The word heart-warming was made for this book. In fact it doesn’t do it justice!
And look at the sweet cover.
Here’s the blurb…
A dream home Beca Valentino is ready to escape the city. When she sees the perfect house for sale in her hometown, it seems like fate. Is this her chance to build the foster family she dreams of, on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast?
A big mistake? Returning home isn’t as easy as she thought, however. Her family’s beloved ice cream café is gone – turned into a soulless wine bar by her hateful ex-boyfriend. Reconnecting with her oldest friend, fisherman Griff, isn’t straightforward either. And when, instead of the children she expected to take in, two wary teenage boys appear on her doorstep, Beca fears she’s made a terrible mistake.
A recipe for change But an old family recipe book is just the inspiration she needs. Soon, with a little help from friends old and new, Beca is selling mouth-watering homemade gelato from a pop-up café on the beach.
Then disaster strikes. Will the Valentino family legacy be lost forever? Or can Beca create a new recipe for happiness?
I can’t quite explain how much I loved this story. It was such an uplifting book to read, with so many moments that had me smiling and wiping away happy tears. Of course it had it’s sad moments too, and moments where I wanted to grab Beca and talk some sense into her.
The supporting cast were brilliant, especially the two teenage boys who came to stay. Watching them come out of their shells was a joy to read. And I love how Griff, Beca’s best friend from childhood, is always there to lend a hand, a shoulder to cry on, anything that Beca needs.
I think this has to be one of my top favourite Jo Thomas books. Give it a read, I’m sure you will love it too.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC copy. The book comes out on 27th April 2023, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy, heart-warming romance and short stories
I won this book in a twitter competition held by Whispering Stories along with some lovely goodies. I’m very grateful as this turned out to be one of my favourite reads of 2021.
Can a trip away lead you home?
After a bad break-up, eternal optimist Evie Miller has moved to the small village of Willowbrook to finally pursue her dream of opening a craft shop. Unfortunately, with money worries and an ex-boyfriend determined to track her down, her fresh start isn’t going entirely to plan.
Jake Hartwood is also looking to escape his past. Haunted by the loss of his wife, he’s determined not to get close to anyone again – and the last thing he wants is to be celebrating this December.
Hoping to avoid the festivities, Evie and Jake arrange to escape Christmas together as friends in Provence. But will the magic of the season change things between them?
And what happens if one of them starts to feel something more?
I really loved this book and I’m so happy to have discovered a new author by winning this prize. I read The Christmas Holiday in a few days because I just couldn’t put it down.
As well as being an addictive, entertaining read, the book also has an emotional storyline. Grief is a central issue creating a barrier between the two protagonists.
I loved Evie and her story of opening her own craft shop in what sounds like a wonderful little village, Willowbrook. She has lots of insecurities and money troubles, but she’s determined to follow her dream and make the business a success even if others don’t believe in her.
I also loved Jake’s storyline and felt for his difficult situation. He is a brooding, handsome, hurting lead man with a heart in need of healing. His dog won my heart from the start of the story too.
I became invested in the two main characters straight away and read with increasing speed, desperate to follow Evie and Jake’s journey. It was a satisfying read, one that has stayed with me even two weeks after finishing it.
It’s a book I want to shout about, recommend to everyone and it is one I will read again! I can’t wait to discover more of Sophie Claire’s books.
An amazing fantasy story that has many familiar tropes from the genre but with new twists you won’t see coming.
On a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire’s enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name ‘The Sword of Kaigen.’
Born into Kusanagi’s legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family’s fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen’s alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.
Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.
When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?
A rich elemental magic system and deep world-building make this martial fantasy perfect for fans of R.F. Kuang, Brandon Sanderson, Leigh Bardugo, and Lian Hearn.
My Mini Review
I loved this book. It may have taken me quite a few pages to really get into the story, but once I was in, there was no going back. The story is relentless. It tore my heart out but I couldn’t stop reading.
I loved the different feel this book had. The mix of fantasy in an Asian inspired world with modern day technology was so well done. The action was intense, the emotions it inspired were heart-wrenching, and the world building and magic systems were both immersive and awe-inspiring! I might even go so far as to say this book is a masterpiece in the fantasy genre.
Although a standalone, I feel the author has left the world open for more stories and I really hope they pick up this world again.
Check it out on Amazon for only 99p at the moment! Worth every penny.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance
Unpredictable Consequences of Love – Jill Mansell. Loved this book and thought about the characters long after I finished it. My review
Winter Beneath The Stars – Jo Thomas. Despite a shaky start for me I ended up loving the characters and the location was wonderful. See my review.
Christmas Wishes – Sue Moorcroft. A heart-warming Christmas read I absolutely fell in love with. My big fat 5 star review.
(I started Christmas Wishes at the end of 2020 and finished it in early 2021. I considered it one of my fav reads of 2020 but it could also be a contender for the best of 2021 reads too!)
Raven Storm (book 3) – Emma Miles. My only fantasy read so far this year (shocking)!
I loved this third book just as much as the first 2. Emma Miles is such an accomplished fantasy writer and I love the world and characters she has created in this series. I must review this book and get on with reading book 4 which came out a few months ago. My Review of the series so far (books 1 and 2)
Beginning of The End – GJ Stevens. Gripping with non-stop action and a surprising twist end. My 5 star review.
Wolf Hollow – Lauren Wolk. Very emotional, evocative and immersive 5 star mid-grade read.
The Circling Sky – Neil Ansell. This cover is beautiful and I love the title which reminds me of the Pink Floyd song ‘Learning to Fly’. I love the New Forest and this book helped to transport me back there. I’m grateful a fellow reviewer sent me her ARC copy once she’d finished reading it – thanks Hannah at Echoes in an Empty Room. This is a relaxing 4 star read.
My only DNF
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte. I just couldn’t get on with this classic. I got half way through but I just didn’t care enough to keep reading. More of a frustrating read than entertaining for me.
The whole reason I decided to read this was because a character in my new romance series is an English Literature Professor and he said Wuthering Heights is one of his favourite reads. Having attempted to read in myself, I’m going to have to have a chat with him as to why he chose it!
What are your views on this classic or classics in general? I just can’t seem to get on with them.
It has been great to escape into books this year and I have enjoyed being forced to start reviewing again mainly due to my Netgalley reads. There are some books here I would still like to review, especially by indie authors as I know how important it is to get those precious reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
I’ll be back soon with a list of the books I want to read during the rest of the year including the books I still have outstanding on Netgalley.
What are your reading plans and how close are you to completing your 2021 Goodreads Challenge?
Talking of reviewing books, my Goodreads, Amazon and Audible book pages seem to have hit a bit of a slump. If you have read any of my books would you consider helping me out by posting a quick review? I love to read your thoughts and even a short review will really make my day. Thanks very much.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance
I received an ARC via Netgalley and enjoyed this book so much.
A summer escape she’ll never forget . . .
Lucia has worked hard as a lawyer in Wales, aiming for a big promotion she hopes will shortly come her way. Finally taking a well-earned break at her grandparents’ house in southern Italy, the sunshine, lemon trees and her nonna’s mouth-watering cooking make her instantly feel at home.
But she’s shocked to learn that her grandfather is retiring from the beloved family pizzeria and will need to sell. Lucia can’t bear the thought of the place changing hands – especially when she discovers her not-quite-ex-husband Giacomo wants to take it over!
Then bad news from home forces Lucia to re-evaluate what she wants from life. Is this her chance to carry on the family tradition and finally follow her dreams?
I enjoyed this book from the very first page and spent many nights staying up too late reading it. The location comes alive and as always the descriptions of food and wine are perfect and make you long to share in the whole pizzeria experience (especially as I’ve eaten out once in almost a year and a half!).
The main characters in this book have their flaws – Lucia is very single-minded and can’t see what’s truly going on around her and her ex, Giacomo, shuts up and retreats when faced with problems instead of stating how he feels. At times this would irritate me, but I think that’s because it was obvious they were meant to be together and I just wanted that happy ever after moment for them to come asap.
The cast of characters were like good friends, especially Nonna and Nonno, and I shall miss reading about them.
This book is the perfect way to escape for a few hours, who can resist a romantic retreat to Italy?
You can pick up your copy now for just 99p ebook onAmazon
I have loved all of Jo Thomas’ books so far. Here are some more of my reviews if you need any persuading to give this author a try.
I really enjoyed my first visit to Old London and meeting with so many interesting characters.
In Old London, where paranormal races co-exist with ordinary humans, criminal verdicts delivered by the all-seeing Heralds of Justice are infallible. After a man is declared guilty of murder and sentenced to death, his daughter turns to private investigator Yannia Wilde to do the impossible and prove the Heralds wrong. Yannia has escaped a restrictive life in the Wild Folk conclave where she was raised, but her origins mark her as an outsider in the city. Those origins lend her the sensory abilities of all of nature. Yet Yannia is lonely and struggling to adapt to life in the city. The case could be the break she needs. She enlists the help of her only friend, a Bird Shaman named Karrion, and together they accept the challenge of proving a guilty man innocent. So begins a breathless race against time and against all conceivable odds. Can Yannia and Karrion save a man who has been judged infallibly guilty?
Firstly I’d just like to admire the cover, it’s so well designed and even though its dark it really stands out and draws the eye.
This book has some of my favourite elements, magic and mystery, in a modern day setting with a difference. There is so much depth to the character, her past, and the magic system in this world that it draws you in. I love the peppering of details that help you understand Yannia and her past, and I can’t wait to discover more about in the books to come.
I loved the magic in this book, in particular how Yannia can call up the senses of other animals and use them to see the world around her. There is also her daily struggle to live away from the natural magic, her pain is very well portrayed and makes you care for the character even more. There are lots of colourful yet mysterious characters that help Yannia along the way and I hope they will feature more in future books.
The crime itself is an interesting one. P.I’s are a personal favourite of mine and I just loved investigating this impossible crime with Yannia. The whodunit moment was great and the realisation of how the crime was committed completely surprised me.
It’s a great first book of what I’m sure will be an entertaining series with characters and a magic system I can’t wait to discover more about. So far there are 3 books in the series but I believe there are more to come.
I noticed it’s currently only 99p on Amazon. I recommend picking up a copy now. Let me know what you think.
I have had the great pleasure of reading the Fire-Walker series by Emma Miles and I wanted to share it with you.
I haven’t written a proper review in a long time, but this series has inspired me to share some book love. Keep reading to see why I loved it so much.
Book One The Raven Tower
How much would you sacrifice to save your people? Your freedom, your home … power … love … your life?
Four lands beneath the sky. A haven of peace, a kingdom of plenty, ravaged islands, and a nation of cruel, dark magic. One will try to devour them all.
Spring brings the ruthless Borrow raiders much earlier in the year, their attacks more ferocious, more desperate. When Kesta uses her magic to see in the flames who is really behind the raids the Independent islands of the Fulmers seem doomed to fall. Their only hope is to cross the sea to seek the help of the King of Elden and his dangerous sorcerer, the Dark Man; but what price will the king demand for his aid?
Wild Kesta has been raised to be a leader, trusted, loved, with the freedom of her cherished Islands. Can Kesta subdue her fiery nature and work with a man she hates, a man she fears, to stop the evil that will consume their lands and enslave them all?
Sometimes you pick up and book and know from the very first few lines that you are going to love it. That’s what happened to me and I was so glad I found Emma Miles’ books through the blog tour she ran with Rachel’s Random Resources.
I love a book where you’re not sure which characters you can trust and no one is quite what they seem. The Raven Tower has plenty of mystery surrounding certain characters like Jorrun and I loved how Kesta is thrust into this very different life to save her people. Your understanding grows with Kesta’s and your are drawn in deeper with her.
I applaud the world building in the Fire-Walker series and the magic of the different cultures is very cool. Kesta’s home the Fulmer’s is probably my favourite place and you can understand her desire to save it and her longing to return there when she is locked away with the Dark Man!
I don’t want to reveal too much but just to say The Raven Tower is a magical, fantasy adventure with just the right amount of romance, mystery and intrigue to satisfy any reader.
Book Two The Raven Coven
I won a paperback in a blogging competition last year via twitter. It was only as I received the book that I realised it was book 2 in a series and I didn’t have book 1! Stupid me for not paying attention, but then who cares I just bought book 1 and started reading it when my book club decided to read The Raven Tower by another ‘famous’ author. I couldn’t get on with the other book but Emma Miles wowed me from the start and I wish the book club had chosen her book instead.
Without giving too much away from the plot, book two continues with the same characters you fell for in the first book, but there are even more twists and turns and heartbreak ahead. I had my heart broken a few times and I’m sure when you read it you’ll find out why!
This book had a satisfying conclusion to the series and I expected it to end there with the usual emotions inspired by a great book, happiness at the awesome ending and tears that it’s really over. BUT the author noted she plans to write at least two more in the series. I’m excited for this, though I hope the characters will get a breather for a while.
The Fire-Walker series has that page-turning quality which can lead to some very late nights if you haven’t got a moaning grump next to you asking you to turn out the light!
I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys magic and adventure, characters you’ll want to spend hours reading about and a world you never want to leave!