Friday, 29 August 2014

The Vineyard - Karen Aldous

About the book...
It’s been five years, and Lizzie Lambert has decided it’s time to try to make things right with her estranged mother. She’s made a success of things in Cannes, she’s bringing up a lovely little boy on her own, and she’s ready to put the past behind her.

But it seems Lizzie’s mother has moved on as well. She’s moved her toy boy – a muscle-bound vintner named Cal – into the family home, and given him the run of the land that was meant to be Lizzie’s inheritance!
Cal’s wine business frequently takes him to France, and suddenly wherever Lizzie goes, he’s already there – meddling, giving unsolicited advice, saving her little boy’s life and stealing her heart. But none of this changes the fact that he’s her mother’s lover…

Praise for Karen Aldous
' must read this wonderful debut from Karen, absolutely great.' - Cometbabesbooks
'Not since Peter Mayle has anyone captured the essence of Provence and Karen Aldous does it vividly. Settle back with a glass of wine and experience the Vineyard for yourself.' - Elder Park Book Reviews
'A delightful romantic comedy that tales place amidst the beauty of France, with plenty of wine and laughter.' - cayocosta72
BUY THE BOOK: Amazon Nook / koboSainsburys / iBookstore 

About the author...
Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!

Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland and Italy would be her favourite. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in 'Karen's World'. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives - but struggle to control them! And, of course there's always a gorgeous hunk or two!

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review  as part of a blog tour organised by Shaz Goodwin at Fiction Addiction.  I am more than happy to do so as I loved everything about this book.  From the moment I saw the cover and read the blurb I knew I wanted to read The Vineyard. 

The best kind of book for me is one that digs beneath the surface.  Karen has done this with panache.  It is a book about relationships, misunderstandings, communication, trust and friendship, with a modicum of romance for good measure.

For reasons at first unknown to the reader the main character Lizzie has been estranged from her mother for over five years.  Deciding it was time to clear the air and make amends she heads home to England, having settled in Cannes after leaving university.

Things don't go quite to plan, the situation not helped when Lizzie discovers her beloved grandfather had passed away and her mother had rented her inheritance of some land to what appears to be her 'toy boy' Cal.  Despite her unhappiness at the situation Lizzie can't help but acknowledge the attraction that appears to be mutual between herself and Cal.

Fleeing back to France with no intention of ever seeing her mother again seemed a bit rash and as I discovered the more I read, both Lizzie and her mother were hiding secrets.  Both were as guilty as each other of hiding behind a mask and seeing the situation only from their point of view.  Cal, unintentionally at first, becomes the go between, trying to bring the two women together again.

But, just like in real life events unfold and both women are thrown a few curve balls prompting some truthful but painful conversations.  The emotions run high and as a reader I wasn't quite sure which way things would go.  The old saying 'blood is thicker than water' is true but it is also good to have friends watching your back too. This book displays so well how lack of communication and trust can cause problems to escalate.  Often situations are multi faceted and you've got to be able to see things from many angles to truly understand.

Karen's descriptive ability is amazing, creating virtual images that were so vivid I could clearly see myself walking through the vineyard, smelling and tasting the wine on the farm. Just as clearly I was transported to Cannes seeing the sun glint off the ocean whilst the heat warmed my skin.  The two very different locations acted like ying and yang.  England being calmer, with deeper emotions on display, whereas in Cannes the heat definitely had an effect. Tempers were shorter and everything felt more volatile and faster paced.

For a debut novel this was did what it said on the tin - providing escapism with more than a touch of reality.  I'd advise everyone to grab a glass of wine and settle down for a journey that is highly emotional but will leave you sighing contentedly.  I for one cannot wait to see what Karen delivers next.

I gave this book 5 / 5 stars

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Blue Midnight - Tess Thompson

About the book...
“If you change your mind, here’s this.” Finn Lanigan kissed a young Blythe Heywood one last time under a star-scattered Idaho sky. It was the last kiss that ever weakened her knees, the last sky she noticed for over a dozen years. Then she left, returning to her fiancĂ©, the wedding she’d committed to, and the secure life she’d yearned for since she was a little girl. 

Thirteen years later, her husband leaves Blythe for his young associate. Devastated, she’s unable to imagine the next chapter of her life as she packs her family’s belongings to move across town. Unexpectedly, she finds the forgotten slip of paper bearing Finn’s phone number in the back of a drawer. 

Hadn’t she tossed it years before as a newlywed, when she vowed to be the perfect wife and mother? Apparently not. Here it remained. Her road not taken. 

Facing three weeks without her young daughters, Blythe sets out to find the man she left behind so long ago. With only the name of the small town where he once lived, Peregrine, Idaho, and the memory of their last kiss under a starry sky, she heads across the Pacific Northwest in search of him. 

What she finds in the foothills of Blue Mountain challenges everything she thought she knew and is the very last thing she expected. Within days, her life changes forever. But it is her destiny and destinies cannot be denied. 

The first book of the Blue Mountain Collection, laced with Thompson’s loveable but complex characters, “Blue Midnight” is a mature love story about second chances, family, and the complexities of trust and vulnerability after betrayal.

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About the Author...
Tess Thompson is a mother before all else, and a writer after that. She’s also a Zumba dancing queen, though the wearing of the crown is reserved for invitation-only appearances. After honing her craft in theater with a prize-winning play titled My Lady’s Hand, her heart was called to a different storytelling medium: the great American novel.
But, as she recently said to a friend, "Well, maybe not 'great' but certainly American."

The first of these, Riversong (Booktrope Editions), went on to become #1 on Barnes and Noble’s Nook Book chart in October 2011. Two years after its release, readership of Riversong continues to grow, spending weeks in the top 100 Kindle bestsellers; it’s known amongst her friends and family as “the little book that could.”

Caramel and Magnolias, the first in the Legley Bay Collection was released in the fall of 2012. In May of 2013 Tess released the sequel to Riversong called Riverbend and the third in the collection, Riverstar, in August 2013. Tea and Primroses, the second in the Legley Bay Collection was released February 16, 2014. The first in the Blue Mountain Collection, Blue Midnight was released June 30, 2014.
She's currently working on her first historical fiction, Duet For Three Hands, which will be released December 2014.

Like her characters in the River Valley Collection, Tess hails from a small town in southern Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters, ages 11 and 8, the loves of her life.

Although currently single, Tess has not given up on finding a love story of her own. Until her prince arrives, she's content creating what she hopes are epic, page-turning love stories with a little suspense and mystery for additional spice. She writes in her home office six days a week, sipping countless cups of herbal tea, with two naughty but adorable kittens, (Christmas presents for her daughters) Mittens and Midnight, at her feet. But hopefully said Prince arrives soon to save her from becoming a bitter, crazy cat lady. Did she mention how adorable the kittens are?

Tess loves to hear from you. Drop her a line or visit her Facebook Fan Page or follow her on twitter.

Author Links:

My thoughts....
I was given an e copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give as part of CLP Blog Tours organised by Samantha March which I'm more than happy to give.

This book starts with Blythe packing up her house ready to move after her sudden divorce to  her husband of thirteen years.  He's left her for a woman twenty years her junior and is preparing for marriage and a three week honeymoon in Hawaii.  Taking his daughters with him leaves Blythe home alone and hurting. A phone number found on a scrap of paper and a sister who won't take no for an answer is the catalyst for a journey of discovery for Blythe.

I love Tess's style of writing, she had me hooked from the start, creating characters that were clearly multi-dimensional.  Blythe in particular could so easily have been portrayed as weak and pathetic but there were clear glimpses of the women she once was giving a strong clue as to her character.  Nothing is ever black and white - yes her husband had an affair and left her but life was far from perfect for both of them and an honest Blythe knows that she needed and wanted more from life.  Blythe's sister Bliss comes across as strong and in control, one of life's go - getters, but she too reveals a soft centre knowing when to push and when to hold back - encouraging Blythe to get out and live by providing her with the tools and reasons to do it.

All too often in life we put our own hopes, dreams and ambitions on a back burner to do what we think is the right thing by our children and families.  Reality is we should schedule 'me' time so as not to lose our identities and be swamped by doing just what we think we should all of the time.  Blythe is no exception she is clearly a devoted, good mother who has provided a stable, balanced home at the detriment to her own needs.

It's fair to say this book took Blythe and myself, the reader on a journey akin to a roller coaster. Emotions ran high, yet even in the dips it was evident it would just as quickly rise again.  I loved watching Blythe's character grow and with it confidence in herself and what is right and wrong. Not settling for a back seat role when she finds herself embroiled in a mystery that a township had tried to bury.  Her new found confidence and energy driving herself and those around her.

All in all this is a book about strength of character, discovery, trust and determination with a modicum of love and friendship thrown in for good measure.  A truly uplifting book that will capture your heart and drive you to at least think about the things you planned to do in life.  I for one will be awaiting the next Blue Mountain book with anticipation and just a little impatience.

I gave this book 5/5 stars

A fantastic giveaway...