Best of the best in 2017

tea n book quote

I’ve had another wonderful year of reading and managed to finish 120 books.  From the 120 books read 52 of them were from new authors to me, so you can say 2017 was the year of discovering new talent.

It’s always very difficult for a book lover to choose their favourite reads of the year.  I enjoy many books from a wide variety of genres and tend to rate them by my overall enjoyment.  However, I would like to highlight a few that I particularly loved:

The Wild Warriners series by Virginia Heath.  Mills and Boon Historical writer Virginia Heath created a new series for us this year and I completely fell in love with it.  The Warriners are four brothers trying to escape the bad reputation that their late father has left them with.  We have been introduced to two of the brothers to-date and shortly in the new year we will be treated to another instalment from the Warriners.  I would say it’s like a 19th century rural middle England ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.’

the-bear-and-the-nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  The Bear and The Nightingale is a grown up version of a fairytale set in Russia dealing with loss, grief, family struggles, forbidden love with a wonderful mystery of mythology and unknown magical creatures.  This book and it’s story would look impressive with a big movie budget bringing all the characters and creatures to life, a blockbuster in the making.

all the good things

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher.  A very moving, insightful story that was full of real life raw emotions, there was no sugar coating around the edges of life’s turbulent at times bumps in the road. A wonderful, inspiring debut that I feel should be read by all that have any involvement with young people. The words from this book will stay with me for a long time.

bamboo heart

Bamboo Heart by Ann Bennett.  The author, Ann Bennett, wrote with such passion and honesty. She left no scene without telling the shocking truth of a young man’s struggle to survive in the most terrifying of ordeals. The story sounds quite oppressive but it wasn’t as you were dealing with real people’s emotions and even during times of war love always found a way to bring sunshine and hope to your days.

the woolly hat knitting club

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan.  This was a joy to read.  Poppy Dolan has created the most delightful, charming romcom that leaves you with a wonderful warm cosy feeling.

summer of impossible things

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman.  This novel got me from the start to the finish. I was captivated by this almost other worldly love story. A story of a love between a mother and a daughter; a story of a love that seemed almost impossible to believe but the consequence of never feeling the strength of this love is almost too heart breaking to think about.

the secret life of alfred nightingale

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca StonehillThis was such a profoundly moving novel that evoked many emotions in me. A story cleverly told in two different time frames from two generations of one family going through a pivotal time in their own lives which would leave a lasting impression forever.

walking wounded

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne.  This was such an emotive story that deeply moved me, at one point I had to stop reading due to the tears blurring my vision.  The author takes you on a very emotional journey, one that millions took that had no choice but to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ but behind the smiles lay troubled souls and broken hearts.

teacup border

As many of you will know I love my loose leaf tea and some my favourite blends this year have been:

  • William Wilberforce Blend by The Tea Shop, Hull.  A lovely blend of African black teas.  To find out more details and buy http://teashophull.co.uk/
  • White Bellini by The Tea Experience, UK.  A gentle white tea that’s fruity and refreshing.  To find out more details and buy http://www.teaexperience.co.uk/
  • Cinnamon Bun by Jollybrew Tea.  A festive blend of black tea with a warming taste of cinnamon.  To find out more details and buy https://www.jollybrew.co.uk/
  • Ceylon Decaff by Tea Shirt Tailored Refreshments.  A lovely well-rounded black tea without caffeine.  To find out more details and buy https://tea-shirt.co.uk/
  • Lemongrass and Ginger by Chai Kai Tea Company.  This is a perfect combination to drink at any time of the day but especially comforting when you are suffering with a cold.  To find out more details and buy http://chaikaitea.com/

I’d like to thank you all for the support I’ve received this year sharing the love of reading and books.  Wishing you all a wonderful, happy, healthy 2018.

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Diary of a Stressed Out Mother: Madness by Nicola Kelsall

diary of a stressed out mother 2

Diary of a Stressed Out Mother: Madness written and self-published by Nicola Kelsall, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-Stressed-Out-Mother-Madness-ebook/dp/B076NM1SGR/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1514384976&sr=8-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Madness, is the second, brilliantly funny book, in the series Diary of a Stressed Out Mother. Dora Loveday is a harassed mother of four kids, grappling with a crazy menagerie of pets, an impervious and obstinate husband, and a relentless bombardment of trials and tribulations that would test a saint. In this wonderful sequel, this book does not fail to deliver a fabulous read, just as funny as the first.

dog grooming

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

It was so much fun to return to Dora’s world again.   Diary of a Stressed Out Mother: Madness is the second part in this laugh out loud series by Nicola Kelsall.  You can catch up with my review of Bedlam (book one) here.  Nicola Kelsall has such a wicked sense of humour and this portrays brilliantly in her writing.

This instalment returns us to Dora’s crazy antics from April to June and we thought life for the mother of four couldn’t get anymore catastrophic since our first introduction but somehow Dora manages to spread her wacky antics wherever she goes.

What could go wrong for Dora when she starts her new job at the pet groomers Pooch Parlour?

We are always taught to respect our elders but when you are faced with Dora’s in-laws you are left wondering what on earth will they do next!?

I absolutely love Dora’s character she has a massive heart and is first to help out her family and friends but often her eagerness is overwhelming.

Super fun again from Nicola Kelsall and this series is such a tonic to read.

To learn more about Nicola Kelsall and her work please do visit the following pages:

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

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

Christmas at Carol’s by Julia Roberts book review

christmas at carols

Christmas at Carol’s written by Julia Roberts, publisher ripped, is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2kJJPHk

Product Details (as per amazon page)

An uplifting tale of people’s desire to help each other in the season of goodwill – a romantic comedy with a twist in the tale.
Carol fell in love with Wisteria Cottage the moment she laid eyes on it and moved in two weeks before Christmas hoping it would be start of a new more positive period in her life.
On her first night in her new home she discovers an old Christmas card to someone called Annie with a heart-breaking message inside from Jake.
Although she doesn’t know them, and despite being on a self-imposed dating break herself, Carol begins planning how she can bring them together, while her new neighbour, Sally, is attempting a bit of matchmaking of her own.

 

christmas-at-carols-banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of this festive novella by Julia Roberts.

Novellas are the perfect size reads to while away an hour or two.  I also find novellas are ideal in-between reads for when you’ve just completed an epic novel.

Christmas at Carol’s is everything a Christmas novella should be!

Julia Roberts has managed to pack a fair bit in this festive treat of a novella.  We have romance, mystery, community spirit and heart warming seasonal scenes to put us all in the festive mood.

Moving into her new home, Wisteria Cottage, two weeks before Christmas proved to be a great time for reflection for Carol.  A time spent wisely decorating her new home and getting to know her neighbours.  With the uncertainty of the winter weather brought upon the village the spirit of Christmas was even more paramount.

Christmas at Carol’s is a perfect novella for a cold wintry day to comfort you with joy.

To learn more about Julia Roberts and her writing please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.juliarobertsauthor.com/

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

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/JuliaRobertsTV

 

 

 

The Pets at Primrose Cottage: Part One and Part Two by Sheila Norton book review

The Pets at Primrose Cottage is a new serialised novel from Sheila Norton, published Ebury Digital.  Part One: A Place to Hide is available NOW in ebook format.  Part Two:  New Beginnings is available to download in ebook format on 21st December 2017.

PART ONE: A PLACE TO HIDE

To buy link:  Part One:  http://amzn.to/2CGei0i

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Emma Nightingale needs a place to hide away. Pursued by the demons left by her ex-boyfriend, she takes refuge in quiet Crickleford, a sleepy town in Dartmoor, where she can lay low.

Life in Crickleford is quiet and peaceful, but it won’t be for long if people discover the truth about Emma’s past. Not wanting to make too much of a fuss, she ends up lying about why she’s there – she’s looking after some cats, she says – then suddenly the town’s new ‘pet-sitter’ is in high demand!

While looking after an Alsatian, Emma finds all attention is on her, and the handsome young reporter from the local paper takes an interest in her story…

Review

alsationI adored Sheila Norton’s previous book, The Vets at Hope Green and was pleased to hear of a new story from her.  I was instantly drawn by the title, I love stories set around a country cottage and with the inclusion of animals, which I feel add a warmth and humour to a storyline and they also bring out the soft side in a character’s personality, I knew I was going to enjoy this story.

Emma has recently moved to the little Devon village.  She’s renting a room with a young family.  The author hints about some celebrity gossip that Emma has fled from in the States.  You are left wondering what has happened to make Emma leave the bright lights of New York.  Emma is afraid of being recognised which has left me intrigued as to what she is trying to hide from.  She has no job and her money will only last a short while but when she offers to help look after her landlady’s two pet cats word spreads about Emma helping out with pet sitting and she is soon inundated with requests to look after other pets.

Emma, with the help of the dogs she is caring for, soon starts to enjoy village life and whilst walking the dogs she falls in love with a little property near the river.  It appears to be empty at the moment and Emma soon starts day dreaming of owning a property like this.  Wishful thinking at the moment.

Whilst reading this novel I felt like I was exploring the village with Emma, it sounded so idyllic with names like Primrose Gardens, Primrose Cottage, Lavender Lane and Bilberry Cottage. Such a lovely start to a new cosy novel to cuddle up with on a winter’s night.

PART TWO: NEW BEGINNINGS

To pre-order/buy link:  Part Two:  http://amzn.to/2D5WuNh

Product Details (as per amazon page)

All Emma wants is a quiet life in sleepy Crickleford, away from the prying eyes of the press who are obsessed with the life she used to lead.

She is enjoying her new vocation: the town’s most in-demand pet-sitter. But her journalist friend and fellow animal lover Matt is desperate for a big story to make his career – such as Emma’s true identity…

Emma doesn’t want the spotlight, but it keeps finding her anyway. Can she keep her past a secret and live the life she’s dreamed of?

Review

burmese catIt was so nice to return to Emma and Primrose Cottage, it felt like I’d just recently visited them.  We left Emma last time with the fear of her whereabouts being found out by the local journalist.  Emma is still in hiding after fleeing from the States.  With this instalment we learn a little more about her relationship with her ex-boyfriend celebrity Shane but as yet we don’t know why she suddenly fled.

The pets of the village are keeping Emma’s mind off her thoughts although a farm cat causes her undue pain and anguish.

Will Emma’s new life and new beginning become in jeopardy as her friendship with the local journalist grows?

Another lovely instalment from Sheila Norton of a paw-friendly heartfelt story with a touch of intrigue and maybe blossoming romance for our animal loving shy heroine.

I’m really looking forward to continuing with this story, we don’t have long to wait with part three due out on 18th January 2018 and the final instalment part four due out on 15th February 2018.

To learn more about Sheila Norton and her work please visit the following pages:

Website:  https://www.sheilanorton.com/

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

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

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest book review

christmas at woolworths

Christmas at Woolworths written by Elaine Everest, publisher Pan, is available NOW in ebook, paperback and audiobook format.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2kHcXiD

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away on the front line, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love . . . Until a mysterious stranger turns up one day – could he reignite a spark in Betty?

As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead . . .

With so much change, can their friendship survive the war?

female despatch rider wwII

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied.  However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

Christmas at Woolworths is the sequel to Elaine Everest’s bestselling debut novel The Woolworths Girls.  I do have a confession to make, The Woolworths Girls is still waiting for me to read on my kindle.  I purchased The Woolworths Girls after reading and enjoying The Butlins Girls but when I saw this new novel out by Elaine Everest I couldn’t wait and dived straight in.  This new book by Elaine Everest can easily be read as a standalone but to fully appreciate the history surrounding all the characters I would wholeheartedly recommend reading all Elaine Everest’s nostalgic family sagas in order.

Christmas is a time when we reflect and relish nostalgia.  Elaine Everest’s Christmas at Woolworths is the perfect read for a cosy nostalgic hug of a book.

I was transported to South East London to 1942 when a war was still evident with many husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and friends were away from home risking their lives for King and country.  When women were left to step-up and fit in to many a man’s role and to do their bit for the war.

We once again visit the residents of Erith and especially to Freda, Sarah, Maisie and Betty who work at the Woolworths store.  As I mentioned previously I hadn’t read The Woolworths Girls but due to the warmth the author had created in her characters and setting I was soon engaged and enveloped in this wonderful family saga.

We follow predominantly the girls from the store over a 9 month period which was full of highs and lows leading up to Christmas, when just for a few minutes all appears at peace and harmony with the world.

A truly wonderful family saga dealing with all generations of a family and their friends coping with life still going on during a time of unrest and uncertainty.  A story filled with warmth and charm treating your mind to a whole host of nostalgic images that belonged in a world long ago but not forgotten.  I loved it and could carry on reading stories set in this time as fiction can bring history to life.

To learn more about Elaine Everest and her work please do visit the following pages:

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

 

Q & A with author Kate Murdoch #historicalfiction

stone circle

Today I am pleased to welcome author Kate Murdoch to my blog answering a few questions about her work and inspiration.  Her debut novel Stone Circle is available NOW in ebook and paperback format and was published by Fireship Press.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2nPc4ZZ

Hello Kate and welcome …

  • I understand you were a widely recognised artist prior to writing.  Has your love, skill and experience in painting helped at all with the research work for your writing?

In the case of Stone Circle, it helped in that I’d done a lot of study of the Renaissance period at art school, so I had a sense of the aesthetic, the culture and the society. Most importantly, the art history gave me a fascination with the period in Italy. As a result, I enjoyed delving into further research focusing on alchemy, the role of women and the social hierarchy.

  • Where did the inspiration come for Stone Circle?

Originally from a dream I had of two young men and an old man, rowing in a canoe on a calm stretch of water. I knew the old man was imparting knowledge and that the time period was long ago. Then it was a matter of narrowing down the period, which led me to alchemy and the fact that it was practised at the time. 

  • Can you give us a brief overview of Stone Circle?

Stone Circle tells the story of Antonius, a fisherman’s son with psychic abilities, who wins a competition to be apprentice to the town seer. The son of a nobleman also wins, and there is intense rivalry between them for their mentor’s favour and the affection of his daughter as they study alchemy and magic rituals.

  • Do you have a set writing time in your day?  And, do you have a writing room?

Not really. Although my most productive time is the middle of the day and, quite often, the hour before I must pick up my children from school. I don’t have a dedicated writing room – I mainly write in the living room, looking out to the garden. If I have something more challenging, like intensive edits, I sit at the dining table.

  • Do you prefer writing a full length novel or short stories?

I love both. I’ve written many short stories and flash fiction pieces as well as two novels. There is satisfaction in creating a complete narrative in fewer words, but there’s also much enjoyment to be had in long-form, where you can create more detailed descriptions and delve deeper into characterisations. I also like the mystery of long-form – I enter it fairly blindly, never sure where the story will go.

  • If you’ve had time to relax and read this last year, what was your most outstanding book?

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. This was a book that impressed me for many reasons. The luminous prose and the exploration into choices and moral ambiguity. The fact that there is so much we don’t understand about peoples’ actions and the turmoil that can provoke them. Along with the heartbreak of being unable to turn back the clock. I found it deeply moving.

Thank you so much Kate for joining me today.  To learn more about Kate Murdoch and her work please do visit the following pages:

Website:  https://katemurdochauthor.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/@KateMurdoch3/

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

 

Winter at The Cosy Cottage Café by Rachel Griffiths book review

winter at the cosy cottage cafe

Winter at The Cosy Cottage Café written and self-published by Rachel Griffiths is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2A4EHZ3

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Camilla Dix is fiercely independent. Growing up, she had to be strong for her mother and younger sister after her father left them for a new life in Benidorm. Camilla has kept her heart firmly closed to love, and never allows her relationships with men to develop into anything serious.

Tom Stone moved to Heatherlea for a fresh start. He’s been hurt in the past and has no intention of making himself vulnerable again. The only company he wants at night is that of his rescue British Bulldog Hairy Pawter.

However, when Camilla and Tom meet, they can’t deny their mutual attraction, and something deeper soon develops between them.

As snows falls over Heatherlea, mulled wine flows and festive carols fill the air, but can Camilla and Tom put their fears aside and trust each other enough to let love in?

bulldog in the snow

 

This was such a treat to return to one of my favourite cafes (shame it’s fictional)!  Rachel Griffiths has created an idyllic setting for her new book series and Winter at The Cosy Cottage Café is our third outing to the café.  Each book can be read as a standalone but to fully immerse yourself in this picturesque landscape and the characters that the author has created I would fully recommend reading all the books in the series in chronological order.  The books now available are:

  • Summer at The Cosy Cottage Cafe
  • Autumn at The Cosy Cottage Cafe
  • Winter at The Cosy Cottage Cafe

and coming soon …

  • Spring at The Cosy Cottage Café

I instantly felt like I was re-visiting my very own book family as Rachel Griffiths has created a lovely myriad of characters for this series.  Characters written with warmth and humour and all set around The Cosy Cottage Café in the fictional country village of Heatherlea.

This story focuses on Camilla, the older sister of Dawn and the glamorous career woman from the friendship group that live in the village and congregate at the café.  Due to heartbreak in the past Camilla is wary of committing to a relationship but when a new vet turns up in the village Camilla is instantly attracted but is confused with her growing feelings.

Vet Tom has recently moved to the village following his own heartbreak, with the unique help of his trusted dog HP he is trying to settle into a new community.

With the festive season in full flow the storyline weaves around Christmas markets with festive foodie treats and handmade toys.  Family and relationship unrest but with a close friendship circle any unsettling is minimised by the love of the community within.

This was such a fun, festive read and the author has given us so many comical moments in this story.  A story of letting go of the past and opening your heart to new beginnings.  Cosy, comforting, full of laughter and festive sparkle.

To learn more about Rachel Griffiths and her work please do visit the following pages:

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