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** My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

 

Description:

It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy.  After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them.  But he is no ordinary priest.  Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line.  Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews.  But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?

My Thoughts & Review:

I am a huge fan of stories with a setting in WWII, and so when this book popped up on my radar I instantly added it to the ever growing list of books I’d like to read. It is part of a set by the publisher of “Hands on History” books, an entertaining and enjoyable way of bringing historical tales to the hands of children. The other books in the series look just as promising and I have already added these to my mountainous list to buy.

Leo’s War is set in Italy during the Italian Campaign of WWII, where many people took measures to rise up against the Fascists and Nazis. One such person who made it a mission to subvert the ruling forces was Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a man that would have a pivotal role in the life of young Leo and his sister Ruby.
One night Leo’s mother is arrested at their home, and being like any young adventurous hero, Leo takes the decision to head to Rome with is disabled sister to seek safety and the mysterious Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. All he has is a name, a location and tune to whistle … what could possibly go wrong? As the youngsters make their way under the cover of darkness, they have little idea of how truly dangerous their journey could be or who they might encounter.
Eventually they do reach Rome and make contact with the Monsignor, what then follows is a tense and often anxious ride to the end of the war in Italy.

Leo is a character that I think many readers will take an instant liking to, his personality is such that it’s hard not to. He has a kind heart and loves his mother and sister dearly, his main concern throughout is the safety of those around him and not once takes a moment to think for himself, quite commendable really. He does at times struggle with the decisions that other characters make, not able to perhaps see “the bigger picture”, his youthful naivety colouring his thinking. He takes to helping those who need to escape without a second thought, and some of the scrapes he gets into are enough to have you gasping in horror or chuckling in admiration. But as much as I adored Leo, I have to admit that Ruby was the one that stole my heart, something about her just made dazzle me. Whether it was her determination to be heard or perhaps just the stories she told, she really brought out a side of characters in this book that made them more human, more real. I cannot ramble this far and not mention the wonderfully cunning yet sneaky Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a truly remarkable man for what he did to help those in desperate need. His actions saved so many lives and the depiction of him in Leo’s War makes him such a easy character to connect with.

The writing is fantastic, the pace of the story is such that no matter how many times you say “just one more chapter”, you will end up racing through the book eager to see what happens next. The language used throughout makes this suitable for children and teenagers, as well as grown ups.
It’s an exiting and enjoyable read that educates on an aspect of WWII that many might not have much knowledge about, and more importantly it highlights the work of a truly remarkable figure from history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Absolutely cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I cannot wait to see what the other books in the Hands on History series are like!

You can buy a copy of Leo’s War via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository
Poolbeg
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There is a giveaway running on this blog tour, the prize is a £30.00 Amazon gift voucher (this is however only open to UK entries).

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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About the Author:

 Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.

She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels.   Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.

Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.patriciamurphyonline.com

Twitter: @_PatriciaMurphy

Facebook – h https://www.facebook.com/Leos-War-Irelands-Secret-World-War-2-Hero-714055598929732

Facebook  –  https://www.facebook.com/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising-277254289106782/

 

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C. Wilson, I am thrilled to be able to share a post about including time slip elements in novels.

 

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Description:

The fireplace hadn’t looked like a time-portal.
All Kate had wanted was a fun, relaxing day out, watching the knights jousting at Nottingham Castle. What she ended up with was something quite different.
Transported in a heartbeat from 2011 to 1485, how will Kate handle life at the Ricardian court? Even more importantly, how will she cope when she catches the eye of the king himself?

You can buy a copy of The Last Plantagenet via Amazon

 

This is the first time I’ve tried incorporating a timeslip element into my writing, but I don’t think it will be the last. In The Last Plantagenet?, Kate ends up slipping from 2011 to 1485, with the majority of the tale set in the latter timeframe. To make things slightly easier for me, as a first-time time-traveller, I decided to reduce the amount of back-and-forth, so I wouldn’t get myself (or any future readers!) confused. I’ve read some great examples where characters have hints of timeslip in each chapter, or move between times, but it was too great a challenge straight away.

The biggest challenge for me was finding a way to demonstrate that modern life was intruding in Kate’s 1485 reality, without it sounding too contrived, and happily, the answer came out of a conversation at writing group, and fitted perfectly both with the medieval elements, and 2011’s story. I can’t go giving away what it is here though, can I?

Apart from that, I really wanted to make sure I got my timings right in 1485. I have a book detailing Richard’s last 100 days, showing where he was on each of those days, when he was travelling, and what he was up to. Helpfully, being a king, that was recorded in good detail, but I still managed to get myself in a muddle on one day, which managed to have three mornings and two evenings! My poor characters didn’t have a clue what they were doing, constantly waking up and going to bed, without any change in day! Clearly time-travel wasn’t a problem, just spending a whole day in a single time-zone, and basic counting… Once this was cracked though, having the outline of where the court was each day made plotting the tale easier, having that skeleton to hang my story on. Somehow, having the fantasy element of timeslip included, made me even more concerned that I was getting the history right. So, when Richard III went on a hunting trip, practically a holiday, just days before Bosworth, that’s exactly where his court went in The Last Plantagenet? It also gave me the perfect opportunity to reference one of my favourite ever films, the magnificent Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, so I could hardly ignore that.

Moving forwards, I’ve decided to have another go at timeslip, but this time, to build more of the back-and-forth element into it. For this, I think a LOT of plotting will be required, to make sure the timelines match up. I’m anticipating plenty of post-it notes, timelines on long sheets of paper, and breaking my rule of a lifetime and working in silence for a change. I’ll let you know how it goes!

About the Author:

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon

Social Media Links:

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for the Vanished Child by M J Lee, I have a fantastic post to share with you about family secrets which has really got me intrigued and I look forward to reading The Vanished Child soon!

 

Description:

The Vanished Child Cover EBOOK

 

What would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children’s home. She returned later but he had vanished. 

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go? 

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a standalone novel.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.

You can buy a copy of The Vanished Child here

Guest Post by M J Lee

Does your family have a secret?

Every family has things they don’t talk about in front of the children. Or sometimes in front of other adults.

You only have to watch the mesmerising revelations on Who do you think you are? or The Will  to see that the deeper we dig into our families the more secrets we will find. Hidden by old aunties, buried in old photographs, or simply hushed up by drawing a curtain over the past.

An illegimate child. A black sheep. A missing son or daughter. A shotgun marriage. A drunken uncle. A convicted felon. A runaway bride.

Funnily enough in Britain, it looks like Geordies have the most secrets, followed by Lancashire. Here’s a table from a recent survey:

survey results

They were always canny people in Newcastle.

My own family secret doesn’t appear on the chart. My grandfathers fought on opposing sides during the Irish Civil War. One was a member of the Free State Army whilst the other was a Captain in the IRA. I often wonder whether they ever met.

Most family secrets are swept under the carpet, kept hidden by aunties. But occasionally, they come to light in genealogical searches, in old photographs, letters, and journals. They are a wonderful source of material for novelists. Through the techniques of the genealogical researcher, secrets can be discovered, tales told, and the past revealed in a way that no other mystery can match.

Family secrets form the basis of my own series of novels, featuring genealogical investigator, Jayne Sinclair. She’s an ex-police detective who, after her partner was shot and killed, found researching her family history  a way of forgetting the trauma. She left the police force and now investigates family history for her clients. Family histories that no other genealogist wants to touch.

In the latest book, the Vanished Child, Jayne helps her new mother-in-law to investigate one of her secrets; an unknown brother born out of wedlock in 1944. In the case, Jayne is faced with lies, secrets and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth. What happened to the Vanished Child?

I hope you enjoy the book. But what about you? Do let me know at the email address below if you have any unusual family secrets. They could form the basis of a new investigation by Jayne Sinclair…

 

Martin Lee is the author of four genealogical mystery novels, featuring investigator, Jayne Sinclair. He can be contacted at www.writermjlee.com, on Facebook at writermjlee and on twitter at @writermjlee. He’s nothing if not original with his names.

 

About the Author:

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Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Social Media Links 

Website: www.writermjlee.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/WriterMJLee

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/writermjlee

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Today I am delighted to share a short review of a set of short stories as part of the blog tour for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected.

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** My thanks to Rachel for my copy of these books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Four twisty, short reads.
Addictive works of suspense,
That will leave you breathless and give you goose bumps…

Trading with Death
What sacrifice might we make for those we love? In the face of death, will we be selfish or selfless?

Tell Me a Secret
Deceit, lies and secrets – how well do we know those close to us?

Sweet Justice 
We follow Tess as she confronts the dark side…

Written on the Apple Tree 
A moment from a past life, a possession, or a simple meeting between strangers?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Chilling Tales of the Unexpected is an interesting collection of short stories that are filled with intrigue and suspense that show a character in some form of trouble or a dilemma of sorts.

The author’s background in psychotherapy shows through her writing where she explores the intricacies of the mind when each of her characters are in a situation that causes turmoil.  Each of the stories focuses on a different setting and different set of characters that will give readers pause for thought.  Trading with Death was one of the stories that made me really made me wonder, and it was interesting seeing how the events were portrayed to maximize impact with just enough detail to grab the attention of readers.

There’s always the danger with short stories that they might not have enough information in them or you’d want the story to be expanded on but here the tales are just right.  The information given is just enough to set the scenes and pull the reader in, and there is an unsettling edge to the tales that keeps you on edge as you read.

An interesting and quick read!

You can buy a copy of Chilling Tales of the Unexpected via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Born and educated in the UK, Ann Girdharry is a trained psychotherapist and has worked as a manager in the not-for-profit sector for many years.
Today she lives in Montpellier, France with her husband and two children.

She writes suspense and thrillers, is a book reviewer and occasionally blogs for the Huffington Post UK. Her crime thriller novel, GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL, was an Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist 2017. Two of her thrillers are READERS’ FAVOURITE Five Star Books.

Social Media Links –

follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AnnGirdharryAuthor/

follow on Twitter www.twitter.com/GirdharryAnn

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** My thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…

1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.

1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo?

Who knew about the stolen Renoir?

And are they prepared to kill – again?

My Thoughts & Review:

The mystery of this book appealed to me, what was the connection between the events in the 1940s and 2011?  Initially when I heard about this book I panicked, it was part of the way through the series The Guernsey Novels but I needn’t have worried as this is a standalone novel.

With a storyline that moves back and forth between the two time settings, readers learn about Leo and his wife Teresa on Guernsey, how they are preparing for invasion by the Nazis and their parting is of necessity.  Once Leo has got his wife and child to safety he awaits his fate along with the remaining islanders.
In 2011 Fiona stumbles upon the body of her twin brother Nigel in their antique shop, an apparent suicide that makes no sense to Fiona or any of their friends.  She sets out to prove to the police that they are wrong, not realising the danger she might be putting herself in.

I enjoyed the way that the stories of Leo and Fiona ran alongside each other, each of their lives filled with moments of heightened emotions, whether trauma and fear, happiness and love.  I perhaps felt a little more connected to the tale of Leo and the Nazi occupation due to having an interest in stories set in this time.  Leo’s life was undoubtedly lonely once he got his wife and child to safety, reading the short narrative where he mentions his love for them both was heart warming and when he recounts the memory of meeting his wife for the first time, it gives readers a wonderful insight into this character.
It did feel that Fiona’s story took up more of the narrative and it needed to, it was the driving force of the plot.  But I felt less connected to it, less invested.  There were aspects of the plot that I found didn’t work for me, but they worked to convey the messages that the author wanted to share.

The descriptions of the settings are so clear and vivid, Guernsey sounds like such a wonderful place and so appealing.  The beaches sound beautiful and the way that the scenery comes to life through the writing makes this a delight to read.  I enjoyed the way that this history of the island was told through the characters and indeed finding out more about the way that the occupation impacted on the lives of the islanders was very interesting.

A well written mystery with touches of romance and danger.

You can buy a copy of The Betrayal via Amazon UK

 

And for one lucky person, there is a giveaway running on this blog tour with the great prize of a signed copy of The Betrayal (which is open internationally!) and all you need to do is click on the rafflecopter link to be in with a chance.

** Giveaway**

 

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About the Author:

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.anneallen.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Anne-Allen-Author-176883759173475/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneAllen21

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** My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Love can drive you crazy… in more ways than one!

When Abby met Simon, it was the start of something special, a love Abby believed would last a lifetime.

A wedding, two daughters and fifteen years later Abby’s world is falling apart. Having discovered Simon has had an affair her normally ordered mind is spiralling out of control. Crushed by the betrayal and shocked by her own reaction, she knows she needs to get herself together. She’s just not sure where to start.

With Simon on a mission to win her back and a close friend hiding a secret that could push her further over the edge, Abby finds strength and support where she least expects it. But as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it may be more than the limits of Abby’s mind that are put to the test!

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by this book, there’s certainly a lot more to it than meets the eye and I might have let it pass me by if it hadn’t been for one my favourite bloggers bringing it to my attention.

The central character Abby is one that I think many readers will like, she has a wonderful sense of humour and the situation that she finds herself in makes for an interesting and thought provoking read.
Having discovered that her husband has cheated on her she is understandably crushed, she struggles to control her emotions and it takes the friendship of her fellow teachers Melissa and Brad to help her pull through.  Her flirtations with Brad are something she feels are harmless, and whether they are intended to make her husband Simon jealous, or just to make her feel a little better about herself, I couldn’t decide.

What I hadn’t expected was the journey into Abby’s mind, learning how she deals with the anger and frustrations of what Simon has done (as well as “the other woman”), watching her attempts at flirting with Brad gives the readers the notion that deep down she is still in love with her husband, but she needs to decide if she can forgive and forget or whether to end things with him.

This is quite a thought provoking read, and one that has wit and charm sprinkled throughout.  The plot is interesting, the characters are well created and although some are not the most likeable in some instances, I do think that this is still an impressive debut novel and I would be keen to read more from this author.

You can buy a copy of Crazy Over You via

Amazon UK

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** My thanks to Rachel and to Kathryn for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Blackmail, Sex and Lies is a story of deception, scandal, and fractured traditional Victorian social values. It is the tale of a naïve, young woman caught up in a whirlwind romance with a much older man. However, both have personality flaws that result in poor choices, and ultimately lead to a tragic end.

For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?

This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857. It explores the disastrous romance between the vivacious socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith, and her working class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier.

After a two-year torrid, and forbidden relationship with L’Angelier, that takes place against her parents’ wishes, the situation changes dramatically when William Minnoch enters the scene. This new man in Madeleine’s life is handsome, rich, and of her social class. He is also a man of whom her family approve.

Sadly, insane jealous rages, and threats of blackmail, are suddenly silenced by an untimely death.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve always had a soft spot for historical fiction, but usually I’m quite specific of the era that I read, however something about the sound of this book intrigued me and I wanted to know more.

Kathryn McMaster weaves together the scandalous story detailing the love affair and murder trial of socialite Madeleine Hamilton Smith and her working class lover Pierre Emile L’Angelier.  Madeleine and Pierre’s relationship was met with disapproval, a high class and well-to-do young lady should not have been mixing with a working class man, and their affair would not be acknowledged or accepted by society.  Upon realising this, Madeleine is keen to call the whole thing off but Pierre has other ideas and pursues for her two years. 

During this time Madeleine meets the more socially acceptable William Minnoch who is more suitable however this serves to make Pierre jealous.  

Pierre’s regular use of arsenic is well known, and the reader also finds out that Madeleine has purchased arsenic on many occasions, so when Pierre’s body is discovered she is suspected of poisoning him to clear the way for marrying Minnoch and must fight to try clearing her name.

Through the use of letters, readers are privy to a wonderful insight into the characters.  The letters show the affair between Madeleine and Pierre as it develops, but they also show how Madeleine requested Pierre to return the letters so they could not be used as proof of their relationship.  A really great way to give readers an glimpse into the minds of complex characters and it really increases the intrigue surrounding the events within.

An enjoyable read and one that I found had me thinking long after I’d finished the book.  I just can’t decide whether Madeleine was guilty or not….

 

You can buy a copy of Blackmail, Sex and Lies via:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

And as a special treat, this book is available for 99p/c for the duration of the blog tour, so if you want to read it I’d recommend heading over to Amazon now and snapping up a copy before the tour ends on 14th December!!

 

About the Author:

Blackmail Sex Lies - kathry-macmaster-author

Kathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.

Social Media Links –

www.kathrynmcmaster.com

https://twitter.com/TrueCrimeNovels

https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmcmaster.author/

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** My thanks to Rachel and Helen for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Christmas is coming and New York is in full swing for the snowy season. But at The Little Knitting Box in the West Village, things are about to change …

The Little Knitting Box has been in Cleo’s family for nearly four decades, and since she arrived fresh off the plane from the Cotswolds four years ago, Cleo has been doing a stellar job of running the store. But instead of an early Christmas card in the mail this year, she gets a letter that tips her world on its axis.

Dylan has had a tumultuous few years. His marriage broke down, his mother passed away and he’s been trying to pick up the pieces as a stay-at-home dad. All he wants this Christmas is to give his kids the home and stability they need. But when he meets Cleo at a party one night, he begins to see it’s not always so easy to move on and pick up the pieces, especially when his ex seems determined to win him back.

When the snow starts to fall in New York City, both Cleo and Dylan realise life is rarely so black and white and both of them have choices to make. Will Dylan follow his heart or his head? And will Cleo ever allow herself to be a part of another family when her own fell apart at the seams?

Full of snow, love and the true meaning of Christmas, this novel will have you hooked until the final page.

My Thoughts & Review:

When a book title has something to do with knitting it’s almost destined to catch my eye, and this one certainly did.  The description made it sound like a perfect read for a wintery cold Sunday afternoon so I curled up on the sofa with my kindle and a hot chocolate and soon forgot about the housework.

This is such a lovely and cosy story, with characters that readers cannot help but take into their hearts and want to hug close.  And the wool shop, well that’s got to be my favourite part of the story!  Having visited one or two wool shops over the years (ok so many wool shops), I can officially say I’ve never been to one as amazing as that described by Helen!  I definitely would like to go to it though, it sounded so wonderful.  The rainbow of shades of yarn mentioned sounded quite magical, the descriptions of the yarns, the smells, it all felt so real as if I were standing in The Knitting Box.

The way that this story is written, giving readers a glimpse at the perspectives of both Cleo and Dylan means that you get to know them both, get really see what they are like and in turn feel connected and invested in them.  Cleo’s assistant Kaisha is a lovely character, her enthusiasm and passion are wonderfully written and I’d love to see her in her own novel!
Christmas in New York is always a lovely setting and in this book it’s perfect!  It works so well with the budding romance between Cleo and Dylan, the “will they, won’t they” feel to it all just makes for a more enjoyable read.

You can buy a copy of Christmas at the Little Knitting Box via:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

GIVEAWAY:

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For your chance to Win Christmas at the Little Knitting Box paperback & Galaxy Minstrels (UK Only) please click on this link to the Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the Author:

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction with an emphasis on relationships and love. She enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them. Helen enjoys creating strong female lead characters and although her stories often deal with serious issues, they always have a happy ending.

Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen graduated from University with a business degree and began working in I.T. This job took her over to Australia and it was there that she studied writing and journalism and began writing for women’s health and fitness magazines. She also volunteered with the PR department of a children’s hospital where she wrote articles and media releases. Helen began writing fiction in 2011 and hasn’t missed the I.T. world one little bit, although the I.T. skills have come in handy of course, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining a website.

After fourteen years of living in Australia, Helen returned to the UK and now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and their children.

Website – http://www.helenjrolfe.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/helenjrolfewriter

Twitter  – https://twitter.com/HJRolfe


And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ve got the great honour of sharing this exciting news with you too!

Snowflakes and Mistletoe at the Inglenook Inn (New York Ever After, Book 2)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but is it the time to fall in love? 

As the flames on the log fire flicker and the snowflakes swirl above the New York streets, maybe this Christmas could be the one that changes everything…

When Darcy returns to Manhattan, she’s put in charge of the Inglenook Inn, a cosy boutique hotel in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Inn needs a boost in bookings if it’s to survive the competition, so Darcy is convinced that hosting Christmas this year is the answer. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a face from the past, which can only spell trouble.

Myles left England behind and took a job in New York. It’s a step forwards in his career, and has the added bonus of being nowhere near his family. He’s also hoping to avoid Christmas, the worst time of the year. But when his company puts him up at the Inglenook Inn and he recognises Darcy, it isn’t long before they clash. 

When disaster strikes, can Myles and Darcy put their differences aside to make Christmas at the Inglenook Inn a success?

Publication Date – 12tth December 2017

Pre-order Now!

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

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A LITTLE CHRISTMAS FAITH_FRONT_150dpi

** My thanks to Rachel and Kathryn for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Is it time to love Christmas again?
Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests … 
But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy.
As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?

My Thoughts & Review:

What a lovely book to get in the festive mood with, full of romance and feel good moments with a fantastic setting and lovely characters.

The style of writing in this book makes the story flow easily, gently leading the reader onwards.  The descriptions are utterly wonderful, The Old Mill really came alive on the pages for me, I could see the huge Christmas tree in the lobby, I felt like I was able to wander the corridors of the hotel, such clear images were conjured by Kathryn Freeman’s writing.  The characters are interesting and easy to connect with, I found that the more I read about Faith, the more I liked her.  She’s the epitome of loveliness, so kind hearted and supportive, wants to be there for everyone and help them.  Adam on the other hand, can’t see past his grief.  He loathes Christmas and everything about it, but underneath it all, he’s such a gentle and lovely guy.  Seeing the chemistry between these two was so lovely, and the way its all unfolds makes for entertaining and enjoyable reading.

The plot is packed with everything you want in a feel good Christmas read, ups and downs, laughter and all the subtle moments that make for enjoyable read that leaves you feeling all is right in the world.

You can buy a copy of A Little Christmas Faith via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:5707-2

I was born in Wallingford but have spent most of my life living in a village outside Windsor. A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also loves to write romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

I’ve two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in my life is all in my head. Then again, my husband’s unstinting support of my career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Maxine Morrey’s Best Little Christmas Shop!  I am so excited to be able to share an extract from the book and there’s a fab competition to win some goodies and a signed book too!

TBLC - Cover

Description:

Come home for Christmas to the Best Little Christmas Shop – the snowiest, cosiest place you can be!

Home for the holidays…

Icing gingerbread men, arranging handmade toys and making up countless Christmas wreaths in her family’s cosy little Christmas shop isn’t usually globe-trotter Lexi’s idea of fun. But it’s all that’s keeping her mind off romance. And, with a broken engagement under her belt, she’s planning to stay well clear of that for the foreseeable future…until gorgeous single dad Cal Martin walks through the door!

Christmas takes on a whole new meaning as Lexi begins to see it through Cal’s adorable five-year-old son’s eyes. But, finding herself getting dangerously close to the mistletoe with Cal, Lexi knows she needs to back off. She’s sworn off love, and little George needs a stability she can’t provide. One day she’ll decide whether to settle down again – just not yet.

But the best little Christmas shop in this sleepy, snow-covered village has another surprise in store…

You can buy a copy of The Best Little Christmas Shop now via Amazon UK


Extract:

The Four Seasons had started life as a quirky little gift shop many years ago – opened by my newlywed parents. It had a USP before that was even a thing in that it followed the seasons. In summer, it was stuffed to the roof with bunting, picnic blankets and baskets, tiki lamps, parasols and everything else you could think of, and plenty you hadn’t, for a perfect summer’s day.

But now, in the grips of winter, it was overflowing with Christmas-related goodies and a warm, cosy ambiance. This was enhanced by a massive tree that had only just fit in the door and was topped off with classy but festive instrumental music playing softly in the background.

Much of the stock was locally made, some by my family, others by friends, and the rest sourced from artisans both here and abroad. My parents had always loved discovering and nurturing new talent, although since Dad’s heart scare a couple of years ago they’d stepped back a little and my brothers now took it in turns to do the travelling for this side of the business, cramming it in around everything else including their families.

From a little shop in the village, over the last forty years, the business had grown into a very successful online one too and my brothers still had more plans for it.

The shop was part of my childhood, part of the fabric of my life. I’d actually taken my first steps in it, and growing up, I’d help choose new stock for the next season. Talking shop was never banned at our dinner table. It was positively encouraged. My brothers and I had been chief toy testers for many years and now my nieces and nephews had taken over that mantle.

Even though my own career had taken me out of the country for over half the year, my family had always made sure I was still included as much as I had the time for. Mum would email me a few pictures, or send me some product samples, asking what I thought. Depending on my mood, and how far away from home I was at the time, it was sometimes a bittersweet experience. I loved that they made a point of keeping me involved in any way they and I could manage, but I knew that had I been closer, I’d have been sat around the big, timeworn pine table discussing that same product with my family in person. Laughing, teasing, talking. And the truth was, I’d never stopped missing that.

Running a business was hard work but the shop had grown along with our family and, as such, it was almost another family member. Even when it took nearly every minute of our time, we loved it. And, much to my surprise, I now found myself sat back behind the project desk next to the till and experiencing exactly what Matt had meant about orders having shot up.

I put aside a completed wreath, gave a glance around my currently quiet surroundings, smiling at the warm fuzzies it set off somewhere deep in my soul, and began work on the next one.

Winding mistletoe around the main structure, I held it up, eyeballing it and sussing where the holly would go. The process was remarkably soothing and although I’d been doing much the same thing for the past week, in between serving customers, I’d felt some of the tension I’d been carrying around for a long time very slowly begin to ebb out of me.

Creating was good for the soul my parents had always said, and although I’d been taught some basic skills, I’d always been more interested in tinkering with the old Jag Dad had in the garage below my room. It was one of those projects he always meant to get around to but never had, and then his heart attack had happened. It had been a huge scare for all of us. Dad had always seemed full of life and indestructible – big and broad like my brothers – but his heart attack had brought us down to earth and now we all fussed him probably a little too much for his liking.

But, thank goodness, he’d been sensible and my parents took the opportunity to step back a little, leaving much of the day-to-day running to Dan and the others. And leaving the Jag to me. But it was still sat in much the same condition as when he’d given it to me. I just never seemed to get the time to do anything on it. During the times that I did get to visit home, I wanted to be with my family and friends, catching up on everything I’d missed, not stuck out on my own in a chilly garage. As much as I loved cars, and that Jag particularly, I loved my family more.

Who knows? Maybe now that the career I’d worked so hard to build was swirling around the plughole, I might finally have the time to do something on it. Not exactly the way I’d planned things to go but still. Although I loved the shop and had worked in here since I could remember, possibly as more of a hindrance than help in my early years, I never thought for a moment that I’d be sat back here in my thirties. A sharp jab in my thumb from a particularly robust holly leaf brought me painfully out of my reverie.

‘Oh f –’ I glared at the leaf now firmly attached to my digit. And then I looked over it and directly into the wide, soft grey eyes of a little boy around five years old who was regarding me curiously. Behind him stood a pair of long, indigo-denim-clad legs. My gaze followed them up and I found myself on the end of an intense stare from a similar pair of eyes.

But these were a much stormier grey, set in the ridiculously good-looking face of a man I assumed to be the boy’s father. I cleared my throat and swallowed my words, making a mental note to get one of my brothers to fix a bell to the back of the door as soon as possible.

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you come in.’

The man quirked a dark brow almost imperceptibly. ‘Evidently.’ His expression was firmly set to unamused. I gave him a fixed smile and looked back to my desk, hoping he’d leave to go and practise his ninja shopping skills elsewhere. The young boy’s eyes were focused on my hands as I picked up the holly again, a little more carefully this time.

‘Come on, George, let’s –’

‘What are you doing?’ George asked, seemingly not hearing his father and sitting the teddy he’d been holding on the table at the end of my supplies so that he could observe too.

I smiled at them both, almost expecting the father to repeat his request to leave but he remained silent, evidently happy to let George’s curiosity be fulfilled and probably aware that the glare he’d given me moments earlier was enough to stop me even thinking about swearing again for the rest of my life. Well, at least until they left anyway.

‘I’m making Christmas wreaths for people to hang on their doors.’

His eyes widened as his fingers reached out and touched the mistletoe. ‘It’s real?’

‘It is. Mind the holly though. That can be a bit spiky.’ I risked a glance up through my lashes and met his father’s eyes, a glimmer of a smirk on a mouth that some might call tempting. I’d probably call it that too but I already had way too much to worry about.

‘We had one like that last year but it was plastic.’

‘Some of those can be very nice too.’ I smiled.

‘Not as nice as yours,’ George said, moving to peer around me at the others he had now noticed hanging behind, ready for shipping out later.

‘Thank you.’

George came around the front of my desk again and watched for a moment as I continued to work. His father had taken a couple of steps away and was now looking at the rows of chutney, fudge, and other delicious temptations on the shelves to my right.

‘I do like your bear,’ I said to George. ‘Does he have a name?’

‘He’s just called Bear.’

‘That sounds like the perfect name to me.’ I gently took Bear’s paw and shook it. ‘It’s very nice to meet you, Bear.’

George giggled. ‘I’m George.’

I shook his hand in the same way. ‘My name’s Lexi. It’s very nice to meet you too.’

George smiled. ‘This is my daddy.’

‘Hello, Daddy … I mean …’

Oh God, that sounded so weird!


 

Giveaway time!

For your chance to win the goodies in the picture below just click on this link
Please note this is for a Rafflecopter giveaway and is open to UK entries only.

TBLC - Giveaway Prize

 

About the author:

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens – perfect for a bookworm!

As years went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, aswell as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through, thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities.

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words loves to read sew and listen to podcasts. As she also likes cake she can also be found either walking or doing something vaguely physical at the gym.

Follow Maxine Morrey

Website           www.scribblermaxi.co.uk

Twitter                        @Scribbler_Maxi

Instagram        @scribbler_maxi

Facebook         www.Facebook.com/MaxineMorreyAuthor

Pinterest          ScribblerMaxi

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