Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Martinis and Memories – Q&A – 5*Review – A.L. Michael

 

A fun, feisty novel of love and chasing your dreams

Bel Hailstone has spent the past decade building her dream – Soho’s best burlesque club – from the ground up. But now The Martini Club is under threat, and it will take everything in Bel’s power to resist encroaching developers and save her pride and joy.

Amidst the chaos, Bel’s past comes knocking with the unexpected arrivals of her still-not-quite-ex-husband, her estranged mother and Brodie Porter – the boy who got away all those years ago.

To keep her beloved club afloat – not to mention her sanity – Bel will have to accept help for the first time in a long time, put the past to rest and claim the happy ever after she once thought was lost for good.

 

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

 

Q&A: A.L. Michael – Martinis and Memories

What inspired you to write ‘The Martini Club’ series and did it turn out as you envisaged?

The Martini Club series started with Savvy’s story, that was my only idea. It was only after writing that first book that I realised the club had such an important presence – it was what allowed people to be themselves, the escape from the monotony of life, to find friends and chase dreams. That was what the series was meant to be about, after all, and I hope readers feel that.

‘Prosecco and Promises’ focuses on family and forgiveness, what are the themes of ‘Martini and Memories’?

Similarly, it’s about family and forgiveness, but I’d say for Bel it’s about vulnerability and trust – trusting people enough to be weak, to need looking after, admitting that you need help. Bel has created a life that’s about being good on her own, and impressing everyone – she hates asking for help, and she needs to get over the idea that you’re only strong if you do it alone.

Where do you begin when creating your characters and how do you make them believable?

I start with my character’s issues, the things that make them angry, or upset, or long for something else. I fill in their dreams and their loves and their strange little quirks, the way they say certain words or how they hate pineapple juice. I struggle to hold onto the visuals of my characters, but I always know how they’d react in any situation.

‘The Martini Club’, series is characterised by the glamorous settings and people. If the series became a film which actors would you envisage in the leading roles?

I love that idea – I have to admit, I never know how to cast my characters. I think Natalie Dormer would make a good Bel. Brodie, in my head, was played by Jamie Dornan and I stole his Belfast accent. I see Sam as Sam Elliot (Grace and Frankie), but that wasn’t why I chose the name, or at least I don’t think so!

Romantic comedy, relies heavily on the likeability of the female protagonist, how do you ensure they appeal to the reader, without making them too stereotypical?

I have to admit, I don’t want my main characters to be too likeable. Or rather, I don’t want them to be perfect. I hope that readers can see they usually mean well, even if they don’t always manage it, or they say the wrong thing. We all have friends like that, I think, ones we would forgive their mistakes and missteps because we know deep down they’re good people. When I was younger, I always hated Scarlett in Gone With The Wind (which crops up in this book!), but as I grew older I ended up thinking, ‘man that’s a good character, look at her!’ I saw her in a different context when I grew up and felt empathy for her situation and how young she was. You always have to look at your characters in context. And also, if they made no mistakes, there’d be no story!

Have you written books in other genres? If not, would you like to and why?

I wrote a thriller type book as an experiment, and it was fun! I’ve also just finished more of a book club book, and I’m having a play around with magical realism. It’s always fun to play and push yourself to try new things!

My Thoughts…

Bel is precisely the type of woman you’d expect to be running a successful, burlesque club in London; confident, glamorous and fierce. The truth is somewhat different; she paints her confident air and glamorous appearance on with her make-up. Her hard persona hides, a broken heart, a head full of insecurities engendered by her mother, who she never seemed to please and her love of her employees who she considers family.

Bel’s story is about learning to trust and the realisation that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Her relationship with her mother is an integral part of her story, and the development of their relationship adds emotional depth to the story.

Vividly described the ‘Martini Club’s’ importance to Bel comes across. The romance in this story is not immediately apparent, but when it makes an appearance, it’s worth the wait.

A fitting end to the ‘Martini Club’ series full of memories and mistakes and the power of forgiveness, loyalty and love. ‘Martinis and Memories is an engaging read with believable, memorable characters and a fairytale ending.

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

AL. Michael is the author of 13 novels. Almost all of them are snarky love stories where difficult women learn to embrace vulnerability. Andi works as a content writer, so no matter what she’s doing, she’s all about the words. She has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Creative Business and an MSc in Creative Writing. She is represented by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn.

Twitter: @almichael_

Website: http://www.almichael.com

Posted in Book Review

A Piece of My Heart -Wendy Lou Jones – 5* Review

The hospital café – a place they could go to feel human again Having discovered her boyfriend is cheating on her, cake-loving Hannah decides she needs to lose weight and get fit to become more attractive to men. But her ill-fated plan soon lands her in hospital where she spots the enigmatic Matt, visiting his son. Matt thinks of her as his guardian angel – a hot one. His rock to cling to in a world of lies and doubt. She is his grasp on normality, as he is hers. But normality cannot last. She never meant to deceive him. She simply wanted to make him smile.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

An original and insightful romantic story set in a hospital. Medical romance with a twist. The main protagonists are not medics, but a visitor and a patient. Illness and trauma change their lives irreparably and their need to have someone to confide in leads to romance.

Hannah is a lovely character when her boyfriend cheats on her she employs a new fitness regime which reveals a health issue that proves life-changing. Matt’s son is dangerously ill; he has no one to talk to until he meets Hannah at the hospital cafe. Their romance is unconventional but surprisingly deep, probably because illness concentrates your mind on what matters.

Peppered with medical facts, this is an authentic story, but it’s the depth of the emotion that resonates and makes you root for their happy ending. All the characters are believable and make this story worth reading.

A beautifully written, heartfelt romantic story that will make you cry but leave you with a satisfied glow at the end.

Posted in Book Review

Ottercombe Bay- #4 – Shaken and Stirred – 5* Review – Bella Osborne

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A lovely end to a charming serial.

Devon makes a colourful coastal setting for this romantic tale with a hint of mystery and lots of humorous moments. Daisy returns to her childhood home, Ottercombe bay to fulfil her great uncle’s legacy.  She develops a successful business but can she be lucky in love too? Daisy and Max’s tumultuous relationship makes this unlikely at times.

This final part of the series solves the mystery surrounding her mother’s death but is the truth worse than not knowing? The ending ties up all the loose ends and leaves you with a warm hug.

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

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Coming Home 5*Review Fern Britton

30407364

 

When the only place you want to be is home…

When Ella’s beloved grandmother dies, she comes back to the beautiful Cornish coast to heal her heart. There she finds her home again and discovers a new life, and new love… But she also opens a treasure trove of secrets.

Sennen left Cornwall a young single mum but unable to cope. She left her children, her family and part of her. She’s spent the years hiding from her past, hiding from herself.
Now it’s time to come back. To Cornwall. To face her mistakes. To pray for forgiveness. To hope for a future with her daughter.

 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

‘Coming Home’ is the pain and secrets of three generations of women intricately woven into a beautiful, emotional tapestry of, atonement, forgiveness, love and sacrifice.  Believable, complex, flawed characters struggle to come to terms with their past losses and mistakes. 

The story revolves around  Sennen who at seventeen leaves her two young children in her parents’ care and runs away. Years later after the death of her mother  Adela, Sennen returns, wanting to atone and receive forgiveness from the children she left behind. Ella returns to Cornwall to rebuild her life after her grandmother’s death. She was the only mother she ever knew and learning to live without her is hard, Kit her boyfriend is the rock she needs to lean on, and their deepening romance provides a thread of hope in a sad story full of lost opportunity and misunderstanding.

The cleverly layered plot reveals that Sennen’s actions are not as selfish as they first appear, having two children at such a young age, stems from her insecurity and lack of guidance from her bohemian parents, they love her, but they don’t guide her.Naive, she lacks perspective and makes impulsive decisions without considering the consequences for herself and those she loves. 

With timeslips back to the courtship of Sennen’s parents, Bill and Adela and Sennen’s life after she leaves home, the conflict she faces from her son Henry, her guilt and the reasons why she has left it so long to return to her children are easier to understand.

The pacing makes this story easy to read and the characters draw you into their lives. There is a thought-provoking twist in this gentle story that illustrates that there are always two points of view and sometimes forgiveness and making a new start is the only way to heal.

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

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera 4*Review – Jennifer Bohnet

 

33810139

A summer of taking chances!

Rosie Hewitt’s dream of opening a little French café on the Riviera is finally coming true. She’s giving up on love and instead chasing her own perfect recipe for happiness…

Only, she never expected the oh-so-sexy, award-winning chef, Sebastian Groc, to set up a rival restaurant next door – or for his freshly-baked croissants to smell quite so delicious.

But with just a few days until she opens her doors and all her sugar-coated dreams crumbling around her, Rosie isn’t prepared to give up without a fight!

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

The perfect read for a rainy afternoon, the setting is vividly described and you can imagine you are sitting on the terrace of the Riviera cafe. There is an interesting mix of characters all of whom have suffered some degree of tragedy in their lives.  Their stories are separate but they connect through the cafe, which is a good focal point. 

The story’s pacing is good, with just enough detail and conflict to make the plot interesting. The focus is on the female characters, all of which are strong women, who manage to rebuild their lives out of adversity.

 A lovely, holiday story with well-written characters in a feel-good setting.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding – Jackie Copleton – 5*Review

cover66570-medium

Poppy - Blurb

Amaterasu Takahashi has spent her life grieving for her daughter Yuko and grandson Hideo, who were victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.

Now a widow living in America, she believes that one man was responsible for her loss; a local doctor who caused an irreparable rift between mother and daughter.

When a man claiming to be Hideo arrives on her doorstep, she is forced to revisit the past; the hurt and humiliation of her early life, the intoxication of a first romance and the realisation that if she had loved her daughter in a different way, she might still be alive today.

Flowers - Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon

Flowers - My Review

A Dictionary of Mutual UnderstandingI knew I would find reading this book upsetting. The cataclysmic event, which is one of its major themes, made me sure about that, but the sense of loss and marred lives it portrays makes it almost unbearably poignant. The authors knowledge of Japanese culture and society define this story making it authentic and original. The plot is simple but has the necessary twists to keep you turning the pages. It is essentially a story of family.
A legacy of despair and guilt destroys The Takahashi family. Cleverly revealed through letter and journal entries, the reasons for this are deeper than the tragic event of Nagasaki in 1945.
There are dictionary definitions are the start of each chapter, which make what follows easier to understand and enrich the storytelling. Despite the powerful themes of this story it is easy to read and you will want to read every page carefully, to ensure you don’t miss anything.
There is a message of hope and completion in this story which makes it worthwhile reading.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK Cornerstone via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Jackie Copleton

Follow my reviews. :
Jane Hunt Writer First Steps
Jane Hunt Writer Book Reviews Facebook
Jane Hunt Writer Book Reviews Google+
Connect on…:
Twitter

View all my reviews