Challenge Participant


Monday, 13 March 2017

Blog Tour - The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found (Hardback)Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking - the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers - brings a comforting sense of home. So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium. Luckily she soon makes friends - including a Grecian god-like neighbour - who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice's life to come ...but can she find her happily ever after? Wonderfully wry, heart-warming and life-affirming, Trisha Ashley's hilarious novel is perfect for fans of romantic comedies by Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell. And it contains recipes!

Trisha Ashley is one of my favourite authors and I eagerly await each year for her latest novel to hit the book shelves and this years was definitely worth the wait. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is the perfect book to curl up with on Sunday. 
I loved the idea of this book, Alice was found on moorland when she was only a few hours old and since then has moved around the country, making friends and finding a job but in the end, always abandoned. This has had an effect on Alice and the last abandonment, her partner who died, but left her a surprise when he passed away, allowed her to buy a cafe, which she bought on a whim, without visiting and on the back of a few photographs, where she can make her mark and carve out her own living. The main draw towards this cafe is that is close to where she was left as a newborn baby and what follows is a lovely, heart warming story about Alice making a life for herself and building up a tea room that people will flock to for a posh and proper afternoon tea. 
As soon as I started the book I was transported to Haworth and I wanted Alice to be happy and find somewhere where she was happy and could build her life. What I really liked was the three separate narrators and story lines - one was Alice, one was Alice's storytelling as an author and the third is a mystery letter writer. These stories are cleverly intertwined and the end result is a clever and heartwarming story which I really enjoyed. Trisha's storytellying is, as always, brilliant with her beautiful writing style. There is a great cast of characters, Alice is the tea room owner, her inherited staff members who are a great duo, the mysterious antique shop owner, Nile, and his adoted family, who take Alice in while the tearoom is being decorated, all come together to create a great story. Coupled with the cast is the great setting which all adds a little mystery to the story of Alice's birth and Alice's hunt for her mother. 
Thank you to the Trisha Ashley and the publisher for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Blog Tour - The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George

An heart-warming story of romance and adventure - and a return to France - from the internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop (500,000 copies sold worldwide)

Marianne Messman longs to escape her loveless marriage to an uncaring husband - an artillery sergeant major named Lothar. On a day trip to Paris, Marianne decides to leap off the Pont Neuf into the Seine, but she is saved from drowning by a homeless man. While recovering in hospital, Marianne comes across a painting of the tiny port town of Kerdruc in Brittany and decides to try her luck on the coast.

In Kerdruc, Marianne meets a host of colourful characters,who all gravitate around the restaurant of Ar Mor. It is this cast of true Bretons who become Marianne's new family, and among whom she will find love once again. But with her husband looking to pull her back to her old life, Marianne is left with a choice: to step back into the known, or to take a huge jump into an exciting and unpredictable future.

I have read Nina George's previous books and fell in love with 'The Little Paris Bookshop' and was excited to be offered a place on 'The Little Breton Bistro's' blog tour, partly because I knew it meant I could bring forward my next visit to France with Nina George as the tour guide once more. 

As I read 'The Little Breton Bistro' I felt myself falling in love with the characters, Marianne is a sixty year old lady who is in a loveless marriage and visits France to find herself and leave her Army Sergeant Major husband behind. This plan starts with a desperate jump into the Seine from a bridge but luckily she is saved by a homeless man and this is where her journey begins as she travels to Kerdruc, a small town she discovers in a  painting. Marianne begins a journey which takes her on an emotional but poignant trip which changes her life for the better.

I really enjoyed this book. I found myself loosing myself for hours as I devoured the book. The book does start with Marianne in a desperate state, contemplating suicide but Marianne soon finds herself enjoying life more and finding herself. She builds up a strong group of friends, who all play a part in building her confidence and resilience, while also developing a love for the French village and leaving her past life behind.

Nina George has a great storytelling style of writing and I would love to visit Kerdruc, although I already feel that I can visualise it. She writes beautiful descriptive prose which, along with Marianne's narrative transports the reader into the location. The story finished with a surprising ending and I am sure I will pick this book up and read it again in the future. I am already looking forward to Nina George's next book and can't wait for my next visit to France but where will the destination be next time?

Thank you to the publishers for sending me this book to review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour to celebrate it's publication. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Blog Tour - the Little Cafe of Second Chances by J. D. Barrett

The Little Cafe of Second Chances (Paperback)

Lucy Muir is leaving her husband. It's complicated. As joint owners and chefs at one of the best restaurants in town making a clean break is tough. But, let's face it, a woman can only take so much cheating, recipe stealing and lack of good grace. Despondently driving around the back streets of Woolloomooloo one night, Lucy happens upon an old, empty terrace that was once the city's hottest restaurant: Fortune. One minute she's peering through grimy windows into an abandoned space, the next she's planning a pop-up bistro. When Lucy fires up Fortune's old kitchen she discovers a little red recipe book that belonged to the former chef, the infamous Frankie Summers. As she cries over the ingredients for Frankie's French Onion Soup, she imagines what Fortune was like in its heyday. It's strange, Lucy can sense Frankie beside her, almost see him there ...This fiery chef, who lived with a passion for food and women in almost equal measure, just might help Lucy cook herself up a better life. But is she brave enough to believe? Charming, heartwarming and just a little bit magical, The Secret Recipe for Second Chances will leave you smiling and hungry for more

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9780349414362
This is the perfect book to cuddle up with this Valentine week. The Little Cafe of Second Chances is one which I want to shout out about and tell all my blog readers to go out and buy it but I also don't want to spoil this beautiful book by giving away any spoilers either.
The book has a number of romances within it but there is also an air of mystery surrounding the storyline which I really enjoyed. The romances are a lovely backdrop to all the food inspired story lines and if this leaves you hungry, don't worry, because there are also lots of recipes throughout the book to have a go at too. J. D. Barrett has a great sense of wit and humour throughout the book and the great cast of characters who the reader meets throughout this story keep the story exciting and enjoyable. 
The story is told from a number of different viewpoints and this added to the story, which switched between the past and present and all added to the air of mystery as the reader is lead on the pathway with twists and turns before the ending which I felt could of been a little stronger however left the reader  happy with the outcome. 

J D Barrett's writing and story telling reminds me in some ways of the magical way that Cecelia Ahern does so well and if you are a fan of Ahern I would definitely recommend that you take a trip to The Little Cafe of Second Chances very soon.
Thank you to the publishers, Piatkus, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour - check out their Twitter feed for the rest of the tour stops. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Blog Tour - Tell me a Lie by C J Carver

Today I am excited to welcome C J Carver to my blog as part of the blog tour to celebrate the publication of her new novel, Tell me a Lie.

Writer’s Willpower.  The top five time wasters and how to beat them.

You’ve made your New Year resolution.  You’re going to write that book.  Or finish that book.  Now all you need is to develop perseverance.

Unless you can lock yourself away in a wilderness cabin for six months, your book will be written while you live your everyday life. I find interruptions are the bane of my life because writing demands a high degree of concentration. Much higher than that required for working in an office, for example.  I’ve learned to protect my concentration because I know how important it is.

1.     Social media has to be the biggest time waster of all time.  However, it is also a fantastic support to writer’s and I couldn’t do without it.  That said, when I’m writing, I’m very strict about my time on Twitter or Facebook (I have an author page so don’t get distracted by personal messages) and set a time limit, maximum forty minutes.

If I’m in the last throes of the book and really gunning it, I’ll post a message apologizing for my silence and saying I’ll be back soon.  Then I can put my head down and write like a demon without feeling pressured.

2.     I never answer the phone.  I put my mobile on silent so I can’t hear when it rings, or when I get a text, Tweet or F/B alert, and check it when I finish writing at the end of the day.  But that’s me, hardcore.  I’d suggest checking things when you have a break, say every two hours.

I find it essential sometimes to leave a message saying I’m writing and that I’ll call whoever it is back.  If you’re just starting out, this has the happy effect of making everyone aware how important writing is to you.

3.     Emails/correspondence/detritus of life.  I make a firm time to do things like paying bills, ordering flowers for Mother’s Day.  Some people recommend not doing anything until your writing is finished for the day, but I prefer it the other way around or when I pause to reflect, my mind isn’t on the book but on the fact I still haven’t changed my electricity provider.

4.     Partners/children/parents & everyone in between.  The best place for everyone when I’m writing, is outside (albeit temporarily).  However, this isn’t always possible and a request for solitude has to be given.

I implement times that are sacrosanct for my writing and find most people are pretty respectful of my need for space and quiet. I know a young mother who locks herself in the bathroom between nine and ten p.m. and woe betide anyone who bothers her.

5.      Housework/shopping/mowing the lawn.  Delegate to others (oooh, what a luxury!)  If this isn’t possible, set specific times (for me it’s Sunday and Thursday mornings) and stick to them.

It’s all about time management, and finding what works for you.  I will say, however, that I think it’s extremely important to make certain times sacrosanct for your writing or the detritus of life will keep chipping away until another year has passed and – shriek of horror! – the book still hasn’t been written.

Good luck!

©CJ Carver 2017

Thank you to C J Carver and her publishers for visiting my blog today. I will be reading Tell me a Lie soon and will be sharing my review on my blog.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Crochet yourself Calm by Carmen Heffernan

Crochet Yourself Calm: Repeat Patterns and Mindful Motifs to Lose Yourself in (Paperback)

Keep your hands busy and your mind relaxed, as you crochet this inspiring collection of repeat patterns, some designed as small geometric motifs, others on a larger scale. By focusing on the repetitive rhythms of creating your piece, stitch by stitch, you will be truly in the moment; your breathing and heart rate will slow down, your serotonin levels will rise, and you will become calm. The act of creating is known to have a healing effect on the mind, which is harnessed by art therapists - and the publishers of adult colouring-in books! Add to this the impact of the other therapies involved in crocheting - colour therapy, energy therapy, and touch therapy - and crochet becomes a really powerful tool in reducing stress and increasing feelings of well-being. Plus, you will have made a lovely, one-of-a-kind piece at the end of it. It's time to pick up your crochet hook - and put down your cares!

Publisher: Search Press Ltd
ISBN: 9781782214793
This book is a great collection of crochet patterns which have been split into Circles, Squares, Triangles, Stripes and Zig Zags. Each pattern has a colour photograph which shows the design beautifully and instructions both written and as a diagram. There is a shopping list for each design, with wool used for the photographed piece, suggested crochet hook size and skill level, along with a tension guide, and finished size.
The instructions are clearly laid out and easy to follow. There are some projects included in the book which use some of the designs from the book and these could be adapted to use other designs. 
The book finishes with a chapter including crochet basics, ideal for anyone who wants to give it a go. The patterns included within the book range in difficulty and therefore can be used by any crocheter and is a great resource to return to when inspiration is needed. 
I recommend this book as a great gift to give to anyone who wants to try crochet, or who is a keen crocheter already. Add in some double knit wool and a 4mm crochet hook and the recipient can get started straight away.
Thank you to the publishers, Search Press, who sent me the book to review in return for an honest review.

The Ultimate Peter Rabbit - A visual guide to the world of Beatrix Potter

The Ultimate Peter Rabbit (Hardback)

Packed with detailed sketches of Beatrix Potter's best-loved characters, descriptions of each of the 23 "Little Books" she created, and a selection of gorgeous original illustrations, The Ultimate Peter Rabbit is the perfect guide for new and dedicated fans alike. Generous access to the Potter estate's archives has produced a volume which includes 300 artworks from the books and over 50 specially commissioned photographs of Beatrix Potter's English Lake District home, the inspiration for the bucolic settings of the long-adored children's classics. Prepare to celebrate a century in print with one of the most visual guides to one of the world's best-loved children's characters.
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Ltd
ISBN: 9780241289655
This is a must have for any Beatrix Potter fan. It is a beautiful book which has been updated for the celebration of 150 years of Beatrix Potter's birth. It is a detailed guide of all things Beatrix Potter.
The book has a whole section dedicated to Peter Rabbit and how Beatrix Potter began creating the popular books. There are lots of photographs, letters and hand drawn illustrations throughout the book and I really enjoyed reading all about Beatrix's life and her inspiration. 
Each of Beatrix Potter's characters are included in the book along with the beautiful location, Hill Top, where she lived. The book takes the reader on a journey around the area in which the stories are set and it has made me want to visit even more. 
This would be the perfect gift to give this Christmas to any Beatrix Potter or Peter Rabbit fan.
Thank you to the publishers, DK, for sending me this book to review in return for an honest review. 

Fantastically Great Women who changed the world by Kate Pankhurst

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World (Paperback)

Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this wildly wonderful and accessible book about women who really changed the world. Discover fascinating facts about some of the most amazing women who changed the world we live in. Fly through the sky with the incredible explorer Amelia Earhart, and read all about the Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole with this fantastic full colour book. Bursting full of beautiful illustrations and astounding facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in. List of women featured: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781408876985
I love this book! It has a scrapbook style appearance and is jam packed full of facts and knowledge. Each fantastically great woman has a double page spread dedicated to them and would be a great starting point for any project. The facts are displayed in a number of different ways which will attract attention. The book has a cartoony appeal but it is does not detract from the information contained within. 

Thank you to the publishers, Bloomsbury, for sending me the book to review.