blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Promises at Indigo Bay – Ellyn Oaksmith*

Read my review of Summer at Orchard House.

Our life together meant more to me than he could possibly imagine. I just wanted another night. I thought I knew what was coming. A proposal. If only it had been that simple.
Things are finally working out for Stella Gallagher. Unlucky in love and faced with limited options in her small town, she was beginning to give up on romance altogether, until mysterious Italian Paolo Gentillo moved to Chelan…
Paolo is smart, kind, gorgeous and, most importantly, they’re completely obsessed with each other: Stella has finally found her match. Everything would be perfect, except there are things she hasn’t told Paolo—she doesn’t know how he’s going to feel about her when he finds out about her past…
So when Paolo proposes, Stella panics: it’s way too soon. She wants to be with him, but suddenly they’re talking about forever. He doesn’t even know the real her, she’s scared to face up to her secret, and she’s never felt so alone. Is the damage from her past going to threaten her chance at a perfect future?

A heart-warming story about learning to trust in yourself and the people you love, Promises at Indigo Bay will show you that it’s never too late to try for your happy ending. For fans of Robyn Carr, Carolyn Brown and Debbie Macomber.

Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today and Kindle bestselling author of the Blue Hills Series, featuring the Alvarez family.

After graduating from Smith College and attaining her MFA from The American Film Institute, Ellyn began her writing career as an award-winning screenwriter in Hollywood. Her books explore the same themes as her screenplays: grit, humor, family and love.

Ellyn lives on one of Seattle’s many hills with her husband and spends as much time as possible on the water as part of a competitive rowing team.

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My thoughts:

I loved Summer at Orchard House and was excited to read the newest Chelan novel – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Stella is the town’s hairdresser and salon owner, she has a wonderful Italian boyfriend, a house she loves and a supportive best friend and bonus family.

She isn’t close to her own parents and has a tragic history she keeps trying to forget. Then Paolo announces his visa is about to expire and they should get married.

This sends Stella into a tailspin – and Olivia suddenly isn’t such a great best friend anymore. Now she’s having to confront her past and deal with Paolo’s overbearing Italian mother.

I had an Italian best friend growing up and I know all about the Italian mamas and their sons – my friend had two brothers. I knew Stella was in for a rough ride, nothing comes between Italian women and their precious sons.

But Stella finds a deep well of inner strength and somehow manages not to be completely crushed by all the things she’s dealing with.

A really enjoyable read, and a delightful slice of escape as the rain pours down and the wind rattles the dodgy panes in my windows.

*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 Illustrated Child – Polly Crosby*

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.

The Illustrated Child is the unforgettable, beguiling debut from Polly Crosby.

My thoughts:

Every story I’ve read about children whose parents write them into books seems to end with a rather sad child trapped in the pages of the books their parents write – so it is for Romilly.

Her father’s beautifully illustrated stories sell – especially as people think there’s a treasure hunt hidden within, but this brings fans, treasure hunters, and a life lived trapped inside the disintegrating house Romilly and her father, slowly succumbing to early onset dementia, live in.

There is a treasure hunt, of sorts, but it is for Romilly alone. As she grows up, her mother and grandmother drift in and out of her life, along with her sole friend Stacey, she starts to solve her father’s clues and unravel her own past.

A sad, sweet book, I really wanted to rescue Romilly and Monty the cat, their lives are so small and lonely. I don’t think turning your child into a fictional version of themselves is very healthy – as Romilly points out, the version of her people believe they know never ages while she does – the little denim dress and red tights stop fitting her and Monty loses a paw, but in the four books she remains forever eight years old and innocent.

*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 Nesting – C.J. Cooke*

The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. And a nanny come to save the day….

So what if Lexi isn’t telling the truth about who she is? Escaping to the remote snows of Norway was her lifeline. And all she wanted was to be a part of their lives.

But soon, isolated in that cold, creaking house in the middle of ancient, whispering woods, Lexi’s fairytale starts to turn into a nightmare. With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi’s fears are deepening.

Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care. But protect them from what?

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke.

Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health.

She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

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My thoughts:

I love weird Gothic novels with creepy houses, sinister trees and monsters so this book really appealed to me. It’s also a really good example of how to do Gothic horror in the 21st Century. While all the characters have mobile phones and WiFi etc, the terrifying apparition and the way the forest seems to fold in on people defy the rational technology we all hold so dear. You can look things up but an ipad won’t stop a ghost or in this case a nokk (a Norwegian water spirit and not a friendly one).

Reeling from his wife’s sudden death and the literal collapse of his previous dream house, Tom has thrown himself into building an architectural masterpiece hanging from a cliff in the Norwegian forest. His two young daughters are being taken care of by Sophie, who isn’t who she says she is at all. There’s an unhappy housekeeper (shades of Mrs Danvers), a creepy basement, an elk that seems to be entering the house, a frustrated business partner and his exercise obsessed wife. Throw all these things together and it’s a wonder anyone makes it out alive.

I thoroughly enjoyed this creepy book, although I will be avoiding houses built on fjords for good, they don’t seem entirely safe or friendly.


*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 Winter Garden – Heidi Swann*

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her childhood dream of becoming a gardener ever since.When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start.But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya’s family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .

My thoughts:

I am utterly useless with plants and can just about keep a cactus alive but I do enjoy a beautiful garden and I could easily picture the stunning one Freya creates in this delightful book.

Perfect for curling up and getting cosy with this winter, the love story between Freya and Finn, the lovely little Nell, the kind and welcoming locals, the healing of nature, the crafts and creations people make, it all adds up to a really pleasurable read.

*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 Other Woman – Amanda Brookfield*

‘No one gets to the heart of human relationships quite so perceptively as Brookfield.’ The Mirror

On a normal day, in a normal house, on a normal street, wife and mother Fran has had enough. She packs a case, leaves a note for her bullying husband Pete, and one for her beloved twenty-year-old son Harry, and heads to the airport – and freedom.

In another house, on another street, Helena is desperately baiting her husband Jack into a fight.
These days it feels like the only way to get Jack to take notice of her. Passionate, volatile, increasingly fragile, Helena is fast running out of hope.

What Helena and Fran don’t know, is that soon their lives are going to come crashing together in ways neither expect nor understand. And if Fran and Helena are going to change their own futures, then first they will have to change each other’s.

Amanda Brookfield is back with a triumphant, crackling story about love, marriage, lies and fate,
and how our destinies can be changed by the smallest decisions. Perfect for fans of Sheila O’Flanagan, Jane Fallon and Jane Green.

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Amanda Brookfield is the bestselling author of many novels including Good Girls, Relative Love and Before I Knew You, and a memoir, For the Love of a Dog starring her Golden Doodle Mabel.
She lives in London.

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My thoughts:

What starts out as a seemingly normal affair gone awry slowly folds out into the full horrors of living with human monsters fuelled by anger and addiction. Both Fran and Jack are running from the spouses they hate when they meet – they both find something in each other that’s lacking in their marriages.

But things aren’t going the way they want and soon Fran has to make some serious decisions about her life. Jack’s wife Helena has to do the same if she wants her husband back.

Two women with their happiness at stake need to find the strength to get what they really want out of life.

Enjoyable and at times shocking, there was a moment when I genuinely gasped with horror, this ultimately redemptive novel is a great read and Fran a strong and courageous character.

*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 Haunted Shore – Neil Spring*

A CHILLING GHOST STORY SET IN THE HAUNTING WILDERNESS OF SUFFOLK
When Lizzy moves to a desolate shore to escape her past, she hopes to find sanctuary. But a mysterious stranger is waiting for her, her father’s carer, and when darkness falls, something roams this wild stretch of beach, urging Lizzy to investigate its past. The longer she stays, the more the shore’s secrets begin to stir. Secrets of a sea that burned, of bodies washed ashore — and a family’s buried past reaching into the present.
And when Lizzy begins to suspect that her father’s carer is a dangerous imposter with sinister motives, a new darkness rises. What happens next is everyone’s living nightmare . . .

From the bestselling author of The Ghost Hunters and The Lost Village, The Haunted Shore is a terrifying tale of suspense that does not let up until the last page is turned.

My thoughts:

Well this was suitably weird and creepy.

I’ve read a few books now set on Orford Ness, which is a former military base on the Suffolk coast, it was a secret base and not declassified til the 1970s so lots of stories and rumours persist about it.

This book dips into some of the rumours and mysteries surrounding the area, now a bird reserve, as well as mentioning some of the wider Suffolkian stories.

The Ness is remote and I imagine quite eery, especially in bad weather, making it the perfect setting for this story of regret and revenge.

Lizzy has made a serious mistake at work and having been fired she flees back to the family home, a converted tower on the Ness. Her father is suffering from dementia and her brother has hired the rather unpleasant Hazel to look after him.

Lizzy takes an instant dislike to her, and as events start to spin out of control, she becomes more and more afraid of Hazel and the amount of control she has over her dad, Cliff.

This book was really sinister and I could imagine all the strange noises and creepy things Lizzy thinks she’s experienced, the desolate shoreline slowly revealing its secrets.

The ending has so many twists and turns that I just couldn’t believe what was real and what the characters were imagining, which I think is the point.

It was really, really good and perfect for the short days and gathering nights of autumn. Plus, my husband, a Suffolk native, is going to take me to see the Ness for myself, so I can soak up the atmosphere for myself.

*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: All About Us – Tom Ellen*

If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben’s always loved the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

All About Us is a captivating novel of heartbreak and loss, friendship and hope – and how the choices we make throughout our lives will shape our destiny.

My thoughts:

This was lovely, a sweet, sad, ultimately redemptive, heart warming story about love and how relationships and people change over time.

Ben is at a crossroads in his life and the chance to go back and relive moments from his past allows him to better understand what he wants from his present and future.

*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 Tea Room on the Bay – Rachel Burton*

It’s time for Ellie to return home and rediscover the past she left behind…

After a tough break-up, Ellie returns to the only place she’s ever really felt at home – the coastal town of Sanderson Bay. A year later, she’s living her dream, brewing delicious artisan teas and selling them at her very own café. And when the mysterious and brooding Ben walks into her tearoom, Ellie finally dares to dream of true love.

But then her ex shows up in the Bay, and just as Ellie discovers some tragic truths about her family’s past, she learns Ben might be hiding an unwelcome secret of his
own…

Can Ellie let go of her past and brave a future with Ben?

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Rachel has a degree in Classics and another in English Literature, and fell into a career in law by mistake. She has spent most of her life between Cambridge and London but now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and their three cats.

She loves yoga, ice hockey, tea, The Beatles, dresses with pockets and very tall romantic heroes.

Find her on Twitter & Instagram or follow her blog. She is always happy to talk books, writing, music, cats and
how the weather in Yorkshire is rubbish. She is mostly dreaming of her next holiday….

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My thoughts:

A lovely heart-warming Christmas story set in the seaside town of Sanderson Bay, where Ellie runs a teashop, selling the perfect blends she designs herself.

When Ben enters her life, she’s thrown, having run to the Bay after heartbreak, she’s not looking for anyone new, but there’s something about Ben and his own return to the Bay that Ellie can’t ignore.

This book was really charming and sweet, perfect for curling up under a blanket with a treat and a pot of your favourite tea (I like a chai spice mix).

*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: Love Songs for Sceptics – Christina Pishiris*

My brother’s getting married in a few weeks and asked for help picking a song for his first dance. I suggested Kiss’s ‘Love’s a Slap in the Face’. It didn’t go down well.

When she was a teenager, Zoë Frixos fell in love with Simon Baxter, her best friend and the boy next door. But his family moved to America before she could tell him how she felt and, like a scratched record, she’s never quite moved on.

Now, almost twenty years later, Simon is heading back to London, newly single and as charming as ever . . .

But as obstacles continue to get in her way – Simon’s perfect ex-girlfriend, her brother’s big(ish) fat(ish) Greek wedding, and an obnoxious publicist determined to run Zoë – Zoë begins to wonder whether, after all these years, she and Simon just aren’t meant to be.

What if, despite what all the songs and movies say, your first love isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be? What if, instead Zoë and Simon are forever destined to shuffle around their feelings for each other, never quite getting the steps right . . .

Love Songs for Sceptics is perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Lucy Vine and Lindsey Kelk.

Christina Pishiris was born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, who used to bribe her to go to family weddings by promising that George Michael might be there.

To deal with the inevitable disappointment, she began scribbling stories on napkins and has been writing ever since. She started her career as a journalist, specialising in the TV industry, before going freelance.

Since meeting her film-maker husband she’s also moved into production, working on music documentaries.

Her hobbies include compiling cheesy 80s playlists, coveting the neighbour’s cat and writing protest letters to Guerlain after they discontinued her favourite perfume.

My thoughts:

This was lovely, I’ve been feeling a bit rubbish lately and this book was a balm. A funny, wry tale of first loves, friendship, musicians and Greek food.

The food had me licking my lips at the thought (I love Greek food), the characters and plot had me laughing and nodding my head in sympathy as Zoë tries to find love, first with her childhood pal, then with her nemesis, PR to the difficult pop stars, Nick.

Meanwhile her brother and his lovely fiancée are planning their Greek wedding, and Zoë is needed to teach the bride and her pals Greek dancing, and play the ukulele!

This is such a fun book and could easily be a great TV show or film, it’s got everything you need! Definitely one for to curl up on the sofa under a blanket and enjoy.


*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 Accidental Medium Series – Tracy Whitwell*

Tanz is a wine soaked, potty mouthed, once successful TV actress from Gateshead, whose career has shriveled like an antique walnut. She is still grieving her friend Frank, who died in a car crash three years ago, and she has to find a normal job in London to fund her cocktail habit.
When she starts work in a new age shop, Tanz suddenly discovers that the voices she’s hearing in her head are real, not the first signs of schizophrenia, and she can give people ‘messages’ from beyond the grave. Alarmed, she confronts her little mam and discovers she is from a long line of psychic mediums.
Despite a whole exciting new avenue of life opening up to Tanz, darkness isn’t far away and all too soon there’s murder in the air.

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After a fast paced introduction to the world of clairvoyance, ghost busting, mystery and murder, Tanz is currently hiding in bed, having nightmares about a suicidal psychopath, drinking red wine, irritating her cat and waiting to be evicted. Life as she knew it seven months ago has turned on its head and only the prospect of a new TV job in Newcastle and a month with her best friend Milo can help pick her up off the floor.
But when she gets home, the Newcastle of more than a century before decides to haunt her bringing all kinds of spooks and horrors with it. She also finds that her new job involves more than it’s own share of intrigue and humiliation. Then it’s a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other, as Tanz, along with her dead friend Frank, attempts to expose a brutal murder that nobody even knows about. Join Tanz and her friends on another crazy, supernatural ride in GIN PALACE, the second in The Accidental Medium series.

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Tracy Whitwell was born, brought up and educated in Gateshead in the north east of England. She wrote plays and short stories from an early age, then had her head turned and ran off to London to be an actress. By 1993 she was wearing a wig and an old fashioned dress and pretending to be impoverished on telly in a Catherine Cookson mini-series, whilst going to see every indie/rock band she could afford.

After an interesting number of years messing about in front of the camera and traveling the world though, Tracy discovered she still loved writing and completed her first full length play. A son, many stage-plays, screenplays and two music videos followed until one day she realised she was finally ready to do the thing she’d longed to do since she was six. She wrote her first novel. A crime/horror/comedy tale about an alcohol-soaked, gobby, thrill-seeking actress who talks to ghosts. (Who knows where the inspiration came from, it’s almost like she based it on her own ridiculous life.) Then she wrote a follow up and realised she couldn’t stop writing books.
Now Tracy lives in north London with her son, still travels whenever possible and has written novel number four. Now being edited.
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My thoughts:

Both of these books were tremendous fun, I wish Tanz was my pal, she’s so full of life and determined to help people, she solves murders modern and historic, frees people from terrible, cruel ghosts.

Discovering she can hear the voices of the unsettled dead, she teams up with two older woman (one in each story) to help the dead and the living.

The writing is funny, moving and the plots kept me entertained and intrigued all the way through. I look forward to more tales of Tanz and her pals.

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