Friday, February 23, 2018

Alice in Wonderland Books & Santoro Tin, Notebooks & Mug Giveaway



Enter this giveaway for a chance to win Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and a Santoro Drink Me tin and mug and Eat Me notebooks. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

The Year that Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Callie, Sam and Ginger are each spending their birthday in a significant way. They're all having milestone birthdays that change the course of their lives forever. While the new directions seem to bring plenty of difficulties, maybe some goodness can also be found in everything that's going on after the chaos the women inevitably go through on their birthdays.

It's Callie's 50th birthday and her husband has decided to throw her a big party. Callie doesn't want this at all, but her husband doesn't take no for an answer. They're living in a large house in Dublin together with their daughter and showing off is more important to him than what his wife actually wants to do on her birthday. During the party Callie gets a visit that will make her view her past in a completely different way.

Sam is about to become a mother. After many years of trying in vain she didn't think this would ever happen to her, but now that she is about to go into labor on her 40th birthday she realizes she doesn't know how to be a good mother. How will she succeed when she has no idea what to do? Her own mother wasn't a good example, will she be the exact same way? Sam is freaking out and there's nothing she can do to stop it.

Ginger's best friend has planned her wedding on Ginger's 30th birthday. That means Ginger isn't the center of attention at all on a day that should have been special for her. Instead she has to wear a hideous bridesmaid dress that doesn't do anything for her figure. Ginger is struggling with her self confidence and something happens at the wedding that makes these feelings even worse. Ginger's heart is about to be shattered and picking up the pieces will be tough.

The Year that Changed Everything is a beautiful story about three fascinating women. Callie's husband is convincing and manipulative and therefore she doesn't see what's truly happening in her life until it's too late. Sam knows how to handle any situation when she's at work, but being a mother is something she can't prepare for and this scares her so much she doesn't know what to do with herself. Ginger is a gorgeous person, but she struggles when others put her down and finding out what she's capable of is difficult when she wants to hide and be invisible. Callie, Sam and Ginger are being forced out of their comfort zone and even though this gives them plenty of obstacles to deal with, brings them many tears and makes them lose much sleep over worries they will also learn a lot from their ordeals and that was incredible to witness.

Cathy Kelly has written another fantastic story. I love how she makes her main characters come to life by exploring all of their emotional layers and peeling them off one by one. It makes her stories intriguing and incredibly compelling. I love how much she cares about the women she writes about and this makes her stories extra special. The Year that Changed Everything is a powerful story about finding the silver linings in life and discovering your true self worth. I absolutely loved this terrific book and think it's an absolute treasure.

Advice

If you love beautiful stories about gorgeous main characters dealing with life changing events you should definitely read The Year that Changed Everything.

About Cathy Kelly



Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of copies of her books in print. A number 1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia, she is one of Ireland’s best-loved storytellers.

Brought up in Dublin, on leaving school Cathy initially worked as a journalist with a national Irish newspaper, working in news and features alongside being an agony aunt and film critic. She loved being an agony aunt in particular, describing it as a bit like getting a PhD in people. Cathy juggled her job with writing in her spare time, and her first novel, Woman to Woman, was published in 1997. It went straight to number 1 on the Irish Times and Sunday Times bestseller lists.

Cathy’s trademark is warm Irish story-telling about modern life, and her books deal with themes ranging from relationships and marriage to depression and loss, but always with an uplifting message, sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.

She lives with her husband, John, their young twin sons, Dylan and Murray, and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for Unicef Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Amazon

Giveaway

Two very Lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of The Year that Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Heart of the Garden by Victoria Connelly - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Emilia Morton is a mystery. She never leaves her house and lets her garden grow wild, except for the maze, which gardener Cape perfectly maintains. Even though Morton Hall is a private property Anne Marie often walks around the gardens. She's unhappily married and her husband and stepdaughters treat her with coldness and contempt. The garden is her sanctuary. When Emilia dies she leaves her home and the gardens to the community and she's selected a small group of people who are supposed to look after the house and its beautiful gardens. Anne Marie and Cape are part of this strange will and their shared love for the gardens of Morton Hall brings them closer together.

Cape's girlfriend isn't happy with her life. They have a beautiful girl together and Cape loves Poppy more than anything. His work is his passion and he's happy where he is, but his girlfriend would love to move to the other side of the world. This causes friction. Working on Emilia's legacy gives him a perfect chance to escape the oppressive atmosphere at home. Anne Marie feels the exact same way and they have more in common than just that. Will Emilia's plans bring the group of people she's chosen to take care of her house and gardens closer together? Will they find out more about both themselves and the enigmatic woman who never showed herself?

The Heart of the Garden is a beautiful romantic story. I was immediately captivated by Morton Hall and its history. It's an intriguing place filled with secrets, hidden gems and weird family history. Victoria Connelly alternates between the past, describing Emilia's younger years, and the present and I was equally fascinated by both parts of the story. Emilia is an interesting character and I was curious to find out why her life was so secluded. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out what happened to her.

Anne Marie is a kindhearted woman. She's taking care of people who will never do anything for her and reading about her life was heartbreaking. She deserves to be loved instead of being treated as a convenience. She loves Morton Hall and its gardens and there she truly feels at peace. It was interesting to see how forming friendship with the other people Emilia named in her will enriches her life and makes her come out of her shell. The same goes for Cape, even though Poppy is adorable and he's a great father, he's missing something at home and he finds happiness in the gardens. I really liked how each member of the group contributes something and enjoyed reading about all of them a lot.

Victoria Connelly has written a wonderful story. Her writing has a lovely easy flow that makes it hard to put The Heart of the Garden down. I read the book in one sitting and loved every single page. I'm a big fan of stories about old houses and the secrets behind them and gardens with mazes always fascinate me, so the setting instantly put a smile on my face. The Heart of the Garden is an amazing story filled with surprising twists and turns. I especially loved the sense of community, the heartwarming friendships and the healing powers of working together. Victoria Connelly has written a fantastic spellbinding book.

Advice

If you love romantic stories about old houses and beautiful gardens you should definitely read The Heart of the Garden.

About Victoria Connelly



Victoria Connelly grew up in Norfolk and started writing her first novel when she was fourteen. She studied English Literature at Worcester University, reading the tragedies of Shakespeare and the novels of Thomas Hardy and knowing that she wanted to write stories with happy endings.

Her first novel Flights of Angels was bought in a bidding war between five publishers and was made into a film by Academy award-winning Ziegler Film.

Molly’s Millions quickly followed and was a Top Ten bestseller on Amazon. A Weekend with Mr Darcy, the first in her Austen Addicts series, has sold over 100,000 copies. The second in the series, The Perfect Hero was featured on Channel 5’s The Vanessa Show and was a hot pick in The Sun.

The Runaway Actress – a romantic comedy about a movie star who swaps Hollywood for the Highlands – was shortlisted for the RNA’s Best Romantic Comedy of the Year in 2013. Her novels, Wish You Were Here, A Summer to Remember, The Rose Girls and Love in an English Garden have all been Amazon bestsellers.

She is also the author of three collections of short stories as well as two children’s novels, and the Mulberry Cottage series. She has sold over 500,000 copies of her books worldwide and is one of the few English authors on the Romance Writers of America’s Honour Roll.

She lives in a 200-year old cottage in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and a flock of rescued hens.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Amazon

Interview

1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I live in a cottage in rural Suffolk with my artist husband, my springer spaniel, Hattie, and a garden full of hens, fruit trees and roses. I’ve always written stories. I started my first novel when I was 14, giving it to my friends to read at school (usually during maths lessons!) My first published novel, Flights of Angels, was turned into a film in Germany and my husband and I got to be extras in it which was incredibly exciting. As well as writing and reading, I love films, walks in the countryside, exploring old buildings and growing lots of vegetables and flowers.


2) Morton Hall and its gardens are special. What’s the inspiration behind this mesmerizing place?

The Heart of the Garden is the third novel in my English Country House and Garden series, following on from The Rose Girls and Love in an English Garden. The three books explore the healing powers of gardens and how they can bring families and communities together. Morton Hall with its maze was inspired by lots of different gardens including Somerleyton in Suffolk which has a wonderful maze, old greenhouse and secluded wild areas. Bridge End Garden in Saffron Walden helped to inspire the walled garden in my book. It was restored by a wonderful team of volunteers just like the one at Morton Hall.


3) What’s the most fascinating thing about old buildings and how do you use that for your stories?

I love the romance of old buildings and how many generations can add to the beauty and atmosphere of a place. I’m constantly inspired by art collections particularly from the Arts and Crafts period and I love the paintings of Rossetti, the textiles of William Morris and the ceramics of de Morgan. I knew I wanted to use these in The Heart of the Garden and visited the unique Wightwick Manor near Wolverhampton. Old buildings are just so beautiful and I love writing about them whether they’re medieval castles, Benedictine priories or Elizabethan manor houses. There are always plenty of secrets to uncover inside them!

4) You have a dog and hens. How did your love for animals start and can you tell a bit more about them?

I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember. I became a vegetarian when I was fourteen and I’m now a huge supporter of Compassion in World Farming and The British Hen Welfare Trust, and have a garden full of ex-battery hens. I love rescuing these amazing creatures. Each one has its own distinct character and, when they come to us, they’re often in very poor condition with feathers missing, pale floppy combs and a nervous disposition. Watching them grow new feathers as well as grow in confidence is one of my greatest pleasures, and seeing them free-ranging for the first time is a total privilege. I often pause by a window to watch them sunbathe or scratch around in the flower borders. They give me so much joy. I name all our girls after literary characters. A recent flock was named after Shakespearean heroines so we had Viola, Rosalind, Beatrice and Hermia.


5) What are your plans for the future?

To write more books! I’m currently writing this year’s Christmas novella – The Christmas Rose – a sequel to The Rose Girls. After that, there’ll be the fourth novel in my Book Lovers series – One More Page Before I Kiss You. This will be Josh Nightingale’s story and he’s got a really unusual love story. I’m so looking forward to writing that this summer. Lake Union will be publishing Our Last Summer in 2019, and I’d really love to start a new series set in the beautiful Sussex Downs, so there’s plenty to keep me busy for a while yet!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The Heart of the Garden by Victoria Connelly.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Marnie just wants to be loved, but finding the right person lands her in the most terrible situations. She doesn't have much luck when it comes to family, boyfriends and friendships, but Lillian is different. When Marnie meets Lillian online she finally forms a friendship that's equal and beneficial to both. Lillian is a little older than Marnie, but they get along fabulously. When one of Marnie's relationships turns into a huge disaster Marnie needs a place to stay. Lillian offers her a cottage and Marnie finally finds the sanctuary she's been looking for.

Being in Wychwell heals Marnie's heart, she can finally bake all the cakes she likes and spending time with Lillian is precious. The place might look idyllic, but Marnie knows not everyone is friendly and welcoming. She thinks being in Wychwell is only temporary, but Marnie's sense of duty binds her to the place in an inevitable way. There's no going back and Marnie has to get to know who she is and learn to stand up for herself as quickly as she can, so she will survive the next round of catastrophes in her life. Maybe, if she succeeds, she will even find happiness this time.

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is a wonderful heartwarming story. I fell in love with this book from the start. It's so sweet and original. Marnie is a kindhearted woman, but she's also a bit naive. She's longing to be loved and this sometimes makes her blind to the truth. Milly Johnson describes her feelings in a fantastic understanding way and it was impossible not to like Marnie even if she sometimes doesn't make the most wise decisions. She has a lot of growing up to do and meeting Lillian changes her life for the better. Lillian is generous and loving and she's exactly the person Marnie needs in her life. They're both giving and have big hearts, which makes their friendship incredibly special.

Milly Johnson has chosen a gorgeous setting for her story. Wychwell is intriguing and stunning. I love how Milly Johnson's colorful descriptions are making it come to life in a fantastic way. It's the ideal place for a story filled with charm, mystery and kindness. Lillian is fabulously quirky and she perfectly fits into her surroundings. Marnie has finally found a place she belongs and slowly the beautiful person she is fully comes to the surface. I loved Milly Johnson's delicious descriptions of Marnie's cakes and I enjoyed the warm and emphatic way she writes about her main characters. I love how creative her stories are and think The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is a true gem. I highly recommend this brilliant feelgood book that put a huge smile on my face.

Advice

If you love original heartwarming stories The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is an absolute must-read.

About Milly Johnson


Hello. My name is Milly Johnson and I’m a novelist, poet, after-dinner speaker, professional joke writer, columnist, cruise correspondent, short-story writer, winner of Come Dine With Me – and I pop up on the telly sometimes.

I come from Barnsley in South Yorkshire where I’ve lived all my life – apart from a few years at University in Exeter doing Drama and Haworth in West Yorkshire, where I went hoping to catch some Bronte writing magic. BUT I am a half-Scot. My mum and her clan are from Glasgow.

I used to teach, trained for a while as an accountant, worked in sales, offices, mills, and a suggestion scheme. I’ve sold cruises (although I was sacked for ‘having an accent better suited to the textile industry’) and was a professional greetings card copywriter for many years along with the best friends you’ll ever find. My first job was ghost-writing for Purple Ronnie when it first hit the scene in the 1980s.

I gave it my last and final big shot to break into books when I hit 40 and did it and haven’t looked back. I love what I do and I hope that comes through.

I live with my partner, my teenage sons and cats around the corner from my mam and dad in the centre of Barnsley.

I’m a regular on the MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER circuit and can tailor make a speech to your requirements. No audience too large… please contact me for details or via The Women’s Speakers agency.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest

The Story Behind the Story
Guest post by Milly Johnson

My inspiration for my new book ‘The Perfectly Imperfect Woman’ came from a newspaper story which my friend sent me. ‘Look at this,’ she announced excitedly. ‘A whole village for sale.’ There was a full page spread about a village called West Heslerton in the Yorkshire Dales, indeed up for sale for twenty million pounds. The previous owner had died and she owned all the properties which paid a much-reduced rent to her. There was even a crumbly manor house thrown in for your money. One of those cases where fact seems more fiction than fiction. I deliberately didn’t go and see it until I’d finished the book because I had a vision of what I wanted my village to look like and I didn’t want it tainted. I built my village - Wychwell - brick by brick in my head. Weirdly it’s so real, it’s almost as if I’ve visited it and it’s a memory.

My mind took a stick of the facts and wove a candy floss of plot around it. It started off as a love story, but the more I wrote, the more the romance between my heroine and the hero was sidelined, which is quite odd for my books. The real love story in this one is between a doddery old lady and a young mixed up one finding acceptance in and joy with each other. And I reckon this is the most complicated plot I’ve ever done. I do enjoy reading a good mystery. I want all those loose threads to be tied up in neat bows and I hate having to make up my own ending because a writer wants me to take the mantle from him. I want answers given to me on a plate! So I had a great deal of fun with this one, introducing lots of those loose threads into the tapestry of the book and wondering if my readers will be able to guess to which other thread they should be attached. Maybe it’s mischief. Maybe it’s a little raspberry at those who say they can guess what happens by page two. Maybe I wanted to say: ‘not in this book you won’t mate.’

The main theme of this book is imperfection – hence the title. That really it’s okay to have made mistakes, have flaws and not be perfect, because it’s the imperfections that give you character and charm. It’s what attracts people to you. We all worry that our legs aren’t long enough, that we’ve said the wrong thing, done something stupid. We hold ourselves up to perfection and find us sadly lacking. Some people need to stop beating themselves up and start patting themselves on the back instead. We should be more accepting of ourselves. We should all look in the mirror once in a while and say to that person staring back at us… ‘You’re actually okay. I quite like you. You have flaws – natch, who doesn’t? And guess what, you’re more awesome with them, than you would be without them.’

I do hope people like this book. I hope they love the village and its people and they buy into the mystery of it and try and work out what is going on. I hope they are cheering for my heroine to get what she deserves. I hope I affect my readers, give them some chuckles and bring the tears to their eyes in the parts that made my eyes mist when I wrote them. I hope I make them hungry for cheesecake. But most of all, I hope that I make them realise that perfection is totally overrated and that it’s far more fun and attractive to be flawsome.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Ottercombe Bay: Gin and Trouble by Bella Osborne - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Daisy wanted to leave Ottercombe Bay as soon as possible after her Great Uncle Reg's funeral, but he found a way to make her stay. He left her an old railway station in his will, but Daisy will only inherit if she will live in Ottercombe Bay for a year. For Daisy twelve months in one place are a nightmare, but she wants to honor Reg's wishes and will give it a try. She has to make plans for some kind of exploitation of the building and wants to turn it into something she can use. It shouldn't be a piece of property that sits there and costs her money. Will she be able to come up with a profitable plan?

Daisy is feeling a little bit more at home in Ottercombe Bay and spends quite a bit of time with friends, which makes her feel a little less restless. She has a good relationship with her aunt and staying for twelve months doesn't seem to be as daunting as it used to. She still wants to travel, but she thinks she can manage looking after the building she's been left, at least for a year. The idea she has for the station means a lot of work, can she handle everything that will come her way?

Gin and Trouble is another wonderful Ottercombe Bay story. Daisy has a fabulous spiky attitude. She's strong, stubborn and fierce and she's built sky high walls around her heart. Being in the company of people who like and appreciate her makes her a little bit more mellow though and it was interesting to see what that would do to her. I loved Daisy from the start, she has an intriguing multilayered personality that's a lot of fun to read about and her adventures are fabulous.

Bella Osborne's descriptive writing style makes her story come to life in a fantastic way. I could easily picture the building with it's quirks and hidden gems and issues. It's a perfect setting for a story. I was fascinated by Daisy's background and couldn't wait to read more about her friends. Gin and Trouble ends with a huge spectacular cliffhanger, so I'm already anxious to read the next Ottercombe Bay novella. I absolutely love this series and really enjoy reading it.

Advice

If you love stories about fierce heroines, small towns and fabulous challenges you will definitely like the Ottercombe Bay stories. I'd advise you to start with the first story, Where There's a Will, before reading Gin and Trouble.

About Bella Osborne


I've been jotting down my stories for as far back as I can remember... well that's not exactly true. I remember writing a story when I was about nine and I was in Mrs Hurran's class. The story was about a thief who stole the crown jewels but then didn't know what to do with them. It went on for pages and pages, in my spiders dance handwriting, so my teacher typed it up and pinned it to the classroom wall. It was a proud day!

Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job and the writing has remained a hobby which other people puzzle over and which I adore.

Over the years there have been dalliances into poetry, short stories and five unfinished novels. But I decided that 2013 would be the year that was going to change. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer Scheme which gave me a deadline to chase - a full length novel had to be completed and submitted for review by 31st August. I beat the deadline by a month!

In 2014 I secured a two book contract with Harper Impulse, part of the HarperCollins Group, and my first novel 'It Started at Sunset Cottage' was published in ebook format on 12th February 2015 and paperback on 23rd April 2015. It went on to be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award and the RNA Contemporary Novel of the Year 2016.

​My second book 'A Family Holiday' was published Summer 2016 and was shortlisted for RNA Contemporary Novel of the Year 2017.

In 2016 I moved to Avon which is also part of the wonderful HarperCollins family. My latest novel 'Escape to Willow Cottage' was released in four digital instalments ahead of the whole story being published August 2017.

I am currently editing novel number four which is set in a fictional Devon village and has the working title 'A Year in Ottercombe Bay'. Watch this space for more details!

Links

Website: http://www.bellaosborne.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BellaOsborneAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/osborne_bella

Giveaway


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a beautiful locket necklace and pug notebook from Bella Osborne.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.