Starting Over at Acorn Cottage by Kate Forster – Blog Tour/Book Review

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About the book:

Buying a thatched cottage in the country may not be the usual cure for a broken heart.

But after Clara Maxwell finds out her boyfriend and best friend have been sneaking around behind her back, packing her bags and leaving everything in London behind feels like the only option…

Clara knew Acorn Cottage would be a fixer-upper… Yet in person, the cottage is less charmingly ramshackle and more a real health and safety concern. When Henry Garnett, her (rather handsome) new contractor, turns up with his little daughter Pansy and a van shaped like a cottage in tow, she isn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. What on earth has she gotten herself into?!

Still, there is something strangely lovable about the people in the little village of Merryknowe, from Rachel Brown, the quiet, lonely girl who bakes magical confections for the tearooms, to Tassie McIver, a little old lady with a lot of wisdom and a penchant for reading tea leaves. And Clara can’t deny that Henry and Pansy are quickly worming their way into her heart…

With all the heartbreak of the year behind her, could Acorn Cottage be the fresh start Clara so desperately wants?

My Review:

This book was so incredibly magical, and I didn’t want the story to come to an end, because it was just so lovely. This is the perfect antidote to the world outside right now, and the characters all add their own little magical touches which made me love them even more. From the outset Clara is just so innately good, and she drops everything to help anyone who needs her help, which is a quality that is in short supply in reality right now, and is a quality that most of us probably aspire to.

The absolute star of the show in this story is Tassie McIver, who brings a lot of the magic to the story, and is a little old lady that I simply adored. I really think everyone needs a Tassie in their lives! As wonderfully feel-good as this book is, it has a darker side to it too, dealing with abusive control in a sensitive way, and addressing carefully the aftermath to the abuse, with recovery aided by true friendships, and community spirit as the friends all rallied round.

The value of community is a theme that runs through this story, and I found it so heartwarming that I wanted to move immediately to live in a pretty thatched cottage in a village where everyone comes together to help one another, together with a magical bakery/cafe filled with delicious baked goods.

Kate Forster was a new author to me, but I will definitely be reading more of her work. ‘Starting Over at Acorn Cottage’ was an absolute joy to read.

Many thanks to Vicky Joss at Aria Fiction for the invitation to the blog tour. Please check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Starting Over at Acorn Cottage by Kate Forster is out now!

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IElqzy

iBooks: https://apple.co/3a5aUxS

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2FJCLFJ

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2FLp9d8

Follow Kate

Twitter: @kateforster

Facebook: @kateforsterwrites

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

A Mother’s Secret by Minna Howard – Blog Tour/Book Review

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About the book:

Verity seems to have it all. A beautiful home, two grown-up sons and a husband who has always been her rock. But one day, the doorbell rings. And it changes Verity’s life forever.

Saskia has nowhere else to go. Before she died, her mother left her with her father’s name and nothing else. The only way for Saskia to take care of herself – and her unborn baby – is to find the father she never knew. And the family that didn’t know she existed. 

This family secret means the end of everything they’ve ever known. But could it also be the chance for a new beginning?

My Review:

I enjoyed the way this gentle story about two women whose lives were thrown together by circumstance flowed from initially seeing that Verity had a perfectly settled life, to the bombshell that before they met, her husband had fathered a child he knew nothing about, and she was pregnant with his grandchild. I found the strength of both Verity and Saskia empowering, in the way they addressed issues and handled things maturely. I particularly warmed to the character of Verity, who I found handled the arrival of Saskia with such grace and pragmatism, and especially given the fact that she welcomed her into her home before a DNA test had been done to confirm who was Saskia’s father.

I felt that the connections between characters were very realistic in such a setting, and I found myself hoping they could see their way through a very trying situation for all concerned, to find a new normal.

I found the side story of Verity’s troublesome student Aidan was very compelling, and I found that I completely tapped into the fear felt by some of the situations. The addition of suspense worked really well with the story, and I loved the way in which it was all resolved.

This was a charming story about secrets, and resolutions, with multidimensional and realistic characters throughout. Many thanks to Vicky Joss and Aria Fiction for the invitation to take part in the blog tour. Please check out the other stops on this blog tour!

My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh – Book Review

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About the book:

What if your future was somewhere in your past?

Rosie Jones has been dumped by every boyfriend she’s ever had – most recently by Dinosaur Dave, live on TV, during the ‘phone-a-friend’ segment of a quiz show.
After the footage goes viral Rosie receives a bunch of flowers with a message:

I love you, I should have never let you go, I want you back x

But who sent them?

At a loose end and with £50,000 prize money in her back pocket, Rosie decides to take a trip down memory lane, visiting each of her ex-boyfriends to see not just if they are the one who sent the flowers but if they are the one.

Her journey takes her back to the house she grew up in and on a transatlantic cruise to New York, but can Rosie figure out which ex-boyfriend is the love of her life, or should the past stay in the past?

My Review:

This fun rom-com had me giggling to myself so much! Rosie was such an endearing character, and I loved following her on her journey, even though I couldn’t think of anything worse than hunting down my exes! Like Rosie though, one of my exes is gay and when I did meet up with him twenty years later he was my line manager rather than my gay best friend, which was infinitely worse!

I really enjoyed the escapades that Rosie had on the cruise and in New York, and in true rom-com fashion there really were some truly cringeworthy episodes. Her new friendship with her gay ex Eli was so charming, and he was such a lovely character to join her on her journey. I love reading about his escapades too, and would have loved to have known more.

This was not the first time I’ve read one of Portia’s books, and it definitely won’t be the last. I love her writing style, and I love the way her stories flow, so effortlessly and naturally funny. I loved the moral of the story, in that you must take chances in life and live without regret, which is the way I try to live my own life. All in all this was a fantastic story, and an easy 5 stars for me.

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar – Book Review

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About the book:

Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable Husky puppies). But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

My Review:

I’m rather partial to stories set in Scandinavia, and seeing the Northern Lights is right up there at the top of my very long bucket list, so this book was perfect for me from the outset. Add some gorgeous husky puppies and Christmas in Finnish Lapland and I am completely sold, and ready for the trip.

I loved Sylvie and her best friend Nari, so I became completely invested in them and their lives from the outset. I loved that while Sylvie reconnected with her ex-boyfriend Stellan, Nari had her own romantic adventure with the adorable, indigenous Niilo. I found myself immediately rooting for both couples, and hoping they got their happy ending.

I really enjoyed that the chapters were divided into the different perspectives, so the reader was immersed in the magical Christmassy world with a clear idea of who the characters really were, and just how genuine they were. This is the perfect book to read snuggled up under a blanket, although I must confess it did leave me googling flights to Lapland. Frozen Falls was such a beautiful location for a romance, and I think I loved the setting almost as much as I loved the characters! This was the first book I’ve read by Kiley Dunbar but it definitely won’t be the last!

The Confession by Jessie Burton – Book Review

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About the book:

The sensational new novel from the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse.

One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.

Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, this is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.

My Review:

The Confession is a dual timeline novel which delves into secrets and the highs and lows of motherhood. It jumps back and forwards in time, concentrating on the three main characters, Elise, Connie and Rose. Rose wants to find answers that only Connie can help her with as she is the link between the past and the present.

I was completely immersed into the lives of the characters from the outset. They were all beautifully strong women, and their flaws just added to making them feel more real to me. I also found the settings of 1980s Hollywood and present day suburban London a pleasing contrast, with loud, sunny, in your face LA compared beautifully with the calm, understated suburbs of London. The different settings contrasted in much the same way as the personalities of Elise and Rose did, with Connie forming the anchor between the other two women, and the two locations.

The writing, as with Jessie Burton’s other work, was evocative and beautifully subtle. I found myself savouring her words, and wanting to take my time reading it all to collect every nuance. This book is exceptional, and one that I enjoyed thoroughly.

My One True North by Milly Johnson – Book Review

About the book:

From the bestselling author of the “glorious, heartfelt” (Rowan Coleman, New York Times bestselling author) novel The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew comes a warm-hearted tale about two people brought together by fate.

Laurie and Pete should never have met. But life has a different idea.

Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Overwhelmed by their grief, they join the same counselling group…and change their lives forever.

From their profound sadness, Pete and Laurie begin to find happiness and healing. Except, the more they get to know one another, the more Laurie begins to spot the strange parallels in their stories. Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything—one which threatens to reverse everything they’ve worked towards.

But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.

With Milly Johnson’s signature “warm, optimistic, and romantic” (Katie Forde, bestselling author) style, My One True North is an unforgettable exploration of the power of love, friendship, and hope. 

My Review:

I have loved Milly Johnson’s books since I discovered them a couple of years ago. I am working my way through them, but this book, due out on 5th March 2020 is the most incredible story of love, loss, truth and hope, and it is the best story I have ever read by Milly.

I fell in love with all of the people attending the bereavement sessions at the cafe. All grieving in different ways, by sharing their experiences they were able to provide one another with strength and support they felt unable to seek in other aspects of their personal lives. It was fascinating to see the growth in all of the characters and not just Pete and Laurie.

Although the focus is initially upon loss, humour shines through the pages, particularly in the misprinted newspaper articles and apologies that are so uniquely ‘Milly’ and so incredibly laugh out loud funny. It’s no wonder the newspaper needed a regular lawyer helping them out of tricky situations!

There appears to be symmetry within the losses Laurie and Pete experience, and you may suspect that you know exactly where it is going, but just when you think you have it all figured out, BOOM, you will be completely side-swiped!

Laughter and tears, and even laughter through my tears were a huge part of my experience reading this unputdownable book, it captured my heart and will stay with me for the longest time. This is Milly Johnson at her absolute best, and you simply cannot miss this! Tipped already as one of my favourite books this year, this book is sheer perfection and a very easy 5 stars.

Dead Ringer by Nicola Martin – Blog Tour/Book Review

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About the book:

Get ready to meet the other you.

Just upload your photo to get started. Using the latest facial recognition software, plus your votes, MeetYourDouble will find your doppelganger.

START NOW.

The idea is simple, vain, exciting. Tap the app, upload a picture, find your #deadringer – and if you like, set up a meeting in real life.

When Ella and Jem connect, the resemblance is uncanny, but their lives are polar opposites. One is stagnating in her Northern hometown, while the other, an aspiring actress living in a multimillion-pound mansion, is a Chelsea socialite who knows she’s skating on thin ice.

Other than their looks, their only similarity is the desire to escape. Is it possible to hide in your double’s skin? And at what cost? Dead Ringer is an all-too-believable, twisty, compelling story that will leave you reeling.

My Review:

We’ve all been tempted by those games on social media that work out which famous celebrity we look like, so this idea that with an app we could find our doppelganger and even meet them was intriguing. I really loved the premise of this book so much. The match between Ella and Jem could not have been more different. They looked like one another, but came from very different lives, and were very different personalities too. Ella was an introvert living in Cumbria who had been dealing with depression for some time, Jem was an extrovert based in a multimillion pound apartment in London who had the world at her feet.

When they first meet, Ella has her mind opened to a life she could have only imagined. Although both women are so different, when Jem needs to get out of London in a hurry, it becomes a spur of the moment decision for them to swap places. I loved the way both Ella and Jem adapted to their surroundings, although I struggled a little with the concept that their parents could not tell the difference. As a parent I think I would be able to tell the difference, but who knows? Maybe I wouldn’t.

There were plenty of highs and lows throughout the story, and it was beautifully twisted too. The main characters were incredibly flawed people, and I found it hard to warm to either of them. Katsu on the other hand, Jem’s sometime boyfriend, was a shining light amidst the primarily flawed side characters in the book. I really enjoyed his role within the story.

This book was an exciting and gritty psychological thriller, and it kept me wanting to come back to it to read more, never quite knowing where it was going to take me. The ending of book was the perfect ending to this rollercoaster ride in that it left me wanting to know more! This was a great debut novel for Nicola Martin, and I look forward to seeing what she writes next.

Please check out the other stops on the blog tour.