Book Review

#Blogtour | The Place We Call Home Faith Hogan #ThePlaceWecallHome #Review #Excerpt @gerhogan @aria_fiction

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Hello, Sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be ttoday’sstop on the brilliant blog tour for the beautiful; The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan. Not only will I be sharing my review, but I also have an exclusive excerpt for you all, so sit back grab your cuppa and enjoy.

Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…

Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.

Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.

Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.

Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.

Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.

Best-selling author, Faith Hogan returns with a family tale of love, loss, secrets and finding yourself.

AmazonKobo / Google Play / iBooks

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Exclusive Excerpt

Even now, when Miranda looked upon the stained silt of the riverbank, she could see the tints that dominated woollen blankets that sat everywhere from the White House to Downing Street. Ada, for all her acuity in the accounts department, lacked that vision. It was a passion and Miranda wished it fervently for her daughter, because she believed it brought with it an unbridled joy that Ada so badly needed to make her into the woman Miranda hoped one day she might become.

Callie had it. Combined with her raw talent, it was what had made her youngest daughter into the worldwide success she had become. Miranda worried about Callie, probably more than she should, but she knew that Callie’s life in London was not as simple or as rosy as it looked. She worked hard, too hard in Miranda’s opinion, and that left far too little time for anything else. Of course, her youngest daughter had managed to net all of the trappings of a successful life, but like her mother, material things counted for little to Callie who was as happy raking out the garden as she was standing on the red carpet of some glitzy event.

Miranda sighed; time seemed to collide on her more often these days with the past almost as clear as anything in the present. Callie Corrigan was born on a sunny day that seemed to herald the arrival of spring although it was late autumn. Miranda smiled, remembering Paddy had been busy in the mills that day, trying to shore up the old machines that were already running on prayer as much as engine power. It was an exercise in sentimentality as much as prudence. Miranda knew they could purchase new looms and weaving machines. They could fill their factory floor with computerised gadgets that would save them money in terms of wages and probably other overhead costs.

But the truth was, Miranda liked things as they were and she knew that Paddy loved them too. She appreciated the crashing of the loom, the smell of the yarn, the greetings from people like Tom Walsh, whose father and grandfather had all carried out the same job before him. She loved the gleam of the metal. When she ran her hand along the nameplates, she adored the feeling that, in some way, she was connecting with the generations who had passed before her and managed to keep the mills running while the world around it too often lost its way.

No, she would not be letting go of the old for something sleek and humourless. Even though Tom would frown when Big Betty stumbled, he would shake his head and mutter, but his smile of kindliness was priceless as he’d nudge the old machine into productivity once more.

Her husband, Paddy, had been neither a mechanic nor an engineer, but he was a man with a good brain and an interest in tinkering with things until he got them right. He worked away on many a black night and hummed quietly while he set about maintaining all the machines in the mills. She loved to watch him, as his big hands caressed the machines as much with tenderness as with strength. In the end, he crafted a series of replacement cogs, bobbins and timers and they had over the years, in their way, helped Miranda and made her forget that she was carrying the weight of so many futures in her hands.

Unfortunately, their son Simon was nothing like his father. Simon had grown up with that innate ability to seem as if he was pleasing everyone while setting out only to please himself. If Miranda worried about any of her children, it was Simon who had caused her the most sleepless nights over the years. She feared that Simon would never grow into the man she’d always hoped he’d be. Instead, it seemed he was doomed to crave a lifestyle that his modest income would never match in the way he hoped. He was destined never quite to meet the mark.

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Set in Ballycove, Western Ireland, The Place We Call Home is a beautifully written, realistic and deeply emotional family saga which spans the generations with its a perfectly interweaving plot which delves into the past and connects it with the present. I love how Faith Hogan delves deep into the Irish way of life in Ballycove, it adds to the story and the characters, which I thinks makes everything feel very real and authentic.

The setting is absolutely perfect, each scene is vivid and adds a marvellous echoing atmosphere to the story, the setting itself is like an extension of the story like an extra character, always there in the back ground and adds so much to every scene.

I really won’t say too much about the story as a whole as it is complex and each characters own story is so interwoven though out that I wouldn’t which to give anything away. But this whole story revolves around the Corrigan and Blair family, who have been mill owners for generations, there are huge secrets and lies, there is heart-ache and love. The centre of the community is the mill which isn’t just apart of the family, it’s not a vessel of mystery, but it is peoples lives, roofs over heads and food on the table. I love how the mill is cemented into the book, how realistically it’s importance to the community is written.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the family, and discovering the secrets that have been so cleverly hidden and then revealed throughout the book, Faith Hogan never fails to grasp the readers attention and their heart with her perfectly written stories, the way she can take every human emotion and the tangled relationship which are within every family is a master class of writing. The wring is strong, intelligent and thought provoking, you are drawn into the world she has created for her characters, you follow each of them as though you were walking right beside them.

Each character is brilliantly written, true they are not all likable, but as this is glimpse of real life is would be odd if everyone was sweetness and nice, as we all know the world isn’t full of good people and this is again where Faith’s talent at writing every nuance of human life comes into it’s own.

This is a wonderful poignant story witha family at it’s heart, full of love and lies. I will admit that it did start of a little slow for my liking but it soon picks up and I soon easily fell into it’s gentle and at times a soothing pace. If you love your family saga’s then this is the book for you, definitely highly reccomended.

This was an arc via the publisher and Netgalley, which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour.

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About the Author

Geraldine Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree in Training and Management from University College, Galway. She is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of four contemporary fiction novels under the pen name Faith Hogan.

Silent Night is her first crime novel, her second is due out in December 2019.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!

You can find out more about Geraldine here:

Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter @gerhogan / Instagram

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Blog Tour Schedule

#GuestPost and #Review | Her Dark Knight’s Redemption (Lovers and Legends #8) by Nicole Locke #HerDarkKnightsRedemption #LoversandLegends #Giveaway @NicoleLockeNews @MillsandBoons @HarlequinBooks

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Hello Sunshines! Have I got an amazing, epic post for you all today, not only am I sharing my review of the brilliant Her Dark Knight’s Redemption (be prepared for waffle), but I also have an exclusive guest post by Nicole where she will be introducing us all to that brutishly handsome Knight himself, not only that but I have teamed up with Nicole to bring you the most amazing giveaway – really it’s a doozy and not to be missed! Honestly, I’m sure it’s not healthy to be this excited…So settle back, grab that cuppa and enjoy!

‘This man was shadow and night…
He was Darkness.’
Homeless Aliette is saved from punishment for stealing by a mysterious knight. This stranger informs her that to stay alive she must claim his child as her own. She should fear the knight’s power, and yet it’s clear there’s more good to this man than he’s prepared to show. Can she break down the barriers of the tortured knight she calls Darkness…?


Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my! Nicole Locke, you have out completely outdone yourself!! You have well and truly cemented yourself as the best Medieval Romance Author!! This is – well, I honestly don’t have the words to fully describe the wealth of emotion that is swimming through me at the moment. There are words that I could brandish about to describe just how extraordinarily good this book is; such as amazing, flawless, stunning, inspiring, beautiful, dark, delicious, deadly, gorgeous, sexy – Hmmm, I may have just described the delectable hero there! – but honestly, this is just too damn good, that my little brain can’t handle it. I am a wreck, I am a simmering cauldron of emotion!

I love how different this is from the other books in the series, it is far darker then what I have read before from Nicole, and the sexual chemistry between Aliette and Reynold is like sparks shooting from a blazing fire, it’s sizzlingly hot, there may not be a lot of bedroom action but the attraction between our couple is instant, the air crackles like thunder and lightening around them as they both are consumed with lust for the other. Every scene is full of heated glances and a tingling tension that even the reader can feel running down their backs and then there is this beautiful sweetness between them, times where he is human his love of reading and teaching her to read made me not only swoon but fall in love with him that little bit more.

Reynold – those who have been following this series may remember him from ‘The Knights Scarred Maiden’ and if you’re like me then you would have been avidly awaiting his story and oh my!! I cannot begin to express how much I adore this dangerously dark and deadly man, you know me I do love a bad boy especially one who not only needs to learn to love and trust but needs love to unfreeze his frozen heart…Sigh! Honestly, this lone wolf is a menace, how am I ever to look at another hero again? I am ruined, who wants a clean-shaven goody-two-shoes when there is a dark knight with a nice backside lurking in the shadows?

Hmmm, it seems my waffling and lurid thoughts have well and truly taken over this review, I have just realised that I haven’t actually said anything about the book…stop perving on Reynold and get on with the review!!!

Reynold is wealthy, powerful, manipulative, dangerous with a hunger for vengeance and blood, in some way another he has been playing deadly games with his enemies for as long as he can remember, a game that continues and one that he is determined to win whatever the costs – that is until a little surprise lands in his lap, in the form of a scrawny little girl by the name of Grace who the strange women who arrive with her claims is his, being the super cynical and menacing creature that he is, he has to stop himself from killing the old woman on the spot as he doesn’t trust or believe a word she says. But he soon learns the truth, and little Grace finds herself in the care of her broodingly handsome predator of a father. In the care of a man who has a hardened fragile heart and too many secrets and shadows.

Now he has Grace in his care, what is he going to do with her? His lifestyle of devilment and games isn’t the place for a baby, plus he knows that the moment anyone of his enemies finds out about her, she will be in huge danger – something that our cunning plotter will not hear of – especially if his family learn how quickly she has become his Achilles heel.

Oh, I have to mention that scene when Aliette meets him and he is holding Grace close to his well-formed chest…sigh that could melt any heart!

Our heroine Aliette is currently homeless, she is a really good young woman, she is resilient and a survivor. She has taken under her wing an elderly couple who have found themselves in difficulty and a young thief; Gabriel, the four of them have become a little family. Being abandoned by her birth family many years ago, Aliette knows more than most the importance of sticking together to survive. It is because of young Gabriel that puts Aliette into the sphere of our brutally gorgeous mastermind, she is taken from the street and thrust into the calculating gaze of Reynold. She is the answer to his problem of what to do with Grace, and he will damn well make sure that Aliette complies with his scheme.

Aliette can’t trust the seething cauldron of danger that is standing looking at her as though she were a piece of meat, she is unnerved by him and incredibly attune to her primal womanly feelings for him, she is instantly attracted to him but not enough to tell him who she is or anything about herself of her life, and especially not about her little family who depends on her. No matter how much she demands he release her he refuses instead offers her a pretty odd position in his household.

I won’t say too much, but throughout the book, we are kept on this constant dizzying will they open up to each other or won’t they, it is mesmerising and ….well too damn good!

As it says in the authors note, this is a turning in direction to the Lovers and Legends series, and I am really loving where this is going, and cannot wait for more especially mesmerizing mercenary Knight; Louvre, now he is a man that I really can’t wait to get to know – you know me I have a one-track mind and you all know that I was drawn to the rougher and rugged heroes, which explains why I was so taken with Reynold. But Louve, I feel will be different, he has that ferocious and dangerous side, But I think there is something else simmering beneath the surface.

I love the really dark and brooding feel of this book, like the hero it has a really different feel to it then the other’s in the series, it is a lot edgier then Nicole’s other work and I utterly love the new direction her writing and this series is going in. Anyone who knows me knows that more Gothic feel romances are my Achilles heel I love the brooding and the dangerous feeling that you really can only get from a well written Gothic, historical romance and this is easily the finest I have read. From that first chapter when we meet the darkness himself you know you are going to be in for a real deadly threat. Every page is like walking along a spiders web to get to the finale, to your Knight but along the way you are unsure if at any moment you are going to either fall to your doom or be captured by the spider in search of her dinner.

This will probably sound a wee bit odd, but at times I was so wrapped up in the story that I forgot I was reading a romance. Usually, you know that the characters are going to have their happily ever after, and all will be well once they have got past their own issues, but here the question of whether or not they would actually allow the other in was constant, it kept me glued. I was completely taken in with them, I loved getting to know Aliette and Reynold as individuals and as a couple, they are fabulous!

I think you may be able to guess how much I loved this book, I could keep whittling on and on about how amazing, seductive, tantalizing this book is, but I really don’t want to sound like a broken record, I’ll just finish with – Read This Book!!!

This was an Arc copy via the author, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you, Nicole, massive apologies for how late this review is.

Her Dark Knight’s Redemption is available now, do go and grab a copy!

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Link

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Exclusive Guest Post

Top Ten Things About Reynold of Warstone by Nicole Locke

  1. He’s hot, and the writer who wrote about him couldn’t put it in the story often enough for her liking.
  2. He’s actually in three of the Lovers and Legends series, and she’s writing about him in her current novel as well…just to prove her point she thinks he’s hot.
  3. He’s a villain in pretty much all the stories whether the reader knows it or not. The entire series of #LoversandLegends has been a game to him. However, in Her Dark Knight, he gets to be a lover and a legend (lol).
  4. Reynold knows torture. Not only can he dish it out, but he’s got this really evil mother who likes her sons to prove their loyalty to her by holding their left hand over an open flame. This scar in his hand is why the heroine, Helissent, in The Knight’s Scarred Maiden thought she could talk some sense into him to not be so villainy (he’s scarred, she’s scarred…they could share). Of course, he wouldn’t bond with some gentle baker who lusted after his enemy, but can’t blame a woman for trying.
  5. He’s got three brothers. He’s glad one of them was killed (saved him the mess and made him wealthier). He’s making plans to kill the other two. After all, it’s them again him…and he’s far too arrogant to think anyone else deserves to live more than him.
  6. He speaks several languages and loves to read anything he can get his hands on. If he can’t find something, he has books commissioned for him. His favourite book is Tales of Odysseus. If asked, he’ll tell you he likes the adventures, but in truth, the part that intrigues him is Odysseus’ need to return to Penelope and Penelope’s devotion to Odysseus. His parents would kill each other if given the chance, but something of this tale makes him long for something other than the games he plays.
  7. He waits in shadows and darkness. It’s all part of his game so he can observe his next prey without being observed. It often surprises and unnerves people, but the writer thinks the habit is part of his charm.
  8. He’s really rich. He’s inherited a ton, stolen even more and he’s stashed the money all over England and France. Some of his cache is in Mei Solis, the home of Nicholas and Matilda from Reclaimed by the Knight. He spreads his coins around so that he’s never without in case his brothers’ back him in a corner.
  9. There truly was only ever going to be one heroine for a man like him: Aliette. She’s uneducated (but loves stories). Doesn’t have a family (so she’s adopted people..a little tidbit she keeps as a secret). Doesn’t have coin or food or truly any proper clothing. In fact, she lives on the streets. And one thing she cannot stand is waiting. Who has time for dilly dallying or games?
  10. So when Reynold captures Aliette and blackmails her to play his game? He doesn’t stand a chance of winning. Good thing he’s so cute.

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About the Author

Nicole discovered her first romance novel in a closet, where her grandmother, the godmother in the romance black market, was hiding hundreds. Knowing her grandmother wouldn’t approve, Nicole hid in the closet to read them. It was only a matter of time before she was found out and given an offer she couldn’t refuse: enjoy them, but out in the living room please. Oh, and if she could go to the store and get a few more…. A few more? Nicole got two jobs.

Inexplicably, Nicole stopped reading romances (she blames her handsome university English professor, who she was trying and failing to impress). So she didn’t discover them again until, at work, where another black market book swap occurred. Instead of swapping for another forgettable book, Nicole chose a romance (which she still reads).

Needless to say, she didn’t return to work (good thing it was after 5:00 pm) and she didn’t immediately return home either. At that moment, she insists Etta James was singing “At Last”. It was only natural she’d start writing romances as well.

Currently, she lives in Seattle with her two completely opposite children, who if not for their birth certificates and their red hair, she’d argue they weren’t related, and her husband, who if not for his red hair, would have returned them.

Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Facebook

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Giveaway

I have the most amazing Giveaway for your all, Nicole has so generously donated a print copy of Her Dark Knights Redemption and a pair of Odyssey Book Earrings – which, I have a pair of these earrings and they are absolutely gorgeous – for one lucky winner!

How to Enter?

To be in for a chance of winning this amazing prize, then just tell me who your favourite Badboy/Lovable Rogue is (This can be from a book, tv or film) Mine is below, to some, it isn’t a surprise, as always pictures and gifs are welcome!

The giveaway is not only open here, but across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook too, same rules apply; just like the giveaway post and comment with your answer. (Each post you comment on is a separate entry, eg; If you comment here and on all the social media posts then that is four entries) Sharing is also hugely appreciated, but not mandatory.

Finally, Good Luck my Sunshines!

*T&C’s – Closing date is Wednesday 15th January at 9pm GMT, the winner will be chosen at random and will be announced shortly after, the winner will be contacted directly by myself whether that be by email or DM via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. This Giveaway belongs to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals and it is not sponsored or endorsed. Giveaway Open Internationally.

#BlogTour | A Year of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers #AYearOfChasingLove #Review @RosieCBooks @HQDigital

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Hello Sunshines – and Happy New Year!! My first blog tour of 2020 and it’s a real charming one; The Year Of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers. So, sit back grab that cuppa – or health drink – and enjoy!

One moment can change a lifetime…

The last thing top divorce lawyer Olivia Hamilton ever expected was to be served her own divorce papers! To escape her marriage troubles, she agrees to go on a year-long trip to find the ultimate guide to love.

Travelling the world, surrounded by stories of love and happiness, it’s not long before her thoughts turn to Nathan, her soon-to-be ex-husband, and she starts to take note of her own lessons in love…

But with Nathan over a thousand miles away, will it be too late?

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Philippa Ashley and Caroline Roberts.

The year of Chasing Love is the debut novel by Rosie Chambers, and I definitely see great things in her future, and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next from this new author. This is a sweet, little contemporary story, one that will leave you smiling and feeling in a sunnier mood.

The story opens when top divorce lawyer; Olivia is presented with her own divorce papers. Not just shock and horror for her, but she also sees this as bad for her career.

After years of putting her career first, of building up her steely reputation she has unfortunately neglected to look after her home life, she has neglected her husband. Nathen has been patiently waiting and wanting them to move forward with their married life and now she is at the top of her game, Nathen decides enough is enough and files for divorce. Olivia is shocked, obviously, she isn’t naïve enough to think that everything was hunky-dory but she thought that she and Nathen were rubbing along happily enough and so for him to want to tear up their marriage is a real blow for her. She wants nothing more than to stick her head in the sand and delve further and further into her work but the fates are all against her as her boss forces her to take a long-overdue sabbatical hoping that it will make her take the breath she needs to actually take stock and put some perspective in her life before it’s too late.

Now she is left with a year with no work, no husband and she is fast sinking into despair that is until brilliant best friend Rachel turns up and offers her the chance to turn her life – or the year – around, by travelling around the world as she research’s the ultimate guide to love, she travels around Malta, Hawaii, Copenhagen and Singapore and finally landing in the city of love the most romantic place on earth; Paris, but will her travels be her saving grace? Swill Olivia finally be able to allow herself to be happy and will she find the love and the life she is secretly searching for?

I really enjoyed this, I did think at first it started off a little on the slow side for my liking, but it soon picks up the pace, A year of Chasing Love is such a relatable story, it’s one that is so relevant for today where there are so many women in top positions they do unfortunately have to pick between career and family, and when the career path is chosen family and those we love are unfortunately pushed aside. It’s a simple story which has a lot of heart, it’s a delightful and heartwarming story, the characters are wonderfully portrayed Olivia especially is very relatable even though at first I did find it difficult to warm to her but she soon won me over.

Overall, this is a charming little story about finding happiness and love and allowing yourself to let go a little if you love your easy-peasy, none taxing feel-good stories then this is the book for you.

This was an arc copy via the publisher and Netgalley, which I voluntarily and honestly reviewed as apart of this blog tour.

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Blog Tour Schedule

#Review | Hanukkah At The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson #HanukkaAtTheGreatGreenwhichIceCreamery @seibbotson @ChocLituk

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Hello, my festive little sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this utterly charming book; Hanukka At The Great Greenwhich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson. This book is really too cute for words, I can’t wait to share it with you. So, grab your cuppa and preferably some Ice Cream and enjoy!

Hanukkah days, Christmas nights and strawberry ice cream …

Cohen Ford is a man who could do with a little bit of sweetening up. It’s no surprise that when he walks into The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery on a typically gloomy London day before Christmas, he insists on a black coffee rather than his childhood favourite – strawberry ice cream.

But then he meets River de Luca, the woman behind the flavours. After their first encounter, Cohen begins visiting the ice creamery every Tuesday, gradually learning more about the intriguing River. Could her influence encourage cynical Cohen to become the man who embraces Christmas, Hanukkah and even strawberry ice cream?

This is a charming seasonal love story, with a really unique romance, between a grouchy Jewish New Yorker, trying his hardest to avoid Hanukkah with family and a deaf woman who creates ice cream flavours. This is the first Hanukkah set romance I have read – in fact, delete that, this is the first Hanukkah romance I have seen and I thoroughly enjoyed it, there definitely needs to be more stories like this in the world, I applaud Choc Lit and Sharon Ibbotson for giving this enchanting stories wings.

After a particularly nasty divorce, New Yorker; Cohen Ford takes a trip to London where he is tasked by his mother to deliver a gift to an old family friend. He isn’t looking forward to walking into the Ice Creamery as he fears childhood memories to re-awaken. He isn’t in any mood for ice cream, much preferring black coffee, but feels that he should do one thing for his mother after all their relationship is already fractured enough to put more strain on it by him disobeying.

But that all changes, his selfish and slightly withdrawn nature soon disappear when he meets the daughter of his mothers best friend; River De Luca, the captivating deaf woman who creates the most alluring ice creams. His attraction to her is instant, the moment he sets his eyes on her, he is struck by cupids arrow but fate and her mother seems to be against their relationship and he is soon warned off her, but does he take heed? Not on your nelly! I love the whole process of Cohen getting to know River, even though she is deaf and doesn’t speak, except in sign. The little ways she teaches him to communicate with her is so lovely, theirs is an extremely sweet budding romance, I love how he learns more about himself and how to move past his fracture relationship with his mother just by being with River.

Cohen doesn’t have the best relationship with his mother, in fac,t I don’t he really ever has had a great relationship with anyone, he has been known to be incredibly selfish and lost in his own world of pity, self destruct and obviously work. I do think that growing up in a turbulent household with parents who constantly screamed at one and other, then for his father to just up and leave has had a huge impact on Cohen and has moulded him into the man he is, some of it good and some bad. He is a man who has allowed his past and seeing his parents volatile relationship dictate how he leads his own life, which unfortunately did entail in his going down the; ‘oh, pity me’ and selfish path.

This is written entirely through Cohen’s point of view, which I thought was a refreshing change, true that does mean we don’t get a real insight into River’s thoughts except, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have an insight into her. I love how she says so much with not a single word, with her little touches, her patience in teaching him sign and their little written messages, I love how without a single word she seems to sense what is going on and what he needs, even if that is a tub of ice cream.

I really liked this! I love how Cohen goes from a melancholic grump who is a little immature, to a sensitive and loving man who has thrown himself into rebuilding his if, his relationship with his mother and learning about River, I really, really liked that turnaround with him.

The is the perfect seasonal cosy and feel-good story, it’s beautifully written and full of festive cheer – plus some delicious ice cream, honestly I am in pure heaven!

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Liz! xx

#Review | Mrs P’s Book of Secrets by Lorna Gray #MrsPsBookOfSecrets #30DaysofBookBlogs @MsLornaGray @OneMoreChapter

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Hello Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this highly original and atmospheric book; Mrs P’s Book Of Secrets by Lorna Gray. This review is also in collaboration with Lorna’s epic #30DaysOfBookBlogs Event which is happening across social media. So grab a cuppa and enjoy!

There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself.

The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946: A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.

But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.

For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss…

I have been really looking forward to reading a new Lorna Gray book, I love her attention to detail, her passion for the era and the stories which she tells radiates off the pages, it’s immersive and atmospheric. I do have to say first that I did feel a little misled when I started reading as the story itself does feel different to what the back blurb hints at. I did expect a bit more of the supernatural feel to it, but I liked how that aspect of the story was hinted at.

The story is written in the first person, through Lucy’s eyes which allows the reader to really see how much of a low patch she is in, unable and unsure of how to move forward after losing her husband who she only really knew for a short period of time, yet that doesn’t diminish her loss. She has sunk into a bit of a depression, her mind is broken and it is actually very uncomfortable reading at times as we get to know her and are privy to her inner thoughts, but also crucial for the story.

It is 1946, Lucy (Mrs P) finds herself not only widowed but unemployed, she has no choice but to go home, back to the relatives who raised her; her aunt and uncle who basically takes pity on her current state and gives her a job as a receptionist in their family-run publishing house. But as with a lot of women in the same situation life just isn’t the same, she feels a little put out she doesn’t feel she belongs there. Once at her aunt and uncles she meets the new editor; Robert Undershill, a former prisoner of war who has shadows that cloud his mind as he too tries to move forward with his life.

The project Robert is working on soon reveals old and hidden secret of an unknown little girl, that little girl is missing and it is a mystery that Lucy feels she needs to uncover, plus she wants to understand the mystery behind where Robert frequently disappears off to, what is he hiding? What are his secrets and how is it all connected? These questions are hidden in the story.

This really is one my favourite period in British history, it is a harsh and yet fascinating moment in history. The war is over, there is a moment of peace, yet the county is still on rations and will be for quite some years to come, life is hard for everyone. The men who survived are now returning and having to find a place in this completely different society, they not only must find their feet again but most have to overcome great trauma, not just physically but mentally they are broken. Most can’t return to their old lives as they don’t exist anymore and when they do everything has changed. Women who have been keeping the country going either in the fields with the land army or in the factories are now being told to return to their homes. Then there are those who a loved never returned to them, young women who may have had only months or weeks with their husbands, never really knowing them are now widows. I have always found stories from this particular era fascinating. Lorna Gray really grasp hold of that uncertainty which people would have been feeling during the time, she writes Lucy’s emotional conflict towards her life, what she starts to feel for Robert with such sensitivity and realism.

This isn’t the type of book that you can settle in to read in a weekend, then put it down and come back the weekend after when times allows, no it makes you take notice you really need to put 100% concentration into this to fully grasp the happenings within the pages, but if you do put all your focus and mind into the story you will be hugely rewarded as this is a beautifully written, complex, poignant and very loving story all about family, finding one’s feet after trauma and how important true friends are to a person. I can guarantee that if you really delve into this one and look past the misleading back blurb you will love it.

This was an Arc copy via the publisher and Netgalley, which I voluntarily reviewed.

Mrs P’s Book Of Secrets is available from the 14th December in the UK HERE and it will be released as The Book Ghost in the U available HERE.

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As Apart of the 30 days of Book Blogs event, I have also taken part in an exclusive interview with Lorna, which will be shared on Lorna’s social media sites, I hope you all will hop on over and take a peek at my rambling answers to her questions.

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About the Author

Lorna Gray is passionate about understanding the past and takes much of her research from spoken history. She loves the fact that writing gives her the excuse to ask people about their memories, and treasures the unique little insights that every new conversation has to offer. She is also a published illustrator and her work has featured in a number of archaeological reports, children’s books and non-fiction titles.

Above all, Lorna loves a good adventure. She doesn’t mind whether it comes in the form of a good book, a film or rambling about the ruins of a castle as long as it is guaranteed to have a happy ending.

You can find out more by visiting Lorna’s website and following her on Twitter @MsLornaGray and Instagram or by finding her on Facebook.

#BlogTour | The Spirit Of Fire (The Orphans of Tolosa Trilogy #2) by Susanne Dunlap #TheSpiritOfFire #Review #HFVBTBlogTour @Susanne_Dunlap @hfvbt

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Hello sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; The Spirit of Fire by Susanne Dunlap. I am super excited to be sharing my review of this gorgeous book with you all, so settle back grab a cuppa and enjoy!

The Spirit of Fire by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: December 6, 2019

Series: Orphans of Tolosa, Book two
Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Listen to the Wind has been rated 10 out of 10 and was a quarterfinalist in the BookLife Prize, and won a Gold badge from the International Review of Books.

The eagerly anticipated sequel to Listen to the Wind, “A complex, absorbing, and dramatic start to a planned series.” -Kirkus Reviews

Azemar—now a knight and Baron of Montpezat—has rescued his childhood friend, Azalais, from the Castel de Belascon, where she was forced to disguise as a noblewoman and become the wife of the baron. But the captivating trobairitz Jordane de la Moux d’Aniort and her damozel Johana have escaped with them, putting them all in grave peril. Will Jordane’s conflicting goal of reuniting with the rebel Raimon de Berenger thwart Azemar and Azalais’s quest to solve the mystery of their origins, which they believe lies within the heretic fortress of Montsegur? When a cryptic note leads them to the Templar stronghold at Mas Deu, Azemar undergoes brutal trials, and discovers that his ultimate purpose could lead him to betray the very people he wants to protect. And their altered route leads Azalais into the path of her old enemy, the Dominican monk, Fraire Martin. Full of surprising twists and turns, dangerous adventures, and true love, The Spirit of Fire continues the Orphans of Tolosa Trilogy.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

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Praise for Listen to the Wind

Listen to the Wind has been rated 10 out of 10 in the BookLife Prize and won a Gold badge from the International Review of Books.

“Dunlap breathes life into the distant 13th-century setting… Poetry and music are as essential to the plot as warfare, with engaging glimpses of trobairitz (female troubadours). . . . A complex, absorbing, and dramatic start to a planned series.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Listen to the Wind is in its own league. Completely imaginative, mature and playful all at once, this book doesn’t compete with any other novel for its spot on the bookshelf, as it will outshine many and sit comfortably among the classics.” – The BookLife Prize

“Susanne Dunlap… is both a superb storyteller and a rich historian of the period. Its customs and language, castles, troubadours, mountains, thick forests, villages, monasteries, and vineyards come vividly to life as Azemar and Azalaïs find themselves drawn into a path that will shape history.” – Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille: a novel of Monet

“In its mix of page-turning thriller with well researched historical novel, it draws comparison to the finely crafted work of Kate Mosse and Ariana Franklin.” – Nancy Bilyeau, author of
The Blue and the Joanna Stafford trilogy

“Susanne Dunlap’s sweeping saga captivates readers’ imaginations from the first page, plunging them back into the Languedoc region of France in the 13th Century. Her impeccable research allows her three spirited protagonists to live, love, fight and breathe life into the dangerous period of rebellion and inquisition, when the Cathars struggled to hold on to their culture and old faith against the power of the Pope. A compelling read for lovers of adventure and romance.” -Anne Easter Smith, author of
A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, Royal Mistress

“The fortitude and ingenuity of her characters helps them adapt to all manner of circumstances, and the result is an engaging tale of escape, secrets, and mental toughness. For those looking for a smartly written captivating read, I highly recommend this first book in the Orphans of Tolosa trilogy.” – Amy Hawes, Book Club Babble

“This is an intriguing and complex story with lots of secrets and lies interwoven within the characters personal stories, it is charming, exciting and mesmerising.” – Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

“I love how vibrant the world is made, how danger really struck fear into my heart, how the pain felt real…everything is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed this.” – Clarissa Reads It All

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Here it is the highly waited for the second instalment of the Orphan’s of Tolosa Trilogy, The Spirit of Fire carries on from where the previous book left off as the Orphans; Azemar and Azalais continue with their perilous journey through the Languedoc. For those have yet discovered the beauty of this series, I would definitely recommend that you read the books in order, that way you won’t miss out on anything within the intricate and compelling plot.

Set during the 13th century, the Languedoc has been torn apart after years, upon years of crusades all against the Cathar heretics and now we have reached penultimate last stand between the catholic church and the people who reside in the Montegur Fortress. After the death of his patron; the Baron de Montpezat, Azemar get the shock of his life as he is the named the Baron’s heir, but he and fellow orphan Azalais – who is currently in disguise – after their escape from the Castel de Balascon they are now fugitives and must reach the safety of the Fortress, but they aren’t alone in their escape they were followed by Jordane de la Moux d’Aniort and Johana, whose very presence could cost them all dearly especially with Jordane’s urgency to be reunited with her rebel Raimon.

Azemar receive a cryptic note which sends them off on a journey, one that could lead them to their destiny – which if you have read the first book you will know all about this shared destiny between Azemar and Azalais – the notes take them to the Templar monks at M’as Deau, but once there, Azemar finds that all is not exactly how it seems and he is put to the test in more ways then one.

Susanne Dunlap is a master storyteller, she has a incredible skill and drawing the reader into a dark and perilous time in history, her attention to detail is mind-blowing, as is her grasp of the language, the history and the all-round culture and violence of the times. As with the previous, it is evident from the first page the amount of time and research which has gone into every part of the story, and the same can be said about the author’s passion for the era, for the people and for the history. The violence that the Cathars went through once being classed as heretics was unnerving and at times is very difficult reading as with other books that feature this sort of violence to another human, the history needs to be told, it needs to be learned from.

What I particularly loved about this book is it’s strong and brilliantly portrayed female character’s, Susanne Dunlap has given a voice to these amazing women. They are strong, brave, loyal and fierce, it was wonderful watching the story unfold through their eyes.

Overall this is an amazingly mesmerising and unique book with an unpredictable and engrossing plot which is full of surprises, mystery, deadly history, adventure and Templars. It is so beautifully written, the rich and vivid historical detail is completely immersive and very highly recommended for anyone who loves their darker and really in-depth historical fiction.

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About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie’s Voice and Liszt’s Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Four are for young adults (The Musician’s Daughter, Anastasia’s Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and nine grandchildren!

In her spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

For more information, please visit The Orphans of Tolosa website. You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, December 6
Review at Nursebookie
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, December 9
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Review at Mama’s Reading Corner

Tuesday, December 10
Feature at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, December 11
Interview at The Writing Desk

Thursday, December 12
Review at Books and Zebras
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, December 13
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Sunday, December 15
Review at my.boys.mom

Monday, December 16
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, December 18
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 19
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, December 20
Review at Coffee and Ink

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a set of Listen to the Wind & The Spirit of Fire by Susanne Dunlap! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Listen to the Wind

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.


#Review | Izzy’s Christmas Star by Berni Stevens #IzzysChristmasStar by Berni Stevens @Berni_Stevens1 @ChocLituk

Posted on Updated on

Hello my festive Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this gorgeous and hugely enjoyable Christmas story; Izzy’s Christmas Star by Berni Stevens. Be warned that is a fair amount of babble so I’d grab your hot chocolate and a snack. Enjoy!

You don’t only find stars on top of the Christmas tree …

Student and Zumba instructor Izzy Grant leads a pretty normal life, but in the run-up to Christmas an unusual encounter with a friendly Santa paves the way for the most wonderful and star-studded Christmas she’s ever experienced.

Because at almost exactly the same time, Izzy also meets Seth Roberts – as in the Seth Roberts, bona fide rock star and lead singer of Scarlet Gryphon. As their connection grows, Izzy’s Christmas countdown becomes a glittering whirlwind of after-show parties and classy restaurants – and does she have her mystery Santa to thank?

I love this!!! I have a real soft spot for ‘Girl-next-door-meets-sexy-rock-star’ romances, I have been reading this kind of Chick-Lit for as long as I can remember and I really adore this one. I love the story, I really, really adore the characters and I love the feel of magic that floats around you like a sparkly mist as you read. It is a charming, fun, delightfully heartwarming and a real joy to read, it makes you smile with every page. This is everything I want from a Christmas story, I want romance, I want complex and charming rock stars, I want heart-warming, I want an everyday relatable heroine, I want Christmas fun, I want glittery feel-good stories that have an essence of Christmas magic and this has it all.

Easily my favourite Christmas book this year, in fact, this is easily a firm contender for best Christmas book I’ve read – believe me I have read a fair few. I honestly cannot say enough great things about this, it is perfect to curl up with on these cold nights and lose yourself in for a few hours – only problem them once you have devoured it in one, as I did, you will be heartbroken it has finished, I desperately wanted more, I would love to see more of the Scarlet Gryphon gang.

Izzy Grant; Zumba instructor and English Lit student, she really is the girl next door, she is sweet and loyal, a young woman who many could see themselves in and a woman who you would love to be friends with, she is just an everyday stressed out young woman trying to juggle life. As Christmas draws closer and closer she starts to see more and more Santa’s on the high street, more seems to appear every day but it is an odd encounter with one silvery eyed Santa in particular that more or less changes the course of her Christmas with his cryptic and spookily correct assessments and comments.

She meets a sexy as hell, if a bit lonely looking guy in a coffee shop, a chance meeting that changes everything and turns her once everyday life around, as this chap isn’t just your regular coffee shop dweller, he is internationally acclaimed, rock star and lead singer of Scarlet Gryphon, the biggest rock band around; Seth Roberts – a fact that Izzy doesn’t realise, she just is overawed by the fact that this handsome man has a nice smile, beautiful twinkly eyes and unfortunately witnessed her spilling her dinner down her front – it’s ok Izzy, we have all been there – she never thought she would see him again.

Seth is instantly fascinated by the slightly clumsy, and very beautiful read head, she is a breath of fresh air for him, she becomes a balm for his damaged and already well-trodden on heart and soul. Seth, unfortunately, has become cynical and jaded, he loves his job, he is passionate about the band, about the music and about sharing his music with the world with tours, but he hates the darker side of being in the public life, such as every woman he comes across all faun on him either wanting something from him or wanting to enhance their own status by being with him. He has just left one deadly relationship and has no thoughts about becoming entangled with another camera lens obsessive starlet. Which is why he is so attracted to Izzy, she is so different to anyone within his sphere. He loves that she doesn’t want anything from him – in fact, he finds that fact she had never heard of him or his band very refreshing. She doesn’t play games she is just herself, she has a wary if feisty innocence about her that speaks to far more then words ever could.

I really, really have fallen head over heels for Seth, he isn’t just a crooning rock star who looks great in and out of his shirt 😉 and has the most amazing blue eyes, he is a proper gentleman too, he real charisma plus he has actual manners, he is passionate but wary, he has a bit of a lone wolf aura about him which I found as sexy as hell…I just love this guy!

They both meet this mysterious all-knowing and seeing; Santa, who seems to know far more than he should and helps guide them with his cryptic clues. I love the addition of Santa practically playing at matchmaker for our couple, it adds to the whole magic of the story and compliments the blossoming love story between Seth and Izzy.

Overall, I think I have already professed my love of this book enough, but hey this is my review and I’m going to do it again, I do love this book! It is such a pleasurable, delightful and charming little story that really if you love Christmas, if you love rock stars and if you love romance then this should be on your Christmas List – or miss out the letter for Santa and buy it yourself!

Now, I just need to find my own Christmas rock-star 😉

This was a Complimentary copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you, Liz. Xx

Izzy’s Christmas Star is available now and can be purchased from Amazon.