reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: The Good News Gazette – Jessie Wells

Because we all need something to smile about!
She may be down but don’t count this determined single mum out just yet…
Nine years ago, Zoe Taylor returned from London to the quiet hamlet of Westholme with her tail between her legs and a bun in the oven. Where once her job as a journalist saw her tearing off to Paris at a moment’s notice after a lead, now the single mum covers the local news desk. At least, she did…until she’s unceremoniously let go.
When Zoe invites her friends over to commiserate, wine and whining soon turns into something more… and before the night is out she’s plotted her next step: The Good News Gazette.
Now, as a developer threatens to force Westholme into the twenty-first century, Zoe’s good news movement finds her leading a covert campaign as a community crusader. She may have started The
Good News Gazette as a way to save herself, but she might just be able to save Westholme in the process…

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Jessie Wells lives with her husband and two children in Merseyside. She has always written in some form, and previously worked as a journalist on the Liverpool Echo and Sunday Mirror and as a freelancer for various national women’s magazines and newspapers before moving into finance. She loves nothing more than getting lost in her imaginary worlds, which are largely filled with romance, communities bursting with character and a large dose of positivity.

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My thoughts: this book is such a joyful hug of a read, I loved Zoe and her determined attitude, she will find good news stories, she will save the Parade, and she will support herself and her son Charlie. And so she does. With the support of her mum, her pals and the new friends she makes as she goes about finding the positive things for the Good News Gazette’s pages, she discovers she can do pretty much anything she puts her mind to.

Funny, entertaining and with lots of heart, this was a cheering sort of book, with a dash of romance, the righting of a few wrongs, and a happy ending all round. Definitely the antidote to all the grim realities at the moment.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books

Double Cover Reveal: A Scottish Country Escape & The Christmas Highland Lodge – Julie Shackman

Escape to the Scottish Highlands with a brand new spring romance from bestselling author, Julie Shackman

*Julie Shackman’s brand new romance The Cottage in the Highlands is exclusively available on First Reads for November*

Determined to overcome a family tragedy, Elle Cassidy decides to reopen her late mother’s ailing newsagent as a stationery shop in the quiet Scottish town of Fir Haven.

But when the arrogant yet handsome crime writer Dexter Grayling almost runs over Elle in his beast of a sports car, the town is thrown into a tailspin – especially when Dexter claims that local resident Linda Carlucci has put a curse on him and he is no longer able to write.

Can Elle put aside her dislike for the self-absorbed writer and help Dexter uncover what is really going on with the Carlucci family? And in the process will Elle realise that there’s a lot more to her beloved Fir Haven than she first thought…

For fans of Donna Ashcroft, Jane Linfoot and Rachael Lucas.

Pre-order Links: Amazon UK Amazon US  Publication Date: 16th March 2023

The brand new Christmas romance filled with love and second-chances

Fall in love with the Christmas romance of the year, full of love and second chances!

Lottie Grant loves the festive season so much that she works at the incredibly successful Christmas shop, Christmas Crackers, in her pretty Scottish home town of Craig Brae. But when the shop is sold, her world is turned upside down, leaving her wondering what she will do next.

Just as she’s about to give up hope on finding a new dream job, an offer comes that she can’t refuse, managing a set of luxury wooden cabins… and opening just in time for Christmas!

As she gets to work decorating the cabins, and hanging lights on the fir trees, Lottie can’t believe her luck. That is until the arrival of Blake Dempster, a moody but handsome hiking expert, who threatens to bring down her festive joy. But never one to shy away from a challenge, Lottie is determined to change Blake’s mind about all things festive.

And as the snow falls and the fairy lights sparkle, will work-obsessed Lottie and frozen-hearted Blake make their Christmas wishes come true?

Pre-order Links: Amazon UK Amazon US Publication Date: 20th October 2023

Julie Shackman is a former journalist from Scotland, who has always wanted to write feel-good romance. As well as being an author, Julie also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies. 

She admits to having an obsession with stationery and handbags and has an impressive pile of gorgeous To Be Read novels she is wading her way through.

She is married, has two sons and a Romanian rescue puppy, Cooper. A Scottish Country Escape and The Christmas Highland Lodge are Julie’s eighth and nineth novels respectively.

Julie Shackman Author • Julie Shackman (@G13Julie) / TwitterJulie Georgina Shackman (@juliegeorginashackman) • Instagram photos and videos(2) Julie Georgina Shackman | Facebook

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: St Bride’s Series – Debbie Young

When Gemma Lamb takes a job at a quirky English girls’ boarding school, she believes she’s found the perfect escape route from her controlling boyfriend – until she discovers the rest of the staff are
hiding sinister secrets:
● Hairnet, the eccentric headmistress who doesn’t hold with academic qualifications
● Oriana Bliss, Head of Maths and master of disguise
● Joscelyn Spryke, the suspiciously rugged Head of PE
● Geography teacher Mavis Brook, surreptitiously selling off the library books
● creepy night watchman Max Security, with his network of hidden tunnels
Even McPhee, the school cat, is leading a double life.
Tucked away in the school’s beautiful private estate in the Cotswolds, can Gemma stay safe and build a new independent future, or will past secrets catch up with her and the rest of the staff?
With a little help from her new friends, including some wise pupils, she’s going to give it her best shot…
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When an American stranger turns up claiming to be the rightful owner of the school’s magnificent country estate it could spell trouble for everyone at St Bride’s . . .
No one can believe it when the headmistress, Hairnet, instantly accepts the stranger’s claim, not:
● the put-upon Bursar, ousted from his cosy estate cottage by the stranger
● the enigmatic Max Security, raring to engage in a spot of espionage
● the sensible Judith Gosling, who knows more about Lord Bunting than she’s letting on
● the irrepressible Gemma Lamb, determined to keep the school open. Only fickle maths teacher Oriana Bliss isn’t suspicious of the stranger, after all she can just marry him and secure St Bride’s future forever. That’s if inventive pranks by the girls – and the school cat – don’t drive him away first.
Who will nab the stranger first? Oriana with the parson’s noose? Gemma with sinister secrets? Or could this be the end of St Bride’s?
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Gemma Lamb is ready for an uneventful term at St Bride’s, she’s had enough of dastardly deeds and sinister strangers.
However, she’s barely back at school before:
● Unlucky in love Oriana is sneaking around at odd hours
● Handsome Joe is keeping secrets
● Militant Mavis feels a scandal is brewing
It’s all a bit much, but when a stranger appears Gemma thinks she’s had enough. But this stranger isn’t so sinister, instead he looks rather too familiar. If Gemma can’t get him away from the school
the whispers and scandal his presence could unleash may just close St Bride’s doors for good.
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Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

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My thoughts: one of my favourite tropes is the boarding school story (Malory Towers, The Chalet School, you name it, I’ve probably read it!) and these books are a lot of fun. Told from the perspective of Gemma Lamb, newly the head of English (a team of one) at St Bride’s school for girls. The school holds a lot of secrets, among the staff, and of course the students have theirs too. But Gemma discovers it’s also full of kindness and good people, quirky though they are.

She helps see off several attempts to discredit and bring down the school and its unusual headteacher. A safe haven for the daughters of rich men, some of whom are perhaps a little questionable, and even teachers on the run or in hiding cough *PE teacher Jo* cough.

There’s lots of hijinks and a cat that changes gender in term time (which made me laugh out loud and my own cat jumped!), dodgy money grubbing frauds, bonfires, library books that could fund the school for some time, the lovelorn Burser, tunnels, a rather crazy security guard, expeditions to the town, all sorts of excitement. I think I would have liked St Bride’s even if my parents were perhaps wise in not giving in to my requests to go to boarding school when I was 10.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Frost Falls at the Potting Shed – Jenny Kane

It has always been Maddie Willand’s dream to take over her father’s plant nursery. But after his sudden death, she
is devastated to discover that she might lose The Potting Shed forever.
Maddie’s bossy older sister, Sabi, is joint owner of the nursery, and she’s convinced that the best thing for both of them would be to sell up. Determined to keep the
business going, Maddie can’t afford any distractions, but staying focused might be harder than she thinks when – after a major garden centre chain puts in an offer – her search for legal advice throws her into the path of attractive lawyer Ed… Amazon


Jenny Kane is the bestselling author of many romantic fiction series. These include the Mill Grange series, Abi’s Cornwall series, and the Another Cup series. She has had bestsellers in the Amazon Romance, Contemporary Fiction and Women’s Fiction charts and multiple
bestsellers. If you enjoy Jenny’s writing, then why not follow her author page, for updates on all of her new releases!

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My thoughts: this is a sweet rom com full of misunderstandings between people who all need to learn to communicate better! Petra and Jake, Maddie and Sabi, Sabi and Henry, Maddie and Ed. Honestly, I kept muttering “talk to each other!”

If Maddie and Sabi can’t get their (sister) act together, they’ll fall out big time, Maddie wants to keep the family business and eventually develop it, like their dad wanted, but Sabi has her eye on a big new house.

Luckily, eventually, after a lot of misunderstandings, rows and silences, they get a bit better sorted. Ed does some hot shot lawyer stuff, Henry essentially knocks some heads together, and they all pitch in to make this Christmas season the best The Potting Shed has had. But is it enough to save it? And will love bloom in the polytunnels? Read it and find out!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Blitz: The Girl of Lost Petals and Possibilities – Laura Briggs

On holiday in Egypt with Sidney and Dean, young writer Maisie is—in her mind—on top of the world.
Her long-labored manuscript is finally going to be published, she and Sidney are deeply in love, and the future looks bright on every level.
In one moment, however, it all changes. Tragedy leads to overwhelming loss that Maisie can’t even begin to process. As the world itself turns upside down, there’s no solace for Maisie from the growing sense that her wonderful future is finished.
No dream about to come true. No certainties of new chances in life.
No Sidney.
Even if the first two did not break her, the last one is determined to. It’s up to Maisie to find her strength and determination to find a new future, even if—unthinkably—it may be nothing like the one she dreamed of.
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Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

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Giveaway – Win an e-copy of The Girl of Lost Petals and Possibilities (Open Internationally).**T&Cs below.


My thoughts: if you’ve read the Little Hotel in Cornwall series, you’ll know these characters, but it also works as a standalone book. Maisie and Sidney are so happy, after a wonderful trip to Egypt with their snarky pal Dean, they’re back in Cornwall and looking forward to the rest of their lives.

But when Sidney has a terrible accident (heart in my mouth, because I kind of love Sidney) and they’re separated (his poor dogs, subjected only to the vicar’s mad housekeeper’s cooking – I love her too), it’s heartbreaking. And the blows keep coming- the publication of Maisie’s book is delayed, then Covid hits and the hotel shuts its doors. The staff all move in to deep clean the place and stay employed.

Will Maisie ever leave the Penmarrow? Will Sidney and Dean be ok? Who is feeding the dogs now? And will Riley and Brigette kill one another or finally admit they’re clearly mad about each other?

Utterly heart rending and sad, but with funny and sweet moments (the girls movie night, the crazy cocktails, Maisie’s mum coming to visit, Dean’s cranky emails), this is lovely and moving and I very much enjoyed it.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.


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blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Three’s a Crowd – S.R. Booker

What happens when an estranged father and son unwittingly fall in love with the same woman?

Out-of-work actor Harriet is recuperating from a crash-and-burn affair with Damian – aka ‘Cockweasel’ – and making ends meet as a barista when she meets two rather lovely men. Tom is a regular at the café, and seems like such a nice guy. Smooth-talking DJ Richard is older, but in great shape – a real silver fox.
 
Deciding to take a chance on both of them, Harriet doesn’t realise at first that she is actually dating father and son. Tom and Richard aren’t on speaking terms, and don’t share a last name – so how was she to know? By the time everyone finds out, both Tom and Richard are truly madly deeply in love with Harriet, and she’s faced with an impossible choice.
 
But as the battle for her affections intensifies, ‘Cockweasel’ makes an unexpected reappearance and begs her to give him another chance…

My thoughts: this was a really fun romp of a rom com. Harriet’s a fantastic character, riddled with self doubt and living with the grim reality of Pure OCD, which manifests as intrusive thoughts, often graphic, at the very worst moments.

But she’s also lots of fun, enthusiastic and attractive to both Tom and Richard, and sadly Damien the Cockweasle. Tom and Richard are both very different, despite their being father and son. They don’t even share a last name anymore. And are barely on speaking terms. They really need to sit down and have a proper heart to heart about a few things.

Enter ‘Gorgeous’ George – Richard’s dad, Tom’s grandad, lifelong cad and small time con man. Who throws spanners into the works casually and without much care. The three get caught up in the caper and find their relationships need a little re-evaluation.

Funny, sweet, clever and hugely entertaining. Definitely one for this winter’s cold and miserable weather, curl up and get cosy, then let this book keep you entertained.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Picture Perfect – Jeevani Charika

Niro is a photographer who’s lost the joy of taking photos. Burned by a bad break-up, she’s in desperate need of inspiration.

Vimal is determined to win back his ex-girlfriend. When he hears she’s bringing her new boyfriend on a group holiday, he impulsively declares that he’s bringing a plus one too.

Their mutual friends have the perfect solution: Niro can pretend to be Vimal’s new girlfriend and join the holiday. Imagine the incredible photographs she could take in the Swiss alps…

She’s not thinking about love. He’s thinking about someone else. Can they fake a picture-perfect relationship – or will real feelings get in the way?

My thoughts: this was a fun and uplifting rom com set in a fancy lodge in the Swiss Alps. Vimal and Niro are thrown together by an interfering auntie (both are Sri Lankan, and like Asian aunties everywhere, they love to interfere). But Niro might just be able to help Vimal out with his ex-girlfriend, who’s also going to be on this trip.

There’s lots of romantic tropes to spot, and the characters are aware of them from rom-com movie nights. From the strangers to lovers, sharing a bed (awkward) and more!

There’s also some important messages about colourism, racism and privilege too, hidden in amongst the fun in the snow. It’s well done and subtle, but the author’s notes at the end remind you of their importance.

Niro needs to get her confidence back and Vimal needs to see he can move on from a relationship going nowhere. Both of them need a friend, and thankfully they’ve got each other and more in common than they thought.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Reason – Catherine Bennetto

How much is the smile from the person you love worth to you?
 
Brooke’s life has derailed. Her social life and career have evaporated, her daughter is desperately unhappy and being bullied at school, and, for a 43-year-old, she probably spends way too many weekends at her parent’s. But the reason for all this is no mystery. A year and a half ago, Brooke’s husband died.
 
But Brooke does have one secret. Her husband’s death, the worst thing that has ever happened to her, has made her unbelievably rich.
 
Despite her despair, Brooke suddenly realises she has the power to make her daughter’s life, and the world a little brighter.

My thoughts: this was genuinely very, very lovely. A hug of a book, something to cheer up the gloomiest Gus. Brooke is mourning her husband and worried about her daughter, Hannah. She’s turned from a smiley, rainbow of a girl into someone sad and lonely because of a bully at school. Who needed a good shake. Honestly. And the head teacher, my goodness.

Thankfully Brooke has a lovely family and great friends. She comes up with a plan to cheer Hannah up, and a whole lot of other people too. Enter #NoReason, a rainbow of joy, from free ice cream to flash mobs, surprises hidden inside books and handed out in Tube carriages.

It turns their lives upside down but it brings such utter glee and happiness to so many. If only Brooke can keep anyone from finding out she’s behind it. And there’s a possible romance in store for her too. But will it be the drum teacher or the orthodontist? I hate going to the dentists and I really want to learn to play the drums so I know who I’d pick!

If you’re feeling a bit deflated and sad, this is a lovely, fuzzy warm book and I really recommend it. Only you can’t borrow my copy – my mum already has!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Rock ‘n’ Rose – Suzi Holder

Now or Never…In the summer of 1960, eighteen-year-old Rose Featherstone took a trip to Memphis that changed her life. Now, Rose confesses to her granddaughter, Daisy, that she returned home with more than just memories all those years ago – she was carrying Elvis Presley’s child!
Daisy is sure the claim can’t be true, and yet, what if it is? When her grandmother passes away soon after her startling revelation and leaves Daisy with a ticket to Memphis, Tennessee, Daisy decides it’s
time to discover the truth. She’s always struggled to fit in but this trip might just show her the benefits of being born to stand out and is a moody motorcycle cop called Blue the answer to all her
dreams?
Her adventures in Memphis take her behind the famous music gates of Graceland. Pack your Blue Suede Shoes for a rockin’ rom-com.

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Real rock wife Suzan, wife of former Slade frontman Noddy Holder, has written another ‘rock n’ roll rom-com’ to follow her Beatles themed debut ‘Shake It Up, Beverley’.
Journalist and TV producer Suzan once again weaves her love for music into a hilarious and heart-warming story that is uplifting and laugh-out-loud funny.
Suzan says: “I love that my books celebrate music and have been inspired by my own life experience of living in a slightly crazy, rock ‘n’ roll, rom-com world…some of the weirdest and funniest stories in the books really have happened to me!”
Suzan Holder trained as a newspaper journalist and worked on regional and national newspapers before moving into TV. She produced a variety of television news and lifestyle programmes and was
executive producer of ITV’s daytime network show ‘Loose Women’. She is a monthly columnist for Cheshire Life Magazine and appears regularly on radio.
Suzan has one son, two step-daughters and two step grand-children. Originally from the West Midlands Suzan now lives with Noddy Holder in Cheshire, they have been together for 32 years.

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My thoughts: this was a fun road trip story, alternating between the perspectives of Rose, Lily (Rose’s daughter) and Daisy (Lily’s daughter) as they slowly unravel the story of Rose’s trip to Memphis and who Lily’s father is. Is he really Elvis?

I liked the way Daisy cherishes the bond with Rose, even after Rose dies. Having lost my beloved Grandad earlier this year, it’s something I recognise. Honouring Rose by undertaking the mission to Memphis, literally following in her footsteps and trying to find out who Rose’s long lost love really was is sweet and Daisy also finds friendship and maybe even love in the land of rock ‘n’ roll.

I enjoyed this book a lot and found it engaging, fun and entertaining. I’ve never been to Memphis but it felt vivid and real, like Daisy was showing me around!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Little Theatre on Halfpenny Lane – Clodagh Murphy

Aoife and her sisters know exactly what to do when they inherit their Great-aunt Detta’s theatre on Halfpenny Lane:

  • Restore the dilapidated building to its former glory.
  • Perform together on its stage to packed houses and rapturous applause.
  • Live happily ever after.
    But they didn’t count on Detta leaving a share in the theatre to her godson, Jonathan. Now they’ll have to persuade him to buy into their vision of stardust and magic – or find the money to buy him out.
    As they fight to save the theatre, Aoife also battles her growing feelings for Jonathan. Because she can’t let herself fall for the man who’s about to bring the curtain down on their dreams.

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  • Author Bio Clodagh Murphy lives in Dublin, Ireland. She has worked as a bar waitress, cleaner, secretary, editorial assistant, mystery shopper and movie extra. But she always dreamed of being an author, and after more jobs than she cares to (or can) remember, she now writes full-time. For more information about her books or to sign up to her newsletter, visit her website.
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My thoughts: this was a lovely story of sisterhood and theatre. The three sisters want to restore their great-aunt’s theatre, turn it into a going concern again and stage a production of Chekhov. But first they need to raise a lot of money. Luckily their aunt meant a lot to the Dublin theatre community and they’re all up for a fundraiser or two. And maybe Aoife might get through the tough exterior of Jonathan and her stage fright.

Enjoyable, funny and sweet, I knew I’d enjoy a story about a theatre (theatre kids never say die) and I was right!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.