Blog Tour: A Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

About the Author:


Rachel Brimble lives in Wiltshire with her husband of twenty years, two teenage daughters and her beloved chocolate Labrador, Tyler. Multi-published in the US, she is thrilled to have a new beginning writing for Aria in the UK. When Rachel isn’t writing, she enjoys reading across the genres, knitting and walking the English countryside with her family…often stopping off at a country pub for lunch and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Follow Rachel:

Twitter: @RachelBrimble

Facebook: @RachelBrimble

About the Book:

One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.

Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness. When Esther and Lawrence meet, their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.

With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

My Review:

The second of the Pennington’s series is set in Bath in 1911. . Esther Stanbury, a window dresser at Pennington’s Department Store, has huge dreams for the a better deal for women in society and wants progression, peace and respect for them. She also wants rhem to have the power to vote.

Lawrence Culford has it all, but there’s deep-seated anger shame and resentment running through his veins and his happiness is at risk.

What will happen when they meet?
It’s all action in Bath with the upcoming King’s coronation and the Suffragette movement fighting to secure the vote.

A Rebel at Pennington’s is a real tense, will they won’t they kind of novel. I was wondering if Lawrence and Esther would work things out in spite of their different backgrounds and personalities but it was a joy seeing their friendship grow. At the same time, I was wondering if Esther would get what she wanted for herself as a woman and for all the women of the time. When I was at school, the Suffragette movement was one of my favourite periods of history and I myself am really into fighting for my own rights as an individual.

Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise. I love any historical novel about love, life and huge department stores. I’ve been to Bath and the majestic nature of the city is ever-present here. I loved the descriptions of Pennington’s itself and the atmosphere of the shop. Esther’s contentment with her job as the head of the department of window dressing is evident as is her drive, courage and passion in fighting for societal change no matter what the cost. And there is a cost, an emotional one and the stakes are high.

Leaving home is not easy but her father’s opinions are too much. Rachel Brimble writes an engrossing novel that’s second in the series bur also a good standalone. I’d recommend reading the first book before this to get an idea of background. 4 stars
Thanks to Rachel Brimble and Aria for my ARC copy in exchange for an honest and voluntary review and a spot on the blog tour for this title. Great to be back at Pennington’s.
Where to Buy: 

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2slN4Jk

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2H5ot5W

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2AGws3x

iBooks: https://apple.co/2D1GDBm
Esther marched past the family towards Pennington’s open double doors. That told him. The way he’d looked at her! Almost as if she entertained him. Well, maybe next time, he’d think twice before declaring what was, or wasn’t, a suitable toy or pastime for his children. It was attitudes like his that held back progress; that scuppered the Cause’s efforts time and time again.Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Esther walked through Pennington’s doors and into the glittering, brightly lit atrium. The mammoth space burst with activity, customers strolling arm in arm around the glistening counters and dressed mannequins standing on platforms dotted throughout. Wide-brimmed hats and tailored suits provided a seemingly endless flow of colour. At Pennington’s, dancers and actors, gentry and businessmen shared the same space with middle-class housewives, labourers or nannies with prams. The sight of such equality never failed to brighten Esther’s most sombre mood.

When Elizabeth’s father, Edward Pennington, had finally seen sense and passed the store’s reins to his daughter, Elizabeth had quickly and decisively implemented changes that meant the demographic of Pennington’s shoppers instantly modernised from being shamefully elitist to encompassing people from every walk of life. The struggle Elizabeth had gone through to be valued and respected by her father had bordered on painful, but she’d succeeded in her endeavours, despite the odds stacked against her.

She’d utilised every ounce of her passion and drive to do all she could to help female workers labour towards an equal footing with men. To encourage and inspire belief in the department heads and their staff that the stark differences between men and women was a thing of the past at Pennington’s.

Working alongside her new husband, Joseph Carter, Elizabeth retained her maiden name for her professional life only. As her friend, Esther knew only too well how much Elizabeth relished being Mrs Carter. Not as a sign of inferiority or bondage to her husband but as a proud public acknowledgement to a man she loved and respected. Someone who had been far below her social standing when they’d met and fallen in love, but despite the obstacles, Elizabeth and Joseph had fought her father in order to spend their lives together. Her love for her husband was tangible whenever Esther was near them, whether in the workplace or socially. They were a formidable team, and one Esther felt honoured to work with.

Esther lifted her gaze to the sunlight that flowed through the glass dome, casting pink, blue and green in every direction, prismed by the huge chandeliers hung throughout the seemingly endless store. She smelt the soft scent of perfume mixed with the sweetness emanating from the numerous bouquets of flowers standing in vases on marble plinths and breathed deep, as love for her job and the people she worked with hastened her steps and demolished her temper.

Esther weaved through the throng towards the stairs leading to her department in the store’s basement. She was thankful Elizabeth had agreed she could start work a little later this morning. The ten-hour days she’d worked for the last month to get the toy window display finished as well as adding bits and pieces to the store’s plans for the upcoming Coronation had finally taken their toll and – added to the constant and growing demands of her aging aunt – Esther’s focus had woefully drifted. Something she’d never allowed to happen before and was determined to rectify. Her constant need to prove herself had become an obsession.

She inhaled. An obsession she feared she’d never satisfy.

Her father’s rejection of her and her ensuing need to feel worthy of her mother’s belief in her had meant Esther worked hard, often forgoing fun in a bid to succeed in her work for the Cause and here at Pennington’s.

Her desperate need to feel valued and wanted sometimes hung over her like a heavy cloud, and she had absolutely no idea what, or who, would make that change. All she knew, with the utmost certainty, was that she’d never give up until she’d succeeded.


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Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
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I Reviewed 200 Books on NetGalley

Today I reviewed my 200th ARC on NetGalley. Here are the books I’ve reviewed over the last 3 years since I joined.

Finding Heather by Alison Ragsdale
The Water Babes by Norman Whitney
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Berties Gift by Hannah Coates
A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn
Lily’s House by Cassandra Parkin
The Empire State Cat’s Christmas Gift by Nic Tatino
The Husband Who Refused to Die by Angela Darby
The Vets at Hope Green Part One by Sheila Norton
Fatal Option by Chris Beakey
Black Feathers by Ellen Datlow (Editor)
The Vets at Hope Green by Sheila Norton
Suck it up Sunshine by Megan McIntyre
The Lonely Teddy Bear Jeannie’s Story by Chelsea Radojcic
Beastia by Zoe Cruz
A Present From India by M.J. Carrayette
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Vets at Hope Green Part 4 by Sheila Norton
The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan
The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton
One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline
Tree Magic by Harriett Springbett
Strange Beauty by Eliza Factor
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Message from Joshua by Philip St Lawrence
Castle of Water by Dane Hackelbridge
Heels over Head by Clay G. Small
Crimes Against a Bookclub by Cathy Cooperman
Star Cluster Seven by Alex Random
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
The Six Train to Wisconsin by Kourtney Heintz
The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin
Sleep Better by Dr Graham Law and Dr Shane Pascoe
A Stardance Summer by Emily March
The Lake and the Lost Girl by Jaqueline Vincenta
The Postcard by Fern Britton
The Joy Plan by Kaia Roman
A Perfect Husband by Hilary Boyd
Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
After I’ve Gone by Linda Green
The Playboy Prince and the Nanny by Donna Alward
Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham
The Beachside Flower Stall by Karen Clarke
If the Creek Don’t Rise by Laura Weiss
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardvinge
The Returning Tide (Sampler) by Liz Fenwick
Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown
Love Apples by Melissa van Maasdyk
Love at the Italian Lake by Darcie Boleyn
The Girl Before by JP Delaney
The Stagazer’s Embassy by Eleanor Lerman
You Are Loved by Jo Platt
Need You Now (Cloud Bay #1) by Emma Douglas
Last First Kiss by Sidney Halston
Maybe I Do by Nicole MacLaughlin
Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
Dead in the Water by Denise Swanson
One Quiet Woman by Anna Jacobs
Hush Little Baby by Joanna Barnard
The Cheaspeake Bride by Mariah Stewart
Deck the Halls by Donna Alward
A Season of You (Cloud Bay #2)
by Emma Douglas
With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins
Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle
Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Cramer
Maria and Me by Miguel Gallardo
In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green
The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan
Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn
A Seaside Escape by Lisa Hobman
The Note by Zoë Folbigg
The Pets at Primrose Cottage Part 1: A Place to Hide by Sheila Norton
Raising Resilience by Christopher Willard PsyD
Halloween Carnival Volume 2 by Glen Hirshberg; Lee Thomas; Holly Newstein; Del James
Halloween Carnival Volume 3 by Kelley Armstrong; Kate Maruyama; Michael McBride; Taylor Grant
Halloween Carnival Volume 4 by Kealan Patrick Burke; Ray Garton; Bev Vincent; C.A. Suleiman
Upstairs, Downstairs by Olivia Hart
Stuck with You by Anna Premoli
Halloween Carnival 5 by Richard Chizmar; Lisa Tuttle; Norman Prentiss; Kevin Quigley, Ph.D.
Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright
Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick
Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn’t Ask For by Sara Pascoe
The 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide by Sean and Corie Weaver, Editors
A Very Vintage Christmas by Tilly Tennant
A Cosy Candlelit Christmas (An Unforgettable Christmas book #2)  by Tilly Tennant No Place But You (Cloud Bay #3)  by Emma Douglas

The Crown Prince’s Bride by Donna Alward (Royal Duology)
Springtime at the Cider Kitchen by Fay Keenan
The Pers at Primrose Cottage Part 3.Trust Your Heart by Sheila Norton
Dreaming of Tuscany by T.A. Williams

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green
Robin Hood’s Dawn, Book #1 in the Robin Hood Trilogy)

The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George

When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham

The  French Adventure by Lucy Coleman

The Pets at Primrose Cottage Part Four: No Place Like Home by Sheila Nortonm

A Country Scandal by Sasha Morgan

Accidenrally in Love by Anna Premoli

Prosecco and Promises by A.L Michael

Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden

Who’s That Girl by Celia Hayes

Brooklyn in Love by Amy Thomas

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks

All the Fun of the Fair by Lynda Paige

The First Kiss of Spring by Emily March

Miss Mary’s Daughter by Diney Costeloe

Wedding Bells at the Dog and Duck by Jill Steeples

Finding Dreams by Lauren Westwood

Megge of Bury Dowm (Bury Down Chronicles Book #1 by Rebecca Kightlinger)

The Luck of the Irish by J.A. Furgueson

Sunshine and Secrets (Paradise Cookery School #1) by Daisy James

The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert

 

 

 

Blog Tour: Coming Home to Holly Close Farm by Julie Houston 

About the Author: 


Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

 

Follow Julie:

 

Twitter: @juliehouston2

 

Facebook: @JulieHoustonauthor

 

About the Book:

Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents.

 

Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is also back home in desperate need of company and some fun. Their great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house, Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades the girls to project manage its renovation.

 

As work gets underway, the sisters start uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the Farm.

 

A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerges, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again, too……

My Review: 

Charlie Maddison loves her work as an architect in London, but then something happens in her life that brings her happiness in life skidding to a halt. She and her boyfriend Dominic were living together and things were good. When she finds out he’s married, she gets on the train with her belongings and does not look back.

Her destination? Westenbury, the town of her childhood and the home of her parents. Charlie’s sister Daisy is overjoyed when she’s back together with her sister.

Things get interesting when their great-grandmother Madge lets on she has an abandoned house which is Holly Close Farm, the sisters take a look at the place and the renovations begin.

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm has family’s history, and dark secrets. There’s wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal. All this is expertly weaved in around a story of family relationships and being together again after being taken in different directions by life.

Julie Houston writes brilliantly and the relationships are realistic. The bond between sisters, as well as the interaction with the family. I really like Charlie and Daisy. There’s sisterly banter and humour in some places amongst the plot of the story too which lightens the mood a bit yet the story is very dramatic and the pace just made me want to continue. There are happy and sad times akin to real life and I felt for Charlie and Daisy and was happy to see them together. The sense of family is very strong throughout the novel and there’s mystery at the beginning which had me hooked. That was a very clever way of revealing what was to come for Charlie and what would push her away from London and back home.

The book is about taking chances, making sacrifices no matter how hard it hurts.

Thanks to Julie Houston and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review as well as my blog tour slot. 4 stars for this one because in some parts the pacing was slower than others, but overall a very good novel.

This is not the first book I have reviewed by Julie Houston, I really enjoyed A Village Affair too.

Buy links:

Amazon: http://amzn.eu/d/2Q4hjjW

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2SunhcY

iBooks: https://apple.co/2rmy9OL

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2Ul2evq

Mum?’

‘Charlie? Hello, darling. Dad and I were just talking about you.’

‘Mum, can I come home for a bit?’

‘What, for the weekend you mean?’

‘A bit longer than that, possibly. Probably.’

‘Of course you can come home. You know that.’ Mum sounded surprised as well she might. I suddenly realised with a slight jolt that not only had I not been back to Yorkshire for a good six months, I’d not rung home for ages either. ‘Dad and I were only just saying we needed to have a trip down to London to see you. How’s Dominic? Is everything OK?’

‘I’ll tell you when I see you.’

‘So, when are you thinking of coming up then?’

‘Er, like now?’

‘Now? Today? This evening? Oh, right. Lovely. And is Dominic with you? Are you both up for the weekend?’

‘Oh, Mum.’

‘Charlie, what is it?’

‘Mum, can you pick me up? The train gets in at ten thirty.’ I paused. ‘And can you come in Dad’s car rather than yours? I’ve got rather a lot of stuff with me.’ I glanced at the bin bags perched in a neat row on the overhead luggage rack like a flock of particularly malevolent crows.

‘Right, darling. What time did you say? I was just about to watch that new drama with Cummerbund Benderbatch…’ She paused and I could almost hear her brain clicking into gear. ‘That’s not right, is it? Oh, you know who I mean. I’ll go and make sure your bed’s made up. Will you have eaten?’

I didn’t think I’d ever be able to eat again. I could certainly drink, though. I rang off and made my way down the carriages until I found the buffet bar and bought three little plastic bottles of wine.

I worked my way methodically down all three bottles, glaring at the man opposite so that he gets the message that conversation was definitely not on the menu. I tried Dominic’s number again and again, only to hear the three little beeps verifying no such number was in existence. Well, I could still email him. I couldn’t see him getting rid of that so easily: he’d need it for work.

You bastard, Dominic Abraham.
That was after the first bottle of wine…

You lying, cheating, tosser bastard.
Two down and I was on a roll.

And yes, Dominic, size does matter. It must be down to all the double exercise it’s been getting lately. Obviously wearing away.
That little drunken tirade accompanied the final plastic bottle.

I finally drained my glass and looked tipsily out of the window. We were heading towards Doncaster and, as we went through a tunnel, my reflection stared back at me. Is this what I’d come to? Several years in London doing a job I loved and had trained for and I was heading back home to Midhope, tail between my legs. Nearly thirty and back home to my mum and dad. No home, no job, no man but, instead, five black bin bags to show for seven years’ training as an architect. And then another three in London working for one architectural company before being interviewed by Dominic Abraham eleven months ago and landing the job in property development which I loved and which I was jolly good at.

As we pulled into Wakefield, I stood on my seat and started hauling down my bags.

‘Here, love, let me help you.’ The man opposite stood and pulled down the last two bags but the final and fullest bag split, its innards of unwashed bras, pants and work shirts, obviously scooped up from the laundry basket, spilling onto the floor, the seats below and, unfortunately, the balding heads of two elderly men nodding their way towards Leeds.

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Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

 

Blog Tour: From Mum with Love by Louise Emma Clarke 

About the Book:

 

Full-time mum Jess has had enough, and her husband, Chris, has just the solution to vent her frustrations – a blog.

Jess loves her daughter more than anything, but sometimes she just wants a little bit of freedom – some time for herself. Queue a laptop, a glass of wine and the beginning of a life-changing journey.
Overnight Jess’s inbox is full of notifications and before long she is officially a ‘mummy blogger’ but this new life comes with its own set of rules and regulations. With Queen of the Bloggers, Tiggy, blanking her in public, people recognizing her on the street and her life decisions suddenly judged by strangers Jess’s idea of ‘me time’ is slowly becoming a full-time job.
Will Jess be able to find the right life/work balance? Or will she wish she’d never turned to a world online?

 

About the Author:

 

Louise’s blog, Mum of Boys and Mabel has over 100k followers. Having moved to Dubai with her family she’s now back in the UK and is enjoying writing. From Mum with Love is her debut novel.

Follow Louise:  

Facebook: @mumboysandmabel

Twitter: @mumofboysmabel

Last year, I did a cover reveal post for this book. Click HERE to read it  

Where to Buy: 

Amazon: mybook.to/FromMumWithLove

iBooks: https://apple.co/2RmloTu

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2sEFnOv

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Fl7ta9

 

Follow Aria:

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

Extract:

Bella was smiling up at her daddy, who was gazing adoringly back – but as Jessica paused, he turned his attention back to her. She wasn’t finished. ‘I tried to get her back to sleep, but she wasn’t having any of it, so while you sat on the train to London, probably flicking through a newspaper in peace and drinking a coffee you could actually get to the bottom of before it went cold, I was watching the Teletubbies on the living room rug, wearing a donkey puppet as a hat. And after doing that for what felt like an eternity, I looked at my watch and it had been fourteen minutes, Chris. FOURTEEN MINUTES. Can you imagine? No, you bloody can’t!’She took a deep breath before she continued. ‘So next on the day’s fun agenda was feeding her breakfast. A simple task, wouldn’t you think? Well no, it never bloody is! I offered her cereal first. She threw the whole bowl on the floor. I offered her banana next. She smeared it over the high chair, over her face, over her clothes, and as a crescendo, over my pyjamas too – which I only washed yesterday, so you can imagine my delight… I then decided that was enough mess for one day and I made her some dry toast. But, as you can probably guess by now, that wasn’t bloody right either – so I spent the rest of the morning veering between feeling outraged at how incredibly headstrong our child is and worried sick that she is deliberately starving herself. And let me tell you, Chris, asking Google didn’t alleviate any of those worries…’

‘OK, honey, I get the picture,’ he interrupted, as Bella started struggling in his arms to get down.

‘You get the picture? You get the picture? No, you don’t, Chris!’ she shouted. ‘Keep with me because there is more. There’s lots more!’

Chris leant down and placed Bella on the floor of her nursery. She immediately toddled towards Jessica and attached herself to her legs.

‘Moving onto her morning nap, where I tried unsuccessfully to get her to sleep for a grand total of fifty-three minutes,’ she continued, leaning down to scoop up Bella. ‘What were you doing at 9.35 a.m., Chris? Having a leisurely breakfast at your desk? Making a coffee in the kitchen and comparing fantasy football results with John? Well, I hope it was fun, because I was lying on a bed being repeatedly whipped around the face with a cuddly bunny rabbit!’

Chris’ mouth curled into a smile, which he tried to hide by leaning down to pick up Hello Kitty from the chair below him. ‘Ah, here’s Hello Kitty, Bella!’ he said. ‘We were looking for her last night, weren’t we? She was here all the time!’

Bella cooed and reached out to grab Hello Kitty, while Jessica exhaled deeply.

‘I’m sorry, Jess! I’m really sorry,’ Chris said, reaching down to stroke his daughter’s hair.

‘Are you?’ Jessica snapped back. ‘Are you really sorry?’

‘Yes, honey. Of course I am,’ he replied, smiling down at his daughter

‘You don’t bloody sound it,’ she said, feeling the rage bubble.

Chris looked up at her. ‘Let’s not do this now, Jess. Not in front of Bella. I’m exhausted.’

Jessica sighed loudly, plonked her child in her father’s arms, and stormed out the room.


 

Blog Tour: Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

About the Author: 

 Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.

 

Follow Lucy:

 

Twitter: @LucyColemanAuth

 

Facebook: @LinnBHaltonAuthor

 

About the Book:
The feel-good read of 2019, perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond and Karen SwanBestselling

 

Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling…. Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

 

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?

 

Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…

 

Escape the January blues with this sun-drenched, heart-warming story from the bestselling author of Snowflakes Over Holly Cove. What readers are saying about Lucy Coleman…

Where to Buy:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2M9bQFF

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2RpOXDQ

iBooks: https://apple.co/2Md3soU

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2Mba8DC

My Review: 

 
Brie is an author who is struggling after a breakup from Paul and right from the beginning, Lucy Coleman gets us inside Brie’s head, but not just with relationship-themed thoughts however. We see her plight as an author which, since I myself have drafted various books over the years, found incredibly interesting and I was absorbed by it. I love her character. She is so honest, sensitive, realistic but strong and likeable.

As someone who has their own writing process, I identified with the struggle to find a writing-life balance. Brie gives some useful life advice as she fights against her oen personal demons with the help of her great friend Mel, who I liked also as I found she was so supportive and enjoyed seeing how she helped Brie love herself again. Makeovers and clothes are my thing, so I was hooked and, as a person whose own weight has yoyoed over the years and who decided to make the right choices regarding food and exercise, I found myself cheering out loud as Brie started to focus less on Paul and more on her self care goals.

When her publisher/ agent suggests a writing retreat, Brie isn’t sure. She’s used to her “style of life” – writing for hours and lounging in her PJs in her cosy cottage. But, she’s convinced that if she made one change she can make another and so finds herself on a plane to Italy and staying at a beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Garda. It’s not just any villa, but the home of author Arran. Genres and lives merge here and it’s clear to see that that is a good place to start with the conversation when they first meet. As with all great books, I will leave this review up to the reader’s imagination and just say that I adored this book so much. I felt like, in Brie, Lucy Coleman really epitomised what it is like to seriously get down to it and write a book, whether it gets published or not.

The ins and outs of Brie’s writing process gave this book an edge that no other romance has. It is not slushy. It is not predictable. It is so realistic and in Brie, I saw myself. The passion for writing, the meticulous process and the relaxation in the pampering. The thrill of reinventing yourself. I felt like I was traveling with Brie in more ways than one, learning more about another’s writing proccess although she was a character in a book. To me, she and Arran were so real.

Summer on the Italian Lake is fun, realistic and relaxing. I have mever been on any writing retreat (except a virtual one in the form of NaNoWriMo) and I loved sharing in Brie and Arran’s life. Italy comes to life and I loved it when Brie and Arran were involved in organisung the retreat and even more when Brie helped out……

As a lot of this is about writing and the writing process, I am not sure it is a book for everyone who likes, and is expecting, a clear-cut romance. Because it’s not. I definitely feel it will appeal more to you if you are an author or dabbling in writing yourself.

Summer on the Italian Lake is the third book by Lucy Coleman that I have reviewed after A French Adventure and Snowflakes over  Holly Cove.

As with any book with a setting in Italy, the food and scenery are spectacular. There’s a whole host of different characters (both characters in this book as well as Brie’s romances and Arran’s history books) to add richness to the plot. As with all of Lucy Coleman’s novels, you will fall in love with this. I know I did.

Huge thanks to Lucy Coleman and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review and I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for this book. 5 stunning stars. I cannot wait to review more by Lucy Coleman.

To finish this post, here’s an extract from this wonderful book!

Just being around Paul was intoxicating at first because he was so attentive and it made me feel special. Until the paparazzi started snapping less than flattering photos, which seemed to prove I didn’t have one single good angle on me. Or a way of getting out of a car elegantly, even though by then I was a whole stone lighter. Slowly it began to erode my confidence whenever I was out and about with him.
Then, to my shame, the press started comparing me to Paul’s former girlfriends. They even congratulated him on the fact that the size of a woman’s thighs clearly didn’t bother him. I mean, how dare they? Amply proportioned was one of the terms used and that was only the start of the fat-shaming. But I wasn’t fat. I was a size twelve for goodness’ sake, and I’m never going to be stick thin. Nor do I want to be. But freedom of speech is a dangerous thing and it was impossible to stem the flow, or even correct the lies.
Worse was to come and that’s when I began reaching for the family size chocolate bars. For the first time in my life I regretted not writing under a pen name. As soon as Paul introduced me to someone and they heard the name Brianna Middleton, I swear their eyes would open wide in surprise.
‘Not the author?’ They’d query. Or, ‘Really?’ with that little lift in their voice implying I wasn’t what they were expecting at all.
If I thought that was bad, what happened next was a disaster. The name calling and trolling on Twitter sent me into panic mode. The whole world could see these very personal attacks and virtually all of them were about my appearance.
‘Have you seen the latest?’ I’d screeched down the phone at Mel one morning in a traumatised state.
‘No. But it’s only jealousy, Brie, anyway. They’re the ones who look pathetic and you shouldn’t take it to heart.’ Her empathy had been real, but her grasp of the situation was tenuous.
‘Okay – and I quote: “Seriously??? She needs a stylist… Poor Paul.” Then someone named CutieSue: “Another clinger-on. Book sales must be down lol!” Even the guys, MDR53 says: “Dude, what’s happening – is this a joke? Sizeable ass going on there.” And this! Pussykins1982: “Who do you think you are, lady? One burger too many in that dress.” There are whole threads, laughing and joking over the footage of me getting my coat caught in that revolving door! Someone has even posted a video clip of it on a continual loop set to music.’ I’d gasped, as my lungs ran out of air and I began to hyperventilate.
The clip made it look like I was simply too wide to get through the doorway because of the angle. The reality was that the hem of my coat jammed between the inner and outer revolving walls and the mechanism ground to a halt. With five paparazzi snapping away the other side of the glass, and my face getting redder by the moment as I tugged and tugged, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Mel had been speechless and all she could do was to try and calm me down, saying eventually the haters would tire and I’d become old news.
I got it. Paul was a heartthrob; meltingly gorgeous and he only had to roll out of bed in the morning, grab a wrinkled T-shirt off the floor and he looked amazing. Even better when he forgot to shave, which he often did because he knew it made women’s jaws drop. It’s too easy for men, isn’t it?
Me? Well, I kept up my daily exercise regime to convince myself I was on the right track. But, once more, my cupboard was brimming over with the very things I knew I shouldn’t be eating.
I was also back and forth to the beauty salon waxing bits of me I hadn’t glanced at in a long while and wearing the weirdest nail combos going. Blingy bits aren’t really me and it was an utter nightmare typing, letting alone pulling up my leggings. But I felt the need to make myself better in some way to justify Paul’s attention. The irony was that he didn’t seem aware of the agonies I was going through. He seemed to like me the way I was, but I didn’t like me the way I was and neither did the haters, or the press.
I felt a little like Cinderella. The excitement of being a part of Paul’s life was rather like going to a big party you’ve been looking forward to for ages. As the night draws to a close, though, you simply want to crawl under the duvet and sleep for hours and hours. I ran out of steam. The negativity overwhelmed me and I stopped trying. In fact, I did the reverse. It wasn’t one slice of cake, it was the whole cake and it showed. Quickly I gained back the stone in weight that I’d lost and added another eight pounds to that. My daily jog was now a slow walk.

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Review: I Heart Revolution Golden Bar Palette 

The Golden Bar palette by I Heart Revolution (previously  I Heart Makeup) is one that I was immediately drawn to because of the packaging. It just looks so sophisticated and, back when the brand started putting its prices up, this was one of the first ones to have that done to it . Many beauty bloggers were commenting on this but that didn’t stop me from buying it.
 I paid around €9 for this palette from my local drugstore’s website. it is one that I think is so beautiful that I didn’t even want to use it very much. with time, I am starting to use it more and I just know that I will be repurchasing it when I am done.


The colour range goes from barely – there white or pale champagne to rich dark browns olives and an amazing gold.
Line 1: 


Collection, Ribbon Edible and Tablet. 
 Line 2:


 Wrapper, Foil Golden Bar Box. 
Line 3: 


Gift, Limited Cocoa Beans Chocolate. 

They are all shimmers in this palette. From first glance, the colour that jumped out at me was definitely Golden. the first and last colours in the palette are for highlighting the browbone. for me, they are too pale to be used for anything else.   They’re all incredibly soft, buttery and blendable. 

I love this palette so much and will buy another when it’s finished. 

Verdict: 10 out of 10

My Plans for February

February has got off to a good start. Today was very productive. I’ve finally decided on everything I want for myself for our wedding AND on the dress. I just have to order it all. I’m going between 2 books at the moment, Rereading Trouble with Aaron (Making Out #21) by Katherine Applegate and I drafted a blog tour post (review and extract) for Head of Zeus for Lucy Coleman’s new book, Love on  the Italian Lakes which I’m on the blog tour for next Thursday. It was a book I was really looking forward to as I’ve enjoyed her two others and been on the blog tours for both.

So, plans for February involve doing what I have to do to make this a good month which includes getting back into my own novel, Family Ties. I saved the version from Word to Kindle so I can have my iPad read it out to me  as if it were an ebook which is very relaxing and pretty cool. I must say, I’m happy with what I’ve done with that since the first draft during NaNoWriMo in 2015. It was so relaxing listening to it in bed the other night. I’m 5 chapters in and will listen to more. There are some minor things I need to redo and then it will be off to the publisher. I really hope someone likes it enough so that my dream of being a published author comes true.

This is the second month of NaNoWriMo’s “Now What?” months, so I want to make use of it. I got a few interesting emails, one to say that the 2019 edition of the Pen2Paper  disability-focused creative writing contest is open. I took part for the first time last year and submitted from one of my memoirs and also a YA novel I was working on but my entries were unsuccessful. The other was from Storiarts, a website I like, to say that today is International Read Aloud Day. Since I use VoiceOver  on my iPad every day, this is a good thing to know. If you’re interested, Storiarts are giving away a free sticker today.

Last but not least, I’m hoping to get through more books, lose more weight and I cannot wait til Valentine’s Day as we always have a great time. I’m shocked by the weather in the USA with the cold. It’s cold enough for me here so I can’t imagine being in the US. I am thinking of my family there and hope  you are  all safe. I’m looking forward to Spring!