Happy Holidays!

 

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My hope is that this story will snuggle up with you in your magical me-time -moments’ unwinding this Summer. Let the stunning scenery stir you up to step into a season bursting with sunny promise.

The all-important blurb.

Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a holiday romance that’s forever…When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes, she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic Sea will more than make up for it–especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them. Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina. But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise

Enjoy my 5* Review of The Secret Cove in Croatia. Written by Julie Caplin. Published by HarperImpulse July 2019 Purchase your own copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Cove-Croatia-Romantic-Escapes-ebook/dp/B07L7Y9LL5/

I have really enjoyed all of the Romantic Escapes series written by Julie Caplin. As Maddie might say, it was with ‘a little skip of happiness’ that I reached for my review copy. I was so delighted to be able to open up the next instalment. Although all of the books are standalone stories Julie  has the most amazing eye for detail and just like painter Maddie, the heroine of this particular tale, she can paint the scenery of the landscape for us better even than any of the Golden Girls – picture Hvar – it’s the summer of 2019! She gets right to the heart of the community– taking in all the tourist sites but letting us get to know the locals and their customs too.  I really do love the way she can let me sail away on my sofa.

Best of all I really love the way that she circles back and includes people from previous stories, delving deeper into the lives of characters from one book and giving them their own chance in the spotlight. One thing is for sure it makes me want to go back and read the whole series again. Her characters feel like old friends once you have spent a little bit of time in their company and I find myself thinking about them and missing them. Little windows back into their worlds really do bring the whole series to life.

This virtual visit to Croatia really struck a chord with me. Its not somewhere I have been or until last summer ever thought of going. But when they filmed the 2018 Mamma Mia 2 summer blockbuster, the crew didn’t go back to Greece, but took us out to Vis in Croatia. I had no idea it was so beautiful. So, when I saw the title of this boo, I was more than ready to dive in. I just love the colours, the water, the landscape and I was not disappointed, I truly felt like I was on holiday.

Maddie and Nick are adorable but the whole cast is intriguing. Holed up with them all was an experience! At times I didn’t know how Maddie coped with everyone, but I love that we get to see the whole of each character, the good, the bad and the ugly – somehow it makes them more real, more human. Aren’t we all just diamonds in the rough – with life smoothing of our edges and polishing us up a little. There is enough drama to keep us on the edge of our seats and enough beautiful views to make us catch our breath. I was delighted to be able to come on board some of the superyachts and soak up the sun and the stars. Ooh what a dream.  I once saw these beauties being sold at the Southampton Boat Show when I worked there one summer. I remember how awe- inspiring they were. This lovely book welcomed me on board and made me feel like a film star – I could just imagine myself on a sun lounger with my oversized hat and sunglasses, a tasteful sarong and a cool iced drink to sip. I must admit I have never really been tempted by a cruise before but docking off at the little secret cove sounded so idyllic and special. I wanted to dive in and snorkel in the clear waters too. What a treat.

Coffee Cup Conversations and Teapot Talking Points:

If you and I dear reader were sitting down together today, perhaps in a cosy corner of the Aventurista, having both read the book, here are a few of the points we could mull over together, whilst trying out one of Maddie’s special cocktails.

Have you ever bought a painting of your holiday?

Maddie paints so beautifully and I have to say I am really envious of people who have that talent. I have neither the eye, the patience of the skill. What I do love though is colour. I remember when I lived in Spain a local bar owner gave me a painting from his bar when I left, having spent a year there studying Spanish. I was so touched. I also have a painting of Looe in Cornwall in my bedroom. It is one of my favourite holiday destinations and I just love having those bright summer beach colours in my house – I never tire of it, even in winter.

Have you ever been on a boating holiday?

I must admit that I would love to spend some time on a boat, I would really love to learn to sail. A barge holiday on a canal sounds such fun but being invited onto a yacht sounds idyllic. That’s what I loved about this story; it lets us the reader dream a little – why shouldn’t we head off for a bit of the millionaire lifestyle? I wonder if Air BnB rent rooms!!! I am not sure if I would quickly find my sea legs – but travelling around in this way does seem really compelling. Perfect for those of us who fancy the idea of being out and about on the water, getting away from it all rather than doing that on a huge cruise with a couple of hundred other tourists for company. This travel idea has really given me food for thought.

Do you like celebrity spotting?

Hanging out with the sparkling set of super models – Maddie is ready to spot some superstars. It got me thinking – have you ever spotted a celebrity sighting? I did once – a most uncanny day – I saw Gary Linekar and Maureen Lipman in separate carriages on the same train! But apart from that I rarely see anyone famous. A few have turned up in my classroom though – which I was very surprised by and proud not to have given anything away, maintaining my calm, professional manner much like Maddie does. still it was a real thrill on every occasion. I had to show Gordon Ramsey around our boarding house kitchens though – that made me chuckle. He couldn’t have been nicer.

Now, if you are anything like me, you will love getting to know the author: Julie Caplin.

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Jules Wake announced at the age of 10 that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands, taking journalists on trips to awful places like Turin, Milan, Geneva, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and occasionally losing the odd member of the press in an airport. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to eat amazing food, drink free alcohol, hone her writing skills on press releases and to research European cities for her books.

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for HarperImpulse.

Under her pen name, Julie Caplin, her twelfth novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia published in ebook format this July.

I LOVE to interact and keep in touch with writers – either to share my thoughts on the book or to ask questions, but mainly just to hang out with people who love writing and reading and soul-surfing as much as I do. You can get in touch with Julie here:

Twitter: @JulieCaplin  @JulesWake

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JulieCaplinAuthor

So, dear reader, whilst you all head off to read summer holiday treat that won’t ruin your appetite, I’m going to get my butt in the chair and write but I won’t forget to search for some other book bounty to take us away into the sunset.

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A French Escap-aid

 

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My hope is that this story will snuggle up with you in your magical me-time -moments’ unwinding at the weekend or as part of the mid-week madness that is real life. This story will fill you up with comfort and croissant – what more could a girl want or need?

The all-important blurb

It’s fair to say that Flick has had a terrible year. Her beloved father died, she had the wedding of her dreams and only hours after the ceremony her husband ran out on her. 

Brenda, fed up with her daughter living like a hermit, decides to drag Flick off to France to stay in a chateau. What could be better than an idyllic escape?

But when they arrive Flick discovers the chateau is all but abandoned.

The only upside of her French escape is the handsome and mysterious neighbour, Nate.

Nate loves his life living in the cottage on the grounds of the abandoned chateau but that is about to be put in jeopardy…

Can Nate and Flick ever learn to come to terms with the past and find love again?

Enjoy my Review of A French Escape, written by Suzie Tullett and published by the Tres bon Bombshell Books. 

They say that the path to happiness is normally about enjoying the journey and not the destination and normally I would agree. However, with the title The French Escape ringing in our ears It is no surprise that our destination in this story is a beloved character all of its own and that actually venues are of paramount importance in this tale.  The Chateau D’Enchantement, as its name suggests, has more than a sprinkling of Gallic charm and it begins to weave its Disneyesque magic upon our imaginations from the moment we arrive. We are not the only ones to fall under its spell, it sets to work on our grieving heroine Flic and her Mother as soon as the threads of life that have brought them there finally unravel and drop them at its iron gates. The fairy-tale enchantment moulds a mystery that swirls and unfurls around them both as we read deeper into their story. ‘In a forest in a wood … at the window stood’ goes the refrain – who stands at the window indeed? And is the forest friend or foe, a soulful sanctuary or sinister place? This will have a large bearing on the adventure contained within our story.

This week I am planning a school residential trip away for all the pupils to France this summer. As life and fiction merged together, I stepped further into the life of the village and its community. I enjoyed falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of the romance of the place. My head was spinning with the sights and sounds of Brittany and the French way of life, if I turned one way I could ‘faire la bise’ and if I turned another I could enjoy baguettes and ficelles, all washed down with delicious French café au lait.  In my reverie I could hear the echo of the refrain of a song by Enrique Iglesias – in his mother tongue he reminds us that “we can run, we can hide but we can’t escape his love.” Many are running away in this story, but the writer teaches us that we cannot run so far that we run out of love’s reach. Will Flic still be able to feel the love of her departed father? will others in the community heal and find their heart’s desires of a happier future? Jess, Pete, Brenda, Julia, Phillippe and Nate – all are searching for something better for someone else they care about if not for themselves, even the future survival of the house itself is under question. If only we could all have a fairy godmother waiting in the wings to conjure up the answer to all our woes.

But Flic is a feisty gal who has a hero living on the inside of her. Through the mirror of her story this reader found hope enough to be her own hero too. When we follow the yellow brick road – we meet difficult times, difficult choices and it is so easy to develop a hole in the bottom of our bag of confidence and see our courage trickling away behind us. Flic taught me that after the storm we can find comfort in the strength we have within, that we can choose love over fear and continue onward, making choices for ourselves. It turns out that there may be something even better than a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the gumption to stand on our own two feet and reach for what matters to us, to dare to risk it all to gain it all, and to really have a life well lived.

Coffee Cup Conversations and Teapot Talking Points:

If you and I dear reader were sitting down together today, perhaps in a cosy corner of the Chateau D’Enchantement itself or the Café Ange, having both read the book, here are a few of the points we could mull over together, whilst trying out one of Jess’s delicious creations of course.

Have you ever stayed in a wonderful French venue?

I was once invited by a school friend to stay in the heart of the French countryside in gite. It was one of the most romantic and idyllic holidays that I have ever spent. In the day before the internet and mobile phones we were cut off from all communications. How my poor mum back home coped without hearing from me at all I don’t know. We enjoyed relaxing in the sunshine and cycling our way to collect a baguette and croissant or two. I really enjoyed the beautiful French farm house with its shuttered windows and faded bricks. What a treat. Nowadays it is even easier to stay in an authentically French home – I am definitely going to try out Air BnB for a future trip.

Have you ever built what you thought was a sanctuary, a comfort-zone which actually turned out to be a fence, keeping you from the outside world?

I could really relate to the theme of the comfort zone – it really is like a ‘protective blanket’ and there is most definitely in my experience a time and a place for this. However, it is important to let people see over our fences and into our gardens from time to time. The best thing about my family is that they accept my need for time alone as an introverted type – but that they also push me to believe in myself when I feel the urge to retreat out of a sense of fear or intimidation. Self-compassion is the key I believe – and little baby steps – but choosing to surround ourselves with love helps to conquer the power of fear and frees us up to make the choices that we truly want to make in our day-to-day lives.

If it was ‘French Week’ on the Great British Bake Off, what would you bake?

The first ever episode of GBBO that I saw was when the contestants were lined up and showing their best homemade loaf of bread to Paul Hollywood – master baker! So, no pressure then. They had had to plait the bread and make sure that it was all presented in an even shape and depth. Firstly, I couldn’t believe the difference that could be had amongst 8 loaves of bread and secondly, I really felt for the poor blighters as they had to claim ownership of their loaves and receive the comments attached. I think that I would really like to learn to make a croissant – a low fat one of course – I can’t imagine how wonderful it would be to present your very own confection for breakfast. The whole process looks really relaxing to me too. Maybe there is a class out there where we can learn a few skills before sending off our applications for the show!

Now, if you are anything like me, you will love getting to know the author: Suzie Tullett

Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. Her novels include Going Underground, Little White Lies and Butterflies, which was short-listed for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, and The Trouble with Words. She has a Masters Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist.

I LOVE to interact and keep in touch with writers – either to share my thoughts on the book or to ask questions, but mainly just to hang out with people who love writing, reading and soul-surfing as much as I do. You can get in touch with Suzie here:

Website: suzietullett.com

Twitter: @SuzieTullett

So, dear reader, whilst you all head off to your bienvenue in Brittany, I’m going to search for some other brilliant books to take with us into the lighter evenings.

Upward!

 

COVER REVEAL

 

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My hope is that this story will snuggle up with you in your magical me-time -moments’ unwinding at the weekend or as part of the mid-week madness that is real life.

The all-important blurb:

When Maisie Meadows finds herself single and jobless on New Year’s Day, she resolves that this will be the year she focuses on bringing her scattered family back together. Romance is all very well, but it’s the people you grew up with that matter the most.

But a new job working at an auction house puts her in the path of Theo, a gorgeous but unattainable man who she can’t help but be distracted by. As their bond begins to grow, Maisie finds herself struggling to fulfil the promise she made to herself – but the universe has other ideas, and it’s not long before the Meadows family are thrown back together in the most unlikely of circumstances…

Can dealing with other people’s treasures help Maisie to let go of the past, and teach her who she ought to treasure the most?

Cover Reveal: The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows written by Jenni Keer

Purchase your copy here:  http://bit.ly/UnlikelyLife

This cover is definitely a beauty, I feel so lucky to be able to share it with you –  Its such a pretty way of identifying a unique treasure for us to take home and enjoy. It will look good any time, any place, anywhere – be that on your bedside table with your pile of books or on a coffee table and then up on your book shelf nestled amongst all your favourites. The spring colours and the open design are like a friendly, warm face of a new friend and will certainly bring a smile to your lips as you pick up your own copy and pop it into your hand.

 It is apt then, that Jenni’s second novel was inspired by two decades of visits to her local auction house (T W Gaze) and the beautiful market town of Diss, in Norfolk. “I decided after viewing endless weekly auctions with my husband for his antique business, and watching the auction house at Gazes evolve, what a charming setting it would make as a backdrop to a story. I hope readers enjoy the unlikely but heart-warming year Maisie has as she attempts to reunite a long-forgotten tea set and her bickering family.”

Coffee Cup Conversations and Teapot Talking Points:

If you and I dear reader were sitting down together today, having both read the book, here are a few of the points we could mull over together.

Have you ever been to an auction?

I love watching auction programmes on the tv, and I have even watched a live stream of one. I have never been brave enough yet, to attend one in person, I would be super scared that I might buy something by mistake! But the allure of the auction house is strong and a perfect back drop for Maisie’s story.

 Have you got a family heirloom or treasure?

Lots of us have a collection of odd bits and bobs that we have collected along our life’s journey. I have made a memory box of important pieces for me, but mostly I am a de-cluttering addict and so things don’t last long in my house. I recently tracked down some old Abba Annuals that I had read avidly in my childhood and bought myself some second hand copies. It was amazing the power that these treasures had to warm my heart in what turned out to be 40 years later! I don’t have any really valuable treasures in terms of money, but I do have some very precious items.

Has your life taken some unexpected and unlikely twists and turns?

I know that mine has, I suspect that this is the nature of life as a human – and we can only ever see so far down the road -and that is often quite a good thing. But I do know that I am truly grateful for those that have and are walking my road with me. It’s the hands that we hold along the way that makes life precious. I am not sure that I have a yellow brick road to follow but I know that my feet always lead me back to the ones that matter most – the ones I love and who love me.

Now, if you are anything like me, you will love getting to know the author: Jenni Keer

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Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was published in January 2019.

The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows is out 8th July 2019.

I LOVE to interact and keep in touch with writers – either to share my thoughts on the book or to ask questions, but mainly just to hang out with people who love writing, reading and soul-surfing as much as I do. You can get in touch with Jenni here:

Website: jennikeer.co.uk

Twitter: @JenniKeer

So, dear reader, whilst you all head off to make friends with Maisie, I’m going to search for some other brilliant books to accompany our lovely, light-filled evenings.

Upward!

Home Time

 

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My hope is that this story will snuggle up with you in your magical me-time -moments’ unwinding at the weekend or as part of the mid-week madness that is real life. This story will fill you up with comfort and joy – here’s to a portion of pudding pampering!

The all-important blurb:

Home is where the heart is…

Holly doesn’t have time for a holiday this year. But when her job threatens to send her over the brink, her boss insists she take a sabbatical. So she packs her bags and escapes to her beloved grandmother Gigi’s house on Wishington Bay, which has sat empty since Gigi passed away.

But Holly’s dreams of a coastal escape take an unexpected turn. Holly didn’t expect to spend time with any man this summer – let alone an Aussie Adonis…but when she meets her next door neighbour Gabe and his little dog Bryan, it’s clear her quiet summer of strolling along the sand and wandering through the seaside village’s tiny streets on her own will come with a hefty dose of distraction.

With a summer to fill and Gigi’s wonderful and surprising house to sort through, Holly knew it would be a summer packed with old memories. She just didn’t expect to make so many new ones…

Enjoy my Review of Coming Home To Wishington Bay, written by Maxine Morrey.

Purchase your copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coming-Home-Wishington-Maxine-Morrey-ebook/dp/B07JH9MW41 

Ahh, isn’t it so lovely when a book just draws you in and makes you sigh with pleasure. The simple delights of being lost in someone else’s story, dipping in to someone else’s drama for a day or too. This lovely book is full of light and laughter and the strong pull of the nostalgia for days gone passed with precious loved ones. The sunlight really is let in as Holly turns a new corner in her life and although it is sad that she has to come to terms with the death of her grandmother, the gentle caress of the sunshine and sandy, the sea salt air and the dreamlike qualities of this book, really do feel good for the soul.

The book is so good that you just don’t want to put it down, you would rather put off any other chore that comes beckoning. I really felt that I wanted to explore the new world that I was falling into and this story takes you on a well-deserved break – without you having to leave your seat. This story is a must-read that you will put in your pocket and carry with you, just so that you can dip into it whenever possible.

Ahh, roll on the summer – romance is really in the air, spring has sprung and it is time for a new beginning.

Coffee Cup Conversations and Teapot Talking Points:

If you and I dear reader were sitting down together today, perhaps in a calm corner of Holly’s happy home, having both read the book, here are a few of the points we could mull over together.

Have you ever had a benevolent relative or friend?

Holly’s beloved Grandmother, Gigi, leaves her the wonderful home in Wishington Bay. I have often wished for a rich uncle to come and rescue me in the past. Alas I do not have any uncle at all, rich or otherwise. I am lucky enough not to have lost many relatives yet, but I can only imagine the bittersweet wonder of inheriting a home.

Have you every had a friendship that bloomed out of initial dislike?

Holly and her handsome neighbour Gabe don’t exactly hit it off when they first meet. Have you ever become really good friends with someone you don’t initially get on with? I have definitely had one or two very special relationships and friendships with work colleagues in this way. I think the old ‘opposites attract’ adage is true, and there is also something to be said for finding common ground and mutual respect. It was so good to work with someone who was so opposite to me that we complimented each other so well.

Have you embraced the spirit of a spring clean yet this year?

I love decluttering and clearing out unwanted and unused items, that just seem to sit there taking up space and judging us from the shelf. I love passing on items to others who may get some use from them and I love the space that appears. There is nothing better for me than cleaning out a cupboard and then seeing what I had forgotten I had. I love being a treasure house of memories too, and cherishing items that remind me of times gone past. I love curating my children’s childhoods and keeping some items that help bring the memories of precious times to come flooding back.

Giveaway to Win a Wishington Bay notebook, a Wishington Bay canvas shopper bag, and an e copy of the book. (Open to UK only)

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http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494220/?

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then the author reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time the author will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Now, if you are anything like me, you will love getting to know the author: Maxine Morrey.

 

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Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten.

As time went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, as well as a local history book on Brighton. However, novels are her first love.

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her first romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words loves to read, sew and listen to podcasts. Being a fan of tea and cake, she can (should!) also be found doing something vaguely physical at the gym.

I LOVE to interact and keep in touch with writers – either to share my thoughts on the book or to ask questions, but mainly just to hang out with people who love writing, reading and soul-surfing as much as I do. You can get in touch with Maxine here:

Website           http://www.scribblermaxi.co.uk

Twitter            @Scribbler_Maxi

Instagram        @scribbler_maxi

Facebook         http://www.Facebook.com/MaxineMorreyAuthor

Pinterest          ScribblerMaxi

So, dear reader, whilst you all head off to bask at the bay, I’m going to search for some other brilliant books to take us into the lighter evenings.

Upward!

 

Coming Home To Wishington Bay

A Box of Delights

 

Rachel's Pudding Pantry

My hope is that this story will snuggle up with you in your magical me-time -moments’ unwinding at the weekend or as part of the mid-week madness that is real life. This story will fill you up with comfort and joy – here’s to a portion of pudding pampering!

The all-important blurb:

Step inside Rachel’s Pudding Pantry, a place where love, laughter and scrumptious bakes bring everyone together.

Primrose Farm is Rachel’s very own slice of heaven. Come rain or shine there’s always a pot of tea brewing by the Aga, the delicious aroma of freshly baked puddings, and a chorus of happy memories drifting through the kitchen.

But the farm is in a spot of trouble. As the daffodils spring, Rachel must plant the seeds of change if she wants to keep the farm afloat, and it’s all resting on a crazy plan. She’ll need one family cook book, her Mum Jill’s baking magic – and a reason to avoid her distractingly gorgeous neighbour, Tom . . .

Swapping their wellies for aprons, can Rachel and Jill bake their way into a brighter future? The proof will be in the pudding!

 Enjoy my 5* Review with a cherry on top of Rachel’s Pudding Pantry, written by Caroline Roberts and Published by the three biscuiteers at Harper Impulse.

The Perfect picnic hamper pal, this lovely treat of a book is something that you can devour between meals without ruining your appetite. It is such a sweet and uplifting story – and the wonderful mouth-watering morsels that Caroline Roberts describes will have you whipping out your mixing bowl and pulling on your pinny as soon as you have finished reading. This lovely tale heart-warmingly draws in a raft of different characters – all of whom you will instantly take a shine to – even the grumpy ones! Reading this book is like being a member of the cutest village company, I wanted to whistle one of the dogs over and go for a lovely walk over the hills to see the fluffy sheep. But more than this, I loved how the different generations were portrayed in an inclusive and respectful manner. One of the best parts of this book is its recipe for love. The focus is on making time for the really important things in life, for weighing out the ingredients of what actually makes a happy life – in other words that the proof of our ‘happiness pudding’ is in the eating, it’s in the sharing of everyday life, the here and now, with friends, neighbours and loved ones – it is not about material things. It’s about being present and really showing up for one another as well as ourselves.

The references to the changing seasons of life and of nature are really uplifting and it is no coincidence that this book starts in the Spring, after a long old Winter, with the accompanying cold and hardships, challenges and difficulties. The warmth of the new season shines out from every page and draws us all forward, out of the shadows of our lives and into the promise of the new – bulbs open, lambs gambol and life cycles around again leading us forward. The story of Rachel and her family reveals this change and development. They go through a whole range of emotions, growing and knowing one another anew. In a series of holding on and letting go they learn through the push and pull of life to reach out for what they want and need.

At the moment I am writing a biography of a woman who is famous for her own household tips and cookery book, so I particularly loved the references to Grandma Alice’s Baking Bible, with it’s individually handwritten notes and recipes. Delicious pud posts passed down from generation to generation and positively rammed with nostalgia and happy memories of the shared delights that came from it. Many of us can relate to this – especially to those wonderful childhood memories that can be stirred by the smell of a crumble and custard.

This lovely story is part of a new series – which is such a tantalising and wonderful thought in itself. You will make many friends in the book – found myself wondering how they were all getting on long after I had finished the story. This book is so yummy, I can’t wait for seconds!!!

Coffee Cup Conversations and Teapot Talking Points:

If you and I dear reader were sitting down together today, perhaps in a calm corner of the Pudding Pantry barn, having both read the book, here are a few of the points we could mull over together.

 What is your favourite pudding?

It’s hard to choose I know, but I think I would plump for rhubarb crumble and custard. My secret ingredient is adding oats and brown sugar to the crumble to give extra crunch and texture. There is nothing more pleasing than popping down to the end of the garden to grab some home-grown rhubarb for a family Sunday afternoon treat. When I lived abroad for a year in Spain, it was something that I longed for – the Spanish don’t really bake over cooked desserts, the more I couldn’t have it the more I wanted it, so as soon as I came home I ate as much of it as I could.

Do you have experience of farming life?

We have had some simply idyllic holidays on a farm in Cornwall. The farmer and his wife had diversified and converted a barn into a holiday home. We had such lovely holidays there for many years. Not only was it a pretty, safe and healthy rural environment for our young children to enjoy, but there were also lots of animals to visit. My youngest son loved going out to hunt for eggs from the chickens for our breakfast. We all marvelled at the difference a free-range life made to the yokes – and come to mention it to our well being too.

Who is the wise one in your family?

I really enjoyed reading about Rachel’s time spent at Granny Isabel’s cottage. The emphasis on the grandchild/grandparent relationship was refreshing and interesting – and something I feel that is explored less often that it should be. I would love to be a ‘Granny Isabel’ one day. I do hope that I am an encouragement and listening ear to the young adults in my life. This story was a reminder to go easy on the judgement of others and to crank up the volume on the true life-lessons learned over my time. I am going to aim to share these nuggets of wisdom in order to spread a little joy and peace with anyone who comes my way in need of a little love and support.

Now, if you are anything like me, you will love getting to know the author: Caroline Roberts.

 

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Family, friends, food, a glass of bubbly and, of course, a good book make Caroline smile. She loves writing emotional stories about love, loss, and family, that explore how complex and yet beautiful love can be. She also likes to write romantic comedy, letting the characters have a bit of flirty fun too! Caroline says, ‘I believe in following your dreams and working hard towards them’, which led her to HarperImpulse (HarperCollins) and a publishing deal (woop!) after many years of writing. Stunning Northumberland is her home and my ancestral roots- sandy beaches, castles and gorgeous countryside that have inspired her writing.

LOVE to interact and keep in touch with writers – either to share my thoughts on the book or to ask questions, but mainly just to hang out with people who love writing, reading and soul-surfing as much as I do. You can get in touch with Caroline here:

Twitter: @_caroroberts

Instagram:  @carolinerobertsauthor

Facebook:  @CarolineRobertsAuthor

 

So, dear reader, whilst you all head off to bake up a storm, I’m going to search for some other tasty reading treats to take us into the lighter evenings.

Upward!

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Fantasy Island – All You Ever Dreamed Of

 

Island in the Sun FINAL Cover

 

My hope is that this story will snuggle up with you in your magical me-time -moments’ unwinding at the weekend or as part of the mid-week madness that is real life and will stir you up to step into a season bursting with sunny promise.

The all-important blurb:

 When successful jewellery designer Isla Ashton unexpectedly inherits her eccentric Aunt Kate’s Caribbean island, she is obligated to return to the place she associates with heartache and regret. To where she grew up and fell in love with her childhood friend, Leo Fernandez. Fully intent on selling the island and finally putting the past behind her, Isla is soon compelled to put together the pieces of what really happened on a fateful night ten-years before. She begins to believe that in going to prison, Leo hadn’t only been shielding her from the same fate. She also starts to suspect that her late Aunt hadn’t been entirely honest in sending her away under the guise of recriminations. Who had they both been protecting and why?

Enjoy my 5* Review of Island In The Sun written by Janice Horton.  Purchase your own copy here:  http://smarturl.it/IslandInTheSun

You know you are on to a good story when your eyes start to fill with tears that run down your face, and you find yourself laughing and smiling at equal intervals, all whilst not wanting to miss a heartbeat of what is happening. This story is such a fun read- truly it scoops you up and hooks you in within the first few lines and doesn’t put you down again until its finished with you. I felt as equally plucked up and transported to La Isla de las Perlas as Isla is. The characters are compelling and the story truly interesting – it’s everything that you dream a story of a fairy-tale island would be with echoes of childhood fantasies of coves and cays and and island adventure. Wafts of El Dorado wind their way to us on the wings of the author’s words – and I don’t mean that dodgy sitcom of the early 1990s.

I loved the elements of time travel and the inclusion of young and old alike in a story that makes you feel like you are living just over the hill, on the other side of the island of Mamma Mia.

Once again Janice Horton writes in such wonderful panoramic detail that you can feel the salt of the sea and see into its shiny clear depths. You can pick up and handle the sea shells with up close and personal precision. I could feel the whip of the wind and gaze at the utterly glorious colours of this tropical paradise all through the delicate descriptions and poise of this writer’s pen.

Yet this world also touches with our reality and we have enough in common with the characters that it doesn’t just feel like another day in paradise. This is a story written with compassion and shows love and respect for the community there that goes way beyond the frivolous fancies of a tourist’s first impressions and helps us to feel deeply connected to the citizens of this far flung sanctuary. They too are like diamonds forged in the rough, learning to cope through life’s ups and downs and through the tricky as well as the tranquil. This is a welcome escape to another world, but it runs parallel to the reflections and references that we too are familiar with. It is ultimately a story of strength, and hope, of lives lived and loves lost – and it urges us on, to seek out and celebrate happiness and love, wherever and whenever we find it in our own worlds. You will love it and you will not want to put it down. You will certainly feel better for a bit of time spent on An Island In The Sun.

Coffee Cup Conversations and Teapot Talking Points:

If you and I dear reader were sitting down together today, perhaps in a calm corner of a sandy cove, having both read the book, here are a few of the points we could mull over together.

Have you ever been to a private beach?

I love the descriptions of the cool, soft sand, and the pretty boulders offering seclusion and calm and a tryst with nature. It made me want to sample the sunny delights of a similar place. It must be wonderful to have access to a private beach, or even to live so near to one that you can pop out every day and make friends with your very own bit of coastline.

Do you have happy memories of childhood holidays?

We are treated to a trip down memory lane with Isla, and we get to know a little of the beautiful childhood that she enjoyed. I too remember going back to the same resorts year after year and have memories of taking my own children to the same holiday destinations for a few years. There is something wonderful about the nostalgia that plays out when you are living like this. That first glimpse of the sea, or the opening of the door to your holiday home – opens a link with happy memories of the past. Even thinking about these now is filling me with joy. It stirs me up to want to go and make some more memories, and to have more adventures.

Isla makes jewellery for a living – what is your favourite precious stone?

I was fascinated by the tales of the jewels and treasures in this story. I have lovely memories of looking through my mother’s jewellery as a child, and when I visited my grandmother, I always loved to look through her treasures on her dressing table. I was obsessed and headed straight there on every visit – I loved the secret drawers and the special glass doors that had to be opened a special way. There are lovely touches in this book that sprung all these memories to life for me. The jewels are described in such vivid ways that I was wanting to try them on myself. My favourite precious stone is an Amethyst – and even though it is not my birth stone, I knew I wanted it for my precious rings in the future. I always associate rose quartz with my Mum and my daughter loves a pink sapphire – which it turns out is one of the most expensive! Apparently, these stones have meaning attached – just like the language of flowers – so something to think about.

Now, if you are anything like me, you will love getting to know the author: Janice Horton.

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Janice Horton, also affectionately known as the backpacking housewife, writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. Once her three children had grown up, Janice and her backpacking husband sold their empty nest in Scotland UK along with almost everything they owned and set off to travel the world. Since then they have been traveling full-time and have explored over 50 countries, living out of an apartment, a hut, or wherever they happen to find themselves.

Janice works as a writer wherever she is in the world. When not writing bestselling romantic adventure novels, she writes lifestyle and travel features for her website and her work has featured in national and international magazines like ‘Prima’ in the UK and ‘Friday’ in Dubai. She has also been involved in BBC Scotland’s Write Here Write Now project and has been interviewed on many podcasts and radio shows including Loose Women’s Kaye Adams’ prime time BBC Radio Scotland Show.

 I LOVE to interact and keep in touch with writers – either to share my thoughts on the book or to ask questions, but mainly just to hang out with people who love writing and reading and soul-surfing as much as I do. You can get in touch with Janice here:

Website: https://thebackpackinghousewife.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaniceHorton

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/janicehortonwriter/

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

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/janice-horton

 

So, dear reader, whilst you all head off to book your summer holiday, I’m going to search for some other book bounty to take us into the lighter evenings.

Upward!

Island in the Sun Full Tour Banner

Step Back In Time

 

 

Pages and Co

 

My hope is that this story will snuggle up with you in your magical me-time -moments’ unwinding at the weekend or as part of the mid-week madness that is real life.  You will make many marvellous fictional friends who will linger longer well after this book has finished.

The all-important blurb:

A captivating, curl-up-on-the-sofa debut about the magic of books and the power of the imagination.

Since her mother’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly has found comfort in stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But when her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop, Tilly’s adventures become very real. Not only can she follow Anne and Alice into their thrilling worlds, she discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses.

Tilly’s new ability could even help her solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago. But danger may be lurking on the very next page…

 Enjoy Mrs W’s 5* Review of Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers written by Anna James and published by the team at Harper Collins.  Purchase your own copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=pages+and+co&ref=nb_sb_noss    

This is such a romp of a read, you will feel like the veritable Alice herself as she falls down the rabbit hole. You dive in at the beginning and before you know it you are tumbling out at the other end of the story. This is a tale that will delight the old – with a fond feeling of nostalgia for the books that you have read – as well as the young who may just be starting out on the trail of some of the most loveable characters in literature.

The beautiful Pages & Co bookshop is the stuff of dreams – for many of us oldies it represents the location of our own longing, (oh how I would love to work in a bookshop!) – and I recently found a similar shop in London that has actual nooks and crannies and its very own tiny café, that you can sit and read in whilst surrounded by the most glorious shelves full of books. I’m definitely going to go now that I have spent some time in the Pages Pantheon.

Recently I volunteered at Chawton House, an historic Manor House in Hampshire, once owned by Jane Austen’s elder brother Edward Knight – and I found the spot that she described snuggling down in with a good view and a good read. This lovely shop took me right back to that place.

The best part of the story is how it triggers your own literary memories – who would be the character that you would most like to meet and strike up a conversation with? Which book would you love to wander through? Amongst the twists and turns of the plot we can all entertain this wonderful thought, whilst getting to know Tilly and Oskar, Elizabeth and Archie. There is enough intrigue and relationship built that you are left wanting to get into a second instalment.  You just don’t want the story to end. Indeed, this feels like the opening chapter to a classic collection of stories, it adds just a touch of Nancy Drew to the Folk of the Faraway Tree, The family feel of the Famous 5 is mixed in with a touch of Pippi Longstocking to create something quite unique.

I loved the locations and I loved the characters, but what I really loved was the reality of the children’s voices. The issues that Oskar and Tilly are facing in their own lives are handled sensitively and helpfully, offering realistic hope and support for the youngsters – and erring on the correct side of respect for our mini-minds – there is no patronising of our young superheroes here.

However, for me the best thing about this book is the delight that it takes in celebrating reading, the curiosity for character that it sparks. I do so hope that it will encourage children everywhere to value their own reading journey, to be proud every time that they pick up a book or a magazine or listen to an audio-book. The true magic of the book will surely be the Bookwanderers that it creates, the spark that it ignites in their imaginations as it beckons them into books all about them.

Coffee Cup Conversations and Teapot Talking Points:

If you and I dear reader were sitting down together today, perhaps in a cosy corner of Jack’s Pages & Co Café, having both read the book, here are a few of the points we could mull over together, whilst trying out one of his pop cakes, of course.

If you could meet a character from a book – who would you like to meet?

I am sure that I would love to meet Don Quixote. I studied Cervantes Tome of a book in Spanish and I fell in love with the guy. He read so many books that his brain was addled and he was so set on being heroic and chivalrous – that the began to see enemies everywhere – even when there weren’t any. He was funny and flawed and needed his sidekick to keep him on the straight and narrow. It would sure be an adventure to head off with him.

Have you read a children or YA book yourself recently?

I originally bought this book as a sort of experiment. I want to know more of the literature being written presently for kids. I am amazed at the quality and variety of stories being written recently. I remember so clearly the first time that senior school children turned up to my lessons with the latest book that they were reading and it was not the book they were currently studying in their English lessons. It was so strange – en masse children, on the cusp of their teenage years, suddenly couldn’t go through their day without having this book with them – so that they could steal a read whenever the moment arose. Of course- it was Harry Potter – and kids amazed me – it was like the pied piper had become manifested in the pages of a book. Kids have excellent reading taste. Nowadays I always stop and have a conversation with the pupils about what they are currently reading – especially when I see a repeat of a book.

Have you ever re-read a book from your childhood – in adulthood?

I recently tracked down a version of Enid Blyton’s Noddy that had the same illustrations as the collection of little hardbacks I had back in the 1970s. I absolutely loved re-reading this little classic – one that I remember loving from my childhood. I was a massive fan of all things Enid – I will definitely be picking up the Folk of the Faraway tree again – I just want to be reminded of the stories and characters that I loved. I re-read books all the time back then – but now I don’t. I am famous in my family for reading a book and then passing it on. It is a rare find indeed that gets me to read it again. Yet I gather that re-reading is the best type of reading – so I am definitely ready to head back in to my childhood favourites.

Now, if you are anything like me, you will love getting to know the author: Anna James

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Anna James is a writer and journalist. She was a school librarian before joining The Bookseller as their book news editor. She now writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines, and chairs events at bookshops and Lit fests across the UK. She lives in North London, in a flat full of books.

I LOVE to interact and keep in touch with writers – either to share my thoughts on the book or to ask questions, but mainly just to hang out with people who love writing and reading and soul-surfing as much as I do. You can get in touch with Anna here:

Twitter: @acaseforbooks

YouTube: A Case For Books

So, dear reader, whilst you get lost between the pages of this story, I’m gonna wander off to get my hands on another book to take us into the luscious lighter evenings.

Upward!