Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Romance

The School of Starting Over Lisa Swift 5* #Review @LisaSwiftAuthor @HeraBooks @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #startingover #School #Teachers #secrets #RuralLife #VillageLife #Family Secrets #Lies #YorkshireMoors #TheSchoolofStartingOver

Nell’s going back to school… but now she’s learning lessons of the heart

Reception class teacher Nell Shackleton has a plan. At least, she had until she arrived at her new home of Humblebee Farm, a dilapidated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. But so what if the roof’s full of holes, the back door’s hanging off and there’s a sheep in the front room? Because sometimes a new beginning means starting at the bottom… right?

Xander Scott is one of the youngest headteachers Leyholme Primary School has ever had. But managing over-zealous parents and their semi-feral kids proves a tricky task for shy Xander – as does keeping his mind on the job when his feelings for the new Reception teacher become more than strictly professional…

At 43, Nell’s new friend Stevie Madeleine has given up on love. After losing her wife, Stevie’s decided that her four-year-old daughter Milly and cocker spaniel Red are the only girls she needs in her life. That is, until larger-than-life dog-walker Deb arrives on the scene. But will the secrets of Stevie’s past stop her new romance dead in its tracks?

Meeting Xander and Stevie brings joy back into Nell’s life – but when old secrets start to surface, there may be some hard lessons to learn for them all…

A gorgeously uplifting and hilarious romantic comedy.

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I received a copy of this book from Hera Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Heartwarming, humorous, immersive and poignant. ‘The School of Starting Over’, evokes so many emotions in the reader, as you discover the secrets hiding within the complex and relatable characters.

A new beginning for Nell in a rundown farmhouse, her heart’s battered and she wants a new start. Reading, the first few chapters I was expecting a lighthearted rom-com, with lots of interactive village gossip. Whilst. this is superficially what this story delivers there is so much more as you read on.

Just, when you are relaxing, and enjoying the happy ever afters you expected, the plot twists into an emotional family drama, which resonates. The story’s main protagonists’ happiness is intricately connected. and like a house of cards. it could disappear without a trace.

Vivid characters, heartrending conflict and an authentic Yorkshire village ethos and setting make this addictive reading.

Lisa Swift

Lisa Swift is a romance author from West Yorkshire in the UK. She is represented by Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents. Her first book is due to be published by Hera Books in August 2019.

As Mary Jayne Baker, Lisa also writes romantic comedies for Aria Fiction.

Lisa is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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Posted in Book Review

Betty Rowlands – 5*Review Murder at Hawthorn Cottage

Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective? 

Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.

But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown into the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.

Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed? 

Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…

The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

The quintessential cosy mystery a beautiful rural setting, a village full of quirky, nosy characters and female crime writer who courts danger and trouble in the same way the characters in her books do.

Melissa seems much older than her mid-forties, I have to admit I imagine Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher when I visualise her but apart from this misconception, she is the perfect protagonist for a cosy mystery. Initially published under a different title in the twentieth century, the book is only dated by its philosophy on relationships and women living on their own.

The storyline is fast-paced and engaging. Melissa’s independent character and mindset come across well in the story, and the plot twists are just the right side of believable. The suspense in the final chapters builds to adrenaline fuelled ending, full of action and powerful imagery.

An enjoyable, escapist read that I suspect may become my secret addiction.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Kitty Wilson – The Cornish Village School – Q&A and 4*Review

 

Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure, and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

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Q&A with Kitty Wilson – The Cornish Village School Blog Tour

What inspired you to write a story set in a Cornish Village?

They say write what you know and I have lived here for over two decades. Every morning I open my eyes and out of the window there is the sea stretching in front of me just past some fields. I live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a network of Cornish villages, and there is nothing like it. It’s hard not to be inspired by my surroundings. The villages are quirky, picturesque and a perfect microcosm of all human behaviour. I love the community feel and the things you learn. People are quick to gossip, but they are even quicker to help. Spending time in these villages, and I do seem to be in the village pub with alarming frequency, helped me shape the book. I knew I wanted to write romance, but I also knew I wanted it to be a story of a community and how it pulls together, how it’s supportive and funny and a character in its own right.

There are lots of stories about Cornish life currently, what makes yours different?

A book takes me about a year to write, so I was a bit panicked as I saw Cornish title after Cornish title hitting the shelves. But the truth is that the setting is so magical, memorable and lends itself beautifully to all types of fiction that I am not surprised that many great stories are set here.

What makes mine different? I hope the fact that I am so deeply immersed in Cornish life and culture makes a difference. I know the people intimately, the everyday customs and practices that make this county are ingrained in me and my children. We do like to go at a slow pace although everything is thrown down for the day if the sun shines, then we race to the beach with our bags and BBQ kit which are permanently packed and kept by the door. We have experienced, over two decades, so much that Cornwall has to offer; beach and moors, hidden forests and ancient monuments. I hope my book is weaved through with the spirit of Cornwall in the same way that Cornwall is woven through me, and that Cornwall jumps out from the pages with real depth, a passion, knowledge that can’t always be captured without having lived it. 

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

My characters tend to start with a real person if for no other reason that then I can picture them in my head and go from there. In this instance, Rosy was made of an amalgamation of a few teacher friends and Matt was a young Monty Don. However, it doesn’t take long before they seem to take over themselves and become very much their own person with barely any resemblance to the initial inspiration at all. So, I start with real life, but that barely lasts ten minutes before they, or my imagination, takes over and runs wild.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I read all sorts of books and always have done. I grew up devouring the classics which has helped shape my love of history, and my comfort reads tend to be historical or romance. I love romantic comedies, and there is nothing that lifts the soul as beautifully on a grey day. I read literary fiction occasionally as well but think that the escapism of a commercial novel is a wonderful thing that should be celebrated a lot more than it is. But the truth is I will read anything and do. Why do I love reading? That is an essay worthy question so I shall say simply because it is something I have always done and cannot imagine a life in which I didn’t. It enriches my heart, mind and soul.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I have always wanted to write, ever since I was a small child and used to create story after story. Rather like reading it was just part of me for as long as I can remember. I did let real life get in the way and found little time to write when I was working full-time as a teacher and was a lone parent with two children, but still, I would occasionally try, although I tended to write poetry, time being in short supply. I think writing is an itch and is always there niggling in your mind if you’re not doing it. I had to stop teaching when I became poorly, but on the upside, I suddenly had time on my hands, and I started to write. This genre was a natural fit, and it just seemed to flow, I have loved to read romance ever since (and maybe a little before) it was age appropriate, so that was what I started with. I found that as I was writing, I was writing things that made me cackle and decided to embrace the humour rather than cut it out. My romantic comedy voice was born, and I love writing this genre. It’s warm, it’s comforting, and it provides an escape – what is not to love?

What’s next for Kitty Wilson? Have you written any more books set in this lovely village?

I am currently writing the second in the series set around Penmenna School and have more planned in my head. Each will centre around a different protagonist, but favourite characters (and mine is Marion) will feature heavily in each. In fact, I am giving Marion a longer-running storyline which I hope will carry over a couple of books, so yes, hopefully, lots more Penmenna village. I have so many stories in all sorts of places that I’m desperate to write, jostling around in my head, so I’m hoping I can carry on writing books for a very long time.  

My Thoughts… 

Strong female characters and the author’s knowledge and appreciation of all things Cornish makes this a welcome addition to growing number of fictional tales set in England’s most south-westerly county.

Rosie, the village school headteacher, sees the village as her new start, nothing will spoil it for her as long as she follows her rules. Matt, a celebrity gardener, moves in next door, and their growing physical and emotional attachment threatens Rosy’s rule book.

Aside from the emotional angst, the school is under threat of closure, and the subsequent campaign to #SaveOurSchool draws the community together and gives the Matt and his sister a chance to become part of something real and worthwhile.

The plot is simple and a little predictable, but the characters are believable, quirky and vividly portrayed, so the complete package makes a satisfying read. 

Romance, humour, trust and community are all themes of this village based tale, and I look forward to seeing who comes under the village spotlight next.

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Kitty Wilson has lived in Cornwall for the last twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard or hiding out at the beach and has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Twitter: @KittyWilson23

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Christmas Read: Christmas at the Little Clock House on the Green- Whispers Wood#2 – Eve Devon 5* Review

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Welcome back to the village of Whispers Wood where Christmas magic is in the air…

After giving his heart last year only to have it given away the very next day, Jake Knightley is opting out of Christmas—permanently! But then a beautiful new village arrival sets mayhem in motion, upsetting all his carefully laid plans.

Emma Danes has said goodbye to Hollywood and will do anything to help make the clock house a success, even working closely with the tempting Mr. Knightley.

Now, as snow starts to fall and romance starts to bloom, Emma and Jake may just find themselves repeating Whispers Wood history beneath the mistletoe…

Amazon UK

Amazon

 

My Thoughts…

Having just read The Little Clock House on the Green I was excited to find out what Christmas was going to be like in Whispers Wood and I wasn’t disappointed. 

Emma is an actress waiting for her big break and it’s almost within her reach. Jake is not a fan of Christmas after last year turned out disastrously.   So neither expected to be involved in the Clock House nor Whispers Wood’s festive activities but fate has other ideas.

Whispers Wood’s village spirit deepens as the festive season approaches and there is a particularly charming scene when Gertrude who we met in the first book of the series, brings  Emma and Jake together.  Laughter and tears are evident in this lovely story from the beginning and it is a great read for those of us who love Christmas and village life.

Emma and Jake are interesting characters and their strong personalities and fear of being hurt have you on the edge of your chair yelling at them to be brave and honest about their feelings.  Are they? Or is Christmas at the Clock House on the Green just a festive romance? I’m not going to spoil it, you’ll just have to buy the book.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Check out my review of Book 1 in the series Little Clock House on the Green

Posted in Book Review

The Little Clock House on the Green- Whispers Wood#1 – Eve Devon – 5* Review

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Welcome to the little village of Whispers Wood and one glorious summer when friendships are forged, secrets are revealed and romance delightfully bursts into bloom.

Kate Somersby has finally returned home after years of running away. She’s heard that Old Man Isaac is selling the clock house on the green and she’s determined to make him an offer – the very bricks that make up the little clock household precious memories for her.

Only gorgeous entrepreneur Daniel Westlake is standing in her way. Their rivalry is the talk of the village and soon rumours are spreading thicker than jam on a scone…

Amazon UK

Amazon 

My Thoughts…

Grief is such a personal thing and yet we are often expected to behave in a certain way when we lose someone close to us. Kate ran away from those who loved her, to preserve her sanity but also to spare them from the constant reminder of what they had lost. Now something is calling her home and the clock is ticking, Can she succeed where she has failed previously and fight the ghosts that have kept her away so long?

The clock house is a poignant building for the village of Whispers Wood, it embodies their community but will they accept it has to change to keep the village’s spirit alive?

Daniel is looking for a new start, he hopes to be the phoenix that rises from the ashes of his former life, but he is keeping secrets and these may threaten not only his new start but his chance of happiness.

This isn’t just another story about a beautiful English village with a set of quintessential, quirky characters, although it is both of these. It also shows that there is always hope in adversity and sometimes you have to confront what you fear most to move on with your life.

Kate is a strong woman, with a delightful sense of humour and this colours her story as she returns to Whispers Wood to live a dream that she once shared with the one person who understood her best. Daniel stands in her way but the current owner of the clock house devises a plan to find the best owner for his beloved house, which leads to fun and mayhem for the villagers of Whispers Wood.

The characters are amazing and the story easy to read, Romance, tears and lots of giggles make this a beautiful beginning to what promises to be a fabulous series.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.