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#BlogTour #Review ~ A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt #Giveaway @katehewitt1 @BrookCottageBks

Series: The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Bk 1

Genre: Women’s fiction/romance

Release Date: October 18, 2017

Publisher: Tule Publishing

Welcome to Thornthwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District… where homecomings happen and surprises are in store for the four Holley sisters…

Anna Holley, the third of four sisters, has always felt a little bit forgotten. A family tragedy when she was a child had her retreating deep into shyness, and social anxiety kept her on the fringes of the cozy, chaotic bustle of the busy vicarage.

When she finished school Anna left for Manchester and tried to avoid coming back home and the well-meaning nosiness being a Holley sister in a small village like Thornthwaite meant… but when her father says he has an important announcement to make, she’s drawn back home for the happy chaos of a vicarage Christmas.

Avoiding her sisters’ bossy questions, Anna heads out to the local pub one night, and meets a handsome stranger nursing a pint. Somehow, unburdened by expectations, Simon seems like the perfect person to spill all her secrets to—including a hopeless, long-held crush on her sister’s boyfriend. Confident she’ll never see him again, Anna returns home… only to discover the next day that Simon is actually her father’s new curate!

Anna is beyond mortified, but Simon won’t let her retreat into her usual shyness—and for once Anna is forced to confront the past, and all the fears and feelings she’d tried so long to hide. But with his

own heartache that needs to heal, can Simon help Anna to make this the most magical Christmas either of them have known?

 Amazon UK Amazon US

About the Author

Kate Hewitt is the author of over 60 novels of women’s fiction and romance. Whatever the genre, she enjoys telling an emotionally compelling story. An American ex-pat, she now lives in a small market town in Wales with her husband and five children.

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My Review

I have enjoyed books by Kate Hewitt before and this is the first in a new series so I’m delighted to get in at the beginning. A Vicarage Christmas is exactly what I expected it to be. A cosy, warm family reunion with some added angst and big decisions. Kate is a star at this type of story.

I immediately liked Anna, she is heading home for Christmas but dreads the idea. A family event from the past ways heavily on her shoulders and has prompted a whole anxiety complex. I could feel her frustration and pain when her stammer becomes apparent. 

Hers is one of those families that has the whole caboodle at Christmas, mother hen and her brood, affable dad, siblings with partners and half the parish yet Anna still feels alone.

When she meets Simon in the local pub she thinks she has found a stranger she can confide in but life in a small village never runs to plan so there is more to him than meets the eye.

I enjoyed the location, a beautiful village in the Lake District, the festive traditions and the family interactions. A lovely book to get you into a Christmas mood that is light and easy to read. It does have some heart tugging moments to add to the realistic feel. 

I’m looking forward to the next in the series which will feature one of Anna’s sisters. 

Thanks to the author, publisher and Brook Cottage Book Tours for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily. 

 

Giveaway

First Prize: Amazon gift card

Second Prize: Copy of A Cotswold Christmas (ecopy)

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#BlogTour #Review ~ Christmas at Conwenna Cove by @DarcieBoleyn @canelo_co

A heartwarming, romantic and Christmassy novel set in the gorgeous Cornish village of Conwenna Cove.

When Grace Phillips travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. Grace soon meets local vet Oli Davenport and initially finds him rude, but learning about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.

It’s been two years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.

As the snow falls and Christmas wishes come true can Conwenna Cove work its magic and help Grace and Oli find the happiness they both deserve?

Amazon UK

About the Author

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

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My Review

Ok, so it’s probably a well known fact by now that I am a huge fan of Darcie Boleyn’s books, add in Cornwall (I’m a little biased!) and Christmas what more could I want!

Christmas at Conwenna Cove takes us back to the idyllic place where we spent summer but don’t fret if you haven’t read that one this works well as a stand alone. 

I adore the laid back easy style of story telling that is so gentle but tackles some serious subjects along the way. Grace is helping her parent’s settle into Conwenna with the intention of returning to Cardiff afterwards. However Grace bumps into Oli the Vet, as much as he is a bit gruff there does seem to be a hint of interest between them. Oli is nursing a broken heart though after losing his wife to cancer and he has his hands full being mum and dad to his two kids.

Grace is such a likeable lady, she has her own grief to contend with. Her parents are wonderful, truly loving and caring and still worry about her regardless of her being an adult. 

In Summer at Conwenna Cove my heart was stolen by Gabe the greyhound .. there is another one in this book whose situation will have you in bits. It is abundantly clear the author loves her dogs 🙂 animal lovers are well catered for with some cute kittens, while Oli’s son Tom adds the cuteness factor for Christmas.

Cosy up by the fire with a mug of steaming hot chocolate and drift off to Conwenna Bay you won’t regret it. Another superb book from Darcie who seems to keep getting better and better. All my expectations were surpassed this is a bundle of love, hope and Christmas joy.

Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily. 

 

 

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#BlogBlitz #Review ~ Christmas at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett @Sarahlou_writes #Giveaway @NeverlandBT

All she wants for Christmas…

When talented artist Nee Sutherland returns to Butterfly Cove for her sister’s wedding, it’s only a matter of time before she has to face her own bridegroom – Luke Spenser – the man she impulsively married, then left in the middle of the night.

Nee hasn’t picked up her paintbrushes in months, a part of her is broken. She knows Luke might never forgive her, leaving him was the biggest mistake of her life – but could coming home for Christmas be the best decision she’s ever made?

Maybe all she needs is a little Christmas miracle…

A delightfully feel-good festive romance, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Rachael Lucas and Hilary Boyd.

Amazon UK  Amazon US   Amazon CA  Amazon AU  Kobo  iBooks  Google Play

About the Author

Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others. Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives. When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants. Sarah is the author of the Butterfly Cove trilogy, published by HQ Digital UK. You can also look forward to a new series coming in 2018, set in the beautiful seaside town of Lavender Bay.

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My Review

This is the third and final episode set in Butterfly Cove. Sarah has such a natural style of writing that ensures you as a reader are right in the crux of the action so I would recommend reading the previous two books just to get yourself acquainted with the family. There are quite a few characters to get your head around.

This time the feature is on Nee as she returns, there are obvious issues with her, she is no longer the confident girl from New York, her confidence is shattered after leaving her new hubby Luke in the middle of the night.

Christmas at Butterfly Cove focuses strongly on family bonds, the three sisters, their respective partners and kids all blend together and try to resolve life and create happiness.

It’s like being in the middle of a gossip session listening in to all the news. Christmas adds the warmth to the story along with some light-hearted humour to counteract the angst.

A brilliant end to the series. I will be sad to say goodbye to the residents of the picturesque Butterfly Cove.

Thanks to the author, publisher and Neverland Blog Tours for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily.

 

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#BlogTour #Review ~ Christmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine Miller @katylittlelady @rararesources @HQDigitalUK

Welcome in the festive season with love, laughter and the perfect G&T in Christmas at the Gin Shack – the most uplifting holiday read of 2017!

Gingle bells, gingle bells, gingle all the way…

Olive Turner might have lived through eighty-four Christmases, but she’ll never get bored of her favourite time of year. And this one’s set to be extra-special. It’s the Gin Shack’s first Christmas – and there’s a gin-themed weekend and a cocktail competition on the cards!

But, beneath the dazzle of fairy lights and the delicious scent of mince-pies, Olive smells a rat. From trespassers in her beloved beach hut to a very unfunny joke played on her friends, it seems that someone is missing a dose of good cheer.

Olive knows she’s getting on a bit – but is she really imagining that someone in the little seaside town is out to steal Christmas? More importantly, can she create the perfect gin cocktail before Christmas Eve – in time to save the day?

Purchase on  Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo

About the Author

When Catherine Miller became a mum to twins, she decided her hands weren’t full enough so wrote a novel with every spare moment she managed to find. By the time the twins were two, Catherine had a two-book deal with HQ Digital UK. There is a possibility she has aged remarkably in that time. Her debut novel, Waiting For You, came out in March 2016. She is now the author of four books and hopes there will be many more now her twins have started school. Either that, or she’ll conduct more gin research on Olive’s behalf.

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My Review

I will start by saying I haven’t read the first book in the series so I suspect I have missed a lot of the basics to the characters and possibly some ‘in-jokes’. It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of Christmas at the Gin Shack

Olive is an elderly lady (84) who is flying in the face of ageing and she was the inspiration for me in the entire story. The antics she gets up to along with her fellow ‘gang’ at Oakley West retirement home are a blend of hysterical or emotional. Her means of transport is ingenious and creates a wonderful image of speeding grannies!

Yes, obviously based on the title there is a lot of gin involved. I don’t drink alcohol for medical reasons so any intricacies were lost on me not being a connoisseur but I found the concoctions/recipes entertaining for their entry into the local gin cocktail competition.

There is sabotage, mystery, friends and family .. some lovable older characters which makes for a refreshing change. It proves growing old doesn’t have to be a drag if you can still have adventures! 

A warm, festive, cuddly book which had me laughing out loud in places .. I think I will have to go backwards and read The Gin Shack now to fully appreciate it. 

Thanks to the author, publisher, netgalley and Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy and inviting me onto the tour. I read and reviewed voluntarily. 

 

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#BlogTour #Review ~ Love Secrets & Absolution by @K_L_Loveley @_Globeflower_ #Giveaway

Love, Secrets, and Absolution: An emotional and gripping psychological, family drama.

People in the village gossip about Grace’s son, Alfie.

He’s a lonely boy full of secrets, lies, and obsessive thoughts.

How far can a mother’s love go? Will she ultimately sacrifice her life for his?

Set in Nottinghamshire, this family drama follows the lives of Grace and Alfie as he transforms from a naïve, young boy into a teenager spiralling out of control.

Love, Secrets, and Absolution is a coming of age story with a difference.

Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties; will anybody find absolution?

Paperback ISBN: 978-19998294-0-7
E-book ISBN: 978-1-9998294-1-4
Publisher: Globeflower Books /  The Globeflower Agency
Publication day:  Wednesday, 1 November 2017
Pre-Order:  Amazon UK  Amazon US

About the Author

K.L Loveley is a former nurse, who has seen, heard, and dealt with a wide range of medical, social and family dramas. She has used her nursing experience, along with her excellent people watching skills to create fascinating characters and intriguing scenarios within her books. She writes contemporary fiction, psychological dramas and poetry.

Her debut novel Alice was published in February 2017, and the story tackles alcoholism head-on, and presents the reader with an empathetic account of a spiralling addiction and the resulting pattern of hopelessness that many fall into.

K.L Loveley’s second novel ‘Love, Secrets, and Absolution: An emotional and gripping psychological, family drama’is a coming of age story with a difference.

Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, this story is about a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties.

If you enjoy reading authors like Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain, you will enjoy K.L Loveley!

K.L Loveley lives in Nottinghamshire, England and loves socialising with friends and family. She is an avid reader and enjoys a variety of genres including psychological, thrillers and historical fiction. Her favourite authors include John le Carré, K.L Slater, Marian Keyes and Philippa Gregory.

My Review

I was approached by the author to see if I would like to review Love Secrets & Absolution after reading her previous novel Alice.

The blurb immediately gripped me and I willingly began to read. Now very occasionally I get a book where I am so immersed that ‘real life’ ceases to exist. I flew through the pages of Love Secrets & Absolution and was so desperate to reach the conclusion that I was still reading at 3am!

My heart went out to Grace, she is the mother of Alfie. Grace is absolutely besotted with her son, her love, devotion and immense protection towards him is admirable. 

Her hubby Paul begins to question whether the boy is ‘normal’ .. Paul is a miner, typical working man of that era (80’s) and almost embarrassed to admit his boy is different from the other kids who play in the park. 

Alfie is unique, his life is very black or white he has no grey. We follow the lives of this family from Alfie’s birth, throughout his childhood, teens and to adult. 

Told mainly from Alfie’s point of view and Grace’s diary the insights are remarkable. As much as Grace realises Alfie is different she sacrifices everything to ensure he comes first and gets the most out of life. The journey is not an easy one, the family is shrouded in secrets, lies and deceit and as a *trigger* I have to mention there are drugs and alcohol involved. It is all relevant to the story and tastefully done but just be aware anyone who may be sensitive.

I loved the exploration of friendships, financial issues, learning and acceptance. I particularly enjoyed the first few chapters where Alfie is describing life from his view as a baby, very thought provoking. This is so beautifully written I defy anyone not to fall under Alfie’s spell. It plays with your emotions and I was pretty strung-out by the end but satisfied with the finish.

A marvellous book that envelops the reader and leaves you with an awful lot to think about human relationships. I heartily recommend Love Secrets & Absolution and don’t hesitate to give it five stars. I’m now experiencing a ‘book hangover’ where the next book I read has a hell of a lot to live up to!

My thanks to the author and Globe Flower agency for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily.

 

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#HuntForReadOctober #Review ~ Gravesend by William Boyle @wmboyle4 @noexitpress

I’m thrilled to be taking part in #HuntForReadOctober

Ray Boy Calabrese is back in Gravesend: some people worship him, some want him dead . . . but none more so than the ex-con himself. Ray Boy Calabrese is released from prison 16 years after his actions led to the death of a young man. The victim’s brother, Conway D’Innocenzio, is a 29-year-old Brooklynite wasting away at a local Rite Aid, stuck in the past and still howling for Ray Boy’s blood. When the chips are down and the gun is drawn, Conway finds that he doesn’t have murder in him. Thus begins a spiral of self-loathing and soul-searching into which he is joined by Alessandra, a failed actress caring for her widowed father, and Eugene, Ray Boy’s hellbound nephew.

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About the Author

William Boyle is from Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of the novel GRAVESEND, which was recently translated into French and published as #1,000 in the Rivages/Noir collection. GRAVESEND has been shortlisted, with four other novels, for the Prix Polar SNCF 2017, one of the major literary awards in crime fiction, delivered by the French railways national company. It was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, as well. Boyle is also the author of a book of short stories, DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. His second novel, EVERYTHING IS BROKEN, will be released in France by Gallmeister in late 2017. He currently lives in Oxford, MS.

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My Review

Gravesend initially appealed to me because of it’s links to Brooklyn. The crime blurb is fascinating so I ventured into the seedy, dark, gritty world. 

The atmosphere is intense, the characters a motley crew are well described but not naturally pleasant. This book does exactly what you would anticipate, it draws you into an existence that is impossible to claw your way out of intact.

Mix in an ex-con, an ex-cop a wannabe actress .. there is revenge, murder planning but also caring for family and a whole sensation of social justice. It’s a weird combination but it works, it’s real! 

The writing allows the reader to experience the area from a safe distance, the desolation and despair is palpable. This also shows that even if you are intent on committing crime it isn’t necessarily as simple as you think .. the human mind is powerful.

A crime novel with a difference I enjoyed this.

Thanks to the author and publisher for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily. 

 

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#BlogTour #Review ~ Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances by @suewatsonwriter @bookouture

Escape to the cosy little village of Appledore for hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and a second chance at love. Will this Christmas prove that miracles really can happen? A year after she separated from her husband, Gianni, on Christmas day, Chloe’s heart is finally on the mend as she unpacks the decorations for her first ever festive holiday alone. That is, until the phone rings… It’s the manager of Gianni’s new seaside restaurant in Appledore, begging for Chloe’s help.

Equally famous for his gold-leaf Christmas puddings and his explosive temper, Gianni has been really stirring up a sensation with the locals – and not in a good way! It’s the last thing she wants to do, but Chloe knows she is the only one that can help. As pans fly and the temperature in the kitchen rises, Chloe’s calming influence and magic touch might just get critics back on side in time to save the restaurant from sinking like a sad soufflé. But as Chloe’s eyes meet Gianni’s as they tussle over a plate of turkey tartlets, could there also be a chance for new romance on the menu?

A laugh-out-loud festive treat that will give you the tingle of freshly hung tinsel. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Abby Clements and Debbie Johnson.

Amazon UK  Amazon US

About the Author

Sue Watson was a journalist then a TV Producer at the BBC until she realised that instead of working, she could stay at home, make stuff up and sell it! So far Sue’s written ten books, and some have been translated into Italian and Portuguese (she’s big in Brazil!) Originally from Manchester, she now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire where her days are spent baking (and eating) lots of cake, while making big life decisions about whether to have Caramel Chew Chew or Salted Caramel ice cream while watching ‘The Biggest Loser USA,’ on TV.

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My Review

I do like the way you can just slip back into a Sue Watson book and know exactly what you are going to get. If you are after distinctive characters, some romance and plenty of fun then look no further. Just to add to the joy throw in some festivities and enjoy.

We go back in Appledore the seaside town in Devon with a magical feel. Chloe has been adapting to life after her relationship breakdown with Gianni but then gets called to help him with the marketing for his new restaurant. Chloe is down to earth, lovable and determined to be professional. Gianni is a red hot Italian never afraid to say what he thinks and create havoc. I was torn between finding him overly obnoxious or quite cute with his accent and mannerisms.

Anyone who has read previous books will know food plays a huge part, usually mouthwatering goodies galore. There are a few ‘novel’ delights on the menu which may not be quite so appetising!

There is still a distinct spark between Chloe and Gianni, so will working alongside each other surrounded by the locals amid the Christmas spirit re-ignite their passion?

Once they begin talking properly about previous events perhaps there is hope but can Chloe tolerate the over-sized ego of Gianni!

A lovely easy to read book to get you into the spirit of the season .. check out Sue’s delightful style of writing, Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances will be sure to keep you entertained.

Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily. 

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#BlogTour #Review ~ Yellow Room by @ShelanRodger Q&A @DomePress

I am so excited to finally reach my spot on this fabulous blog tour and welcome Shelan here today. Yellow Room is a thought provoking book and Shelan has been kind enough to answer some questions below.

Haunted by a tragic childhood accident, Chala’s whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. After the death of the stepfather she adored, Chala is thrown into turmoil once again. Volunteering in Kenya seems to offer an escape, and a way of re-evaluating her adult relationships, although violence and hardship simmer alongside its richness and beauty. The secrets of the Yellow Room are still with her and she can’t run away forever…

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Dome Press (5 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0995672377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0995672376

Purchase Here

About the Author

Born in Nigeria, I grew up among an aboriginal community on the Tiwi Islands north of Australia, and moved to England at the age of eleven. After graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, I spent nine years in Argentina, followed by a chapter in the UK and then six years on flower farms in Kenya, before moving to Spain, where I live in an Andalucían village that was once a gold mine.

My professional career has revolved around international education and learning & development. My unprofessional career began at the age of nine with the unsolicited launch of ‘The Family Magazine’-  and has continued as quirkily ever since.

I care about tolerance, wilderness, and open doors.

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My Review

I have to admit I have not read anything by Shelan Rodger before but the blurb of Yellow Room piqued my interest and when I received the paperback the imagery on the front cover confirmed it was a book I needed to read.

The first chapter is harrowing, short and to the point and paves the way for the rest of the story. Chala holds this secret throughout while the reader is led on a journey which explores whether the actions of a child form the basis of an adult.

The characters are well portrayed, totally realistic, not all pleasant. Chala adores her stepfather Philip, but has a tense relationship with Paul her hubby. When Philip suddenly dies she is thrown into turmoil as she faces up to some of the secrets. She travels to Kenya as a volunteer to aid street kids.

The time in Kenya is vividly described, some of it extremely difficult to read especially if you are of a sensitive nature. A lot of the events are incredibly interesting and add a depth to the book.

This is a fascinating read which will captivate you from the beginning. The writing flows well and is easy to read and absorb with an achingly haunting sensation. It will make you question your own beliefs, discover the inner guilt of harbouring secrets and the affect they have on the keeper or those involved.

I really enjoyed Yellow Room and would happily recommend it.

Thanks to the author and publisher for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily.

 

Now over to Shelan to answer a few questions 🙂 

How long have you been writing and how did you get started?

I grew up on the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin. Story-telling and myth were ingrained in the aboriginal culture and maybe that has something to do with my love of stories and metaphor. At the age of nine, I surprised my parents with the launch of a more or less weekly publication, called ‘The Family Magazine’, which included slightly less willing contributions from my little brother and sister. But, despite the pen and paper that accompanied me wherever I went in life, it was years before I finally embarked on the adventure of trying to write a novel. At the time, I was going through a tough period with an undiagnosed illness which meant I could barely walk. Writing was an escape, a way of moving beyond the walls of my immobility – but in the process, I discovered that this was quite simply what I wanted to do.

Pitch your latest book to the world at large in less than 100 words.

If you like a multi-layered psychological tale with twists and dark undertones, a story which explores the power of secrets, the forces that shape our sense of personal identity, the grey areas that flow between the boundaries of relationships, try Yellow Room, a novel set in England and Kenya, with a poignant insight into the reality of poverty and the post-election crisis of 2008 that took over a thousand lives.

How important is your setting? (time and place)

A big chunk of Yellow Room is set in Kenya, where I was living on a flower farm by Lake Naivasha in 2008, when the country was shaken to the core by the crisis that killed over a thousand people and turned more than half a million into refugees in their own country. In some ways, the book could have been set anywhere, as the themes are universal, and yet Kenya plays an integral part in the story. Chala’s experiences here – the orphanage, the post-election violence, the landscape, the people – all of this interacts with and impacts on her own personal drama and the decisions she makes. I think of Kenya not just as a setting but more like a character who influences the story of who she is and who she becomes. And the depth of my own emotional connection to Kenya, where my father is buried and my mother still lives, made it very easy to choose this lovely, complex country as the backdrop for Chala’s own personal journey. It also felt important to share the human perspective, beyond the media and propaganda, of the events I lived through during the post-election crisis. Kenya nurses its own secrets; these are still playing out with many of the same players, in an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty, with the re-run of disputed elections due at the end of this month.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most tricky?

Two things. First, finding time to do it! I have a full-time job and it’s hard combining this with my all or nothing approach to writing. And then, the monkey who sits in judgement on your shoulder if you let it, threatening to paralyse you by casting doubt on everything you write. I am very aware that I need to keep this monkey at bay, at least until I reread what I’ve written.

Do you have a typical writing day?

I dream about a typical writing day! I would rise early and swim in a tropical sea and eat mangos with black coffee, then settle down to a morning of writing on a veranda. Fresh fish and coconut for lunch (and just one glass of cold white wine!), more writing, and then yoga or a long walk in the sand in the company of a dear friend. Actually, I did this once for a week with a writing friend in Kenya – we rented a house on the coast and it was absolutely glorious. Now, living in Spain and juggling a full-time job, I still love to carve out writing weeks or days, when I can get completely lost in it – and I always write in front of a window, the metaphorical equivalent of a veranda in Kenya.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

I love pushing the boundaries through my writing and exploring silent truths we avoid in everyday life, so I don’t really think of any subjects as taboo. The one area I am very reticent about is anything I think might hurt or be difficult for someone close, so I tend to avoid directly autobiographical stuff. Of course, I draw on personal experience and whatever I write comes from somewhere inside me and my life, but it mutates in the process. I love Alexandra Fuller’s writing, (e.g. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, and Leaving Before the Rains Come) and I admire her blatant honesty, but I cannot imagine putting my marriage under a public microscope for example.

Naming characters: do you choose? or do the names come fully formed with the character?

Interesting question. My main character in Yellow Room is called Chala, after a lake in Kenya, and this just came to me when the idea for the book was born – in fact my working title had her name in it at first. I don’t think I consciously choose when I am naming characters; the names just seem to suit them (for all sorts of subconscious reasons and connotations I’m sure!), and sometimes I even have to change a name, if as I keep writing the character, it just doesn’t seem to fit.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing, and does it come in useful for your stories?

When I’m not writing (or working or reading), I like to spend time in nature or with friends. In nature I love walking, swimming, yoga and meditation. With friends, I love wine and good food, laughter, dancing, and thoughtful debate. I’m also part of a cultural association in Spain which raises awareness and challenges the status quo, through a combination of art and debate about some of the burning questions of our times. And I have recently started guitar lessons – my teacher is a humble but amazing flamenco guitarist and I am an embarrassingly bad student, but I love it. Does any of this come in useful for my stories? Well, I think anything that ‘disconnects’ us connects us in another way, freeing up and feeding our creativity and I think that creativity, like wilderness, is a need of the human spirit. So, yes, in a way, all these things nurture my writing.

Do you have music playing when you write? What are your tracks of choice?

In Spain, I often write just to the sound of cicadas in the cactus and bougainvillea outside my window and I love that – it’s almost a trance-like kind of music. In Kenya, I love the silence and birdsong of writing on my mother’s veranda. Otherwise, if I am writing indoors, I will often have classical music or Spanish guitar playing gently in the background.

What are you currently reading?

One of the books I am reading at the moment is Border by Kapka Kassabova, which explores the stories of forgotten people living on the scarred borderlands of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece. The inside cover describes it as ‘a fascinating meditation on the borderlines that exist between countries, between cultures, between people, and within each of us’. It’s not a novel but there is something haunting about the way it is written – and the subject matter is peculiarly poignant at a time of fragmentation and the search for identity that we are experiencing across Europe in current times.

You have travelled a lot, do you have a favourite place/country?

Mmm, a hard question. There are certain countries that are emotional orbits in my life, all places I have lived in: Kenya, England, Spain, Argentina, Australia. The three that are in active orbit now are Spain, where I live in an unusually cosmopolitan and artistic village that has been in my life for over 30 years; England, where I have close friends and make frequent visits for work; and Kenya, where my extraordinary mother lives in a log cabin near Lake Naivasha and I visit whenever I can. The Spanish village I live in, once a thriving gold mine, is in a national park in Andalucía on a beautiful patch of wild volcanic coastline – and this feeds my soul. I love walking in the hills or on the cliffs – and I love the freedom too of not needing to worry about buffalos or hippos as I do on walks with my mother in Kenya! To be honest, the contrast and the back and forth between these three places suits me: I am a happy misfit in all three!

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#BookReview ~ Kindred Spirits by @WhitneyDineen #BookBoost

Dashing and successful, Richard Bingham has been voted one of the top ten bachelors in New York City. After unwittingly offending a reporter from Manhattan Life magazine, he finds himself on the receiving end of an article that makes his quest of finding the perfect mate nearly impossible.
After one dating disaster too many, Richard decides it’s time to seek professional help, so he signs up for the matchmaking services of the East Side Yenta.
Philippa Fielding is single and searching for love in London, but her accidental profession of “Message Deliverer from the Great Beyond” puts most men right off.
Will Pip’s new “Spirit Helper,” Bertram, be able to set her on the course for true love with a message for Richard?
Matchmaking, misunderstandings, and mayhem abound in this fast-paced romantic comedy about love, life, and the afterlife!

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About the Author

I love writing about strong women with a great sense of humor! I also like to write about real women who wear double digits. xo

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My Review

If you haven’t read a book by Whitney Dineen you are missing an absolute treasure of a writer. She pours wit, wisdom and great dollops of humour into each page. I love her sharp honest opinion that never fails to make me laugh no matter what the subject is.

In Kindred Spirits we get a taste of the delectable Richard, he has appeared previously but now the eligible bachelor wants a mate! After too many dating mishaps he decides to enlist the help of a dating matchmaker. He is based in New York, meanwhile across the Atlantic Pip is single with a rather unique talent.

Allow yourself to drift into a supernatural zone and join Pip as she speaks to those from beyond! Her rather quirky spirit adviser called Bertram is the star of the show .. will there be an opportunity for Pip and Richard to meet? Add in Honey and an auction and that sets the scene for some wonderfully eccentric events.

This has a slightly different feel to other books by this author but once I adapted to the pace I was again rewarded with giggles and mayhem. For anyone of a certain age who remembers it, there is a song that you will be singing long after the ending!

Thanks to Whitney for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily. 

 

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#PublicationDay #Review ~ The Prince and the Pea by Denise Deegan @denisedeegan

I’m delighted to welcome Denise to the blog and wish her a very Happy Publication Day! This is a perfect coffee break book 🙂 xx

As heir to the throne, Prince Richard is expected to marry well, and his parents are adamant that only the finest princess will do. But is royal blood really more important than the spark of true love?

His father, the king, has devised his own test of true royalty, inviting the haughtiest heiress for miles around to spend a night at the castle, balanced atop a pile of mattresses concealing a single pea. But even though she passes the test, she is too outraged by sleep deprivation to stay beyond breakfast. Meanwhile Richard can’t stop thinking about Rosie O’Toole, the charming chambermaid who has taught him how to lay a fire and find true meaning in his life…

When Rosie is unfairly dismissed and disappears without a trace, Richard is determined to find her. He must bring her back to the castle and reinstate her at once. But as he grows more desperate, Richard realises that he is no longer searching for a chambermaid, but for his one true love.

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About the Author

Denise Deegan writes stories for readers of all ages. She lives with her family in Dublin, where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking, and her novels being made into movies. She has a master’s degree in public relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur. Her favourite story of all time is a fairy tale: ‘The Selfish Giant’ by Oscar Wilde.

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My Review

Firstly I would like to thank Denise for bringing this story to my attention. If you loved a good fairy tale when you were younger then this is an ideal follow on in the ‘grown-up’ world.

Absolutely ideal to sit with a cup of coffee and let your imagination work wonders for 5 minutes. The Prince and the Pea may only be a short story but it speaks volumes about finding oneself, makes you think what is important and perhaps think about others a little more.

Yes, there is a royal family, the king wants Prince Richard to marry a highly suitable princess. A plan has been devised involving a pea under the mattress, how the chosen young ladies react to this test will determine whether they are deemed appropriate for marriage.

But one day Prince Richard opens his eyes to the world and starts wondering about the meaning of life. Strangely he confides in his maid and a sweet routine follows whereby he looks forward to chatting while she does her daily chores.

She is banished from the household when their friendship is discovered and Richard suddenly realises he needs to find her. But Rosie has disappeared. 

I really liked the way Rosie interacted with Richard and watching his mind expand beyond the normal expectations. A lovely little book that can be enjoyed by all. It’s fun but has a deeper serious side and I finished it with a smile. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and Denise for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily. 

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