Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks book review

summers lease

Summer’s Lease written by Carrie Elks, publisher Piatkus, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

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Product Details (as per amazon page)

A free summer holiday in a beautiful villa in Lake Como. The catch? Sharing a house with her worst enemy . . .

Cesca Shakespeare has hit rock bottom. After one prize-winning play that ended in disaster, writer’s block turned up, moved in and got a Netflix subscription. Six years later, she’s just lost her crappy job and is about to lose her flat. Worse still, her sisters have no idea how far she’s fallen. So when her fairy Godfather offers her a free summer holiday in a beautiful Italian villa, she grudgingly agrees to try writing a new play. That’s before she finds out the house belongs to her arch-nemesis, Sam Carlton.

Having just hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons – again – Hollywood heart-throb Sam Carlton needs a place to hide out. Where better than his family’s gorgeous empty villa on Lake Como? Except when he arrives, it isn’t as empty as he’d hoped.

One thing’s for sure – this is going to be a red-hot, scorching summer . . .

theatre curtains

Summer’s Lease is book one in a new series titled The Shakespeare Sisters by Carrie Elks.  This is my first introduction to the work of Carrie Elks and I was in for a treat!

Cesca Shakespeare had spent six years in despair getting over the unexpected end of her play which was due to be played in the West End.  A flop before the curtains were even drawn all because the leading man, Sam Carlton, upped and left without another word.  Cesca had been unable to write another word without it making sense so she hopped from one dead end job to another to try and make ends meet.  When  the opportunity of a summer job arose house sitting in Italy she felt like it was her saviour.

The villa in Italy was beautiful beyond words and Cesca was soon feeling relaxed and was allowing her mind to refresh.  However, her stress levels were soon to rise when an unexpected visitor turned up at the villa.  The visitor was none other than the son of the owners of the villa, Sam Carlton.  The same Sam Carlton that vanished from her play.  The same Sam Carlton that was now a Hollywood heartthrob with millions of adoring fans following his success in the hottest chick flick trilogy to hit the screens.

As you can imagine Cesca was none too pleased to see Sam.  Tempers flared and after much warring of words Cesca and Sam agreed on a temporary truce.

Staying at the villa had re-invigorated Cesca’s will to write and she soon got started on drafting a new screenplay.

Sam Carlton had fled to his family’s Italian villa escaping a storm in the media that had just brewed inciting much gossip about the actor’s personal life.  When Sam arrived at the villa he couldn’t remember this young woman that was now shooting so much verbal towards him.  When he eventually remembered the time six years ago when he fled from London he recalls the hurt he felt so deeply which he received from someone he thought loved and cared for him.  Sam has spent the last six years avoiding as much as possible this time in his life where everything he knew and thought about himself changed.

However, Sam sees something in Cesca; he sees the love that she had back then in the play that she wrote.  He sees how proud she was and as an eighteen year old girl it had mean’t the world to her and his unfortunate actions destroyed it.

Can the pair learn to live in harmony in the same villa whilst Cesca continues with her new job and Sam avoids any media intrusion?  Can Cesca have the courage and determination to write again?  Can Sam stop the demons from his past troubling his future?

This was such a beautiful story set amongst a stunning Italian lakeside villa.  It’s difficult to remain mad or upset with anyone when you wake up everyday surrounded by a dazzling landscape.  The ending was picture perfect, I felt like I’d just sat through the most sublime chick flick movie.  A sexy, addictive romance worthy of big screen triumphs.  I can’t wait to read more from Carrie Elks and The Shakespeare Sisters.

To find out more about Carrie Elks and her work please visit the following pages:

Website:  https://carrieelks.com/

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

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

 

Guest Post: Hole in the Middle Author Kendra Fortmeyer

Hole in the Middle

Hole in the Middle written by Kendra Fortmeyer, publisher Atom (an imprint of Little, Brown) is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Morgan Stone was born with a hole in her middle. A perfectly smooth patch of nothing where a something should be.

After seventeen years of fear and shame, doctors and nurses, ‘peculiar’ not ‘perfect’, she has had enough of hiding.

One night, among a sea of bodies and lost in a moment of blissful abandon, she finally bares all.

A few photos uploaded to social media is all it takes to create a media frenzy. Overnight, Morgan becomes #holegirl.

And then she meets a boy who is literally her perfect match. They could be each other’s cure. But can he truly make her ‘whole’?

Feisty, feminist and downright different, Hole in the Middle is the story of what happens when a girl who is anything but ‘normal’ confronts a world obsessed with body image and celebrity.

yellow squiggle lineI’m so pleased to welcome author Kendra Fortmeyer to my blog today:

The Holes Inside Us (Form Constellations We Feel, Not See)

My first novel, Hole in the Middle, began as a short story for a class. The week before I was to turn it in, I met with the instructor and blurted, “I’m working on a story about a girl who has a hole through her torso.” He raised his eyebrows and, optimistically reading his skepticism as encouragement, I blurted, “A hole that – it goes straight through. Like, if she were standing in front of a book case, you could read the titles on the shelf behind her.”

The teacher in this tale is an established American fabulist, a weaver himself of strange tales and fictions. He assigned us readings in Barthelme and Cortazar and Michaux and frequently exhorted us to read Philip Roth’s “The Breast” (in which a man spontaneously transforms into a human breast); if anybody understood what I was about, I thought, he’d be the one.

My teacher, who’d been hunched forward in his chair with the seriousness and demeanor of a praying mantis, leaned slowly back, running a hand through his shock of white hair.

“I cannot imagine,” he said, “How in the world you’re going to pull that one off.”

It’s a response I haven’t stopped hearing in the five years since I took Pete’s class, even after I signed with a firecracker agent – even after selling the book to a fantastic editor with Little Brown’s YA imprint Atom Books. The core concept of the book – the girl with a hole in her middle –strikes people as anywhere from interesting to odd. It’s not quite fantasy (the world of the book is quite ordinary; the hero does homework and wastes time on Facebook and falls in and out of love on gum-stained sidewalks), but unless there are hordes of toroid people secretly roaming the streets, realism, it’s not quite realism, either.

It’s a bit uncomfortable, this uncategorizability. We’re not sure what to do with what we can’t understand.

This is a problem the novel’s protagonist, a girl named Morgan, grapples with regularly: when a piece of you is missing, where do you fit? Throughout the course of the book, she both resists and embraces the idea that the hole in her middle is a metaphor for something: she believes both that she is undefined by her body and that she is limited by it; that she is simultaneously a whole person, and also that she is strange, is unlovable, that some key part of her is lacking.

In many ways, the novel is a portrait of myself in my teens and twenties, and my friends and classmates. We were, all of us, shaped by yearning: an obsession with what we were and weren’t yet. Experimenting, laughing, raging, playing, trying desperately to figure out how to become the selves we didn’t yet know we needed to be.

 It’s a portrait of myself even now.

In the novel, the hole and the sense of lack is tied closely to the body, as it often is in Western culture. We’re told since we’re young that there is a physical ideal, and all of the ways in which we fall short of it are personal failures. The novel – and before that, the story – is a rallying cry against all that, for young women especially, but also for people of any age, anywhere. It’s the story of a girl looking at her body and saying, Stop defining me and Enough is enough and This hole is not a flaw; it’s merely space to grow.

Writing it has made me feel whole.

A week after meeting with my instructor, I handed my story into the class. He met with me later, shaking his head.

“I didn’t have any clue how you were going to pull that off,” he said, and laughed his wonderful old Christopher Walken laugh. “This wasn’t quite what I expected. But it works, you know. It works.”

The flaws in us – and that which we are told are flaws, are wanting, are anything-other-than-perfect – are far from it: the gaps in the cardboard cutouts between ourselves and “ordinary” are the spaces that make us who we are. Embrace them, own them, grow into them. Your whole self will thank you.

Wow, this book sounds fascinating and very topical.  Thank you so much to Kendra for revealing more about the insight behind the story.

To find out more about Kendra Fortmeyer please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://kendrafortmeyer.com/

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

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts book review

come sundown

Come Sundown written by Nora Roberts, publisher Piatkus, is available in ebook, hardcover, audio download and audio cd format from 30th May 2017.

To pre-order/buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Love. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN

Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

horse sunset montana

This was such a gripping story set in two different time frames in Western Montana; in 1991 when a young woman was to experience the darkest night of her life and to the present day to a family holiday resort that is run by generations of the Longbow family.  However, this family are still grieving the loss of one of their own.

The story doesn’t hold back and we are hit straight away with a darkness that everyone fears.  A young woman who had left home to make a new life was on her way back home when she was abducted.  Alice was only miles away from home but her life is now in terrible danger.  Alice has to gain strength from deep insider her to keep her alive.  My heart was in my mouth reading these scenes of gut wrenching evil.

Back in the present day we meet Bodine Longbow, great granddaughter and now manager to the popular family holiday resort.  The resort specialises in all that nature provides in Western Montana, the company embraces the life with horseback trails, authentic food and western music.  It’s a place to relax and embrace nature at it’s best.  The business is proud of supporting the local community and many of their employees are locals and from all generations of the family.  Bodine is very career orientated and has a methodical mind working at the helm of the business.  When a familiar face from the past returns looking for work at the ranch Bodine tries to keep things on a professional level but as Callen Skinner was her childhood crush she is finding it hard to keep her emotions in check.

The resort is rocked by news of the death of one of their workers bringing fear all around and opening up old wounds as it’s been 25 years since the disappearance of Bodine’s Aunt Alice.  Is there a connection between the two cases?  The calm and tranquillity of this idyllic resort is no more …

I loved how the author, Nora Roberts, cleverly told a dark story full of horror and unimaginable events and interspersed it with a family going about their usual routines running a holiday resort.  When love strikes between numerous characters it created a wonderful distraction; a sort of lightness to the horrors hidden around them.

A dramatic family saga that will captivate you with it’s shocking twists and turns and will leave you emotionally wrought.  The international bestseller Nora Roberts has done it again!

To find out more about Nora Roberts and her work please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.noraroberts.com/

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

 

Spandex and the City by Jenny T. Colgan book review

spandex and the city

Spandex and the City written by Jenny T. Colgan, publisher Orbit (Little Brown UK) is available in ebook, paperback and audio download format from 18th May 2017.

To pre-order/buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET
Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

purple motorbike

I was first drawn to this novel by the author, I love all Jenny Colgan’s stories but I haven’t read any of her sci-fi romances however, the cover it’s purple so that’s a bonus in my eyes and the synopsis drew me in further.

During a night out with her friend Holly get’s caught up in a traumatic event but is rescued in a rather unladylike way by Ultimate Man.  Holly works at the Mayor’s Office in the city in the publicity department and her night out is soon all over the media in full technicolour.  Holly starts to build up a rapport with the masked man and her feelings become very confused.  Holly inadvertently becomes a target and her life becomes in peril again, the only person who can help is Ultimate Man.  Can Ultimate Man reach her in time?

This is unlike any other story I’ve read but I was drawn in by the outstanding wit and humour and the warmth from the characters that Jenny T. Colgan had radiated across the pages.  Also, I was starting to have a crush on a certain man in purple!  The story was like an updated version of Superman and you get to see all sides of the characters; the damsel in distress (aka Holly), the villain (aka Frederick Cecil) and the hero (aka Ultimate Man).  There’s a side to the story that is quite thought-provoking and I could appreciate why certain actions were taken.  My heart at one point was very much divided between good and evil in this story’s sense and I wanted to bang both their heads together to knock some sense into both our leading men.  I loved the action and the crazy, cool gadgets but amongst all this the author had cleverly interspersed these times with some very tender poignant moments leaving me quite emotional.

A fabulous story that was cool, geeky, fun and a little bit sexy.  5/5*

To find out more about Jenny T. Colgan please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.jennycolgan.com/books/

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

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

Catch Me if you Cannes by Lisa Dickenson blogtour/book review

Catch Me If You Cannes

Catch Me if you Cannes written by Lisa Dickenson, publisher Sphere, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Jess has decided it’s time to get out of her comfort zone and live a little. So when her best friend Bryony, a journalist on a gossip magazine, is sent to cover the Cannes Film Festival, Jess decides to seize the day and go along for the ride. Two weeks of sun, glamour and exclusive entry into celeb-filled parties is just the kind of adventure Jess needs.

Reality soon bites though when Jess and Bryony find they’re staying in a dingy hotel far away from all the action and Bryony’s expenses budget barely covers a glass of local wine. Undeterred, the two women are determined to live like the elite and enjoy one fancy night out to begin their holiday. So what if they have to tell a few white lies along the way? It’s just this once. No harm done . . . right?

Full of hilarious one-liners, sparkling blue seas and plenty of romantic moments, Catch Me If You Cannes is the story of two friends, a few white lies and one very sticky situation . . .

Catch Me if You Cannes Poster

Catch Me if you Cannes was previously released as an ebook mini series.  I am thrilled to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of the full story in paperback.

Catch Me if you Cannes is fabulously funny, gloriously girlie and I absolutely loved it!

Jess and Bryony are best friends but as Bryony is now a journalist for a gossip mag in London she doesn’t get much time to see her friend Jess who lives in Cornwall running her own café.  Jess feels like her life isn’t going anywhere, she’s lived and worked in the same village all her life so when Bryony’s job takes her to Cannes Film Festival Jess leaps at the chance to go with her.

The girls are soon star struck and gob smacked with Cannes.  The beauty of the coastal town, it’s opulent hotels, the designer stores, the rich and the famous are in abundance, the girls are literally left goggle-eyed.  They want these two weeks away in this wonderful place, full of amazing people to be an adventure.  Their limited budget takes them to a backstreet hotel but the girls don their glad rags and set out for a night out and charm their way into a fancy restaurant and soon make friends with a group of people who so happen to be stylists for the stars.

We follow the girls on their two week adventure living amongst the glitterati pretending to be one of them.  When Jess meets a gorgeous man who lives on a yacht Jess continues with her pretence of feeling at home with the rich.

How long can Jess go without revealing her true identity?  Can Bryony reveal the juiciest story from the festival?

I love Lisa Dickenson’s writing style she takes you on a wonderful romantic interlude with characters you instantly warm to.  I was swept away with the glamour of Cannes and loved discovering  it through the eyes of Jess and Bryony.  Fun and frolics galore with the girls escaping from many situations that went a little awry!

Lisa’s stories are a breath of fresh air, they are gloriously girlie with plenty of laugh out loud moments.  You are left with a satisfied smile and eagerly await the next novel from Lisa Dickenson 5/5*

To find out more about Lisa Dickenson and her books please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.lisadickenson.com/

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

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

When My Ship Comes In by Sue Wilsher book review

 

when my ship comes in

When My Ship Comes In written by Sue Wilsher, publisher Sphere, is available NOW in ebook, hardcover, paperback and audio download format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

If you love Call The Midwife, you won’t be able to resist this heartwrenching emotional saga set in 1950s Essex.

Keep the family together, that’s what her old mum always said. Put up and shut up. And that’s what everyone else did around there.

Essex, 1959. Flo earns her money as a scrubber, cleaning the cruise ships and dreaming of a day when she might sail away from her life in the Dwellings, the squalid tenements of Tilbury docks. Then the Blundell family are evicted from their home.

Fred, Flo’s husband, finds work at Monday’s, a utopian factory town. Suddenly, it seems like everything is on the up for Flo Blundell and her children. Even Jeanie, Flo’s sulking teenage daughter, seems to be thawing a little in her shiny new surroundings.

But when Flo’s abusive husband Fred starts drinking again, he jeopardises the family’s chance to escape poverty for good.

Flo is faced with a terrible decision. Must she fight to keep her family together? Or could she strive for the life of her dreams – the kind of life she could have when her ship comes in?

1950s woman with gloves and handbag

I read this debut novel by Sue Wilsher back in in January but I wanted my review to be posted near the release date of the paperback which was a mere few days ago.

This was such a raw, honest story of life as it really was back in 1959.  The story is set at Tilbury Docks, Essex but it could be set anywhere in the country as families, men and women, had certain roles to play back in that era. Women had a hard life back in the 50’s, some worked to help with the housekeeping funds but they were also expected to cook, clean and look after the children around their work schedule.  The men went to work and very often visited a public house before coming home to dinner of the table.  It was just the way of the world back then but Flo was a very strong minded lady and had to find a way of swimming with the world on the cusp of change in women’s equality at work.

After Flo’s husband Fred lost his job at the docks he reluctantly found work at a leather goods factory in a nearby town.  This was a self-made town that the owner of the factory had built.  Mr Monday Senior, of Monday’s Leather Goods, had a vision of a factory making quality goods with his employees living in purpose built houses encased in their own village which included bars, sports facilities and events were held bringing the workforce together as a team.

Flo loved it at Monday’s she had managed to get a job herself and soon picked up the skills required and was encouraged to train to further her career.  This was totally unheard of for a woman to be given training for promotion and in a way Flo felt like a ‘guinea pig’ but she relished the studying.

This was a new style of working ethic for Fred but at first he settled in well however, eventually his old habits slithered back in causing a whole heap of trouble.  Flo was left in despair and turmoil over her marriage and the safety of her family.  Should she give up her dreams of her career and a better life for her family?

Sue Wilsher had cleverly told this story in two different voices.  The voice of Flo, the wife and mother and the voice of Jeanie, the 15 year old daughter refusing to be moulded in the ‘woman of the 50’s figure.’  I loved the struggle felt in this storyline, it was quite emotional to read at times due to the honesty of the author’s words.  A remarkable debut novel that awakens a time and an era when struggles were a daily occurrence for many.  I was hoping for an epilogue as I love to know how the characters developed but this is just my preference.  I look forward to more from Sue Wilsher. 4.5/5*

To find out more about Sue Wilsher please visit the following pages:

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

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

The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George book review/blogtour

the-little-breton-bistro

The Little Breton Bistro written by Nina George, publisher Abacus, is available NOW in ebook, hardcover and audio download format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Marianne Messman, a housewife, wants to escape her loveless marriage and an uncaring and unfeeling husband of 35 years. Marianne and her husband (army sergeant major Lothar) take a trip to Paris, during which Marianne leaps off the Pont Neuf into the Seine, but she is saved from drowning by a homeless man. Angered by her behaviour, major Lothar takes a coach trip back home to Germany, expecting that a psychologist will escort Marianne home a few days later. However, Marianne comes across a hand-painted scene of the tiny port of Kerdruc in Brittany, and becomes fixated with the place. Marianne decides to make her way to Kerduc, and once there meets a host of colourful characters who all gravitate around the small restaurant of Ar Mor (The Sea). It is this cast of true Bretons who become Marianne’s new family. She finds love and passion with Yann, an artist who becomes her guide to the secrets of Brittany. Before long, Marianne’s husband is back to retrieve her and Marianne feels pulled towards her old life by way of duty and guilt. She leaves Kerduc and gets as far as Paris before she realises it’s now or never when it comes to building the life she really wants.

the-little-breton-bistro-blog-tour-banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Nina George’s new novel, The Little Breton Bistro.

A 5* read to me is a story that grabs my attention, I fall in love with the characters and settings, the story evokes emotions in me.  The Little Breton Bistro was all this to me and more.  I was totally swept away with Marianne’s story of her decision to end the drudgery that had become her life, married to a man that belittled her and she felt no love from him.  Marianne had been married for over 50 years to Lothar and she felt despair of her life and what it had become.  Marianne and Lothar are German born and reside in their native land, on a day trip to Paris Marianne slipped away from her husband and made her way to Pont Nerf with the intention to leap off the bridge into the River Seine.  Anger swells up in Marianne when she is saved by a stranger.  During her recovery in hospital she comes across a small painted tile.  The image depicted on the tile is of the small village of Kerduc, Brittany and the idyllic landscape with the beach and sea somehow speaking to Marianne she vows to visit this wonderful place to finalise her journey.

Marianne’s journey to Kerduc was eventful and charming in it’s own right but the finality that Marianne had sought wasn’t to be.  The inhabitants of the village immediately befriended Marianne offering her solace.  She learnt  from the locals and she was also able to teach them a fair few tricks of the trades of life she had learnt in her 60 years.

Each day in Kerduc became more tolerable for Marianne, she started to make friends and she felt belonged and she mattered to people, which she hadn’t felt in a very long time.  Will the love of her new life be enough for Marianne to give her strength and belief for the future?

This was such a delightful tale that is inspiring and hopeful.  I felt joyous for Marianne for what she had become but also for the lives she had enriched.  A wonderful, heart warming, almost magical tale of second chances.

I’d like to share a quote from the novel that deeply moved me:

Walking on, she felt as if something had jumped off her back, something that had dug it’s sharp claws into her skin.  It was fear.  Fear had jumped off, an ugly, red-eyed beast that was not scuttling through the undergrowth to look for someone else’s back to possess.

To find out more about Nina George and her work please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.nina-george.com/

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

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/NinaGeorge.Schriftstellerin