The Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin

Thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to read and review the latest book by Julie Caplin. Thanks to One More Chapter for the digital review copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

It’s time to pack your bags and head to the breathtaking, snow-covered peaks of the Swiss Alps for velvety hot chocolates, delicious cheeses and a gorgeous love story…

Food technician Mina has always believed that chocolate will solve everything – and it’s just what she needs when her latest relationship mishap goes viral!

So with her bags packed and a new determination to sort her life out, Mina decides to drown her sorrows with the best hot chocolate in the world at her godmother’s cosy Swiss chalet. Chocolate: yes. Romance: no. Until she has a run in on an Alpine train with a mysterious but oh-so-gorgeous stranger…

Purchase Links 

http://amzn.to/3jU2lKy 🌎 

http://mybook.to/SwissSkiChalet

My thoughts:

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I read and reviewed The Little Teashop in Tokyo in 2020 (visit https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/03/the-little-teashop-in-tokyo-by-julie-caplin/ for my review). After enjoying that book, I treated myself to a couple of Julie’s books on my Kindle and I’m thrilled to be sharing my no spoiler thoughts about her new book here today.

I had been trying to say no to blog tours after returning to work after my furlough ended, but when I saw the gorgeous cover and the synopsis, which mentions chocolate four times, I had to send an email to Rachel to ask/beg to take part.

I’m pleased to say that it was the right decision. From the starting chapter with the Mexican themed anniversary dinner ending differently to how Mina had planned it, I was hooked. In a year of hardly travelling more than 2 miles to our local supermarket, I loved my virtual visit to Switzerland. I wouldn’t have wanted to go downhill skiing but I fancied the cross country skiing, the train journeys and the food. There is a lot of delicious sounding food in this book (and I wanted to try it all).

This is another uplifting romantic novel by Julie Caplin, full of humour, some heartbreak and a fabulous set of characters. Mina’s godmother Amelie is the perfect hostess and I’m now craving a holiday in Switzerland. A perfect escape for the anxiety inducing world we are currently living in. Treat yourself to a copy today is my humble suggestion.

Author Bio:

Julie Caplin, formerly a PR director, swanned around Europe for many years taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. 

These trips have provided the inspiration and settings for her Romantic Escapes series which have been translated into fifteen different languages.

The first book in the seven strong series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Social Media Links – @JulieCaplin Twitter 

https://www.facebook.com/JulieCaplinAuthor/

Instagram @juliecaplinauthor

Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

I’m pleased to be joining the Random Things Tours blog tour for this wonderful debut novel by Emily Houghton. Thank you to Anne Cater for the invitation to join the tour and a proof copy of the book. The book was published in ebook format this week and will be available in hardback next week in the UK.

Synopsis:

CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VENEVER SEEN?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.

Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. Keeping the curtain around her bed firmly closed, it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?

My thoughts:

I loved the look and sound of this story, with a colourful cover and an intriguing synopsis. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review this debut novel before publication. But would it deliver the escapism I was craving at the start of lockdown 3? Well I’m pleased to say it certainly did.

The style of the book reminded me of The Flatshare, where the story is told by both main characters in alternate chapters. In this story, we have Alfie, a sociable PE teacher recovering from a life changing car accident, who has been keeping the other patients on the rehabilitation ward entertained. Alongside Alfie, hidden away behind curtains is workaholic Alice, who was badly burnt in a work place accident.

Alfie may be recovering from his physical injuries but he is struggling to deal with the emotions of losing friends in the accident and the reaction of loved ones to his injuries. Alice is refusing to look at herself and to allow others to see her. Both have experienced a traumatic event and need support, can they help each other more than the professional staff at the hospital?

I loved this book, quickly I was so involved in the lives of Alfie and Alfie I didn’t want to put the book down and ended up staying up much later than normal to carry on reading. Alfie and Alice became real as they teased each other and gave each other the opportunity to talk about their past and their worries. Life had been difficult for both of them since their accidents and both continued to have ‘bad’ days, made worse when they fell out on a number of occasions.

I liked the fact that this story didn’t wave a magic wand and suddenly make everything perfect. Alfie and Alice had to face up to their ‘new’ lives and to make major decisions, including whether they would stay in contact. As this is a no spoiler review, I will encourage you to read this emotional book to find out what happens to Alfie and Alice.

Thank you to Emily Houghton for a brilliant book to escape into, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

Author Bio:

Emily Houghton is an ex digital specialist and full-time creative writer.
She originally comes from Essex but now lives in London. Emily is a trained yoga and spin teacher, completely obsessed with dogs and has dreamt of being an author ever since she could hold a pen.

Emily is available for written features about her experiences and learnings on topics including; dating and the vulnerability of meeting people, self-love, body confidence, processing pain and the physical emotional body connection.

For more information please contact Hayley Barnes, Senior Press Officer, Transworld Publishers: HBarnes@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk | 020 8231 6730

Coming Home To Brightwater Bay by Holly Hepburn

Today I’m thrilled to be joining the blog tour for this gorgeous book set in the Orkney Islands. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the opportunity and to Books and The City/Simon and Schuster for a copy of the book to read and review. My thoughts about the book are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

On paper, Merina Wilde has it all: a successful career writing the kind of romantic novels that make even the hardest hearts swoon, a perfect carousel of book launches and parties to keep her social life buzzing, and a childhood sweetheart who thinks she’s a goddess. But Merry has a secret: the magic has stopped flowing from her fingers. Try as she might, she can’t summon up the sparkle that makes her stories shine. And as her deadline whooshes by, her personal life falls apart too. Alex tells her he wants something other than the future she’d always imagined for them and Merry finds herself single for the first time since – well, ever.

Desperate to get her life back on track, Merry leaves London and escapes to the windswept Orkney Islands, locking herself away in a secluded clifftop cottage to try to heal her heart and rediscover her passion for writing. But can the beauty of the islands and the kindness of strangers help Merry to fool herself into believing in love again, if only long enough to finish her book? Or is it time for her to give up the career she’s always adored and find something new to set her soul alight?

The brand new series from Holly Hepburn, first published as four ebook parts: BROKEN HEARTS AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, SEA BREEZES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, DANGEROUS TIDES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY and SUNSET OVER BRIGHTWATER BAY

My thoughts:

When my copy of the book arrived through my letterbox just before Christmas, the gorgeous cover design made me smile and I must admit to adding the book to my home office desk to brighten it up.

This is a fabulous uplifting book about authors, books, a library, avid book readers, author events, books and romance. Merry has been treated badly by Alex, and has escaped to Orkney to find inspiration for her writing. With a kind library manager, Niall, a friendly ‘Viking’, Magnus, and a persistent neighbour, Sheila encouraging her to rediscover herself and to enjoy her visit to Orkney, Merry begins to make changes to her life.

I loved discovering the history of the islands as Merry visited places and I found myself googling pictures of the island. Merry’s six months in Orkney flew by as the pages of the book turned and I found it difficult to put this book down.

Great characters (including Gordon the goat), a fabulous story, two attentive and attractive men, and a book about an author make for a uplifting romantic read. I have already been recommending this book via social media and I now need to read some of Holly’s earlier books – still not sure why I haven’t done so before! It was great to start 2021 discovering a new author to me.

Author Bio:

Holly Hepburn is the much-loved author of commercial women’s fiction. She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite. Follow Holly on Twitter @HollyH_Author.

~*~Praise for Holly Hepburn~*~
‘A fresh new voice, brings wit and warmth to this charming tale of two sisters’ Rowan Coleman

‘Warm, witty and laced with intriguing secrets! I want to pull up a bar stool, order a large G&T and soak up all the gossip at the Star and Sixpence!’ Cathy Bramley

‘The Star and Sixpence sparkles with fun, romance, mystery, and a hunky blacksmith. It’s a real delight’ Julie Cohen

‘Like the dream pub landlady who always knows exactly what you want, Holly Hepburn has created the most delightful welcome to what promises to be a brilliant series, in the first Star and Sixpence. The sisters are warm and intriguing, the neighbours are (mostly!) friendly and the gossip is utterly addictive. I was very sad when it was time for last orders, and am already looking forward to the next round. Especially if a certain blacksmith happens to be at the bar…’ Kate Harrison

‘Warm, witty and utterly charming, Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s day. It left me with the most wonderful happy glow’ Cally Taylor

‘A super sparkling star of a story and I can’t wait for part two’ Alexandra Brown

The Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schabowski

Thank you to Sarah Hardy for the invitation to read and review The Watchmaker of Dachau published this week by Bookouture. I reviewed The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski in July 2020 (see review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/07/the-ringmasters-daughter-by-carly-schabowski/) and was pleased to be able to read and review her next novel pre-publication too. The book was published in the UK yesterday.

Synopsis:

An unforgettable novel of human kindness, inspired by an incredible true story.

Snow falls and a woman prepares for a funeral she has long expected, yet hoped would never come. As she pats her hair and straightens her skirt, she tells herself this isn’t the first time she’s lost someone. Lifting a delicate, battered wristwatch from a little box on her dresser, she presses it to her cheek. Suddenly, she’s lost in memory…

January 1945, Dachau, Germany. As the train rattles through the bright, snowy Bavarian countryside, the still beauty outside the window hides the terrible scenes inside the train, where men and women are packed together, cold and terrified. Jewish watchmaker Isaac Schüller can’t understand how he came to be here, and is certain he won’t be leaving alive.

When the prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp, Isaac is unexpectedly pulled from the crowd and installed in the nearby household of Senior Officer Becher and his young, pretty, spoiled wife. With his talent for watchmaking, Isaac can be of use to Becher, but he knows his life is only worth something here as long as Becher needs his skills.

Anna Reznick waits table and washes linens for the Bechers, who dine and socialise and carry on as if they don’t constantly have death all around them. When she meets Isaac she knows she’s found a true friend, and maybe more. But Dachau is a dangerous place where you can never take love for granted, and when Isaac discovers a heartbreaking secret hidden in the depths of Becher’s workshop, it will put Anna and Issac in terrible danger…

A gorgeously emotional and tear-jerking read set during World War Two. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzWe Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.

My thoughts:

Although I regularly read historical fiction novels set during the era of World War 2, I have always avoided the stories set in the death camps. However, because I enjoyed Carly’s previous book, I decided to read this one.

As you would expect there is a lot of heartbreak and tragedy in this book. The camp leader, Becher, is using Anna and Isaac as ‘slave labour’ to help run his home more efficiently, which leads to his young son, Friedrich meeting both of them and questioning the Nazi propaganda against the Jewish people.

We discover how Anna and Isaac ended up in Dachau camp, and the stories of their family and friends too. The story is mostly set towards the end of the war, as the Allied troops are heading across mainland Europe, to try to rescue the people who have been imprisoned by the Nazi regime. Isaac and Anna try to help each other, and their roommates to survive the hunger and the punishments.

Carly’s storytelling swept me into the past, on a very emotional journey. Quickly the characters became important and I didn’t want to put my Kindle down. I stayed up late reading this, a sign of a good book. The ending was a mixture of happy and sad.

This is a non spoiler review, so I’m not going to give any of the twists in the tale away. It was sadly all too believable, that something like this could have happened. Isaac and Anna’s story will stay with me for a long time. I’m happy to recommend this book.

Author Bio:

Carly Schabowski worked as a journalist in both North Cyprus and Australia before returning to Oxford, where she studied for an MA and then a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Carly now teaches at Oxford Brookes University as an associate lecturer in Creative Writing for first and second-year English literature students. 
https://twitter.com/carlyschab11

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/3oDgGxA

Apple: http://apple.co/3brLuxt

Kobo: http://bit.ly/3i0k0Al

Google: http://bit.ly/3oMjj09
— 

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald #TheStonebridgeMysteries

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about the first in the series of The Stonebridge Mysteries by Chris McDonald, a novella published recently by Red Dog Press. This is a no spoiler review. Thanks to Meggy for the invitation to read and review.

Synopsis:

Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.

Armed with an encyclopaedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

Buy links:

Amazon Link: mybook.to/Stonebridge

Red Dog Press: https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Chris McDonald and I’m already looking forward to reading more of the Stonebridge series. I have seen great reviews for Chris’s DI Erika Piper Series but must admit that I prefer a cosy mystery at the moment (I also enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as a teenager).

This is a book I read in one sitting. Adam and Colin are determined to prove that Daniel’s death wasn’t an accidental alcohol induced death. Channelling their inner Sherlock and Watson, they work together to piece together the events of the previous evening and night, to see who may want to harm the best man the night before the wedding.

Loved the story, the humour and the friendship between Adam and Colin. This book was a welcome escape from the reality of 2021 and I’m happy to recommend it to fans of cosy mysteries.

Author Bio:

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, to be published by Red Dog Press in 2021. 

Until We’re Fish by Susannah R Drissi

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about Until We’re Fish by Susannah R Drissi as part of the blog tour organised by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Propertius Press. Thank you to Susannah for a signed copy of the book, sent from California. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

A man can be destroyed but never defeated.

Stunning and elegiac, Susannah Rodríguez Drissi’s debut novel Until We’re Fish juxtaposes vivid landscapes, brilliant, playful meditations on life, and penetrating insights into the human heart, to richly bring to life the story of rapscallion dreamer Elio, a Cuban teen whose unbridled confidence is severely tested after a near-fatal shark attack.

Elio longs for freedom from the dreary home he shares with his mother. He spends his days and nights fantasizing about an American bike and Maria, his vivacious next-door neighbor. Two obstacles stand in his way: the 1959 Cuban Revolution and Maria’s dream of moving to Chicago. Yet Elio is steadfast in believing that somehow, some way he will get both the girl and the Schwinn. When an injury leaves him terrified of the sea, he’s faced with an impossible choice: to overcome his fear and do whatever it takes to realize his vision, or to stay safe, and risk losing everything he’s been living for. 

An unforgettable coming-of-age story, Until We’re Fish blends the romance, violence, mood, and ethos of the Cuban Revolution with a young man’s hopeless and heroic first love. With the truth of experience and the lyricism of poetry, Rodríguez Drissi constructs an exquisite, gossamer tale of revolution and hearts set adrift. A Don Quixote for our times, Until We’re Fish is an intimate exploration into the souls of people willing to sacrifice everything to be free.  

My thoughts:

This beautifully written book starts in 1959, as young Elio deals with being being abandoned by his father, who has travelled to the USA to find fame and fortune. Elio suffers an injury at the beach and loses his nerve for swimming in the sea.

The book follows Elio, Pepe and Maria, as they grow up and start work in Cuba as the revolution changes the lives of the Cubans. Maria dreams of moving to Chicago but Elio doesn’t want to leave. The book is a blend of a coming of age story and a historical fiction novel. Would they stay or would they try to flee to the USA, to be able to live the consumer dream (Maria was obsessed with the Sears catalogue as a teenager).

This is a complex story, with Elio, Pepe and Maria on a variety of life journeys through over 30 years. I was engrossed by the story and enjoyed my virtual visit to Cuba, a world very different to England, especially during this time period. A book for both history and travel fans.

Author Bio:

Susannah Rodríguez Drissi, PhD is an award-winning Cuban-born poet, writer, playwright, translator, director, producer, and scholar. She is Faculty in Writing Programs
at UCLA, Affiliate Scholar in UC-Cuba Program Initiative, and Associate Literary Editor for Cuba Counterpoints,Cuban and Caribbean Research Studies Institute. As a 1.5-generation writer (born in Cuba in the 1970s, but coming of age in the US), Rodríguez Drissi writes about Cuba through a double lens—from the vantage point of the native and also from the benefit of a temporal and geographical distance.

Her poems, short stories, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in anthologies such as In Season—Stories of Discovery, Loss, Home, and Places in Between (2018 Florida Book Award Winner); and journals such as the Los Angeles Review of Books, Saw Palm, Literal Magazine, Diario de Cuba (Madrid), SX Salon, Raising Mothers, Acentos Review, Cuba Counterpoints, among other journals. Following readings at the University of California, Irvine and the University of
California, Los Angeles, her award-winning play, Houses Without Walls, premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2018. More recently, her short plays, The Fruit Flies and Rey y Atenea were selected to the 2019 Short+Sweet Theatre Festival and premiered at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute, in Los Angeles. Rey y Atenea received an Audience Choice Award and was Finalist for the 2019 NBC Universal Talent Infusion Programs Award.

She is the author of the poetry collection The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos (Floricanto Press, 2019) and Rey y Atenea / Rey and Atenea, a Bilingual Edition (Cassandra Press, 2019). Her musical, Radio Nocturno, El Musical, wasscheduled to premiere at Miami Dade College’s Koubek Center, on August 6th, 2020, directed by Victoria Collado (John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons), musical direction by Jesse Sanchez (Hamilton, national tour), and produced by George Cabrera (Broadway Factor). The production was postponed due to COVID-19 and is now planned for August 2021.

Learn more at susannahrodriguezdrissi.com

The German Girl by Lily Graham

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about the The German Girl by Lily Graham, published in ebook today by Bookouture. Thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invite to join the blog tour and for the free digital copy. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

‘Our parents were taken. And if we go home, the Nazis will take us too…’

Hamburg 1938. Fifteen-year-old Asta is hurrying home from school with her twin brother Jurgen. The mood in the city is tense – synagogues have been smashed with sledgehammers, and Asta is too frightened to laugh as she used to.

But when she and Jurgen are stopped in the street by a friend, her world implodes further. Her Jewish parents have been dragged into the streets by German soldiers and if she and Jurgen return to their house, they will be taken too.

Heartbroken at the loss of her parents, Asta knows they must flee. With her beloved brother, she must make the perilous journey across Germany and into Denmark to reach their only surviving relative, her aunt Trine, a woman they barely know.

Jammed into a truck with other refugees, Asta prays for a miracle to save herself and Jurgen. Crossing the border is a crime punishable by death, and what she and Jurgen must embark on a dangerous crossing on foot, through the snowy forest dividing Germany and Denmark. And when barking dogs and armed soldiers find Jurgen and Asta escapes, she must hold on to hope no matter what. One day she will find her twin, the other half of herself. Whatever the price she has to pay…

A gripping and poignant read that will break your heart and give you hope. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Catherine Hokin will be gripped by the story of a brave brother and sister seeking safety during one of the darkest times in our history.  

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, my first historical fiction read of 2021 and a new author discovered. Lily Graham has set a high bar for the other historical fiction authors to reach, with great characters and emotive writing in this book.

The story starts in Sweden in 1995, when Ingrid is making changes to her life, including checking on her grandfather Jürgen. However she discovers that Jürgen is not who she has always thought he was. We travel back in time to Hamburg in the 1930’s to find out what happened to Asta, Jürgen and their family as the Nazi party tried to remove all the Jewish people in Western Europe.

I flew through the story, and found myself unable to put my Kindle down, wanting to find out what happened next. As usual in historical fiction novels set during this time period, there is a lot of tragedy and heartbreak, but there are also some lighter moments too. I’m happy to recommend the book to readers of my book blog and I will be looking to read more books by Lily Graham in the future.

Author Bio:

Lily has been telling stories since she was a child, starting with her imaginary rabbit, Stephanus, and their adventures in the enchanted peach tree in her garden, which she envisioned as a magical portal to Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. She’s never really got out of the habit of making things up, and still thinks of Stephanus rather fondly.

She lives with her husband and her English bulldog, Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.

https://twitter.com/lilygrahambooks

https://www.facebook.com/LilyRoseGrahamAuthor/

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://bit.ly/3b2aGdL

Ivy Hill Christmas: A Tales from Ivy Hill Novella by Julie Klassen @Julie_Klassen @Bethany_House @BPGUK @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Thank you to Love Book Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour for this festive historical fiction novella. Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill’s most prominent family, hasn’t been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life–unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/2UZEkH6

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Julie Klassen so I haven’t read the previous books in the Ivy Hill series yet. However I’m pleased to say that it didn’t cause any issues with reading this book.

I’ve read a few festive novels this year (primarily to escape the news about the global pandemic) but this is the first one that took me back in time almost 200 years. I enjoyed my trip back in time, to a world very different today.

I enjoyed reading about Richard, what had driven him to leave his family home (Brockwell Court) and why he had avoided going home. This Christmas is his opportunity to face up to the past and to make plans for the future, and to share his worries with his brother too.

Richard appears to be a very self centred young man, who Arabella wisely avoids, but slowly we start to understand what happened to make him struggle to trust people and see what happens when he starts to think about others first.

An enjoyable read that I’m happy to recommend.

Author Bio:

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Create Your Own Calm by Meera Lee Patel @meeraleepatel @omarabooks @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #CreateYourOwnCalm

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about this beautiful book on the Love Books Tours blog tour (and will be sharing more images on my Instagram page @karenkisreading)

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of Start Where You Are, a beautifully illustrated journal for easing the everyday anxieties we all carry.

Feeling anxious, uncertain, overwhelmed? You’re not alone. In this empowering new tool for self-care, popular artist and author Meera Lee Patel presents a fresh approach to feeling better. Designed to help us better understand ourselves and dial down the everyday worries getting in our way, these thoughtful and beautifully illustrated journal pages are a safe space for reflection, self-acceptance, and the freedom to move forward with more clarity and joy.

Bringing together inspiring quotes from great thinkers and writers throughout history and engaging journal prompts and plenty of room to capture your thoughts, the book is a calming breath of fresh air and a quiet space to reflect and recharge in a hectic and uncertain world.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Michael O’Mara Books and Love Books Tours for the opportunity to read and review this beautiful ‘self-help’ book.

2020 has increased the anxiety levels of the majority of people, with increased health and financial worries due to the global pandemic. It is difficult to avoid ‘bad news’ on TV or the internet at the moment, but this book gives you time to reflect and recharge.

In my work life, I work with young people, encouraging them to reflect on their past work and achievements and values before looking forward to their future. However, this is something I rarely do myself. However since this book arrived last week, I’ve been looking through it and taking time to think about the different ideas it suggests.

The book is beautiful to look at, full of colour and quotes, with lots of activities to encourage you to think and reflect. I haven’t kept a personal diary or journal since my first pregnancy 18 years ago but I will be using this book in 2021 to see if I can reduce my anxiety levels. My 15 year old daughter has asked me to buy a copy for her too.

Author Bio:

Meera Lee Patel is a self-taught artist and the author of Start Where You Are, Made Out of Stars, and My Friend Fear. She creates work to inspire and encourage others to connect with themselves, each other, and the world around them. She lives in the northern woods of Nashville, Tennessee.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/3mdWeCb

in pursuit of happiness by Freya Kennedy

Thank you To Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join the Boldwood Books blog tour for this lovely book. I enjoyed reading The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn during the summer (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/01/the-hopes-and-dreams-of-libby-quinn-by-freya-kennedy/) and was thrilled to be able to head back to Ivy Lane again.

Synopsis:

The world is waiting…but just outside of your comfort zone.

Jo Campbell is perfectly content in a perfectly structured life.
Nothing ever changes in Jo’s life, and she likes it that way.
Or at least, she tells herself she does.
Most of the time, she manages to push down the tiny voice that tells her to chase her dream and maybe, just maybe, open her battered and bruised heart up to love.
But to chase her dreams she needs to take chances that are way out of her comfort zone and learn to not put other people’s happiness above her own.
Most of all she has to learn to trust her heart, which may just be the biggest challenge of all.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3iISOpc

My thoughts:

It was lovely to return to Ivy Lane to meet the characters created by Freya Kennedy in The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn. We do spend time with Libby and her lovely bookshop, but the main character this time is Jo, who has been putting everyone else ahead of her own dreams.

Jo helps her adopted brother with his pub, helps her mum care for her young adopted sister whilst her dad is working away and keeps an eye on elderly Harry at his shop in Ivy Lane. It is time for Jo to stop procrastinating and to work towards her dream of being a published writer. As her friend Libby has a bookshop with desks for writers and non stop coffee on offer, what could stop her?

I loved how Freya developed the relationships in the story, especially Jo with Clara her much younger sister. Jo also finds time to show Lorcan around when he comes to visit Harry, his grandfather and through a bookshop event, meets a best selling author who offers to help her achieve her dream of being a published author.

This is a non spoiler review, so I won’t ruin your journey through the book but will say that the course of events don’t always run smoothly. I loved my time back in Ivy Lane and hope that Freya Kennedy (aka Claire Allan) will take us back there again in the future.

Author Bio:

Freya Kennedy lives in Derry, Northern Ireland, with her husband, two children, two cats and a mad dog called Izzy. She worked as a journalist for eighteen years before deciding to write full time. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her nieces and nephews, cleaning up after her children (a lot) and telling her dog that she loves her. 

She has met Michael Buble and even kissed him. It was one of her best ever moments.

She believes in happy ever afters.

Freya Kennedy is a pen name for Claire Allan, who also writes psychological thrillers.

Social Media Links – 

http://www.claireallan.com/

https://twitter.com/ClaireAllan / 
https://twitter.com/AuthorFreya

https://www.facebook.com/ClaireAllanAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/claireallan_author/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/freya-kennedy

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/FreyaKennedyNewsletter