When the Music Stops by Joe Heap

I’m pleased to be sharing my review as part of the blog tour organised by Anne at Random Things Tours. Thank you to Anne and Harper Fiction for a digital review copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life. Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.
 
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…

My thoughts:

I was hooked by the blurb for this book but still wasn’t prepared for how the story started and how we meet Ella. The story starts with a storm which leaves Ella holding her baby grandson on a damaged boat, trying to keep him alive until rescuers find them.

During the time stranded on the boat, Ella revisits seven key moments in each decade of her life and meets seven people who she had lost during her lifetime. Each meeting is also linked to a piece of music, from the book of music Ella chose with her dad in Glasgow. The audio book version will include the songs played in full.

Ella’s journey takes her from Glasgow to London. Joe’s writing brings each of the seven periods in time to life, from the school days in Glasgow to the first flat in London to being in a maternity ward as a geriatric mother. I’ve read many books this year whilst furloughed, and this is one of the most poignant. This book is full of emotion and I was caught up in each story, shedding a few tears along the way.

This is a no spoiler review, so you will need to read the book to find out if Ella saved her grandson. A five star book in my humble opinion, a lifetime of experiences captured in one stunning story. It will also make you think about who you would like to meet again, to maybe have a different conversation with. I’ve had Joe’s debut novel, The Rules of Seeing, on my Kindle for months and I look forward to reading it soon.

Book launch event:

On Thursday 28th October I attended Joe’s online book launch event organised by his publisher. It was fascinating to hear about Joe’s inspiration for the book, from how his grandparents met to becoming a father himself, to linking The Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare to the life of a woman linked by music. The Jack Shapiro who wrote the music in the book is a work of fiction based on Jack Sands, his grandfather.

Author bio:

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers. His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards. Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

For more information, please contact felicity.denham@harpercollins.co.uk | 0208 307 4203

Secrets in the Snow by Emma Heatherington

Thank you to Rebecca Bryant from Harper Fiction for inviting me to join the blog tour for the new book by Emma Heatherington. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift of a review copy.

I enjoyed reading and reviewing Emma’s previous book, Rewrite the Stars last year (review can be found at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2019/10/29/rewrite-the-stars-by-emma-heatherington-blog-tour-29-10-19/).

Synopsis:

As the winter snow falls on the small Irish village of Ballybray, Roisin O’Connor and her young son, Ben, are saying goodbye to their beloved neighbour Mabel Murphy.  Mabel lived a bold and colourful life, but the arrival of her brooding nephew, ‘blow-in’ Aidan Murphy, just makes life more complicated for Roisin.

However, in one final act of love, a message arrives from Mabel that changes everything.  And as winter turns to spring and the cold snow melts, the secrets both Roisin and Aidan are hiding must be revealed at last…

buy link:  http://smarturl.it/SecretsInTheSnowPBO…

My thoughts:

Thank you to Emma Heatherington for another lovely book to escape into on an autumnal day. This is one of those books I didn’t want to stop reading once I started it, and I stayed up late to enjoy finding out more about Roisin and Aidan.

Roisin and Aidan have both had to deal with tragedy and being told to what to do by other people. Mabel’s funeral is where they first see each other, unaware that Mabel will be sending them messages to try to encourage them to help each other.

Although the gorgeous cover of the book and title suggest a winter book, we actually spend a year with Roisin and Aidan. This is a year of discovery for both, to deal with issues from their pasts and to plan their futures, without Mabel.

The book has a few twists in the story, as we find out more about their past histories, and as misunderstandings occur. I loved the ending, although I had been imagining a different ending only a few pages earlier. This was a lovely book to curl up and enjoy, and I will be recommending this to fans of romantic fiction.

Author Bio:

Emma Heatherington has penned more than thirty educational short films, plays and musicals as well as eleven novels, two of which were written under the pseudonym Emma Louise Jordan.
She was ghost-writer to Irish country music legend Philomena Begley and Liverpool born Nathan Carter, whose autobiography Born for the Road was nominated for an Irish Book Award.
Emma’s novel, The Legacy of Lucy Harte, was an eBook bestseller in both the UK and US.
She lives in her native Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, with her partner Jim McKee and their children Jordyn, Jade, Dualta, Adam and Sonny James.

Stuck on You by Portia MacIntosh

I’m happy to be sharing my review for the latest book by Portia MacIntosh as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources and Boldwood Books. Regular readers of my blog may remember that I have previously shared reviews for The Plus One Pact (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/05/30/bookreview-blogtour-the-plus-one-pact-by-portia-macintosh-boldwoodbooks/), My Great Ex-Scape (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/01/18/my-great-ex-scape-by-portia-macintosh/), Honeymoon for One (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2019/08/05/honeymoon-for-one-by-frankie-collins-publication-day-is-6-august-2019/) and Home Alone on Hope Island (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2019/11/18/home-alone-on-hope-island-a-fun-festive-novella-by-portia-macintosh/)

Synopsis:

Could a post-it note really lead to love…?

Sadie doesn’t have time for finding love. She’s too busy as PA for famous artist Damian Banks. When she’s not arranging exhibitions, she’s organising his dry cleaning or dumping his never ending stream of girlfriends.

But when she strikes up an unusual friendship with her desk share buddy, she finds a confidante and a new potential love interest. Problem is, they’ve never actually met…

With Christmas just around the corner, can Sadie put herself first for a change and find what she’s been looking for all along?

The brand new romantic comedy from top 10 bestseller Portia MacIntosh. Perfect for fans of Sophie Ranald, Mhairi McFarlane and Zara Stoneley.

Purchase Link – buff.ly/3f9Yy8M

My thoughts:

After reading back to back crime thrillers and historical fiction books recently, I was thrilled to see the latest Portia MacIntosh book on my NetGalley shelf. I’m pleased to say, that after first discovering books by Portia last year, I haven’t been disappointed. Stuck on You is another book full of romance and humour, and another visit to Hope Island over Christmas.

A great cast of characters. Sadie is working for (or pandering to every need of) Damian, a world class photographer. We also meet Sadie’s family (who live on Hope Island), Damian’s family in Oxfordshire and travel to the wedding of the daughter of a suspected serial killer.

Although I had quickly worked out one of the secrets in the story, it didn’t distract from the enjoyment of the story – this is an uplifting read, not a who did it thriller.

A relaxing story with a festive feel, to be enjoyed with a mug of hot chocolate whilst wearing a pair of Elf pyjamas.

Author Bio – 

Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 12 novels, including It’s Not You, It’s Them andHoneymoon For One. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real life experiences.

Social Media Links – 

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

https://www.facebook.com/macintoshportia

http://instagram.com/portiamacintoshauthor

http://bookbub.com/authors/portia-macintosh

View all my reviews

Art and Soul by Claire Huston

Today I’m sharing my review for this gorgeous debut romantic novel about new beginnings, creativity and cake. Thank you Claire for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…

Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.

So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.

Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after? A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake.

My thoughts:

This weekend was warm and sunny (much more than usual in the UK in mid September), so I decided to sit in the back garden to read Art and Soul on my Kindle. Claire whisked me off to the Comptons, to meet Becky and her toddler son Dylan, plus Charlie and his almost adult daughter Phoebe.

Becky is much more than a life coach, she is a life fixer – whether stopping disgruntled exes from spoiling weddings or helping people start a new business, she sometimes has to be slightly cruel to be kind to encourage clients to make changes.

Charlie (aka John) needs her help even if he doesn’t immediately realise it, despite hints from Phoebe and his sister, Lauren. The world famous artist has lost his creative streak and his passion for life, and his family hope Becky can help.

I enjoyed this uplifting story, where the course of true love for a number of characters didn’t run smoothly. In addition to the characters mentioned above, we also meet Ronnie and her cake creations. Having enjoyed the story, I was thrilled to discover that Claire has put the recipes on her website.

I happily recommend this book for an escape from the anxiety inducing news of 2020 and I’m looking forward to trying some of the recipes too. If you enjoy books by Jill Mansell, Milly Johnson and Caroline Roberts, then I suggest you read this next.

Author Bio:

Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. Art and Soul is her first novel.

A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in Art and Soul at clairehuston.co.uk along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.

Social Media Links

You can also find Claire on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads and Pinterest: https://linktr.ee/clairehuston_author

Universal purchase link

You can get your own copy of Art and Soul here: getbook.at/ClaireHustonAandS

It’s also free to download if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Published: 23rd April 2020

Genre: Contemporary romance

Pages: 397

Available formats: Ebook and paperback

Author Twitter: @ClaraVal

A Year at Appleyard Farm by Emma Davies

Today I’m pleased to share my five star review for this gorgeous romance novel by a new author to me. Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy. The book is being published in the UK today.

Synopsis:

Down a winding lane lined with strawberry trees and wildflowers lies Appleyard Farm, a beautiful orchard in the English countryside. And in a little farmhouse in the furthest corner, a young woman has a difficult decision to make…

Life on Appleyard Farm is all Freya Sherbourne has ever known. Having spent her childhood playing in the emerald green meadows and berry picking until sunset, Freya intends to call the farmhouse home forever. But when her father suddenly passes away and Appleyard Farm goes up for sale, Freya’s world comes crashing down.

Holding back the tears, she starts packing boxes while waiting for a buyer. Now the river no longer sparkles, and the apples taste a little less sweet. Until Freya learns the exciting news that her best friends Merry and Willow are moving nearby to open a local shop. And when someone from her past re-emerges, handsomer than ever and offering to mend the cracks in her broken heart, Freya’s eyes begin to twinkle once again.

But falling in love is scary, especially when you don’t know what the future holds. And when Freya discovers that her new love has been keeping a secret, one that threatens both their fragile relationship and the farm, she risks losing everything.

With the clock ticking, will Freya choose to follow her heart or save the farm? Or can she find a way to do both?

Told in four parts, this is a gorgeous story about love, friendship and new beginnings. Fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson should grab a cup of hot chocolate, curl up on the sofa and prepare to be carried away!

A Year at Appleyard Farm was previously published as four short stories: Merry Mistletoe, Spring Fever, Gooseberry Fool, and Blackberry Way.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

My thoughts:

After reading some dark thrillers and historical fiction novels recently, I needed to find something to make me smile and this book certainly did that.

As I said above, I haven’t read any books by Emma Davies before, but I will be looking out for them in the future. This book was originally published as four novellas – each set in a different season of the year but always linked to Appleyard Farm and Freya.

The four sections all feature different stories but link together perfectly. For the main characters, this is a year of huge changes in relationships, jobs and homes. Some need to let go of their past, whilst others need to help them. The book is all about friendships and leaves the reader feeling warm inside. I loved the development of the characters, especially Freya and Laura. Emma Davies brought the Somerset area and the characters (including a large dog) to life beautifully for me.

A 5 star read for me – this was a virtual hug in a book, perfect for an autumn evening snuggled up with a dog and a hot chocolate.

Under a Siena Sun by T A Williams

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my review for Under a Siena Sun by T A Williams. Thanks to the publisher Canelo for a review copy via NetGalley and to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blog tour. This is the first book I’ve read by T A Williams and I will be looking out for the previous books.

Synopsis:

Lucy needed a change of scene. She didn’t expect the change of a lifetime.

Doctors Without Borders has been Lucy Young’s life for the past four years. After being rescued from a conflict zone, she’s making a change from saving lives under gunfire to practising medicine in safe, serene Siena.

Now treating wealthy patients at a private clinic, she’s never felt less comfortable. She’s used to helping those in dire need – not those in need of a nip and tuck. Her turmoil grows when she encounters injured tennis star David Lorenzo, whose smiles make Lucy forget her aversion to the rich.

She’s soon falling for the sportsman but is she losing herself in this world of excess? All she’s ever wanted was to help the underprivileged, so can her future lie in Siena at the clinic – with David?

This sunny romance is the perfect summer escape for fans of Lucy Coleman and Alex Brown.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, following Lucy, an experienced surgeon, as she escaped war torn Africa and started working in a private hospital in Tuscany, an area she had visited many times before.

This is primarily a romance story, set in the stunning surroundings of Siena in Tuscany. The book is full of colourful descriptions of the area and the food (do not read whilst on a diet!). Lucy needs to decide whether she can justify working in such a beautiful part of the world for wealthy patients after working for a medical charity in Africa, where the patients had no money.

I must admit that my favourite characters were of the four legged variety, all the black labradors beginning with B. This book was a pleasant escape from the global pandemic and I enjoyed my virtual visit to Tuscany.

Purchase Links 

http://mybook.to/SienaSun

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/under-a-siena-sun

Author Bio:

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links – 

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

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

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

Love on the Rocks – Elsie McArthur

I’m thrilled to be sharing my spoiler free review for the latest book by Elsie McArthur on my blog today. I enjoyed reading Elsie’s debut novel The Back Up Plan earlier this year (review can be found at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/21/the-back-up-plan-by-elsie-mcarthur/ ) so I was thrilled to be invited to join the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources and read the new book before publication.

Synopsis:

Escaping a difficult childhood, unhappy marriage and dead-end job, Rachel McIntyre has escaped to the tiny Hebridean island of Inniscreag in search of a new beginning.

Taking a job as the manager of the local distillery, she’s just settling into her new life when the elderly, eccentric owner dies, unexpectedly leaving her two hundred year old family legacy in Rachel’s inexperienced hands.

Can she keep the small, community business alive in the face of a takeover attempt from a major multinational corporation? And can she resist the charms of the flirtatious, attractive company lawyer who arrives on the island to persuade her to sell up?

Join Rachel and the quirky inhabitants of Inniscreag – along with a couple of unexpected arrivals – in this funny, heartwarming tale about love, loss and having the courage to start over.

My thoughts:

This is another lovely book by Elsie McArthur. I enjoyed her debut novel, The Back Up Plan, but this one appealed to me even more.

Rachel is a great character, she has had more than her fair share of bad luck but still looks for the best in her friends and the workforce of the brewery. Inniscreag sounds like a lovely community – if only it were real!

I enjoyed Elsie’s storytelling immensely in this book of friendships, community spirit, secrets, romance and new beginnings. Rachel finds herself battling to protect the brewery from being taken over by a large company and also fighting to free herself from her selfish ex-husband. The arrival of the handsome, city boy Duncan Fraser adds the possibility of some romance into the mix too.

A 4.5 star read for me, a much needed escape from the global pandemic.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B089G71S4N

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089G71S4N

Elsie McArthur:

Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women’s fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex. As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first book, ‘The Back Up Plan’, was released in January 2020. Her second novel, ‘Love, on the Rocks’ – a tale of love, loss and starting over, set on the remote Scottish island of Inniscreag – is due for release in Summer 2020.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter – @ElsieMcarthur

Instagram – @elsiemcarthur.author

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

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19961166.Elsie_McArthur

Rewrite the Stars by Emma Heatherington – Blog tour 29/10/19

Rewrite The Stars by Emma Heatherington

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


From the moment they meet one December day there’s something between Charlotte Taylor and her brother’s best friend, Tom Farley. But Tom’s already taken and Charlie has to let him go…

It’s another five years before their paths cross again only a secret from the past forces Charlie to make a choice. She promises herself she’ll never look back…

The years pass and Charlie moves on with her life but she can never forget Tom. He’s always there whispering ‘What if?’.

Can Charlie leave the life she has built for one last chance with Tom?  Or is the one that got away not really the one at all…?

My thoughts:-

This book was an enjoyable read and I was quickly engrossed in the story.

The story follows Charlotte/Charlie through the years after meeting Tom – how different would her life have been if she had made different decisions each time they met?

It is difficult to say more about the story without giving away the various twists to the story – however I found the story to be well written, heartbreaking in places, believable (although maybe Jack was slightly too perfect?) and thought provoking – many of us will wonder what would have happened if some event in their life went differently.

This is the first book I’ve read by Emma Heatherington and I look forward to reading more – this was a very emotional story.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperFiction for a review copy – my thoughts about the book are totally my own.

The author

Emma Heatherington has penned more than thirty educational short films, plays and musicals as well as eleven novels, two of which were written under the pseudonym Emma Louise Jordan.
She was ghost-writer to Irish country music legend Philomena Begley and Liverpool born Nathan Carter, whose autobiography Born for the Road was nominated for an Irish Book Award.
Emma’s novel, The Legacy of Lucy Harte, was an eBook bestseller in both the UK and US.
She lives in her native Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, with her partner Jim McKee and their children Jordyn, Jade, Dualta, Adam and Sonny James.