The House Beneath the Cliffs by Sharon Gosling

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about this debut adult fiction novel by Sharon Gosling. Thanks to Sara-Jade at Books and The City for this gorgeous proof copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book is due to be published by Simon and Schuster in the UK on 29th April 2021.

Synopsis:

A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again.

Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?

Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking, and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.

Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs . . . ?

Beautiful, moving and utterly absorbing, The House Beneath the Cliffs is a novel of friendship and food, storms and secrets, and the beauty of second chances 

My thoughts:

Anna has finally left behind the dreadful Geoff, and has bought herself a ‘house’ in the village of Crovie, to escape from her previous life, where her dreams and ambitions were ignored by the person who should have helped her the most.

This book was a much needed escape from the start of 2021, as we were back in Lockdown again in the UK. Sharon brought the village of Crovie, on the coast of Scotland to life, the smells and sound of the sea and the taste of the food. This is not a book to reading whilst dieting, because the food that Anna prepares for her new friends and customers sounded delicious.

The story follows Anna in her first few months in Crovie, making good friends (so many great characters in this book) and the occasional enemy (Douglas McKean), as she decides what to do next with her life. Through a number of adventures/opportunities, Anna quickly becomes part of the local area, boosting tourist numbers and helping when the summer storm threatens to destroy everything. But will she stay or will she go?

This is a lovely book to read, a timely reminder of why friendship and community are important, especially in times of trouble or illness. Also it is a reminder that it is never too late to change a job or area if it means we can find (or reignite) a passion for something we enjoy. My favourite character was Young Robbie, who was determined to protect the local dolphin pod from danger. I look forward to reading more by Sharon in the future.

Author Bio:

Sharon Gosling began her career in entertainment journalism, writing for magazines in the science fiction and fantasy genre, before moving on to write tie-in books for TV shows such as Stargate and the ‘re-imagined’ Battlestar Galactica. She has also written, produced and directed audio dramas based in the same genre. 

She lives in London with her husband and a cantankerous cat, surrounded by books and daleks.

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

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Today I’m sharing my review for The Push, the debut novel by Ashley Audrain, published yesterday by Michael Joseph Books. Thank you to the publisher for a digital proof copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

What if your experience of motherhood was nothing like what you hoped for – but everything you always feared?

‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. 

It was meant to be a fresh start. 

But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I have always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers. 

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child. 

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong. 

Is it her? Or is it me? 

Is she the monster? Or am I?

The Push is a heart-pounding exploration of motherhood, obsession and the terrible price of unconditional love.

My thoughts:

As readers of my blog will know, I tend to go for uplifting books or cosy murder mysteries, rather than ‘darker’ books, but after seeing great reviews, I decided to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and find out more.

This debut novel is well written and found that I didn’t want to put it down. Quickly I was drawn into the mystery of motherhood in this family. Three generations of mothers, each struggling with motherhood. This is a very clever debut novel which left this reader wondering who was the problem. Do we need to have a good example of a mother, to be a good mother ourselves? Can a child be that manipulative? Why was Fox so unhelpful?

I’m a mother of two teenagers and this book left me feeling very uncomfortable because it felt so plausible. Being a mother isn’t easy, despite the rise of the Instagram picture perfect family suggesting otherwise. The Push features a family with many issues and tragedies. It is definitely a book that will stay with me for a while and I look forward to hearing the views of other readers. I also look forward to reading more by Ashley Audrain in the future.

Author Bio:

ASHLEY AUDRAIN previously worked as the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada. Prior to Penguin, she worked in public relations. She lives in Toronto, where she and her partner are raising their two young children. The Push is her first novel.

Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley. Apologies for the delay in reading and reviewing. Here is my mini review of this festive read.

Synopsis:

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart… 

When Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after. When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

A heartwarming story of love, friendship, and Christmas magic, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Jill Mansell.

My thoughts:

This is the third book I’ve read by Sue Moorcroft in the past year and is now my new favourite. Hannah and Nico both face a number of challenges, with work and relationships, but cross paths again when Hannah’s brother gets married. Can they help each other?

My favourite part of the book was the visit to Nico’s family in Sweden. In a year of hardly travelling anywhere, I loved the sound of visiting Sweden to try new foods, make snowmen and visit new places. My favourite character was Hannah’s Nan who wants the best for her granddaughter.

An enjoyable read that is currently 99p on the Kindle in the UK. Happy to recommend this as a book to curl up with over the Christmas holiday.

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

Christmas Island by Natalie Normann

Today I’m sharing a mini review. Thank you to One More Chapter for a digital review copy on NetGalley to read and review. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

In the bleak midwinter… 
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.

My thoughts:

Thank you to One More Chapter for inviting me to read the book. I didn’t realise until I started the book, that this follows on from Summer Island, but the main characters are new and I was able to read this without having read Summer Island.

Holly has escaped London and travelled to Norway to rest and reflect on what happened at work. Tor has escaped Oslo and is enjoying the solitude, until he saves a weary Holly, with assistance from a cute cat. Can Holly help Tor escape his self imposed exile and can Tor help Holly learn about Norwegian food and customs?

The story is set over the Christmas period, as Holly looks forward to spending Christmas with her older brother Jack, the main character in Summer Island and features food, friendship, romance and furry four legged friends.

I enjoyed my virtual visit to Norway and must admit that I’m now tempted to visit Norway once the global pandemic is over, to try all the fabulous sweet treats. Thanks to Natalie Normann for a festive treat of a story.

One Snowy Week in Springhollow by Lucy Knott

Thank you to Vicky Joss at Aria Fiction for the invitation to join the blog tour for this fabulous festive book. Thank you for a digital copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Tomboy Scarlett thought Devon would be her best friend forever. He was the only person in Springhollow who supported her ambitious artist dreams. But then one winter, Devon and his parents disappear without warning to start a new life in NYC and a devastated Scarlett is left alone to face her high-school bullies and overbearing mother.

Fast-forward ten years: Scarlett is playing it safe in her childhood village with a dull PA job and a wardrobe that passes her mother’s old-fashioned standards. Meanwhile, Devon is a Hollywood heartthrob, starring in the latest superhero blockbuster. And he’s finally coming home for Christmas…

Scarlett can’t help blaming her former best friend for the way her life has turned out, but Devon’s cheeky charm and gorgeous smile prove difficult to resist. Devon always did make her feel on top of the world, but Scarlett knows her heart isn’t racing just because she has her friend back – is it mistletoe madness, or is she seeing Devon in a completely new light?

Scarlett hasn’t taken a risk in years… but this Christmas of second chances could finally be her time to shine

My thoughts:

This is the third book I’ve read by Lucy and I have to confess that this is my new favourite. Having enjoyed reading Wishes Under a Starlit Sky last year, I didn’t think Lucy could improve her storytelling but I loved this book even more.

Scarlett was devastated when her best friend Devon left for New York and changed her life totally, including stopping the love of comic book superheroes she had shared with Devon. So when Devon appears back in Springhollow to promote his new superhero movie, how will Scarlett react?

This book mixes romance, friendships, misunderstandings, peppermint coffees, superheroes, comic books, school bullies, gingerbread houses and the Avengers together and produces a lovely festive story which helped this reader escape the news of lockdown part two.

This book was published around the time of national anti bullying week, and demonstrates how being bullied at school can continue to impact on a person, long after they have left school. Devon had been Scarlett’s protection from the bullies, and losing him changed her life in more ways than everyone realised.

I love Christmas, the Marvel movies and romance, and this book delivered everything lightly dusted with snowflakes and served with freshly baked gingerbread. A lovely festive five star read.

Author Bio:

Lucy Knott is a former professional wrestler with a passion for storytelling. Now, instead of telling her stories in the ring, she’s putting pen to paper, fulfilling another lifelong dream in becoming an Author.

Inspired by her Italian Grandparents, when she is not writing you will most likely find her cooking, baking and devouring Italian food, in addition to learning Italian and daydreaming of trips to Italy.

Along with her twin sister, Kelly, Lucy runs TheBlossomTwins.com, where she enthusiastically shares her love for books, baking and Italy, with daily posts, reviews and recipes.

Follow Lucy:

Twitter: @TheBlossomTwins

Facebook: @TheBlossomTwins 

Instagram: @theblossomtwins

Pre-order links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/32sEaMQ 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3pf4Ry7 

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2Ikp84y 

iBooks: https://apple.co/35dyPdZ 

Follow Aria 

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Today I’m sharing a mini review for my weekend read. Thank you HQ for a digital review copy via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

Synopsis:

Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.

And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…

As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?

My thoughts:

As usual, Sarah Morgan has produced a fabulous festive read for readers. There is plenty of family drama for the two families, as the mothers and their adult children learn to communicate their feelings. The story is full of festive treats, including reindeer, sleigh rides, tree decorating and a very excited young child desperate to see Santa.

I enjoyed how the story developed, as the main characters came together to rekindle and improve old relationships or to start new ones. The story covers loss so isn’t all light and fluffy, but is written in a way that you are rooting for the characters and feel uplifted at the end of the book. I would love to spend time in Scotland baking with Mary and meeting the reindeer. A lovely book to escape into.

Author bio:

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 18 million copies of her books and her work has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist.

Sarah lives near London, England with her family and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.  

Join Sarah’s mailing list at http://www.sarahmorgan.com for all book news. For more insight into her writing life follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Instagram at @sarahmorganwrites Contact Sarah at sarah@sarahmorgan.com

The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle

I’m pleased to share my thoughts about this new novel being published by Bookouture. Thanks to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to join

Synopsis:

A missing teenager, a mysterious cult and a case of mistaken identity – just another day’s work for Epiphany Bloom.

Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom is down on her luck. She can barely afford cat food, and just because Most has three legs doesn’t mean he eats any less. So she absolutely can’t afford to mess up her latest temp job. But when she walks through the door of the private investigation firm, her new boss mistakes her for a missing persons expert. He then charges her with finding Matty Price – the teenage son of two A-list celebrities – who has mysteriously disappeared from his home in Kensington.

It ought to be a disaster, but Pip reckons it’s actually an opportunity. She’s always been curious (nosy, her mother calls it) and has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the right time (she doesn’t want to know what her mother thinks of that). After years of trying to find something she’s good at, has Pip managed to walk straight into the job she was born to do?

She owes it to herself and poor missing Matty to find out.

But searching for Matty takes Pip into the strange, intimidating world of the rich and famous. And it soon becomes clear that some of these people’s love for themselves doesn’t extend to their fellow humans.

As Pip investigates further, she realises the question isn’t whether Matty ran away – it’s whether she will find him alive and make it home safely herself…

An absolutely brilliant, light-hearted cozy mystery for fans of M.C. Beaton, T E Kinsey, Lauren Elliott and Joanne Fluke, featuring an irresistible new heroine.

My thoughts:

Having read the synopsis to the book, I hoped the book would live up to the ‘hype’. I’m thrilled to say it does because Pip is a fun character, with a heart of gold but also she is a magnet for disasters. All the way through the story, we find out why she never holds job down for very long. I loved the way these ‘excuses’ were subtly dropped into the story, and they made this reader smile.

I’m hoping this will be the first of a series. Pip has been given the job to find a missing teenager due to a mix up, and she is determined to solve the case. With the help of her gorgeous landlord, her parenting blogger sister and some new friends, she starts to work out where Matty may be hiding or being held.

This story flowed so well, as Pip got herself further into the investigations and discovers that she isn’t the only person pretending to be someone else. I’m thrilled to have discovered another new fantastic author to follow in 2020, and look forward to reading more in the future.

Author Bio:

Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet. 


https://twitter.com/KatieGayleBooks

Buy Links:Amazon: https://bit.ly/396HfGh

Apple: https://apple.co/33eKAi1

Kobo: https://bit.ly/35pAIF0

Google: https://bit.ly/2FobH1R

War in the Valleys by Francesca Capaldi

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the second book set in Dorcalon in Rhymney Valley, Wales by Frances Capaldi. Thank you to Sarah Hardy from Book on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Hera Books for a digital copy via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

WW1 marches on, but Violet faces her own battle at home

July 1916. Young mother, Violet Jones, lives a tough life in the Rhymney Valley, caring for 4-year-old Clarice and baby Benjy on her own while soldier husband Charlie fights on the Front Line. But when tragedy strikes, Violet’s life becomes even harder.

While they may be far from the battlefields, the effects of WW1 take their toll on the small mining community of Dorcalon, with food becoming scarce and more and more of their young men losing their lives.

With very little money coming in, and two babies to care for, Violet takes in a relative to help make ends meet. But far from easing her burden, it might turn out to be the worst decision she’s made.

As the Great War takes its toll on the nation, Violet faces her own battle. All alone in the world, can she protect her children, and herself? And will she ever find joy out of the depths of despair?

A captivating, emotional saga set in WW1 – will tug on your heart-strings and bring a tear to your eye. If you like Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin or Sheila Newbury you will adore this beautiful Welsh saga.

Please check out the other reviews and Q&A sessions provided by the fabulous bloggers listed below.

My thoughts:

Back in June 2020, I shared my review for the debut novel by Francesca Capaldi, Heartbreak in the Valley (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/13/blog-tour-for-heartbreak-in-the-valley-by-frances-capaldi/). War in the Valleys takes us back to Dorcalon in Rhymney Valley, starting a couple of months later.

I enjoyed returning to meet the characters, to find out what had happened after the explosion in the mine and the police investigation into racketeering. The primary focus of the first book was Anwen, in this book we find out more about Violet, one of her best friends.

Violet has to deal with loss and a lack of money. Sadly, someone who claims to be ready to help her, is actually trying to undermine her and is making her life more difficult. Violet needs her friends more than ever, but they are also busy dealing with an unexpected addition to the family and working long shifts in a munitions factory.

The losses of local men on the battlefields and down the mine, the lack of food and the poverty could make this a depressing read, but the story is full of community spirit and some humorous moments. I must admit that this is my favourite book of the series, possibly because I knew the characters better this time.

As the granddaughter of a miner, I’m enjoying the series. Thank you Francesca for another well written journey back in time.

Author Bio:

Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and four pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a series of novels set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian. 


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

Blog: www.writemindswriteplace.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FCapaldiBurgess