Book Review: The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

I’m excited to share my review for The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop. The tagline ‘It’s never too late to start writing a different story’ called to my inner writer and I jumped at the invitation for this blog tour -thanks Random Things Tours. Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.

Book Review: The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

Book cover for The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop
The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

Title: The Lost Chapter

Author: Caroline Bishop

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Women’s fiction

Release Date: 3rd February 2022

Blurb

1957,France.

 Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a terrible betrayal prematurely tears them apart. Years later in England, Florence has become the woman her friend knew she could be – creative, bold, and independent. The exact opposite of Alice, a young woman troubled by a recent trauma, whom Florence is determined to help bring out of her shell. Just as Lilli once did for her. When Florence discovers that the novel she’s reading is written by Lilli and is based on their time at school, the two stories begin to unfold together. Past events illuminate the future, and it becomes clear that long-held secrets can’t stay buried forever

My Thoughts

As I said previously, the blurb and tagline caught my eye but it wasn’t long before Flo captured my heart and I had to keep reading to discover her past. This is a clever book that intersperses Flo,  Carla and Alice’s narratives with that of Lilli, in the form of the chapters of an autobiographical novel, The Way We Were. This in turn tells the tale of two friends of opposite personalities which gives the foundation of the overall story.

Flo is a feisty, down to earth octogenarian with a talent for art and prints. The scenes describing the process of printing were mediative and made me itch to have a go. The chemistry between her and younger Alice was a joy to read as she attempted to soothe her fears and when secrets from all characters were revealed it brought tears. Flo is a character everyone needs in their lives. The strained relationship between Carla and her daughter was authentic and emotive.

The 1957 timeline was also a delight to read for other reasons. The attention to detail brought the  time period and location to life with a pace of its own and worked perfectly against the other chapters. Unlike some dual timeline novels, I wasn’t drawn more to one; I was invested in both threads.

The Lost Chapter is a beautifully written emotional novel that left a warm glow when it ended with unexpected turns.

Would I recommend?

A huge yes, this could be a contender for one of my top books of the year. With beautiful prose, strong emotional connections, characters to hold dear and a mystery that makes you turn the page it is a must read.

It’s perfect for fans of last year’s Dear Grace by Clare Swatman.

Author Biography

Photo of Caroline Bishop
Caroline Bishop

Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co-wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site, and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women’s rights

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Book Review: The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland

I’m happy to share my review for a historical novel The Helsingor Sewing Club by Ella Gyland. I read this on Holocaust Memorial Day making it more poignant and hard hitting.

Book Review: The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland

Book cover for The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland
The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland

Title: The Helsingør Sewing Club

Author: Ella Gyland

Publisher: One More Chapter

Genre: Historical fiction

Release Date: 31st Jan 2022

Purchase: amzn.to/3nv7jR6

Blurb

Inspired by the incredible true story of how the people of Denmark saved their Jewish neighbours during WW2

Helsingør, Denmark, 1943

In the midst of the German occupation during World War Two, Inger Bredahl joins the underground resistance and risks her life to save members of Denmark’s Jewish community and help them escape to Sweden.

Copenhagen, 2018

Inger’s granddaughter, Cecilie Lund, is mourning her death when a mysterious discovery while cleaning out Inger’s flat leads past and present to intersect. As long-held secrets finally see the light of day, Cecilie learns the story of her grandmother’s courage and bravery, and of the power of friendship, love, and standing for what’s right…even when you have everything to lose.

An inspiring tale of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community.

My Thoughts

This fascinating dual timeline novel showcased the bravery of the Danes in the second world war and their determination to protect and help the Jewish community against the Nazi regime. It was a revelation to me that 90% of Dutch Jews survived. Along with my recent reading of The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews, this story has made me have great respect for the Danes and provided me with hope that there is a good in humanity.

 In both time periods, there was a good sense of place allowing me to visualise the locations and added to my desire to visit Denmark and Copenhagan. Like many dual timelines, I was drawn to one protagonist’s voice than the other and it was Inger and her comrades that won here. I wanted to know more about Bodil and Gudrun so would have been happy to read this story as a single timeline. This would allowed more space to be devoted to them and dig deeper into the resistance movement. I wanted to feel more emotionally connected to them all as I felt I was being kept as an observer rather than in their heads. This detachment did help me cope when the expected dark themes were discussed.

With the title The Helsingør Sewing Club  I kept expecting to hear about sewing machines and thread but only discovered why it was called that towards the end so to save you scratching your heads while reading, Helsingør Sewing Club was a code name for the resistance. If the community’s phones were tapped it would sound as if they were discussing the village’s sewing circle.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this novel gives an inspiring account of a side of the war I knew little about and made me see the good in humanity when often it is hidden. It provides a springboard to discover more and will be enjoyed by those who love historical fiction based in the world wars.

Author Biography

Author Ella Gyland
Ella Gyland

Originally from Denmark, I have lived in London for many years, surrounded by my family, cats, books and the Scandinavian hygge I try to create everywhere I go. As a linguist I love playing with words and language, and I am addicted to story-telling. I also believe strongly in social responsibility and sustainable living.

Social Media Links

Twitter: Ella/Henriette Gyland, @henrigyland

Website: https://henriettegyland.wordpress.com/ 

Thank you, Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Other blogs on this tour

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

I’m excited to share my review for Clare Swatman’s new novel, Before We Grow Old. I adored her previous book Dear Grace so I couldn’t wait to get started with this.

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

Book cover: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman
Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

Title: Before We Are Old

Author: Clare Swatman

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Genre: Woman’s fiction

Release Date: 19th Jan 2022

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2Y7Z8l7

Blurb

When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back.

Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late.

My Thoughts

This is a love story with believable characters that grabbed me from the start. Fran and her son Kieran have a settled life which changes with the arrival of her childhood sweetheart Will. The themes of first love and second chance love are covered and I enjoyed reading the chemistry between Will and Fran in the past and the present. With the rediscovery of a list they made when younger listing all they wanted to do before they grow old, there are moments of joy, sadness and reflection. Both characters have secrets that could change their path forever.

It is a highly emotional read told with compassion and sensitivity. Fran as a narrator , allowed me to see her growth, her turmoil but also the depth of her love for Will.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it has a different feel to Dear Grace with the focus on a younger generation but is a delightful, and heart-breaking romantic novel to rival the classic  The Love Story. It’s one that requires a box of tissues and a duvet day to indulge in one day.

Author Biography

Clare Swatman
Clare Swatman

Clare Swatman is the author of three women’s fiction novels, published by Macmillan, which have been translated into over 20 languages. She has been a journalist for over twenty years, writing for Bella and Woman & Home amongst many other magazines. She lives in Hertfordshire.

Social Media Links  

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

Twitter https://www.twitter.com/clareswatman

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

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Welcome to my review for The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy. The tagline intrigued me and I was keen to find out more so jumped at the chance when invited on this blog tour.

Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Book Cover The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy
The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Title: The Gosling Girl

Author: Jacqueline Roy

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Crime Fiction

Release Date: 20th Jan 2022

Blurb

Monster. Murderer. Child. Victim.

Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again. When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again. Natalie Tyler is the officer brought in to investigate the murder. A black detective constable, she has been ostracised from her family and often feels she is in the wrong job. But when she meets Michelle, she feels a complicated need to protect her, whatever she might have done. The Gosling Girl is a moving, powerful account of systemic, institutional and internalised racism, and of how the marginalised fight back. It delves into the psychological after-effects of a crime committed in childhood, exploring intersections between race and class as Michelle’s story is coopted and controlled by those around her. Jacqueline writes with a cool restraint and The Gosling Girl is a raw and powerful novel that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.

My Thoughts

The premise of this novel drew me in but the character, Michelle kept me captivated. Naïve, institutionalised, and surprisingly likeable she is understandably conflicted with the knowledge that she’d killed a child, and battles with guilt but as the story progressed it was clear nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

At times, my heart tugged when she is filled with hope of a new start with a new name despite a conviction looming over her while other times, I dreaded turning the page because I wondered where it would lead. Getting to grips with living outside prison and dealing with people with their own agendas is not a smooth path.

Child murder by children is a difficult topic to tackle but it is done sensitively, and is helped by keeping the reader at a distance from the action and having Michelle as an unreliable narrator. There isn’t a graphic description of her crime which allowed for it not to overshadow the emotional aspects of the book. It gives a snapshot into the consequences of actions and highlights the trauma on all sides of the crime including the perpetrator. It investigates the effects of race and in some respects, money and class, on a case and how easy it is for facts to be manipulated to fit different narratives.

Tyler, a police detective has her own battles with prejudices on the force which is topical and relevant in recent events in the Met.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this novel is gripping, thought provoking, and is one that refuses to let you go once you’ve read the last page. It evokes many emotions including initial guilt for connecting and liking a convicted murderer. I’m sure when I watch events unfold on the news the voices of Michelle and Tyler will sneak their way into my thoughts and influence my own judgements; they will remind me no one ever knows the full story and there are many things at play in how events came about and how things are seen. It is ideal for book clubs and initiating discussions.

Author Biography

Author Jacqueline Roy
Jacqueline Roy

Jacqueline was born and raised in London. Her father was Jamaican and her mother was English and she comes from a family of writers. She hated the pressure to conform at school and left early, so she did her degrees as a mature student and moved to Manchester to take up a full-time teaching post at Manchester Metropolitan University. She lectured in English for many years, specialising in postcolonial literatures. She also taught creative writing at MMU’s Writing School. She is particularly interested in exploring racial identities and the ways in which those who are marginalised find strategies for fighting back. She is now a full-time writer and has produced fiction for adults and children.

Twitter: @Jacquel27815478

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Book Review: The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

It has been a while since I have read a crime thriller, so the invite to this tour for The Quiet People by Paul Cleave  came at just the right moment and, with a blurb offering a writer-based mystery, I had high expectations for this book. Scroll down to see if these were met.

Book Review: The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Title: The Quiet People

Author: Paul Cleave

Publisher: Orenda books

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Release Date: 25th Oct 2021

Purchase: Amazon UK

Blurb

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no
one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.
So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying
to show how they can commit the perfect crime?


Multi-award winning bestseller Paul Cleave returns with an electrifying and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep
you guessing until the final page…

My Thoughts

When a group of writers get together, there is usually a conversation about what would happen if the police ever looked at their Google searches. Sometimes writer’s questions ask can lead to dark places and could be incriminating if seen under the wrong light. This is what happens here and it raises the question where does the author persona and stories they write end and reality start. A flippant comment said at a reading event is taken to heart by the police and media, forming the basis of a police investigation when Cameron and Lisa’s son, 7-year-old Zach is missing.

You’re thrown into the action from the start with a heart stopping moment which hooked me in and I was not released until the final page. This is a thrilling novel full of jeopardy, suspicion and action that led me to question everything and the motive of every character. It is told mainly in Cameron’s point of view but with many unexpected twists and turns, and glimpses into the investigation from DI Rebecca Kent’s perspective, there was always an edge of how reliable his narration really is. The suspicion and tension didn’t let up until the big reveal.

I loved it despite it being unrealistic and gung-ho in places. The New Zealand location made it a refreshing read. Maybe I’ve been watching too many UK based detective series recently where a family liaison officer is put in place at the family home as soon as a crime of this nature occurs, but I kept questioning where one was. It was a tiny niggle that soon passed when I became immersed into the plot. It is a good read for a long wintery evening.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you want a thrilling read with a fast turning, twisting plot to keep you up at night urging you to read just one more chapter.

Author Biography

Paul Cleave
Paul Cleave

Paul is an award-winning author who divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He has won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis
badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many.


Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulCleave, and his website: paulcleave.com.

Thank you Random Thing Tours and Orenda Books for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Book Review: Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Book Review: Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Book cover for Flora's Travelling Christmas by Rebecca Raisiner
Flora’s Travelling Christmas by Rebecca Raisin

Title: Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Festive Romance

Release Date: 28th Oct 2021

Purchase Links

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3gtWYSS

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3ycZ6UM

Amazon AUS: https://amzn.to/3sHpYLx

Blurb

‘Tis the season for mulled wine, mince pies, and magic under the mistletoe…

Flora loves Christmas more than anything else in the world, so she’s gutted when her Scrooge-alike boss fires her from Deck the Halls Christmas emporium. But now she finally has a chance to follow her dreams – and what better place to start than the home of Christmas?

Before she can say ‘sleigh bells’, Flora’s on her way to Lapland in a campervan-cum-Christmas-shop. She can’t wait to spend her days drinking hot chocolate and taking reindeer-drawn carriage rides, but something Flora didn’t expect was meeting Connor, a Norse god of a man who makes her heart flutter and snowflakes swirl in her stomach. There’s just one problem: Connor hates Christmas.

Can Flora convince Connor of the joys of Christmas – and will she find a festive romance along the way?

My Thoughts

Straight talking Flora loves Christmas and excels at spreading the Christmas spirit so is the ideal person to work in a Christmas shop. As a Christmasphile myself, I connected to her immediately and adored the descriptions of Deck the Halls. It reminded me of my favourite shop, Käthe Wohlfahrt in York where I’d love to work. I understood her motivation to own a Christmas shop and travel to Lapland, another one of my dream places to visit. She is zany and over the top in many ways but has a heart of gold which gives the novel warmth and cosiness you need for a Christmas read. Connor was a great character and the vision of him in an elf suit made me chuckle and the idea of van life was intriguing and made this novel different to others.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an enjoyable escape to Lapland for some festive romance and fun with a Christmas loving heroine. You can’t help but feel in the Christmas spirit when reading and it makes you want to put your tree up already.

Author Biography

Photo of author Rebecca Raisin
Rebecca Raisin

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

www.twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

https://www.instagram.com/rebeccaraisinwrites/

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Book Review: The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

I’m excited to share my second festive novel review this week, The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans. Again this is a new author for me but as someone who dreams of visiting the North Pole and a sucker for a vibrant festive book cover how could I resist agreeing to this blog tour. Scroll down to see what my visit was like.

Book Review: The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

Title: The Post Box at the North Pole

Author: Jaimie Admans

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Festive romance

Release Date: 18th Oct 2021

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09DFHFNW3

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B09DFHFNW3

Blurb

Dear Santa,

I wish I could believe in magic again.

From, Sasha.

Sasha Hansley hates Christmas. As a child, it was her favourite time of year, but ever since the tragic death of her mother, it has completely lost its magic.

But when she gets an unexpected phone call from her eccentric estranged father, she’s forced to dust off her snow boots.

He has been running a Lapland-style Christmas village in Norway and after suffering a heart attack, he is on strict doctor’s orders to slow down. Eager to reconnect with her dad, Sasha books the next flight out there. Only she has never actually been on a plane before, let alone to the Arctic Circle.

 Met at the runway by drop-dead-gorgeous Taavi Salvesen, they sleigh ride through the snow with the Northern Lights guiding their way.

 When Sasha uncovers sacks of unopened Santa mail – letters that children and adults from all over the world write to Santa every year – she realises that she can send a little bit of magic out into the world by replying to some of them.

 With Taavi on hand to help, will Sasha rediscover her own excitement for Christmas and find love among the letters?

The Post Box at the North Pole is like one big romantic mug of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and a splash of Christmas magic! Fans of Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan and Heidi Swain will love this novel!

My Thoughts

Oh heck! What a Christmas novel, it’s like a perfect festive movie, full of cheer, snow, emotion and everything I love about them.  Not only is the stunning location a character itself and I could imagine myself there happily Sasha is easy to relate to and Taavi with his childish wonder at the Christmas season took my breath away. I loved the descriptions of the North Pole village and as the story unfolded my love for it grew but it was the chemistry between Taavi and Sasha, and her troubled relationship with her father that drew me in. I needed to know how things could be resolved.

Despite being full of warmth, festive spirit and sprinkled with the magic of nisse, there is an undercurrent of deep emotions, secrets and darkness throughout. Without this depth, the idyllic nature of the scenery and theme of this novel could have veered towards sickly sweet but instead was a joy to read.

Would I recommend?

Yes. I’ve still have a few festive books in my stash but this is an exquisite journey to a magical place with a swoonsome love interest and realistic heroine to relate to. With a stunning location that oozes the seasonal magic, this is pure Christmassy escapism with romance, family drama and Santa. It  has to be one of my top festive books on my forever shelf and I’ll be visiting Taavi, the nisse and the North Pole again and again.

Author Biography

Jaimie Admans

Jaimie is a 36-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.
She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She is the author of several romantic comedies for HarperCollins – The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, The Little Wedding Island, It’s a Wonderful Night, The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea, Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm, The Little Bookshop of Love Stories, The Wishing Tree Beside the Shore, The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane, and The Post Box at the North Pole.

Social Media Links –

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

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

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Book Review: Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft

I know we haven’t had Halloween yet but it is never too early to read a festive book and I’m excited to share my review for Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft. To my shame, I had never read a Sue Moorcroft book before but I’d heard great things about them so how could I resist when I was offered a place on this blog tour. Scroll down to see whether this novel reached my high expectations.

Book Review: Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft

Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft

Title: Under the Mistletoe

Author: Sue Moorcroft

Publisher:

Genre: Romance, Christmas

Release Date:

Purchase Links

Bookshop.org:

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/under-the-mistletoe-9780008393052/9780008393052

Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Under-Mistletoe-Sue-Moorcroft-ebook/dp/B0918SXFN2/

WH Smith:

https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/sue-moorcroft-untitled-xmas-book-9/sue-moorcroft/paperback/9780008393052.html

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/under-the-mistletoe-59

Apple Books:

https://books.apple.com/gb/book/under-the-mistletoe/id1567181050

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Under-the-Mistletoe-Audiobook/B09D8KPLRR.

Blurb

Christmas. A time for family, friends – and rekindling old flames…

When Laurel returns to the village of Middledip, she’s looking for a quiet life. Adjusting to her recent divorce, she’s ready to spend some time getting back on her feet amidst the glorious snow-dusted countryside.

Yet, life in Middledip is far from straightforward. Coming to the aid of her sister, Rea, as she navigates her own troubles, Laurel barely has a moment to think about where her own life is going.

However, time stands still when she sees her old flame, Grady Cassidy – and it’s soon as if they’ve never been apart. But through her happiness, Laurel remembers why she left the village all those years ago, as she recalls a dark night and Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac…

Can Laurel learn to forgive and forget? Or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain a dream?

An enchanting, festive read, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Carole Matthews.

My Thoughts

This is my first visit to Middledip, and I loved it as a setting. It epitomised everything a reader wants in a festive tale – a good sense of community, a great and memorable cast of characters and the village was delightful to visualise especially coated in snow and Christmas decorations. It provided the ideal backdrop for this story. Laurel was an easy character to relate to as she comes back to help her sister who has agoraphobia. This isn’t the only heavy topic covered. It also dealt with sexual assault and bullying. All of these were dealt with sensitively and with compassion. It is the consequences of the sexual assault that is focussed on throughout and how it not only affected the person involved but those around them despite years past. This may be triggering for some and I did find it harder to relax into this book as much as I usually do with festive novels for this reason but I adored Sue Moorcroft’s style, depth of character and warmth so I will be reading some more of her work especially the festive ones. Art and craft played an important role in the novel and the descriptions of Laurel working alongside the villagers and Grady, her love interest, were magical and made me want to join in and be part of the action. Her paintings were exquisite and easy to envisage and if I could have the dancing woman on my wall I would. The theme and motivation behind it resonated with me so much. The relationship and chemistry between Grady and Laurel felt authentic and I was routing for both of them to overcome all the obstacles in their way. It was a delight to meet them and be part of their journey.

Would I recommend?

Yes, Sue Moorcroft has a warm and thoughtful style that is ideal for festive romantic novels. The village atmosphere and cosy community is a joy to visit, and the art described creeps into your soul. Laurel and Grady have a special place in my heart.

Author Biography

Photo of Sue Moorcroft author
Author Sue Moorcroft

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle UK as well as top 100 in the US. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s emotionally compelling, feel-good novels are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers around the world. She’s also well known for short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses.


Born in Germany into an army family, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire, England aged ten. She loves reading, Formula 1, travel, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.

Social Media Links –
Website
 www.suemoorcroft.com

Blog http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com

Facebook profile 

Facebook author page  https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor

Twitter  @suemoorcroft

Instagram  @SueMoorcroftAuthor

LinkedIn

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

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The Secrets of Hawthorn Place by Jenni Keer: Extract

Today, I have something different to share; an extract from Jenni Keer’s new release, The Secrets of Hawthorn Place and a giveaway. I love Jenni Keer’s previous novels and can’t wait to discover more about this one

The Secrets of Hawthorn Place by Jenni Keer

Title: The Secrets of Hawthorn Place

Author: Jenni Keer

Publisher: Headline Accent

Genre: Historical, dual timeline

Release Date: 14th Oct 2021

Purchase:https://bit.ly/HawthornSecrets

Blurb

Love will always find a way… Discover the intriguing secrets of Hawthorn Place in this heartfelt dual-time novel, filled with warmth and charm, perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Cecelia Ahern.

Two houses, hundreds of miles apart…yet connected always. When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.

But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Art and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.

Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason. What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever…

Extract

So now we’ve been tempted by the blurb, I’m excited to share an extract from The Secrets of Hawthorn Place to whet readers’ appetites where Percy Gladwell, a well-respected Arts and Crafts architect, is meeting the husband of his new client for the first time. He’d previously been totally bewitched by Violet Marston, is frustrated by her indifference towards him, and curious about the man she married. The year is 1894.

Prior to Edward’s appointment, I had made discreet enquiries about him, curious to know of his background. Perhaps, if I am honest, keen to investigate Mrs Marston’s choice of husband – if indeed there had been any choice in the matter.

Edward had made his fortune on the railways – not the building of the lines, for that was largely complete – but had instead inherited a large engineering works and was involved in the ongoing supply and repairing of rolling stock. The company had been established by his father, but in the decade since his death Edward had overseen substantial company growth. It was ironic to me that he spoke of supporting the craftsmen of this country when it was his livelihood that had gone some way to destroying it.

As international trade routes expanded and the railways dissected our land, goods were shipped far and wide in journey times that had previously been unthinkable. The building of factories continued, and mechanisation replaced honest working men on the fields and in the towns. Inevitably, we had witnessed a decline in quality of goods and working conditions, and a growing number of us refused to embrace these changes. Was it right that Welsh roof slate tiles should be used in areas where they did not belong? That fittings could be mass-produced in factories but resulted in inferior quality products? Or, conversely, items too perfect, so that each one produced was identical to the one before?

Right or not, being a part of our industrial advancement had enabled this wealthy young man to secure the hand of the enchanting Mrs Marston, but I doubted it was a love match. Edward’s wealth was new money. His family name was not recorded in the annals of history. The marriage to Violet Marston brought legitimacy, and now he wished to design a country house because it was what those of his new-found status did.

‘You have come to the right man, Mr Marston. Rest assured, I will be commissioning locally sourced, handmade items, from the timber and brick of construction, to the hinges and latches on every door. But be aware such items come at a price.’

He waved an indifferent hand in my direction, as another stream of smoke was expelled from his lips.

‘Money, while not in limitless supply, is not my greatest concern. It is of the utmost importance Violet is happy with this house. She will be persuaded you are the best man for the job. My wife has an artistic soul and great sympathy for your movement, even though she was not as taken as me with the York house,’ he continued. ‘She thought it somewhat queer, preferring to spend her time roaming the grounds. But then it has always been hard to please our Violet.’ He rolled his eyes and puffed at his pipe.

There was a stab to my heart as he talked of Mrs Marston’s indifference. Not that this young woman was in any way qualified to judge my skills as an architect, but I was disappointed she found me lacking.

‘My wife and I are very different people,’ he said. ‘I am up at five every morning, restless and pacing. She rises at nine. Whilst I am constantly seeking meaningful pursuits and lively social engagements, she is sedentary, and seeks out nature, content to sit staring out to sea, or while away an hour dead-heading her precious flowers. The land we have secured will suit her well. She longs to be near her mother and brothers, and has fond memories of her summers along those shores as a child. Two years residing in London with me has only accentuated those feelings. I am city and she is country and coast.’

His pipe died and he removed it from his mouth, tamped it down and lit it once more, a fresh billowing of smoke surrounding his face. I stifled an involuntary cough.

‘I have already appraised myself of your portfolio. The estate cottages at Bardenfield, the alterations made to the Steepleford parish church, and a growing collection of small country houses. Even my wife could not deny you made an excellent job of Steepleford; the west tower was a triumph. In your work, I see a simplicity and functionality that I find pleasing, yet an ability to embrace the imagination, which will doubtless appeal to the whimsy of my wife. I am more than satisfied and wish to go ahead with the project.’

‘In that case, my first request would be to visit the plot to assess the landscape and amenities. I will consult my secretary and we can arrange a date that is convenient to yourself. We can then discuss function and aesthetics.’

‘You misunderstand me, dear fellow. I will have very little to do with design and planning. I merely intend to provide the funds. I am a busy man, Mr Gladwell, and my business interests keep me in London. This house will be the primary residence of my wife, so it is she who must be consulted at every stage.’

I nodded my understanding and cannot deny my heart gave a tiny leap at the thought of further contact with the beautiful Mrs Marston…

What will happen when Violet is forced to work with Percy? And will they find common ground over the house design? I hope readers are curious to read more about their highly unusual love story, and see how present day Molly uncovers their startling secret, as well as finding love in her own life.

Author Biography

Photo of Jenni Keer author
Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing commercial women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere, with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

Jenni is also the author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unexpected Life of Maisie Meadows.

Social Media Links –

FB Jenni Keer Writer

Twitter @JenniKeer

Instagram jennikeer

Giveaway to Win a Signed copy of the Secrets of Hawthorn Place, plus chocolate and a sparkly pen. (UK Only)

Giveaway prizes

For your chance to win a signed copy of The Secrets of Hawthorn Place, click here.*

Good Luck!

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and Jenni Keer for sharing an extract. I have my copy waiting on my Kindle for me to catch up with a couple more books before I snuggle under the duvet with it. Watch this space for a review.

Love

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Book Review: Book Review Log Book by Jennifer Gilmour

Today I’m reviewing something different but could be the answer to a book lover’s prayers – the Book Review Log Book by Jennifer Gilmour. If you are like me you may record your books read on Goodreads or rely on memory to remember which books you’ve read and want to read. This book promises an alternative. Scroll down to find out more.

Book Review: Book Review Log Book by Jennifer Gilmour

Cover for Book Review Log Book by Jennifer Gilmour
Book Review Log Book by Jennifer Gilmour

Title: Book Review Log Book

Author: Jennifer Gilmour

Genre: Non-fiction, book gift

Release Date: 14th July 2021

Purchase: mybook.to/bookreview

Blurb

Keep a track of your reading progress and your book reviews in one place:

  • Reading Goals
  • To Be Read List
  • Book Release Dates
  • Word Cloud
  • Your Reviews
  • Your Notes

My Thoughts

This book is a book blogger’s dream, especially for one as disorganised as me, but it is also a joy to use as a book lover. With a clear format, it does exactly what the blurb says and more. On each book review page, there is a space to record your favourite quotes from the current book, write a review, and add the general information about it. There is even a place to stick an image of the book cover, which is a pleasant touch. It is the extra bits I love because Jennifer Gilmour has thought of everything a book lover may want, including a place to jot down inspiring words (perfect for writers), a planner for future book releases and a to-be-read list in the form of a book shelf allowing you to be creative. There are also plenty of pages to add your own notes and to customise it to your heart’s content.

This log is highly accessible, made with consideration and love. I love using it. It provides a sense of satisfaction that is lacking in the digital places such as Goodreads. I can see myself ordering another copy once I’ve reached my 100 books.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is a wonderful book to record books read and everything related to reading. It would make an ideal gift for a book worm or a useful companion for a book blogger thanks to its clear layout, space to record for the important things and the chances to customise it so it can become an individual record of books you loved and disliked.

Author Biography

Author Jennifer Gilmour
Author Jennifer Gilmour

Jennifer Gilmour is an author and advocate for women in abusive relationships, using her own experiences of domestic abuse as a catalyst to bring awareness and to help others. Jennifer has published two publications, Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings which have both been Amazon Best Sellers and received awards. Jennifer speaks at events across the UK and continues to raise awareness through her blog posts, public speaking, radio interviews and social media.

Most Informative Blogger Award 2018 (Bloggers Bash Annual Awards)
UK & European Award for using Social Media for Good 2019 (Social Day: Social Media Marketing Awards)

Jennifer says: “Together we are Louder”.

Social Media Links –

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com  

Facebook; www.facebook.com/JenLGilmour

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour  

Instagram; www.instagram.com/JenLGilmour  

Amazon author profile; http://author.to/jennifergilmour  

Goodreads author profile; https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferGilmour  

Huffington post blogger profile; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/jennifer-gilmour

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

signature of Katie