however, I did feel that the author repeated herself quite abit and I was willing for the story to pick up a pace (I have marked down my rating by half because of this).  We don’t get to know the names of the two main characters and I think this is quite clever as it could easily be related to anyone, we know their ages at the time of their chance meeting and we get to hear snippets, like diary entries of feelings and moments spanning 30 years since this initial chemistry was formed.  There is however, a wonderful undercurrent of a beautiful love story bubbling under the surface and reading through the pages you could feel the poignancy and heartache.

This was a story of a love that wouldn’t or couldn’t be let go.  A story of chances and moments that will be memorised forever more.  3.5/5*

About the Author

Lynda Young Spiro is a mixed media artist whose love of textiles, found objects and recyclable materials are incorporated into her colourful work. Lynda was born in 1959 in Hampstead, London, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. Lynda’s previous book Latch-Hooking Rugs is published by A & C Black. There is Always More to Say is her first novel.

To find out more about Lynda and her books please visit the following pages:

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/lyndaspiro

Website:  http://www.thereisalwaysmoretosay.com/

To Have, Not Hold! by Carina McEvoy book review and blogtour with GIVEAWAY

To Have, Not Hold written and self-published by Carina McEvoy is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-Not-Hold-Carina-McEvoy-ebook/dp/B01JXZVEIO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474310657&sr=8-1&keywords=to+have%2C+not+hold+kindle

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Embrace a healthy attitude towards sudden outbursts of laughter; oh and maybe grab some tissues as you escape into the lives of three remarkable friends, as they each navigate their own catastrophic mess. Discover the strength of friendship while you submerge yourself in suspense, fury and humour. Let the drama unfold…

Emma’s doing her best to raise the adorable Amy while hanging on to the ghost of her past. But is she really the crazy, deranged woman she eventually feels compelled to be?

Beneath Siobhan’s picture perfect exterior, the struggle of deception is exhausting. However when life slaps her in the face with an unforeseen twist, will she be able to salvage any of her future, perfect or not?

With mounting money problems and an unwanted visit from his expertly suppressed past, Jack must confront his inner demons for once and for all. Can he defeat them and emerge as the true person he really is?

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I’d like to thank the author for an arc in return for a review.

To Have, not Hold is Carina McEvoy’s debut novel and after reading this delightful story dealing with some serious issues in a sensitive manner I am looking forward to more from this author.

Carina McEvoy has written a story dealing with grief, marriage break-up, relationship issues, new beginnings and goodbyes all with her warm Irish charm that was infectious. I loved her humour bringing joy to the lives of the characters at a time when needed the most.  There is a scene near the beginning of the story that hits your emotions directly to your heart, it was so beautiful but equally tragic.

Life isn’t always about holding onto your treasured loved ones or items, sometimes we have to let go.

Emma, Siobhan and Jack each had events in their lives they had to adjust to.  These life affirming moments are not planned and have to be dealt with in their own way and are not time limited.

A story of grief, love, friendship and new beginnings.  4/5*

To find out more about Carina McEvoy and her writing please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.carinamcevoy.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/carinamcevoyauthor

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/mcevoy_carina

Writing.ie:  http://www.writing.ie/member-emerging-writers/carina-mcevoy/

Carina has kindly offered an ecopy of her book, to be in with the chance to win this giveaway please click on the rafflecopter link below:

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The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley book review

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The Good Enough Mother written by Anoushka Beazley, publisher Larchwood Press, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Enough-Mother-Anoushka-Beazley-ebook/dp/B01I8J3L2S/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1474184944&sr=8-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Gatlin – a leafy, affluent town: Chelsea tractors and ladies who lunch. However all is not as it seems. Drea, a most unnatural mother, struggles to find private school fees for her step-daughter Ava after her boyfriend leaves her for another woman. Watching the yummy mummies she becomes inspired, hatching a daring and criminal plan…unleashing all hell in the quiet town of Gatlin. Can Drea survive the fallout and the wrath of the PTA? A satirical and hilarious black comedy about love, motherhood and the human condition.

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I’d like to thank the author for an arc in return for a review.

This was one crazy, frank, laugh out loud story about a woman surviving motherhood in an upmarket suburban village. This is Anoushka Beazley’s debut novel and what a start to her writing career!  I loved the author’s style of writing, it was refreshingly honest, Anoushka definitely ‘spared no punches’ with her narrative.  It was very raw and shocking at times but very comical and this honesty was so addictive.

This is the story of Drea, a woman left with her estranged partner’s teenage daughter coping with life as a single mum in an affluent area.  Drea is not keen on motherhood but she has been left with no option but to step in and step up to motherly duties for her step daughter Ava.  Gatlin is full of ‘perfect’ mums with designer bags and huge cars all competing for the parking spot outside school and this is one of Drea’s first battles she faces.  Drea is also left struggling financially as Alex, Ava’s father, has left her with no money to fund his daughter’s private school fees.  Drea refuses to let this relationship separation change her step daughter’s life so Drea embarks on some very unorthodox ways of making money.  Whilst Drea was trying to find the money to pay for the school fees the quiet surbuban village Gatlin has become a hot crime spot with robberies and murder and Drea has somehow become caught up in the middle of it.

There was more to this story than surviving the school gates.  Drea was emotionally fighting events in her past that have been controlling her life ever since.  Through all the satirical humour we see a more vulnerable side to Drea that is quite humbling.  The author, Anoushka Beazley, cleverly dealt with some serious issues with this novel but managed to keep the book quite light with humour and frankness emanating from the pages. A refreshingly honest, laugh out loud story about motherhood, believing in yourself and the acceptance of love.  4/5*

I’d like to share an extract with you that I particularly enjoyed:

Nature versus nurture.  Are you born into motherhood or do you learn it like any other learned behaviour?  I certainly did not feel that driving Ava to school was a normal way to begin my day, but driving other people’s children as well?  Obviously I understood the convenience factor, but how did these women cope with the routine?  The monotony of these actions at the same time every day was unbearable.  The worst kind of claustrophobia: to suffocate within the confines of one’s own life. How was adding someone else’s offspring to the shit bucket meant to improve anything?  The autistic excuse for adventure, this groundhog-day road trip, this driving to one’s own death only to never drive off the cliff; some women found this a delight – I could see it in their eyes.  They sprang out of their cars bubbling with joy to be reunited with their fellow inmates that they had seen just hours before doing the exact same thing.  Metronomes were more spontaneous.  No, I was not born to do this and neither had I learned to do this.  What I had done was cultivated and grown a strong-rooted tree of hate whose leaves fell upon the road like autumnal foliage every time I did.  As they crunched into fibrotic dust beneath my tyres, the sinuous roots twisted inward pulling me that inch further down into the belly of the earth, lowering me into the bowels of hell, which stank from the putrefied mummies of those whose had died insidiously, a little every day, on the school run.

To find out more about Anoushka Beazley and her writing please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.anoushkabeazley.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/thegoodenoughmother/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/AnoushkaBeazley

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

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Christmas at the Little Village Bakery (Honeybourne book 2) written by Tilly Tennant, publisher Bookouture is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Little-Village-Bakery-Honeybourne-ebook/dp/B01HRKTA9M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1473921278&sr=8-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Snow is falling in Honeybourne and Spencer is bringing home his American fiancée Tori for a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. But when his hippie mum and dad meet her high-maintenance parents, sparks of the wrong sort start to fly. Then Spencer bumps into his first love Jasmine and unexpected feelings come flooding back.

Millie is run off her feet with Christmas orders at the Little Village Bakery and new baby Oscar. Thank goodness her cousin Darcie is here to help her. Although she does seem to be rather flirty with Millie’s boyfriend Dylan.

Will Darcie ever find true love of her own? And is marrying Tori a terrible mistake for Spencer if his heart is with someone else?

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I’d like to thank the publishers and netgalley for an arc in return for a review.

This is my first Christmas read for the new season 2016.  It was so lovely to return to the village of Honeybourne and it sounded even more idyllic with the run-up to Christmas.

We join again the much loved villagers we got to know in book 1 with Millie and Dylan, Jasmine, Rich and the triplets.  Spencer is back from his secondment teaching in the US with his fiancée Tori and we have a newcomer in the village, Darcie, Millie’s cousin.

The villagers are gearing up for Christmas but with the village and surrounding areas swamped in snow life isn’t without incident.  Spencer’s parents and his prospective in-laws are due to arrive for the festive season.  Spencer is very much on edge with their imminent arrival and his relationship with Tori is strained.

Millie’s cousin, Darcie, was experiencing some questions of the heart herself and with the arrival of two strangers in her life she becomes even more confused with her feelings.

This was another feel-good story from Tilly Tennant.  It felt like diving in a book with long lost friends and with the warmth and cosiness emanating from the bakery you can’t help but feel like you are ‘at home’ with this delightful story.  A story with some bumps in the road of love for our villagers and wonderful community spirit which kept you captivated to the end and beyond.  I’m looking forward to the next instalment in The Honeybourne book series. 5/5*

I’m really enjoying this series by Tilly Tennant, you can find my review for Book 1 The Little Village Bakery (Honeybourne Book 1) by Tilly Tennant book review here.

To find out more about Tilly Tennant and her books please visit the following pages:

website:  http://www.tillytennant.com/

twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/TillyTenWriter

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TillyTennant/