Because of YOU by Dawn French

Thank you to Sophie Shaw at Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House for granting my wish for a sneak preview of this new book, being published later this week.

Synopsis:

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.

Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.

Anna leaves with empty arms.

Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.

The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.

Perhaps beyond . . .

Because Of You is Dawn French’s stunning new novel, told with her signature humour, warmth and so much love.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Dawn French (although I do have a couple of her previous books on my shelves waiting to be read). I was intrigued to see how this would compare to her comedy writing.

I must admit that I enjoyed reading this story – there is a mixture of tragedy and humour, and the female characters are very strong, especially Hope, Minnie and Anna. We do have to suspend belief slightly with the story – this is a piece of fiction, and not based on a true story. I must admit that I struggled a little with the ending, but that was due to the nature of one of the events, rather than the writing of the actual story.

Anna’s husband, Julius and DI Thripshaw, are both portrayed as having character defects, one narcissistic and one mixing his metaphors. Thankfully, Lee is revealed to be a kind and caring male, as is Isaac.

A solid four star rating from me for this. Thank you again to Michael Joseph for the chance to read this before publication, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Author Bio:

Dawn Roma French is a British actress, writer and comedian. In her career spanning three decades, she has been nominated for six BAFTA Awards and also won a Fellowship BAFTA along with her best friend Jennifer Saunders. She is best-known for starring in and writing her comedy sketch show, French and Saunders, alongside her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, and for playing the lead role of Geraldine Granger in the sitcom The Vicar of Dibley

Book Blitz – A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn @clarefly @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today I’m taking part in the book blitz for A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn with the Love Books Group

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.

But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/3iyTFYD

Author Bio:

Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels – when she’s not gazing out of her windows at the sea.

Clare is the author of eleven novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire which largely disappeared after WW2.

Her latest novel, Prisoner From Penang, was published on 17th April 2020. It is set in South East Asia during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

Clare’s novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A Greater World – 1920s Australia; Kurinji Flowers – pre-Independence India; Letters from a Patchwork Quilt – nineteenth century industrial England and the USA; The Green Ribbons – the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century in rural England, The Chalky Sea – World War II England (and Canada) and its sequels The Alien Corn and The Frozen River – post WW2 Canada. She has also published a collection of short stories – both historical and contemporary, A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories.

Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, NINC and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Get a free copy of Clare’s exclusive short story collection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, at www.clareflynn.co.uk.

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes @AJDykes @RevellBooks @lovebooksgroup #SettheStarsAlight

Today I’m sharing my review for this gorgeous book, the second novel by Amanda Dykes. Thank you to the team at the Love Books Group for inviting me to join the blog tour and to the publisher for a copy of the book – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Lucy Clairmont’s family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it’s Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she’s discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

My thoughts:

I had never heard of Amanda Dykes before I received an email from the Love Books Group with details about the book. Now I want to shout about her stunning storytelling to everyone who loves books.

This book covers many genres – we have a dual timeline, with Lucy and Dash in modern times, and Frederick, Elias and Juliette two hundred years earlier, when Britain ruled the waves. There is friendship, romance, smugglers, secrets, tragedy and hope.

Lucy grew up as an only child, with her parents. Her dad, the Watchmaker, is a storyteller who fills her life with stories. The family welcome Dash into their lives, a young American, who enjoys the stories too, before being taken back to America to continue learning about the stars.

Frederick is the son of an Admiral, who ends up at sea earlier than expected, but is pleased to be able to see the stars he loves more clearly. He has had a lonely life growing up and enjoys the friendship of his fellow conscript. He makes a sacrifice, trying to do the best for a young family, but ends up creating a mystery instead.

Lucy and Dash reunite after many years apart to look for a lost ship, the Jubilee, linked to Frederick. We meet a family in East Sussex who may hold the key to the mystery of the missing ship.

As I said before, the storytelling in this book was stunning. This reader thoroughly enjoyed her journey through the book, staying up late at night to be able to read without interruptions. The story is full of detailed descriptions to help you see/smell/hear the ships or the Thames etc.

This was a 5 star read for me and I’m planning to read Whose Waves These Are in the future (the first Amanda Dykes novel).

Author Bio:

Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She’s a former English teacher and the author of Whose Waves These Are as well as of three novellas. Find her online at www.amandadykes.com

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/2EsDnSD

#CoverReveal Say Goodbye When I’m Gone by Stephen J. Golds

I’m taking part in the latest Red Dog Press cover reveal today, organised by Meggy Roussel.

Synopsis: 
1949: Rudy, A Jewish New Yorker snatches a briefcase of cash from a dead man in Los Angeles and runs away from his old life, into the arms of the Boston mob.

1966: Hinako, a young Japanese girl runs away from what she thought was the suffocating conformity of a life in Japan. Aiming to make a fresh start in America, she falls into the grip of an Hawaiian gang dubbed ‘The Company’.

1967: Rudy and Hinako’s lives collide in the city of Honolulu, where there is nowhere left for either of them to run, and only blood to redeem them.


Author biography: 
Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His novel Say Goodbye When I’m Gone will be released by Red Dog Press in October 2020 and another novel Always the Dead will be released by Close to The Bone Press January 2021.

Exclusive pre-order link: 

http://mybook.to/SayGoodby

A Winters Dream by Sophie Clare

Thank you to Myrto Kalavrezou at Hodder and Stoughton for inviting me to join the blog tour for the new book by Sophie Claire, being published today. This is the third book I’ve read by Sophie Claire. I enjoyed reading The Christmas Holiday last year, the book that introduced Evie, who employs Liberty, at the Button Hole in Willowbrook. More recently I read and enjoyed A Forget-Me-Not Summer, the book that introduced Luc and Natasha, who also feature in this story (review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/04/a-forget-me-not-summer-by-sophie-claire/)

Synopsis:

Liberty has never been a risk-taker. She loves the routine of her quiet life in the charming village of Willowbrook, with her Labrador, Charlie. But the arrival of a mysterious gift prompts Liberty to make some changes: starting with a daily challenge to say yes to everything for the month of December…

Fearless and independent, Alex could hardly be a less obvious fit for peaceful village life. But after an accident cuts short his promising motorcycling career, he finds himself in Willowbrook in search of new direction.

When the pair become unlikely housemates, sparks fly at Damselfly Cottage. Will living together prove impossible – especially when the first snow falls? Or, cut off from the outside world, can they help each other find what it takes to be brave this Christmas? 

My thoughts:

I was thrilled to be given an early opportunity to return to Willowbrook, having enjoyed meeting the residents last year in The Christmas Holiday. Liberty is a lovely young woman who loves living and working in Willowbrook but is missing her housemate and best friend, Carys, who is in hospital in a coma.

To help pay her bills, Liberty takes in a lodger, Alex, who is a friend of Luc (from A Forget-Me-Not Summer). Alex is trying to deal with being told that his racing career is over after an accident, and can’t believe he is stuck in the middle of nowhere with an grumpy young woman and a dog.

The book looks at how Liberty and Alex learn to communicate with each other, and start to learn about moving forwards from each other. Damselfly Cottage sounds beautiful as does the Button Hole shop – both are full of colour and cosiness.

I loved curling up to read this story, full of great characters, friendships, romance and a lovely Labrador called Charlie. I’ve already read a few festive books this year and this is one of my favourites.

Author Bio

Sophie Claire writes emotional stories set in England and in sunny Provence, where she spent her summers as a child. 
She has a French mother and a Scottish father, but was born in Africa and grew up in Manchester, England, where she still lives with her husband and two sons.
Previously, she worked in marketing and proofreading academic papers, but writing is what she always considered her ‘real job’ and now she’s delighted to spend her days dreaming up heartwarming contemporary romance stories set in beautiful places. 

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.