The Story of Babushka – Catherine Flores

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the gorgeous hardback book on the blog tour with the Love Book Tours.

Synopsis:

A beautifully illustrated book, with a magnificent story that children and tweens will love.

Babushka wants to find out the meaning of life so she sends her bodies out of the forest and into the world to search for answers. 

WHAT IS A BABUSHKA?

The babushka doll, also known as a matryoshka or Russian nesting doll, is a traditional Russian toy first made over 100 years ago. The doll has come to symbolise Russian folk culture, as well as the complex and beautiful layers of women. There are some babushka dolls with as many as fifty dolls nested inside. This is the story of one very special babushka doll and her five bodies. There was the outermost body, Antonia. She was pure beauty. Everyone who saw her admired her good looks. Beneath that body of beauty hid Loretta, who was richly adorned. She wore gold ornaments, and her green robe was decorated with many different gems that glittered like the ocean on a sunny day. Hidden within the rich body was Paula, the body that held all Babushka’s talents. Whatever Paula did, she was sure to succeed. She knew how to work and always did so with joy and determination. Within the talented body was Viola, the body of wisdom. Viola knew a lot about the world and learned very quickly. She was always full of brilliant ideas and had clever solutions for every problem. The last body, the smallest of all, was Mary, the embodiment of love. Mary had a warm and compassionate heart and was very helpful. She could dry tears and mend broken hearts. Together, these bodies formed the complete Babushka.

Reading this book, you will learn about:

– The value of friendship and love.

– That financial wealth alone cannot make someone happy.

– Not to judge outer appearance.

– To recognize a person’s value and much more

My thoughts:

This is a beautifully illustrated book with an important message about how we should live our lives fully, not allowing ourselves to be swayed by money, fame or to undervalue our own worth – something that in the current age of ‘celebrities’ is not always clear to young people.

We are introduced to the five bodies of the Babushka, Antonia, Loretta, Paul, Viola and Mary, who each head off into the world separately to find out the meaning of life. Mary finds that she is missing everyone else and heads off to find them. But how have they fared?

A lovely book to share with children of all ages. Do check out the website https://www.thestoryofbabushka.com, for more information about the book and the colouring book, plus downloadable colouring pages.

Author Bio:

Since quitting her full-time job at a branding communication agency in Zurich, Catherine has gone on to become a successful freelance designer and a children’s author. She spends most of her time on the small island of Madeira with her family, spending her time growing vegetables in her garden and working for clients from around the world.

She is currently working on the follow up to the 2020 release of “The Story Of Babushka”

Social Media:

Instagram:

Author: www.instagram.com/JourneytoFantastic

Book: www.instagram.com/StoryofBabushka

Twitter:

Author: www.twitter.com/AuthorFlores

Facebook:

Book: www.facebook.com/TheStoryofBabushka

Website:

Author: www.catherineflores.ch

Book: www.TheStoryofBabushka.com

Buy Link: 

YouTube Trailer – https://youtu.be/jKnDGZ2e1VY – Book Trailer

The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain



I’m pleased to share my review for the latest book by Heidi Swain on my book review blog today. Thank you to the publisher for a digital review copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. I’m not sure why it took me so long, but I only discovered Heidi Swain’s books earlier this year (when I read and enjoyed The Secret Seaside Escape – see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/04/10/the-secret-seaside-escape-by-heidi-swain/ ). Therefore I hadn’t read the first two books in the Nightingale Square Series when I read this book (but have since and shared my reviews over the past few days). However I was still able to read and enjoy this book, so please don’t be put off by the fact there is a series of stories set in the area. This book is being published in the UK on 1st October 2020.

Synopsis:

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her childhood dream of becoming a gardener ever since. When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start. But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya’s family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .

The Winter Garden  is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley and Sarah Morgan.

My thoughts:

Heidi Swain has created a great cast of characters, the majority of whom are lovely and then there is Jackson. Green fingered Freya leaves her home of three years behind, after Jackson inherits the property from his aunt Eloise, and she heads to Nightingale Square to help Luke Lonsdale establish The Winter Garden. She meets a fabulous community of people and the new local sculptor, Finn – who in my head, looked like Thor / Chris Hemsworth.

This book includes romance, friendship, new beginnings, festive fun and a gorgeous dog called Nell. We also have a trip back to Wynbridge (featured in the Secret Seaside Escape). Heidi Swain also mentions how gardening is good for our mental health (especially with all the anxiety about the global pandemic) and refers to books by Emma Mitchell (The Wild Remedy is a lovely book).

I needed an uplifting book to cheer me up and this was the perfect choice. A fabulous festive five star read for Christmas 2020 – a virtual hug in a book. So grab a copy of the book, a soft blanket and a mug of hot chocolate for a relaxing escape from the real world.



View all my reviews

Poppy’s Recipe For Life by Heidi Swain

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain. Although this is book 2 in the Nightingale Square series, this was actually the third book I read, having read the new The Winer Garden book first. This was published in 2019 and has been sat on my Kindle for a few months.

Synopsis:

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for … 

My thoughts:

Readers of The Nightingale Square series met Poppy in the first book, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square, when Poppy served Kate and Luke in the shop. It was great to find out more about Poppy and the other shop keepers, and to see how life in Nightingale Square is treating the residents since Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square ended (my review is at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/09/25/sunshine-and-sweet-peas-in-nightingale-square-by-heidi-swain/)

Poppy has had a difficult time growing up with a non maternal mother, but has made a life for herself with good friends. Moving into Nightingale Square makes life even better, despite Mr Grumpy living next door.

I enjoyed how the new characters evolved and mixed with the original members of Nightingale Square. This book is set a few months later than book one, so there are some new additions to the Square as well as Poppy.

There is also a bookshop in need of refurbishment, with a dog in need of a new friend – this storyline alone was worth 5 stars. Poppy endures a number of challenges she wasn’t expecting including looking after her younger brother and helping friends, with a number of setbacks sent to try her.

This is a lovely feel good book, full of hope, a sprinkling of romance and an abundance of community spirit. I enjoyed the first book, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square, but I think I enjoyed this one even more. A 5 star read for me.

Tomorrow I will be sharing my review for the latest book in the series – The Winter Garden.

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain

Today I’m sharing a mini review for the first in the series of the Nightingale Square books by Heidi Swain. Having read and enjoyed a proof copy of the third book in the series (The Winter Garden), I was thrilled to find the first two books on my Kindle (bought over the past couple of years but not read).

Synopsis:

Kate is on the run from her almost-divorced husband who is determined to have her back, and she has found the perfect place to hide… a little cottage on Nightingale Square in Norwich, far away from her old life in London. But the residents of Nightingale Square don’t take no for an answer, and Kate soon finds herself pulled into a friendship with Lisa, her bossy but lovely new neighbour.

Within a matter of days Kate is landed with the job of campaigning the council to turn the green into a community garden, meanwhile all the residents of Nightingale Square are horrified to discover that the Victorian mansion house on the other side of the square has been bought by developers. But when all hope is lost, the arrival of a handsome stranger is sure to turn things around! 

My thoughts:

I’m pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my return visit to Nightingale Square. This book introduces the reader to a special part of Norfolk with a lovely community.

Because I had read book three before book one, I knew how some of the romances were going to progress in this story, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment. This was a book to relax with, to enjoy the community events, the new friendships and the occasional misunderstandings. Heidi Swain has brought the characters to life and I would love to move there.

If you haven’t visited Nightingale Square with Heidi Swain, then I recommend you do.

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my mini review for this gorgeous book by a new author to me, Annie Lyons. Thank you to Claire Fenby at One More Chapter for sending me a digital proof copy via NetGalley.

Synopsis:

Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.

But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?

Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.

But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?

A heartfelt story of life, death, friendship and family perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman

My thoughts:

I have to be honest and say that I nearly didn’t read the book after reading the blurb as I lost my brother to depression 5 years ago and tend to avoid books where a character is considering suicide.

However I decided to give it a try a couple of weeks later, and I’m glad I did. This is the first book I’ve read by Annie Lyons and she has brought the characters to life beautifully. So much so, that I had tears in my eyes towards the end. The three main characters, Eudora (age 85), Stanley and Rose (age 10) are such a great combination and are all in need of some friendship in different ways.

If you enjoyed Saving Missy by Beth Morrey or Away With The Penguins by Hazel Prior, with a strong elderly female character, then I recommend this book.

Author Bio:

After a career in bookselling and publishing, Annie Lyons published five books including the best-selling, Not Quite Perfect. When not working on her novels, she teaches creative writing. She lives in south-east London with her husband and two children.

Hermit by S R White

I’m pleased to be sharing my 5 star review for Hermit by S.R. White on the final day of the blog tour organised by Emily Patience at Headline Publishing Group. This debut novel was published last week in the UK. Thank you to Headline for a proof copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

HE DISAPPEARED FOR 15 YEARS…SHE HAS 12 HOURS TO FIND OUT WHY

After a puzzling death in the wild bushlands of Australia, detective Dana Russo has just hours to interrogate the prime suspect – a silent, inscrutable man found at the scene of the crime, who disappeared without trace 15 years earlier.

But where has he been? Why won’t he talk? And exactly how dangerous is he? Without conclusive evidence to prove his guilt, Dana faces a desperate race against time to persuade him to speak. But as each interview spirals with fevered intensity, Dana must reckon with her own traumatic past to reveal the shocking truth . . .

Compulsive, atmospheric and stunningly accomplished, HERMIT introduces a thrilling new voice in Australian crime fiction, perfect for fans of Jane Harper and Chris Hammer.

My thoughts:

When an email arrived from Emily at Headline asking if I would like to review a new book by a debut author I read the ‘blurb’ and quickly replied with a yes please. How could someone disappear for 15 years?

The book starts early in the morning as we are introduced to Dana. I did struggle a little with the first chapter due to having lost my sibling to depression and suicide. We don’t know why Dana is struggling with this day, just that it is the anniversary of something in her past. However a phone call changes her day.

I enjoyed the development of the characters. Dana is a detective in Carlton in rural Australia. Her colleagues Mike, Lucy and Bill recognise that Dana works in a particular way and support her fully. The murder suspect is Nathan Whittler, who disappeared 15 years ago and was found at Jensen’s store with the body of the owner, Lou Cassavette.

The story builds slowly as Dana carefully encourages Nathan to explain where he has been for the past 15 years AND what happened in the store. In between the interview sessions, Dana meets with her colleagues to find out more about the hunt for a weapon, Nathan’s hiding place and people who knew Nathan before he vanished.

This is a slow build up crime thriller, full of small details and personality development. The ending left me needing a sequel, to be able to find out more about Dana. I’m happy to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery and/or crime fiction and I’m looking forward to reading more from S.R. White in the future.

Amazon purchase link : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B081CKGT1G/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_iuWAFbNQFWW4J

Waterstones purchase link: https://www.waterstones.com/book/hermit/s-r-white/9781472268419

Author Bio:

S.R. White worked for a UK police force for twelve years, before returning to academic life and taking an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. He now lives in Queensland, Australia.

#CoverReveal for Christmas in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

Today I’m helping reveal the cover of the latest book by Nicola May with the bloggers from Rachel’s Random Resources.

Meet old and new characters in the Bay for Christmas fun and frolics.

With both the Corner Shop and Cockleberry Café in safe hands, Rosa turns her attention to Ned’s Gift, the charity set up in memory of the great-grandfather whose legacy turned her life around.

Over at the Ship Hotel, Lucas has his work cut out with his devious new girlfriend and the mystery poisoning of an anonymous hotel inspector. Will the hotel still get its 3-star Seaside Rosette?

Will Mary find true love at last? Can Titch cope with the demands of the shop and being heavily pregnant. And can Rosa, with a baby of her own, pull off the Cockleberry Bay Charity Christmas Concert in time?

Christmas in Cockleberry Bay is a festive delight for fans of Rosa and her cheeky mini dachshund Hot, delivering a feast of unpredictable events and surprises.

Pre-order Links

Kindle – UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JHJKLQF/

Kindle – .com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JHJKLQF/

Paperback  – http://eye-books.com/books/christmas-in-cocklberry-bay

Publication Date – 4th December

Author Bio – 

Nicola May is a rom-com superstar. She is the author of eleven romantic comedies, all of which have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. Two of them won awards at the Festival of Romance, and another was named ebook of the week in The SunThe Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK, across all genres, in January 2019, and was Amazon’s third-bestselling novel in that year. 

She lives near Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.

Follow Nicola May

Website – www.nicolamay.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicolamay1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/author_nicola/

Little Book of Hope by Louise Hall

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the smallest book I’ve read in 2020 as part of the blog tour organised by Anne of Random Things Tours. Thank you to the publisher for a paperback copy of the book, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

The past few months have made us realise that change is inevitable – sometimes good but sometimes it can be cruel and makes your world go out of control.We might experience anxiety, low moods, night sweats, exhaustion or worse.

We lose all hope and feel that there is nothing to look forward to.

Little Book of Hope helps you find your way back again – through Reflections to guide you through the difficult times, together with: Family. Friends. Rest. Time – for yourself. Walk. Talk. Cry. Grieve. Meditate. Pray. Accept things. Patience.

Dedicated to all those around the world who have lost hard but loved much – that you may re-discover Hope and welcome the beautiful pleasure of joy back into your lives.

My thoughts

This is a perfectly sized book for people to pop in a pocket or bag to carry with them wherever they go. The book gives the reader the opportunity to clear their mind of racing and/or anxious thoughts.

The book includes quotes, poetry, and reflections about how having Hope can help in all areas of life – the power of positive thinking. Some of the pages mention Heaven, prayer and God, which isn’t obvious from the ‘blurb’ on the back of the book.

Author Bio:

Louise Hall is from Malahide, Co. Dublin. She has previously published two works of non-fiction, Medjugorje: What it Means to Me and Medjugorje and Me: A Collection of Stories from Across the World. Her fiction has been published in The Irish Times and been shortlisted for numerous competitions, such as the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Award, the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition and the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards. Pilgrim is her debut novel.

Website: www.louisehall.ie

Twitter: @LouHallWriter

Instagram: @louisehallwriter

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

Thank you to Readers First and Hot Key books for a copy of this new Young Adult book by a new author to me. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book is published in the UK today.

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew that coming out to his Muslim family would be messy, but he wasn’t expecting it to end in an airport interrogation room. Now, he’s telling his side of the story to the stern-faced officer.

Amir has to explain why he ran away to Rome (boys, bullies, blackmail) and what he was doing there for a month (dates in the Sistine Chapel, friends who helped him accept who he is, and, of course, drama) . . . all while his mum, dad and little sister are being interrogated in the room next door.

A nuanced take on growing up brown, Muslim and gay in today’s America, HOW IT ALL BLEW UP is the story of one boy’s struggle to come out to his family, and how that painful process exists right alongside his silly, sexy romp through Italy.

My thoughts:

I must admit that I enjoyed this book more than I expected after reading some very mixed reviews on Goodreads – this book appears to have created some strong feelings amongst the readers.

The author states at the end of the book that the story behind the story was personal to him. The story flows well, as we discover what happened to Amir after he fled the USA to get away from a teenage blackmailer who had threatened to tell Amir’s family at the school graduation ceremony that Amir was gay.

Amir has a summer of self discovery in Rome whilst his family try to track him down. An interesting read – although personally I didn’t enjoy reading the ‘nipple story’.

I will be passing on my copy to the teenagers I work with and will be interested to hear their thoughts.

Girl Out of Place by Syl van Duyn and translated by Ernestine Hoegen @AuroraMetro @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for this historical fiction novel today as part of the blog tour organised by the Love Books Group. Thank you to the publisher (Aurora Metro Books) for a copy of the book – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

At the end of the war, Nell is released from a Japanese internment camp in Java. While searching for her father in the chaos, she meets Tim, a young man who is looking for his family too. Nell’s journey takes her first to Singapore then to a new life and new friends in Sydney, Australia. But although Tim may well be the love of her life, her father puts her on a passenger liner bound for the Netherlands. Will Nell really be able to settle in a country she’s never known – and will she ever see Tim again?

Based on the true story of Nora Valk, this is an exciting tale of courage and friendship, hope and determination, about the search for love and a place to finally call home.

My thoughts:

This was a book I devoured in a day. 15 year old Nell has experienced more in her short lifetime than many people would have in a full lifetime. As a young child she travelled to the USA, only to return to Indonesia to be imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp where her mother died. With her aunt, she flees the civil unrest in Indonesia, heading to Singapore to look for her dad who she hasn’t seen for over three years and hoping to meet Tim again, a young man who helped her on the day she left the internment camp.

This book looks at how people dealt with being imprisoned, losing their loved ones, struggling to reconnect with loved ones after a long time apart, first love and finding happiness. A thought provoking read that I’m happy to recommend.

Author Bio:

Syl van Duyn is author of four Dutch language children’s books: ‘Hallo Aarde, Hier Maan’ (2001), ‘Mijn Zus is een Flussemus’ (2002), ‘Angels’ (2008) and ‘Op zoek naar jou’ (2015), as well as an adult non-fiction book based on the columns she wrote for the Dutch magazine Margriet (‘Een kwetsbaar bestaan’ (2001). She works for the Dutch broadcasting network VPRO, selecting and purchasing documentaries, and lives in Amsterdam.

Ernestine Hoegen has translated Girl out of Place by Syl van Duyn from Dutch into English. She has also written a biography of Dutchwoman Mieke Bouman (Unieboek | Spectrum) 2020. She worked as a public prosecutor before turning to writing, translating and editing full-time in 2017. She lives near Arnhem.