The Orchard Girls by Nikola Scott @nikola_scott @rararesources @HeadlineFiction @headlinepg #blogtour #guestpost #recipe #HistoricalFiction

The Orchard Girls written by Nikola Scott, publisher Review, is available NOW in ebook and audiobook format. The paperback is due out in the autumn.

Book Blurb

London, 2004. Frankie didn’t always have it easy. Growing up motherless, she was raised by her grandmother, who loved her – and betrayed her. For years, the rift between them seemed irreparable. But when their paths suddenly cross again, Frankie is shocked to realise that her grandmother is slowly losing control of her memory. There is a darkness in her past that won’t stay buried – secrets going back to wartime that may have a devastating effect on Frankie’s own life.

Somerset, 1940. When seventeen-year-old Violet’s life is ripped apart by the London Blitz, she runs away to join the Women’s Land Army, wanting nothing more than to leave her grief behind. But as well as the terror of enemy air raids, the land girls at Winterbourne Orchards face a powerful enemy closer to home. One terrible night, their courage will be put to the test – and the truth of what happened must be kept hidden, forever . . .

Purchase Link – https://bit.ly/OrchardGirls

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Nikola Scott’s latest historical novel: The Orchard Girls. Firstly, I’d like to apologise to the author, publisher and blogtour organiser for publishing my post a day late, life just simply happened. I have the pleasure of posting a guest post from the author, Nikola Scott, which includes a delicious sounding Apple Cake, a perfect recipe for the land girls and their harvest of apples. Definitely one I will try.

Land Girls, apple orchards, and a delicious ‘drunken’ apple cake

My mum recently cleaned out her attic. She’s always attacking various areas of her house (she’s lived there for almost fifty years!) and I love being there when she does, because she inevitably unearths some kind of ‘rubbish’ which turns out to be a priceless gem. A clutch of old letters in a hatbox; doubles of my grandmother’s old photographs (she was a professional photographer and sold all sorts of beautiful black-and-white shots to newspapers and magazines); an old bag with a tarnished mirror still lodged in an inside pocket. The kind of thing, in other words, that might well look like rubbish, but is pretty thrilling to a historical fiction writer.

Recently, I was asking her about a cake we used to make all the time. My new novel, The Orchard Girls, is set among a group of Land Girls working on an apple orchard in 1940 Somerset, and I wanted to share one of our favourite apple cake recipes in honour of its publication.

With many family recipes you’re usually handed a butter-spotted piece of paper stuck on the kitchen noticeboard, containing a heavily annotated list of ingredients with rather cryptic measurements. But wouldn’t you know it, my mother disappeared for a bit and came back with a whole stack of old notebooks and cookbooks, including – wait for it – an ancient collection of recipes, hand-written by my great-grandmother in 1901! It made my day.

So here it is for you, our Drunken Apple Cake, a deceptively simple and unashamedly delicious afternoon tea cake. There is nothing boozy about it, by the way. The original recipe was in German, where ‘drunken’ and ‘drowned’ are close linguistic cousins. In this case it simply means that the apple pieces are submerged – ‘drowned’ – in the dough.

Drunken Apple Cake

160 g butter

135 g sugar

¼ ts salt

4 eggs

335 g flour

1 tbs baking powder

80 ml milk

1 ts vanilla essence

5 apples (more, if you’d like it heavy on the apple front)

Extra butter for dotting

Extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and butter & flour a 23 cm springform.

Peel, core and cut the apples into eighths.

Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. Sieve flour and baking powder together, mix milk and vanilla essence. Alternate adding the flour mix and the milk mix, beginning and ending with flour, until you have a wet, sticky dough that drops off the spoon with a little reluctance.

Smooth the dough into the springform and arrange the apple slices in a circle on top, prodding them a little to make them ‘sink’ with the tops still sticking out. Dot small bits of butter liberally across the tops and sprinkle with sugar. This last bit is technically optional but in my book absolutely essential because it gives a lovely crunch and goes really well with the apples. You could go crazy and add a little cinnamon here if you like.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, testing the cake parts with a cake tester towards the end and covering with a loose piece of foil if the surface gets too brown before the time is up.

Enjoy!

Author Bio –

Nikola Scott started out in book publishing and worked as a crime fiction editor in America and England for many years. Turning her back on blood-spattered paperback covers and dead bodies found in woods, she sat down at her kitchen table one day to start her first novel — and hasn’t stopped writing since. Obsessed with history and family stories (‘How exactly did you feel when your parents gave the house to your brother?’) she is well-known – and feared – for digging up dark secrets at dinner parties and turning them into novels. 

Her first two books, My Mother’s Shadow and Summer of Secrets, have both been international bestsellers and were translated widely around the world. Nikola lives in Frankfurt with her husband and two boys (and a kitchen table). 

Once a month, Nikola sends out a popular newsletter about writing, reading, book news, freebies and loads of therapeutic baking. Join in here if you’d love to be a part of it all: bit.ly/NikolaScottNews

For more info on Nikola, visit her website at www.nikolascott.com  

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/NikolaScottAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/nikolascottauthor/

Twitter: @nikola_scott

Two Metres From You by Heidi Stephens @heidistephens @AccentPress #blogtour #bookreview #summerreading

Two Metres From You written by Heidi Stephens, publisher Headline Accent, is available NOW in ebook, audiobook and paperback format.

Book Blurb

Love might be closer than you think . . .

Gemma isn’t sure what upsets her more. The fact she just caught her boyfriend cheating, or that he did it on her brand-new Heal’s cushions.

All she knows is she needs to put as many miles between her and Fraser as humanly possible. So, when her best friend suggests a restorative few days in the West Country, it seems like the perfect solution.

That is, until the country enters a national lockdown that leaves her stranded. All she has for company is her dog, Mabel. And the mysterious (and handsome!) stranger living at the bottom of her garden . . .

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. 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 the launch of the paperback of Two Metres From You by Heidi Stephens.

This is the second book I’ve read that is very topical and uses the current global COVID 19 pandemic as part of it’s storyline. The author, Heidi Stephens, has written a romcom that focuses on the unexpected positives of life living in lockdown. If you thought a story set in these unprecedented times would be too raw please think again and try this book as I adored it. Two Metres From You is topical, funny, uplifting, heart-warming, thoughtful, community spirited and oh so romantic … I was glued to the storyline and was keen to learn what happened next and when I did get to the end I felt bereft to leave these wonderful characters behind.

Gemma has just caught her shameless boyfriend with another woman, she’s so enraged with him she packs her belongings and most importantly her dog, Mabel and sets off to the Wiltshire countryside to escape the city of London and the mess of her love life.

Her friend Caro has given Gemma the opportunity to stay in her country cottage. Wallowing in heartbreak Gemma drowns out her sorrows and crashes out on the sofa and is awoken by a handsome stranger who seems pretty knowledgeable of the cottage.

Waking up hungover in a strange house in the countryside with a strange man roaming around and now the country has gone into lockdown Gemma has no option but to stay put.

Gemma loves the city life in London with high strength WIFI, delis and friends around the corner. Acquiring temporary emotional refuge is taking some readjusting as there is hardly any WIFI and just one village shop! However, Gemma’s dog, Mabel, feels right at home with ample space to walk and new areas to discover and Mabel has even found a new friend with the stranger who happens to live in a converted barn at the bottom on Gemma’s garden. Gemma and Matthew’s unorthodox introduction certainly broke the ice in introductions and a friendship soon blossoms.

As the days and weeks of the first lockdown fly by as an outsider Gemma notices changes in the locals lives and how it is effecting their wellbeing. With home schooling, working from home, isolation of the vulnerable, loneliness and boredom Gemma devises a project to help the community survive this united ordeal.

Two Metres From You is an accomplished debut novel that will hearten your soul, make you smile, it’s very poignant in places and so very relatable with a cast of likeable characters, a swoon worthy romance and a village scene to make you want an idyllic country escape. This time away from her normality gave Gemma the chance to reassess her life and home is not necessary where you think it may be. I can’t wait to see where Heidi Stephens will take her new readers to next.

About the Author

Heidi Stephens has spent her career working in advertising and marketing; some of her early writing work includes instruction manuals for vacuum cleaners, saucepans and sex toys. For the past ten years she has also freelanced as a journalist and, on autumnal weekend evenings, can be found liveblogging Strictly Come Dancing for The Guardian. She lives in Wiltshire with her partner and Labrador, Mabel.

Two Metres from You is Heidi’s debut novel.

Twitter: @heidistephens

Website: Heidi Stephens

Instagram: Heidi Stephens (@heidistephens) • Instagram photos and videos