Celebrations at the Chateau by Jo Thomas #romance #bookreview #netgalley

This was the another Netgalley ARC, which I was very excited to read as its by one of my favourite romance writers, Jo Thomas.

Blurb

When their grandfather dies, Fliss and her sisters are astonished to inherit a French chateau! Travelling to Normandy to visit the beautiful if faded house, they excitedly make plans over delicious crepes and local cider in the town nearby.

But they soon discover the chateau needs major work, a huge tax bill is due . . . and there’s a sitting tenant to whom they owe a monthly allowance.

Unable to sell but strapped for cash, Fliss determines to spruce up the elegant old rooms and open a B&B. But, why is Jacques, the local mayor, so hostile? How did Fliss’s grandfather come to own the place anyway? And will Jacques and Fliss be able to put their differences aside to save the chateau?

Inspired by Escape to the Chateau, this cosy and uplifting novel to curl up with, from the author of Escape to the French Farmhouse and Finding Love at the Christmas Market.

My Review

I loved reading this story right from the start. Inheriting an old French Chateau is right up there on my wish list, but seeing as that is not going to happen I had to live the fantasy through Fliss and her sisters.

When the three sisters decide to turn the old, run down Chateau into a B&B before it bankrupts them, it doesn’t go as smoothly as they’d hoped. Much like the path to true love between Fliss and the broody mayor, Jacques. They are perfect for each other but ex’s and a difficult situation in the past threatens their happy ever after.

Fliss is a very capable heroine, but she still occasionally needs rescuing and the handsome farmer / mayor / next door neighbour, Jacques is never far away.

The supporting cast are great; from Fliss’ nephew Jason who comes to help restore the chateau and blossoms in France, to Clementine Jacques step-daughter, to the huge working horse Pegasus whose always sticking his head through the fences and causing havoc, and Cedrick the peacock whose sometimes turns up to delight the guests. I have to mention the sitting tenant too, the chatelaine. She holds the key to the mystery of how Fliss’ grandfather came to own the Chateau in the first place, if only she could overcome the events in the past to confide in Fliss.

At the heart of this novel is mystery, love and family relationships. And of course there’s plenty of Christmas magic and a New Year’s Eve wedding at the Chateau to look forward to. You can’t get much better than that.

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance

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I’ve completed my Goodreads challenge! #amreading #booklist #bookreview

So I didn’t set myself a huge target this year, but I didn’t expect to have completed it by August either. That makes me very happy.

Some people might read 20 books in a few months but I’m still pleased with this figure and hope to read quite a few more books by the end of the year.

Netgalley has been responsible for quite a few of my recent reads and I have 4 more accepted requests lined up that I will post about later.

Here is my list and links to reviews or a brief summary of my feelings for the books.

Netgalley Reads

The Hotel at Honeymoon Station – Tilly Tennant. An enjoyable and gentle romance. My 4 star Review

Chasing the Italian Dream – Jo Thomas. Brilliant summer read, I still miss the characters. My 4.5 star review

The River Between Us – Liz Fenwick. Enjoyable dual timeline though maybe not Liz Fenwick’s best work. My 4 star Review

Waste Not. Want Not – Lilac Mills. A surprising and enjoyable romance. My 5 star Review

Under the Italian Sun – Sue Moorcroft. I loved this hot romance right from the first page (not just hot because of the weather!) My 5 star review.

Writing Resourses

200 boosts for Indie Authors – Rayne Hall. A great book of tips to work through to improve your books and author career. Better for those starting out I think. 4 star

Save the cat! Writes a Novel – Jessica Brody. Very interesting way of looking at writing which I hope to try out on a new WIP very soon. 4.5 star.

Romance your brand – Zoe York. Helpful guide that makes you rethink how you should be writing a series. 4 stars

Romance books

An Island Christmas – Jenny Colgan. Enjoyable and emotional read.

Summer Kisses at Mermaid Point – Sarah Bennett. Enjoyable and heartwarming. Looking forward to revisiting soon.

The Tanglewood Teashop – Lilac Mills. Loved it so much I bought the next books straight away. Can’t wait to dive in again.

Perfect Timing – Jill Mansell. Perfect feel-good read. 5 stars.

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!)

Fantasy

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)

Other Reads

Beginning of The End – GJ Stevens. Gripping with non-stop action and a surprising twist end. My 5 star review.

Capital Action – GJ Stevens. Entertaining thriller of a read. 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.

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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?

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P.S.

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.

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance

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Book Review Chasing the Italian Dream by Jo Thomas #romance #netgalley

I received an ARC via Netgalley and enjoyed this book so much.

Blurb

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?

My Review

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 on Amazon

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.

The Olive Branch

Late Summer in the vineyard

Escape to the French Farmhouse

Double review – Finding Love at The Christmas Market and Winter Beneath the Stars

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance

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Double #bookreview Winter Beneath the Stars and Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas #romance

I always enjoy Jo Thomas’ books and these two were no exception. It did take me a bit to get into one of them but then the characters wormed their way into my heart and I really enjoyed both books. Below are the blurbs and my brief reviews.

Winter Beneath the Stars

Halley has been running from her problems for years.

On a courier trip to Tallfors, deep in Swedish Lapland, everything is going to plan. Halley has her bag, with two precious wedding rings inside for delivery… until she doesn’t.

The only way to save the wedding is to team up with mysterious reindeer herder Bjorn, the one person who can lead her across the snowy tundra to be reunited with her bag.

On a journey of a lifetime beneath the stars, with only the reindeer and a bad-tempered stranger for company beside the fire, Halley realises that she will need to confront her past heartaches in order to let the warmth of love in once more…

My Brief Review

I did have to suspend my disbelief with this one as the premise of the story just didn’t seem plausible. Halley is a courier delivering special wedding rings that get lost when her hand luggage is accidently swapped with someone else’s. I could not get over the fact she could have carried the rings on her person. Of course there would be no story then, but it really bugged me for a while.

Anyway, it goes to show if you can just let something go and keep reading you may just be surprised. It was a great story about two people struggling to overcome their personal issues and hopefully find love. The setting was very special and really made the book come alive for me. Plus I loved the husky dogs. In the end it was a brilliant read and I loved Halley and Bjorn.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market

Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?

My Brief Review

This is was a lovely Christmas read and an original story idea where Connie takes the old folks from the retirement home on a jaunt to a Christmas market in Germany. They visit a bakery, which features in the story quite a lot. I loved these scenes and all the descriptions of the delicious food. At first I found the many characters from the retirement home hard to keep track of, but it all fell into place and I really enjoyed the story. I also loved how everyone had a Christmas wish and they made a pact to help each other fulfil them.

Another recommended read. Jo Thomas is a master at telling heart warming stories with characters you fall in love with.

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and romance.

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#Bookreview Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas #romance #tuesdaybookblog

This is another great read from Jo Thomas. She is one of my favourite romance writers and her books never fails to make me feel emotional!

Blurb

Can Del find her recipe for happiness?

Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie.

Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? After discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?

A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence. Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.

My review

The story starts as Del prepares to leave France with her husband but she realises their relationship is broken and she decides to stay on alone. It’s a very brave thing to do, especially where all her stuff is already on its way back to England!

Del is a strong character even if she doesn’t always see that about herself. I love being in her world, watching as she learns to trust herself and be self reliant.

The people in the nearby town make her feel welcome and she settles into her new life, finding friendship and possibly more in the process. She helps others, in particular a young mum along the way. These growing friendships really make the story something special.

The details of the farmhouse and the lavender are so immersive. I also love the details of the cooking. Del uses her love of baking to start providing for herself, incorporating the lavender from her farm into everything she cooks. Be warned, this book can make you hungry. Helpfully there are a few recipes at the back of the book, which is a nice little touch.

The chapters are very short and always draw you into the next. Many times I said to myself I’ll just read one more chapter only to find another half and hour had passed without me even realising.

If you like to be transported to beautiful places and enjoy heart-warming and feel good stories, then give Escape to the French Farmhouse a try.

My rating – 5 lavender scented stars!

Also see my reviews of Late Summer in the Vineyards and The Olive Grove.

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

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September Reading Update #amreading #fantasy #romance #writingguides

I’ve just reached my reading target for 2020, four months early! Ok, so I only set it at 15, but I have been really enjoying reading again and have to say the standard of the books has been so high. I’ve read a mix of fantasy, romance, spy-thrilllers and urban fantasy, plus a non-fiction book and a bio by Monty Don – Nigel.

What I’ve recently read

Book 1 and 2 S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy. I plan to do a trilogy review as soon as I’ve finished book 3, which I was kindly given a copy of via Netgalley.

Currently reading

During lockdown I’ve been taken with the idea of writing some Romance novellas so I’ve decided to always have a romance book on the go. I’m currently reading…

Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley.

and I’m almost finished reading Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas. It is such a lovely read and I’ll be sad to finish it.

As mentioned above, I’m reading book 3 in Daevabad trilogy, Empire of Gold. I hope to finish this asap and get the reviews up for all 3 books. It’s a such a brilliant series that I can’t wait to tell you about it.

What I plan to read over the next few months

My book group have chosen Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I’ve been wanting to read this for the last few years so I’m looking forward to digging in before the end of September.

I would like to catch up with the next Carrie Harris book by GJ Stevens. I read the prequel a few months ago and couldn’t put it down. See my review here.

I also have plans to read some non-fiction books as research for my writing. Now the kids have returned to school I’m wondering if I’ll have more time on my hands to tackle these books;

I’d also like to revisit some non-fiction books I read last year and put into action their suggestions and hopefully review them this time!

By the end of the year I hope to support some of my fellow fantasy indie authors. I’ll share those books in another blog post in support of #Selfpubfantasymonth.

I think that is plenty of reading to be getting on with. Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR?

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

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June Book haul and books I’m currently reading #amreading

I’ve been on a bit of a buying spree so I wanted to share some of the books I’ve picked up recently.

Jo Thomas – Escape to the French Farmhouse

Jo Thomas writes great fiction for escaping. Here’s my reviews of her previous books The Olive Branch and Late Summer in the Vineyard.

Luanne G Smith – The Vine Witch.

This is an impulse buy as I love the cover and the title.

Emma Miles – Hall of Pillars and Hall of the Night.

I loved Emma’s Fire Walker books so thought I’d give this series a go. Review of Fire Walker Series.

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol

My son is studying this in English so I thought I would have a go at reading it with him (already beginning to wish I didn’t bother!).

Neal Shusterman – Thunderhead (book 2).

I read Scythe book 1 last year and loved it so I’ve been looking forward to catching up with the rest of the trilogy. Here’s my mini review of Scythe.

Patrick Moore Astronomy for Beginners

This is research for my current WIP The Starlight Prophecy. Even though it’s a fantasy, I like to base my story on facts and real life where possible.

Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games

I loved the films and have been trying to get the kids to agree to read the books. I finally bought a copy and would love to find the time to read it as well, especially with the prequel coming out this month.

GJ Stevens – Lessons Learned – (Carrie Harris Book 2)

This book has just been released this month so I snapped up a copy, especially as I’ve been reading book 1 this month. See below. You can get your copy of Lessons Learned here.

S.A Chakraborty – The Empire of Gold (book 3 Daevabad trilogy).

I was really excited to be given a copy of this from the publisher via Netgalley. I can’t wait to read book 2 The Kingdom of Copper so I can get onto this one.

Ian Gregoire – The Apprentice in The Master’s Shadow (Book 2 Legends of the Order)

This came out in May but I’d thought I’d share it here as I’m looking forward to reading it. Another gorgeous cover too! Here’s my review of book 1.

Claire Huston – Art and Soul

I love all the cake recipes on Claire’s blog so I had to give her debut book a go.

Currently reading

Laura Laakso – Infallible Justice.

I’m enjoying this book very much. It’s a modern day London with magic. I hope to post a review very soon.

GJ Stevens – Operation Dawn Wolf Book 1 Agent Carrie Harris

I plan to review this book asap so don’t want to say too much right now apart from the fact that it’s very good! But if you’re interested in reading it you can get a free copy of the book by joining GJ Stevens newsletter. That’s how I got my copy.

That’s about it for my recent purchases. I’m hoping to get lots of reading done over the summer so look out for reviews of the above.

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

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#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas #romance

This is a quick review because I just have to share this book with you all. First as always here’s the blurb from goodreads…

Escape to Italy with THE OLIVE BRANCH. The irresistibly romantic new novel from Jo Thomas, award-winning author of ebook runaway bestseller THE OYSTER CATCHER.

It’s amazing what you can buy online these days:
Memorabilia
Fashion accessories
A crumbling Italian farmhouse…

After a Prosecco-fuelled girls’ night in gets out of hand, Ruthie Collins awakes to discover that she has bid for her dream Italian home online – and won. Recently out of a relationship, a new start is just what Ruthie needs. Anything is better than sleeping on her mum’s settee.

But arriving in Southern Italy, Ruthie doesn’t know the first thing about running an olive farm. And with new neighbours, the tempestuous Marco Bellanouvo and his fiery family to contend with, all Ruthie wants is to go back home.

Life can change with the click of a mouse. But all good things – friendship, romance, and even the olive harvest – take time to grow. Can Ruthie finally put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way? Goodreads

the olive branch

My review

The Olive Branch drew me in from the first page and I couldn’t stop reading or thinking about it. It had me laughing and crying, and wishing for my own adventure in Italy.

This is the second book I’ve read my Jo Thomas and I’m now planning to stock up on the rest of her novels. She picks wonderful locations and transports you to them, immersing you in the place and the culture of its people. Not only that, but you learn something too. In The Olive Tree I learnt about the olive groves and the olive harvest. It really was fascinating to live in Ruthie’s shoes for a few days. I also got to experience a dream of moving and renovating a rundown home, but without any of the hard work!

I really do recommend Jo Thomas’ books and can’t wait to dive into the next adventure. Have to read any of her books? Can you recommend my next read?

Here’s my review of Late Summer in the Vineyard

Oh and in case you were wondering, this is a heart-warming 5 star read!