Showing posts with label Tanya's Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tanya's Reviews. Show all posts

Oct 1, 2015

Book Review: The Woman from Kerry by Anne Doughty

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Review by Tanya
The Woman from Kerry follows the life of Rose McGinley from April 1861 when she was 7 years old living in a small cottage in Donegal with her parents and her siblings. The family, along with others in the village, are cruelly evicted out of their house by the owner of the land and not given time to pack things. They are left homeless and jobless. 

We pick up on the life on Rose and her Mother, Hannah, in May 1875 when after the death of her husband they are both working in Curran lodge. Hannah works as the housekeeper and Rose as the lady’s maid to the temperamental Lady Anne Molyneux. They are both thought very highly of in the establishment along with her brother Sam who works with the horses. At the beginning of the book Rose meets John Hamilton who is helping as a groom, but is a blacksmith by trade. She goes on to marry him and moves from her job to the house in Armagh that he shares with his mother, which is also where he works as a blacksmith. The story follows their life through hardship, extremely difficult and upsetting times and good times. I was gripped because of everything that took place and I constantly found myself feeling for Rose and John.

The characters in the book are well described and you find yourself warming to many and disliking others which I think is exactly how Anne Doughty wants you to feel. I was eager to find out what the next page would bring as Rose’s life seemed to be constantly on a change. I am excited by what happens at the end of the book and eager to find out what book two in the series will bring.

Sep 29, 2015

Dutch Days: Tanya's Trip to Amsterdam

By Tanya

I have only visited Holland once and that was around 9 years ago when we went to Amsterdam for my 30th Birthday.  A group of 6 of us went and it was a great holiday. I have to say many things shocked me about Amsterdam in such a good way. Firstly the airport was massive and so efficient and the trains were double deckers. We stayed in a hotel that was fairly close to the train station. It was so tall and narrow that we had quite a climb up lots of stairs to our room. Apparently they were built like this because at the time they were taxed on the space of ground that they took up. 
The city is really picturesque with some gorgeous buildings and all the canals. The main square, as is the case in most cities, was a hive of activity and was a place to be seen. The bars and restaurants around there did charge a premium. I can’t say we really tried a traditional Dutch meal but we did taste a few beers along the way!!!! The trams were effective and constant. I was amazed with the number of bikes and always wondered how they found their bike at the end of the day as they are parked 5 deep all along the side of the many canals. Around Wales you would not have that as way to hilly.
We squeezed quite a lot into those few days including a visit to the unmissable Anne Frank museum, which was a place that I had always wanted to go to since I read her diaries as a teenager. As you go into the building there is an eerily quiet and a strange feeling that cannot be explained. All the visitors showed the respect the place deserves as they took in their surroundings. It is a memory that will always stay with me.
Another of the places we visited was the Heineken brewery and believe me if you ever needed to organise a P***up in a brewery this is the place to visit. We had such a fun time and were quite merry when we left and it only cost us E8 at the time. Mind you we did get extra drinks because we were singing along to Tom Jones and the bar staff enjoyed it. On exiting we were desperate for food as we didn’t think they would let us back on the trams unless we were slightly more sober.
The next morning hubby and I shot of early to one of the flower markets it was so colourful even though it really was not the time of the year for tulips. We did buy some bulbs there which still flower now. We also bought a Christmas decoration to remind us of our holiday.
I have to say I would love to visit Amsterdam again and can recommend it as a great trip.  

Sep 26, 2015

Dutch Days Book Review: Game of Scones

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Review by Tanya

Pippa Pattinson's Dutch boyfriend attempts to do what he thinks will improve the Greek fishing village of Taxos. This is the Greek village that Pippa spent a lot of her childhood at she and still has some great friends there, even though she has not visited in many years. Pippa had Henrik have high flying jobs and a sophisticated lifestyle in London and everything on the outside seems great. On their visit to the island she soon finds that the financial problems have caused a slowdown in the number of visitors to the village and that many of the business are struggling. Her old friends are caring and soon she realises how important they all are. She meets her old playmate of her tomboy days Niko and finds that there are feelings there which she did not expect. 

I really enjoyed Game of Scones and think it is a great summer read. The characters are likeable, even Henrik has his nice factors and you cannot but help feeling sorry for him at some points. I am not sure who I liked the most, but really enjoyed the description of Niko! I enjoyed the fact that Pippa and Niko had such a great history together and that there were some flashbacks to when they were younger investigating the surrounding areas and the adventures that they got up to.

I loved how the village grew back to a place of importance to Pippa and how she spent her holiday trying to help the villagers. I have never been to Greece but much prefer the idea of the village of Taxos to the other modern drink oriented towns that were described. I admit I did guess some parts of the story, but this did not distract form the enjoyment for me and I think if you visiting Greece anytime this is a must read to get you in the mood.

Sep 15, 2015

Book Review: Ha'penny chance by Gemma Jackson

Review by Tanya

This is the second book by Gemma Jackson and is the follow on to her debut novel. The book is about Ivy Murphy which is a young lady, in her early 20’s, living in Dublin in 1925. She lives alone after the death of her strict father and is very set in her ways. She pushes her pram around the “posh and wealthy” houses of Dublin collecting their unwanted items. She works hard improving and altering these and she then sells them on at the local markets where she is well known by the stall holders. She is constantly caring for others such as Sean McDonald and his young mother. She has a friendship with the well-off Ann Marie Gannon and they teach each other things, which I enjoyed reading about.

The story revolves around the characters in the street and their various activities but Ivy is at the centre of it all with her caring and thoughtful nature. She is walking out with Jem Ryan who is also working hard to get out of the poverty and move up the classes. He cares deeply for Ivy and wants to help her.

Throughout the story Ivy’s life changes completely and unexpectedly. She has a hard decision to make at the end of the novel. I loved how things developed and how the characters became so believable. I admit that I do like books set in this era but have not read many set in Ireland and this was a nice change. Although it’s a standalone, I would advise to read the first book as there are things in the book referred to from the first. All in all it was a very nice read and I highly recommend it.

Sep 11, 2015

Suze & Tanya Love Emma's So Naturals Soy Candles & Giveaway

Emma's So Naturals Eco Soy Candles is a great online shop. Emma makes healthy candles. She uses high quality Eco Soya Wax which is free from pesticides and herbicides. Her candles contain only the purest essential oils and they are free from parabens, paraffin, artificial dies and synthetic fragrances. Emma uses natural ingredients that she sources locally. Her candles are environmentally conscious and they are also absolutely wonderful.

Emma doesn't only offer an incredible range of candles and tart melts, she also has an amazing selection of gift sets in every price category. They make such good gifts.

Tanya has reviewed some of Emma's products. She received a lovely package from Emma.

Review by Tanya

The package, before I even opened it, smelt fantastic. It contained two candles and one wax melt.  The candles were Lemon Grass and Lavender and the wax melt was citrus blend.

The candles are in a gorgeous tin with the instructions clearly on the outside advising you to trim the wick to 5mm each time before you melt it. Each candle can last up to 20 hours, so they are a great buy. I admit to firstly burning the lemongrass as I have a love for all things citrus and have now put this in the bedroom as the smell is divine and so refreshing. A friend that has recently visited asked where the delicious smell came from even though the candle was not lit at the time. It’s a light scent that is slightly flowery.

The lavender speaks for itself in its smell. My youngest daughter likes this one the best as she likes lavender very much. The smell travels all around the house even though it is only ever lit for one hour a time to make it last a little longer.

 My favourite one is the citrus blend wax melt, because of the citrus in combination with a scent that reminded me of lemon cake. It is one of those scents that is suitable for all rooms of the house including the kitchen. I have to admit to sneaking the wax melt upstairs into the bedroom as I burn it most nights. My bedroom smells fantastic even without it burning and the scent has lasted a long time.

I love the fact that the candles are all eco-friendly and handmade. Emma says in her literature that I received with the candles that “we are passionate about using natural ingredients to provide cleaner, healthier alternative products for people everywhere to enjoy”. I appreciate the passion shown and the enthusiasm to look after the environment. I can definitely see myself buying some of these as a gift. Thank you Emma for sending me the samples.

We highly recommend Emma's So Naturals, it's a fantastic brand with a great vision, beautiful packaging and delicious scents. 

All packaging can be reused and there are several different options to choose from. Check out this fantastic online store. Enjoy browsing and have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a fabulous prize:

The winner of this giveaway will receive an oil burner gift set with a burner, two tart melts and six wax tealights and a tin candle. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Aug 28, 2015

Blog tour: Discovering Delilah & book review: Catching Cassidy by Melissa Foster

Review by Tanya

This book, the first in the Harbourside Nights series, is based around Wyatt (nicknamed Army), his twin sister Delilah and Cassidy who are celebrating their graduation from college. The story starts at a celebration party which Wyatt and Delilah leave early to go and rescue Wyatt’s best friend Cassidy from her house, after her boyfriend left with her key. Things from there suddenly change the future for all three when Delilah and Wyatt get a phone call telling them about a tragic accident.

Both Wyatt and Delilah will have to grow up fast. Wyatt is trying to protect his sister from falling into depression. All three go to Harbourside for the summer. This is where Wyatt’s parents own a bar called the Taproom. Whilst at Harbourside things begin to develop between Wyatt and Cassidy against Wyatt’s better thoughts. After all he has never had a long term relationship and Cassidy is leaving for New York at the end of the summer to start a new job in finances.

I really found myself warming to Wyatt As the book continued. He showed how much he cares about his sister and his friends. He was constantly thinking of others and looking out for them even though he is having such a tough time. At first I was shocked by his sudden attraction to his long time best friend Cassidy, even though she had always had hidden feelings for him. However my attitude changed as I realised how he fought against the feelings and was still trying to do his best for Cassidy. He showed how he cared when he lets her make a decision, without any pressure, about her future job prospects.

I am really looking forward to the second novel in this series called Discovering Delilah, as the characters are really likeable and the bond that the friends all have is great.

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Aug 3, 2015

Double Book Review & Giveaway: To Catch a Dream by Mary Wood

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Review by Suze

Bridie's father takes her away from Ireland to go to England. He's in trouble as he's a corrupt freedom fighter who has taken money from a lot of people. On the boat Bridie's father does the worst thing imaginable and Bridie is left with the mess. She's in a country where she doesn't know anyone and she has no money. She tries to retrieve her father's traitor money together with the love of her life Seamus, but things go horribly wrong. Because she has nowhere to go, she joins her friend who knows someone who runs a brothel. It's the last place where Bridie wants to work though...

Will is a miner who instantly falls in love when he meets Bridie. Their initial meeting is only brief and they know nothing about each other, but when their paths cross again he doesn't want to let her go. He saves her from the awful life she's leading. Will is a nice guy and he makes Bridie happy, but there's also something else that makes her happy, something that will ruin Bridie's life if she isn't careful.

Will and Bridie move to Breckton. He finds a good job there and she finds a wonderful friend. Issy and will are everything Bridie needs. Issy is able to cope with a lot, she's always practical and she's strong. When Bridie gets involved with Andrew things are going the wrong way for her again. Bridie has a daughter, Bridget, and Issie is there to take care of her. Can she save Bridget from her mother's fate?

Andrew is a happy bachelor, but when his mother's getting remarried he needs to marry Dvina to save his fortune. Dvina isn't pretty in a conventional way, but she's the most wonderful woman he's ever met. Andrew isn't able to stay faithful to her even though he loves her very much. He's constantly struggling with himself. Then Seamus does something that will change his life forever. What are the consequences of these actions and what do they mean for Bridie?

To Catch a Dream has several main characters. Bridie, Andrew, Will and Issy. Each person is really interesting and I enjoyed reading about their lives. Mary Wood has written a fantastic book, it's a long read, but I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep reading to find out more. The main characters are each facing things that are changing the course of their lives and they have to make tough decisions sometimes. I liked that theme and the way Mary Wood used it for her story. 

Bridie really frustrated me. I wanted to love her and at first I did, but she keeps doing the wrong thing. She doesn't have much of a backbone and she isn't smart enough to save herself from terrible decisions. She doesn't see what terrible consequences her actions will have, because of that she's always getting into trouble. The sad thing is that she never causes it, other people are ruining things for her and she often seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I felt so bad for her and wanted her to have some luck. She keeps trusting people who aren't trustworthy at all and that made me quite angry. I always love it when a book makes me feel such strong emotions. I really liked Issy, who also hasn't got much luck, but she's a sweetheart, the best friend anyone could have, and she tries to make something of her life. Issy and Bridie are opposites in a lot of ways, Issy keeps trying, where Bridie chooses the easy way out, but Issy never holds it against Bridie as she understands her. Issy gives Bridie and later her daughter all the love she has to give, which was wonderful to see.

I can go on and on about this book as there is so much more to say. It's a book that is so wonderful to analyse. There's a lot to think about and not everything is always black and white. I liked reading about the grey in between part. To Catch a Dream is definitely a story that made me think and it's impossible not to have any opinions about the things that are happening in the story and their consequences. If you like historical fiction then I would definitely recommend this amazing book. 

Review by Tanya

To Catch a Dream follows the life of Bridie O Hara from when she lived in Ireland to her fleeing the country with her dad who is escaping the betrayal of the Freedom Fighters. Bridie is unaware of what the activities are that her father took place in and why these events may affect her in later life. Her struggles start as soon as she is on the boat and the consequences of things that happen change her life to an unwanted path. Her life is full of big upsets and thankfully true love. 

I was unsure of how I felt about Bridie O Hara a lot of the time. Initially I felt very sorry for her and loved her courageous attitude to try and do what is best for her and Betty a friend she met in the convent. However I began to dislike the way that she used her sexuality toward the end of the book and how this got her into trouble. I could not understand her continued obsession with Seamus Finnery, an Irish traveller who initially seemed like a nice person. I loved her dedication to her daughter Bridget and how she always looked out for her and tried to protect her.  

The character of Issy was fantastic and I loved how she was so open about things and always did her best for others. Her relationship with Bridie was interesting and very supportive. I also liked the character of Will who was determined to get Bridie away from her previous life and always had her interests at heart from the moment her saw her again. He even faced up to his mum who did not want to move.

There are other stories that are covered in the book including the life of Andrew Harvey and his life as mine owner. He takes great interest in the people that he employs and likes to know what is happening in their life. His marriage is mostly a happy one although he still likes to play away and this can get him into trouble. However the majority of the time you can see that he loves his wife against the judgement of his so called friends who ridicule him for his proposal. His wife Dvina is a very likeable honest and open character and you really want Andrew to be a loyal and loving husband to her. I enjoyed reading this book filled with conflicting emotions.

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of this amazing book. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Jul 18, 2015

Double Book Review: Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin

Maple sugar kisses

Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.

Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…

Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!

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Review by Tanya

Lucy’s mum, Crystal, is suffering from an undisclosed, till the end, illness and Lucy is constantly working to pay bills or at the hospital with her mother. Her mum is a traveller at heart and spent her time constantly travelling taking Lucy with her until her illness caused her to stop. With Lucy’s future in mind Crystal tells her she wants Lucy to take a year to herself which she hopes will result in Lucy applying to the Van Gogh Institute in Paris for a chance to learn some more about art. Lucy reluctantly goes along with her mum’s wishes and finds herself in Ashford where she meets the much loved characters from Rebecca’s other books. She also finds herself working for the moody Clay at the Maple Syrup Farm. There is a mystery about the old owner Jessup which Lucy wants to unravel at the same time as trying to make Clay more sociable.

I could not wait to read this book and have been eagerly awaiting the return of my favourite characters along with meeting new characters. I was not disappointed and I was captured from the beginning the characters were as lovely as always and the story was magical, although it had its serious tone. The only problem was I am sure these books should come with a warning for weight gain or cravings as the food described was amazing and I was salivating through it all.
There are lots of little stories that combine to make a big one and it makes you realise how special the relationships are for the friends in Ashford. CeeCee is so special in how she knows exactly what is happening everywhere but does not share others secrets. I really enjoyed how Lucy actually progressed in the book and how she embraced her mother’s wish to not go back for the year even though challenges are thrown in the way.

This is a great read and I recommend you read it when you are feeling low or on your holidays this year.

Review by Suze
Lucy is taking care of her sick mother. She's working as many hours as she can, so she can pay the bills. When she comes home she has her mother to look after. Because Lucy's mother thinks it's been enough she tells Lucy that she should go away for a year. They used to travel around together and were used to a nomadic existence. Now it's time for Lucy to have her own adventure. She loves drawing and painting and her mother wants her to have a chance at a career, she wants Lucy to follow her passion. That's why she asks the sister she's fallen out with to take care of her, so Lucy can go away.

Lucy is reluctant to leave, but she does what her mother asks of her. She ends up in Ashford. She meets someone from Ashford, CeeCee, on the bus and immediately becomes friends with her. When CeeCee invites her for a meal at the Gingerbread Café Lucy becomes friends with the owner Lily as well. She learns that a newcomer in Ashford named Clay needs help at his maple syrup farm. Lucy asks him if she can have the job and he hires her on the spot. At first Clay doesn't speak to her at all, but slowly they're connecting. Lucy is working on her art and has applied for a scholarship in Paris. It's her plan to travel the world after she's worked on the farm for a few months. Will she be able to leave the wonderful Ashford behind?

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is a wonderful book about a girl who needs to start living. Lucy wants to look after her sick mother, but her mother wants her to go, to spend a year on her own, just thinking about what she wants and not what her mother needs for a change. I think that was a lovely and selfless gesture. The nature of the illness remains a secret for quite a long time, but I could more or less guess what was the matter. I felt bad for Lucy as it's hard to see a loved one suffer so badly. Clay is a broken man, but together they start healing a little. I liked watching that process.
Everyone in Ashford is so warm and loving. It was great to meet a few old friends from Rebecca Raisin's previous books again. I like that Rebecca Raisin has built a wonderful community with caring and welcoming people. Lucy needs some support. She's done the supporting for way too long. It's time to work on her art and to work on her self confidence. I liked the way she talks to Clay, they have such a great connection and a lot of great chemistry. He has some secrets of his own, again I could guess what they were, but that didn't matter as the story is so wonderful. I like the way Rebecca Raisin has told this story. It's more mature than her previous books and it's a little bit deeper. Two amazing people need to learn how to trust and how to share, which is a great theme for a story. Rebecca Raisin's books are like hot chocolate, they're warm, comforting, and deliciously sweet. 

Jul 17, 2015

Beauty: Balm Balm Mini Facial Skincare Kit Review & Giveaway

Review by Tanya

Thank you Suzanne for asking me to review these lovely Balm Balm beauty products. I loved trying this Mini Facial Skincare Kit and it comes in a wonderful luxurious organic bag.

I loved the full facial including a face mask and this was a great treat for me. The face mask has a gorgeous hibiscus smell to it and although, like all facials, it’s strange as it hardens on the skin the removal was easy and a very nice experience as all you do is add a little water and rub it in to exfoliate your skin as well. I would happily leave it at that point as my skin felt so clean and the smell was divine. However, I did go on to complete the steps and I am so pleased that I did, the cleanser went on easily and the added bonus of it smelling of coconut was fabulous. I have never used a toner before that you put on with a damp cotton wool pad or cloth, but the advantage to this is that you need very little and the little pot will go a long way. The same goes for the Rosehip serum that you can use day and night as a moisturiser, instead of or as well as your normal moisturiser, it has oil in it and again a little goes a very long way. 
I love body lotions and very rarely treat myself to applying them as they can be difficult if my back is very bad. Luckily my daughter was willing to help me with this task and took great pleasure in the smell of the Rose body lotion as she applied it. She loved the way that it went on without feeling greasy and how my skin felt after. She even willingly went in the shower without a fight as she kept some back for herself to use. In the morning we both still smelt gorgeous.

 Balm Balm has generously sent a second Mini Facial Skincare Kit for one very lucky reader of this blog. Good luck!

 I will contact the winner via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here. 

Jul 13, 2015

Book Review: Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams by Sue Watson

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Review by Tanya
Laura Who is a single mum of a grown up girl that she has done her very best to bring up. She also has a mum in an old persons home who seems to have very little time for her daughter. After being stood up at the altar Sophie, Laura’s daughter, is off travelling the world leaving her mum with something she said after the non-wedding playing on her mind. Laura has a very low opinion of herself and after some persuasion by a friend decides to give Zumba a go (after all it is a form of dance and she comes from a dancing background). Things in the class do not go as planned (another great laugh out loud piece of writing). Then she is approached by the gorgeous Tony Hernandez (Griffiths) who asks her to stay on to his new dance class. This is where her new life begins with finding that after all she can dance amazingly and forming new friends. 
Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams is such a great easy feel good read which had me laughing throughout. I loved the Sexting mishap and was trying not to wake my husband up by laughing out loud. The relationship between Laura and Tony is fantastic and I loved how Tony managed to bring Laura alive and make her a strong independent person who towards the end is outgoing. You cannot but like the character of Laura and want what is best for her. 
I was left wondering throughout the book what happened to Laura’s father when he was dancing at the famous Blackpool tower. Her mother is aloof and I felt like she was constantly judging Laura, I disliked the fact that she would make snide comments about Laura. However, towards the end of the book you discover why and realise that her mum does really love her. 
I loved the description of the dresses and the dances in the book and as a strictly come dancing enthusiast I like to imagine myself whizzing around doing the spectacular dances. Mind you I don’t think I would get very far as more a case of cant dance than wont dance, but every girl has to have her dream. This book is a great read for the summer or winter and any time you need cheering up. 

Jul 8, 2015

Review: If You Don't Know Me By Now by A.L. Michael

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Imogen has come to London to make it as a writer. At least, that was the plan. Finding herself in a dead-end job serving coffee to hipsters was not on her to-do list. And even if gorgeous colleague Declan does give her more of a buzz than a triple-shot cappuccino, Imogen can feel her dreams evaporating faster than the steam from an extra-hot latte.
Until her anonymous tell-all blog about London’s rudest customers goes viral – and suddenly, Imogen realises that landing the worst job in the world might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to her! As long as she can keep her identity to herself…

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Review by Tanya
This book is about a young lady Imogen moving to London to achieve her goal of becoming a writer, however the move is not as easy as she anticipates and she finds herself working in a coffee bar. Whilst there she has the idea of writing a blog about the annoying customers she calls it “Twisted Barista Tales” and the blog goes viral. Throw into the mix the lovely looking Declan and his no commitment keep it light attitude.
This is a great book that will make you think about how you approach any serving staff and how you speak to them. It will also make you observe the attitude of other around you. I know I certainly did when I visited a well know coffee shop the other day. I found myself shocked at some of the stories that came out and did wonder if any of them were true. I also had a little giggle at a few of the anecdotes and recognised the situation in others. Not that I have ever asked my children to pay for me when there is a long queue behind me. 
The main characters in the book of Imogen and Declan were both likeable and you found yourself wondering what the background to Declan was and why he has a commitment phobia. I really wanted Imogen to achieve her goal. I also loved her cousin Demi and how she was not afraid to give Imogen some home truths. I also liked the sound of their friendship and the way that they partied together, I wish I had cousin like that I could have partied with. 
I have to say that after reading this as a coffee addict I will never look at coffee in a coffee shop again.  I think I had better check as well that they give me the caffeine and the skinny that I ask for just in case I am one of them annoying customers that deserve to not have their order – I did wonder why I have put on so much weight lately it must be that they are giving me whole milk for being a pain!!  In fact reading this book has made me think of a great blog for disabled people. 
This book is a fantastic easy read that would be great to put on your kindle for reading when sat on your holiday enjoying some great service. Well done A L Michael and thank you Suzanne for asking me to review this for the tour.

Author information
A.L. Michael is a twenty something writer from London. She works as a creative facilitator, running workshops in creative writing, writing for wellbeing, and children's lessons. She has a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, and is working towards an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is not at all reliant on her student discount card.

When she's not writing or talking about writing, she bakes, runs, plays with her puppy, and gets continually distracted by shiny things on Pinterest.

Win an If You Don't Know Me By Now coffee themed goodie bag: 

Jun 29, 2015

Review: Third Time Lucky: The Honey Trap by Victoria Browne

A fast moving witty chick lit drama that will take you on a journey of laughter and revelations.

Good friends Sarah a sensible simple soul, Laura bitchy complicated, Beth a ‘too cool for school’ high school teacher, and Jess a funky hairdresser, decide to honey trap Jess's new American boyfriend Richard. How could such a simple plan go wrong? Just add Jess’s new flat mate, hot sexy Elise to the mix, a few glasses of wine and you have a cocktail fit for disaster – especially when Elise honey traps the wrong boyfriend! Good friends are all Sarah needs when her uncomplicated life is jettisoned into chaos.

Dan, Sarah’s boyfriend makes some shady life choices. But who is friend and who is foe?

Wealthy bachelor Lee Preston sets his sights on Sarah and all Lee wants is to make her happy. Life could be fantastic when money is no object and your closet is filled with designer shoes, Oh, and his with secrets. 
Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Tanya
The title Third Time Lucky: The Honey Trap gives you some idea of what the story is about. Sarah is living with her long term boyfriend Dan and life is getting predictable and mundane, however she does not know what to do about it. She works in a furniture store with one of her friends, Laura, who seems to think that Dan is boring and that consequently Sarah is boring when he's around. Their other close friends are Jess, a hairdresser and Beth a high school teacher who enjoys a good time. At a party at Jess’s flat the girls plan with her new flatmate to let her set up Honey Trap for Jesse’s new boyfriend Richard to check if he is suitable. This is where things go wrong.

As a consequence of the honey trap and other knock on effects Sarah ends up leaving her job and her home with Dan. She's moving in with Beth. During this period a man called Lee begins to show her attention...
I really like the three girls Sarah, Beth and Jess and the relationship that they have. From the beginning I had my doubts about Lee and Dan but couldn’t decide which of them was the worst. Maybe Lee behaved the way he did because he wanted what was best for Sarah!
The book covers betrayal and love, but also how friends can be the best help. It teaches you about being strong in a bad situation and trying to do your best. I was so pleased that Sarah found her way. I enjoyed reading this book, the story is well written and the majority of the characters are likeable.

Jun 24, 2015

Australia Week: The Wild One by Janet Gover - Review & Giveaway

Can four wounded souls find love?
Iraq war veteran Dan Mitchell once disobeyed an order – and it nearly destroyed him. Now a national park ranger in the Australian outback, he’s faced with another order he is unwilling to obey ...

Photographer Rachel Quinn seeks out beauty in unlikely places. Her work comforted Dan in his darkest days. But Quinn knows darkness too – and Dan soon realises she needs his help as much as he needs hers.

Carrie Bryant was a talented jockey until a racing accident broke her nerve. Now Dan and Quinn need her expertise, but can she face her fear? And could horse breeder, Justin Fraser, a man fighting to save his own heritage, be the man to help put that fear to rest?

The wounds you can’t see are the hardest to heal...

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Review by Tanya
The Wild One is the second in the Coorah Creek series but can be read as a standalone as I found out. The book centres around four main characters who each have problems of their own, but are trying to work together to save a group of  brumbies (wild horses) from being shot in the effort eradicate them of the national park of Tyangi.
Dan Mitchell is the ranger of the park and is ordered to shoot the horses. He does not want to obey the order and the act of shooting and orders brings back unwanted memories from his time in the army. He is struggling with PTSD and bad flashbacks of an act he was asked to carry out whilst in service. He likes the freedom of the national park and knows that if he does not obey the orders to shoot the brumbies he could lose his job.
Rachel Quinn is a photographer who is spending some time in the local village of Coorah Creek and becomes interested in the plight of the brumbies and sets out to save them from being shot. She has her own secrets and works hard and being independent. She also hates to be tied down and often lives in her Humvee which is set up for camping. She is a famous photographer and tracks the story of the capture of the brumbies through photography in the hope of producing an article.
Carrie Bryant is a jockey that has a bad accident and is no longer able to bring herself to go near a horse. She is approached to help with the rescue mission and agrees but with a lot of trepidation and not intending to handle a horse in the process. She lacks a lot of confidence in herself and feels like people are laughing at her.
Carrie approaches Justin Fraser with important information that will help to save his Stock Horse stables after a big fire caused the loss of many great horses when his father was running it. Justin is a big admirer of Carrie’s and is there to help her through her fear of horses.
There are love stories that arise between the characters, but they each have to come to terms with things that have happened and to accept them. I feel that through the effort to save the brumbies they  learn a lot about themselves and become a lot wiser from the action. 
The town of Coorah Creek contains the type of people that everyone would want to call friends.  They are there to help each other through the tough times and there to celebrate the good. This is what Dan, Carrie and Quinn need and you can see by the end of the book how important the town becomes to them. 
I don’t know which character I liked the best and think that as a foursome with edge characters and a great plot you cannot go wrong with this book. In fact I am off to get the first Coorah Creek book and have already downloaded more books by Janet Gover. This is why I love these weeks by Suzanne as it introduces you to new authors.  


The very lucky winner of this giveaway will receive a fantastic prize, a signed copy of Flight to Coorah Creek from Janet Gover!
I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international.     

Australia Week: An Interview with Janet Gover

This is the first time Tanya and I have done a duo interview. We interviewed Janet Gover together and it was a lot of fun. Janet Gover is the author of the fabulous Coorah Creek novels and several other great romantic books. We asked her a lot of questions and love her answers.

1) Could you tell a little bit about yourself?

Hi. I’m an expat Aussie living in London. And before you ask, the reason I left the sunshine for England is about 5ft ten inches tall, has green eyes, plays guitar and yes, reader, I married him. We also lived in New York City for a while. We now find ourselves pulled between families and friends in all locations. Airlines do well out of us. When I am not writing, I work as a technology and workflow consultant in the TV industry, which is as much fun as it sounds.

2) Suze: Horses play an important role in The Wild One, is that because you have a history with them and what do you like so much about them?

I grew up loving horses. My first pony was a shaggy brown gelding called Dino – who later made an appearance in one of my short stories. I have competed in show jumping and one day eventing in Australia, and have bred and trained Arabian horses and Australian Stock horses. I love that they are so strong and powerful and beautiful, and so willing to form a partnership with us. It really is an amazing feeling when you are in harmony with such a wonderful creature.

3) Tanya: A few of your books are set in the outback although some are set in Australian cities. Do you have experience of living in both these types of areas and which do you prefer?

I grew up in a very small bush town, not unlike the town of Coorah Creek, but much smaller. There were 18 houses in my town. Honestly. That was all. 18 houses, a post office, one shop and a pub. There was, however, a wonderful sense of community, and that’s what I have tried to capture in the Coorah Creek series.

Right now I live in London – totally the other end of the spectrum – and I love it here too. There is culture and history, music events and art shows and restaurants and…

I don’t think I prefer one or the other. Both are wonderful in their own way. Did I mention I spend a lot of money on airline tickets?

4) Suze: I love your website and you share a lot of free stories on it, what inspires you to write them?

Thanks Suze. My husband and I designed the website. I was determined to have free stories there – as a bonus for my visitors. The first short stories I ever read as a child were by the great Rudyard Kipling – the Just So stories and his animal stories. I love the form. It’s really hard to write short stories, because you have so few words in which to develop your story and your characters. I think it’s a great way to improve your writing skills. It’s also fun. I will see a person on the street, or in a shop. I will overhear a snatch of conversation and suddenly an idea will pop into my head. It’s not a book – it’s just an idea. Short stories are a wonderful outlet for them

5) Tanya: A lot of your titles of your books remind me of songs is this deliberate? Also how do you choose the title of your books?
I do listen to a lot of music, and go to a lot of concerts, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me if song lyrics prompt my titles. Some titles jump out right from the beginning – Flight To Coorah Creek was always going to be called that, from the moment I conceived the story. The Wild One didn’t come to me until I was nearly finished writing the book. But I knew it was the right title. Sometimes I can’t think of a title at all, and I toss around ideas with my editor and publisher and husband and friends until everyone is sick of me… but I always get there in the end.

6) Suze: You’ve travelled a lot and are now living in the UK, what/where do you call home and what do you miss most about Australia?

I grew up in Australia – I do miss the wide open spaces and the weather. I miss having a mango tree in my garden and horses in paddocks around me. But I love London too. I love the sense of history and the wonderful architecture.

I call both home – did I mention the number of hours I spend on planes between the two places?

7) Tanya: As an avid traveller which three countries do you recommend should be on my must visit list?

Every country I have visited (I stopped counting at 60) has its own unique appeal. I have never been to a country that didn’t leave me with some pleasant memories. As a bit of a history buff, I have to say my favourite places were The Great Wall of China, The Taj Mahal and the Pueblo Cliff dwellings in the New Mexico desert. As a lover of wild places – I also loved the glaciers in Iceland, the savanna in Africa and the mountains of Kazakhstan.

8) Suze: You worked as a journalist for many years and you’ve met a lot of different people because of it. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met?

That’s a tough one Suze. I’ve met famous people who were not terribly interesting, and ‘ordinary’ people who were just amazing. Possibly the scariest interview I ever did was with Professor Julius Sumner Miller. He was a physicist and seemed a bit crazy to me. He hosted an old children’s science show on TV in Australia. He always asked his audience ‘Why is it so?’ I was always afraid I’d get it wrong. When I interviewed him years later, he questioned my understanding of a couple of words I used in a question. I almost fainted with fear – but I got the answer right! I was so relieved. There’s a video of him here. See what I mean – scary!

9) Tanya: I read that you enjoy knitting and read on your website that you recently visited the Welsh National Woollen Mills, a place I regularly visit with my family. When you are visiting these types of places are you constantly thinking of how you can use the knowledge and experiences in a plot. If so can you give examples?

Isn’t the wool museum a fabulous place? I just loved it. I am always looking for places and experiences and people to use in stories. My very first published short story was based on a visit I made to the Gower Peninsula, which I thought was quite beautiful. I once wrote a short story because of a screaming child running wild in my local supermarket. Be careful – anything is grist to the writers mind.

10) Suze: You thoroughly research your stories, what’s the best part about learning new things to write about?

I am insatiably curious. I think it was instilled in me by my father. I love it when I am researching something and discover a word or an expression or activity that is unique to that thing. I immediately store it away in my head and use it. When I was quite small, my Dad bought us a set of Children’s encyclopaedias. I devoured them. I got to M before anyone told me that you’re not supposed to read an encyclopaedia from cover to cover like a book. I read the rest anyway, for the sheer pleasure of finding out new stuff.

11) Tanya: I did my dissertation on the writing process for children. As an author what writing process do you follow?

I think about my characters and their story for quite a while before I begin a book. I’m usually talking to the new characters as I finish the previous book. I always know what I am writing about – for example the book I’m working on now is all about what happens when the wrong person is actually the right person. I always have a broad plot outline in my head – very very broad. Then the book starts to play in my head like a movie. I write down what I see and hear.

12) Suze: What’s special about Coorah Creek, why do people come there to heal?

I love the sense of community in the town. People care about each other. I think that’s something unique to small towns, particularly town on geographically remote and tough places. There’s not a lot of money. It’s a tough life. Emotions run close to the surface. I’ve had readers tell me they would like to go and live there. That’s a huge compliment.

13) Tanya: Do you base the characters in the book on people that you know or have come across?

I am an insatiable people-watcher. I love observing how they act and interact. I use those observations to give my characters realistic personalities, strengths and weakness, hopes and dreams. None of them is an actual other person – but every one of them has traits that I have seen in real people. That gives the characters realism and depth.

14) Suze: In one of your short stories (Fairy Kiss) you write about finding something great when you least expect it, do you have an example of when this has happened to you?

OK – true confession here. I met my husband on the 40th floor of a warehouse building in the upper reaches of the New Territories in Hong Kong. He had come from England and I had come from Australia to work on the same project there. With a week, we knew that something special had happened to us. After that, how could I not believe in finding the best things when you least expect it?

15) Tanya: What do you hope to achieve in the future?

There are so many stories in my head and I want to tell them all! In the shorter term, though, there is one thing for which I have all my fingers and toes crossed. I have been shortlisted for the RUBY Award – that’s the Romantic Book of the Year awarded by the Romance Writers of Australia. I’m flying back to Melbourne in August for the awards ceremony. People always say it is an honour just to be shortlisted – and it is. But oh – how wonderful would it be to win….

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