Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley ~ COVER REVEAL!

I am very excited to be able to share the cover for Cathy Bramley's Appleby Farm, all four glorious parts in ONE BEAUTIFUL PAPERBACK (and eBook)! It will be released on August 13th and I can't wait for it to nestle into my bookshelf next to Ivy Lane (5* Review here)

Appleby Farm is a charming, funny and romantic story for anyone looking for a feel-good, light-hearted read, from the author of bestselling Ivy Lane

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She’s been happy working at the cafĂ© round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.

Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything…

The farm is in financial trouble, and it’s taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.

Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?

I can't wait for part four of Appleby Farm to be released on May 7th so I can see how things conclude for lovely Freya, here are my reviews for the first three installments:

Part One: A Blessing in Disguise
Part Two: A Family Affair
Part Three: Where The Heart Is

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

5* Review: The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood

Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she's been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.

Things aren't going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras.

When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads - by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.

The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda's guides still work. It's going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off . . .

Just sometimes I find it virtually impossible to review a book, I find that the books I have loved the most make the worst to review, as I don't want to just gush about how much I love it, I don't want to ruin twists or give away the whole plot, and this is one of those books!

Jessica Beam, party animal and lover of the pear cider finds herself down on her luck. After really blowing an important book launch with her best friend/boss/landlady Summer (VILE!) she finds herself out on her ear, jobless and virtually penniless. She has been given the cold shoulder by her so called friends and after a flash of inspiration she decides to find the only living relative she has, but never met, her grandmother.

Enter Matilda Beam. 1950's literary icon and original Good Woman. She is armed with advice, cold cream, girdles and pointy bras, just what Jessica needs to grab herself a Good Man. And when a literary project of their own - just what they both need to get them back on their feet - comes along, Matilda pulls out all the stops to bag Jess London's most eligible bachelor. 

The characters, the plot, the humour, everything in this book is just wonderful. I fell in love with the men in Jess' life and also with Matilda's assistant, southern belle, Peach, who decides that Jess can be her new BFF, they can watch movies and eat popcorn and do everything BFFs in the movies do. 

And Mr. Belding, the kitten with the extensive wardrobe...whaaat?

There's nothing more to say than buy this, read this, laugh out loud and love it!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

5* Review: The Day We Disappeared - Lucy Robinson

Annie has a secret. But if she's not going to tell, we won't either. It's a heart-breaking secret she wishes she didn't have - yet Annie isn't broken, not quite yet. Especially now there's someone out there who seems determined to fix her.

Kate has run away. But she's not going to tell us why - that would defeat the point of running, wouldn't it? It's proving difficult to reinvent herself, however, with one person always on her mind.

Scratch beneath the surface and nobody is really who they seem. Even Annie and Kate, two old friends, aren't entirely sure who they are any more. Perhaps you can work it out, before their pasts catch up with them for good . . .

Firstly, I think I may have found a really strong contender for the best book I will read this year. It may only be April, but when you know...

Now I'm not normally one who manages to keep a secret, so I will say very little as this little book holds some big secrets. I expected twists so unfortunately I kept anticipating what they would be and coming up with outlandish theories, please be more grown up than me when reading and don't let it spoil your enjoyment of this fantastic piece of writing, and very clever it is!

What wonderful protagonists we have in Kate and Annie, both are fragile characters, both guarding secrets and one very much on the run from something. The tale is told alternating between the two, and with wonderful supporting characters, my favourite being Becca who is just so funny, yet caring and a wonderful friend. I loved the fact that Kate found solace working as a junior groom in a stable yard (even if she didn't know the first thing about horses), I love the description of the horses and in particular the lovely, gorgeous, wonderful Stumpy. The backstory of Annie's life really is tragic, dark and difficult to imagine but her family and her close friends, Le cloob (an homage to her French friend Claudine who can only possibly eat in French restaurants) are just incredibly wonderful.

That really is as much of the story as I am willing to share for the fear of dropping a clanger and revealing spoilers, but please do read this as I'm certain you will not be disappointed!
I love Lucy Robinson's storytelling. I adore the voice she gives her characters, and her humour really is second to none. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Appleby Farm: Where The Heart Is - Cathy Bramley 5* review

Life is a whirlwind of hard work and fun at Appleby Farm, just the way Freya likes it. As her plans for the vintage tea rooms come together, the old timber barn is filled with a merry jumble of teacups and the smell of Auntie Sue’s freshly baked scones.

After a visit from Tilly Parker, Freya is beginning to feel like she’s finally found her home. And a surprise birthday treat makes Freya wonder – has love has been under her nose this whole time?

As the grand opening of the tea rooms arrives, the pressure is on – especially with greedy property developers sniffing around. Then a secret request poses a new challenge, but it might just be the answer to Freya’s prayers…

Appleby Farm is an irresistibly charming novel told in four parts – following the adventures of Freya Moorcroft in love, friendship and a spot of farming. Where The Heart Is is part three. It features some friendly faces who appeared in Cathy's bestselling series, Ivy Lane, but it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone story.

Each part of Appleby Farm contains 10 chapters.

As pleased as I was to see the third part of Appleby Farm drop into my Kindle, I was equally as dismayed as this is the penultimate part! I am loving this series by Cathy Bramley so very much, the thought of not visiting Freya and co again makes me want to rush off to the Lake District and take up farming.

Anyway, the third installment of Appleby Farm is equally as delightful as the previous two, Freya has found her feet in the world of farming, well, as much as she can in a short space of time, and the plans for the Appleby Farm Vintage Tearooms are coming along splendidly. Part three sees her renewed friendship with childhood friend, Harry, blossom and he proves an invaluable ally at just the right moment.

Freya's relationship with her parents also seems to be looking up, but unfortunately her unpleasant brother Julian makes his entrance in this installment and Freya now has her work cut out to keep Appleby Farm out of the hands of greedy property developers just as things are looking up.

As always, adore Cathy's writing and knack of drawing the reader right into the heart of the story and characters. The way she describes the Appleby Farm Vintage Tearooms is just amazing, I can see the shelves stacked with vintage china and smell Aunty Sue's delicious homemade cakes, this is definitely somewhere I'd love to visit! 

Ten chapters is a short yet wonderfully pleasant read and I can't wait for the paperback version to be published in August, just in time for my birthday!!

That Girl From Nowhere - Dorothy Koomson

Buy HERE from Amazon.co.uk

‘Where are you coming from with that accent of yours?’ he asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘I’m from nowhere.’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere,’ he says.
‘Not me,’ I reply silently.

Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she'll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.
As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay...

Clemency (Smitty), was adopted not long after birth with nothing other that a box decorated with butterflies to link her to her birth mother (the tradition/tale behind this box is captivating). After a painful breakup and while still grieving the death of her adoptive father, who throughout the book we see was a wonderful, caring man, she decides to pack up her life and move to the town she was born, Brighton, with the view of carrying on her jewellery making business. Her somewhat domineering mother decides, without invitation, to move with her. Clemency is certain the agenda behind this is to make sure she does not try to trace her birth family, which she has promised her adoptive mother she will never do. But a chance meeting sees that the decision is taken from Smitty's hands, and this starts a chain of events which changes everything in Smitty's life.

True to form Koomson tackles a variety of sensitive issues with care, making them as believable as they are hard hitting. I found looking deeply into Smitty's life and feelings interesting, how she perceived herself and the world around her, the feeling of being unwanted. not finding a place she belonged. The family dynamics of both her natural and adoptive family were especially fascinating, although I'm not sure I cared for any of her family members much - especially the deplorable cousin Nancy. So much jealousy, betrayal and deception goes on behind closed doors.

As always Koomson has a fabulous knack of writing an engaging tale with interesting twists and natural and in parts humorous dialogue, so many times I had to remind myself I was not reading someone's memoirs. I particularly enjoyed the vivid description of Smitty's many photographs on her wall (a collection of her most important life memories), and it has inspired me to get a 'real' camera to take photos over the summer and be able to have them in my hands instantly. 

Fans of Dorothy Koomson will devour this and it will make fans of new readers.