Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows – by Jenni Keer

The blurb: 

When Maisie Meadows finds herself single and jobless on New Year’s Day, she resolves that this will be the year she focuses on bringing her scattered family back together. Romance is all very well, but it’s the people you grew up with that matter the most.
But a new job working at an auction house puts her in the path of Theo, a gorgeous but unattainable man who she can’t help but be distracted by. As their bond begins to grow, Maisie finds herself struggling to fulfil the promise she made to herself – but the universe has other ideas, and it’s not long before the Meadows family are thrown back together in the most unlikely of circumstances…
Can dealing with other people’s treasures help Maisie to let go of the past, and teach her who she ought to treasure the most?

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

We follow Maisie Meadows in this story. She finds herself single and with no job at the beginning of the year. Turns you her ex, who also was her boss had an affair. She wants to bring her family back together and also starts a new job at an auction house. 

At the auction house she meets Theo, who really seems to distract her. A connection builds between them and that was great to read about. 
Maisie’s family is quite something. Her siblings are scattered around the world and when they all finally come together things kind of explode. There is a lot of drama invloved and things oft he past are revealed. This makes for an excting storyline, which Jenni Keer transmitted in a great way. 

Her writing is fresh, funny and engaging, I loved every minute of this book. 
It’s about family, friendship, love, relationships and so much more. 

Charming, sweet and full of excitement!


Jenni Keer on Twitter: @JenniKeer

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Ticino – Travel Diary 2019

Same procedure as every year – also this year we were off to the Italian part of Switzerland, the Locarno and Ascona area to be precise. 

We left in a Tuesday in the afternoon and arrived right on time for dinner in Locarno. We hit a bit of traffic jam, but were lucky with the parking, so we went to our favourite restaurant called Sensi. The waiters know us by now, so it’s always a lot of fun to return. After dinner we drove to our apartment, unpacked, I did my nails and then we went to bed early. 

On Wednesday we got up early, because we wanted to take the boat to Luino. The ship left at 10 and we arrived in Luino an hour later. It’s always so beautiful on Lago Maggiore, definitely worth a trip, if you are ever close by. In Luio we went tot he market first, where I found a great bag, of course we also looked at the normal shops and then had a late lunch by the lake. We then took the slow boat back, which allowed us to see more. In Locarno we strolled through the city a bit and then went grocery shopping. The rest of the day was spent at the apartment. We stayed on the balcony, cooked dinner and read a lot. 

Thursday started dull and grey. It was not that cold, so we decided to go running. Then we cooked lunch and the weather got a bit better, so it was time to get ready and go shopping in Locarno first and then in Ascona as well. We found some great things and I still can’t believe that I found a Furla bag (I wanted one for so long), it was for sale (50%). In Ascona we spent a lot of time in a shop called Ewa, the owner is dutch and so much fun. The boardwalk in Ascona is beautiful, the perfect place for people watching. They also have colourful animal statues spread around the city, great photo opportunities for sure. Weh ad dinner at Osteria Nostrana right on the boardwalk. In the evening we were able to hear the concert on the Piazza Grande from the balcony. 

On Friday we slept in and then weh ad lunch at the gold course. I then spent the afternoon in the „badi“ of Ascona, enjoyed the sunshine and swam in the lake. I also managed to get a funny sunburn on my back. Then I drove back tot he golf course and we had dinner. The rest of the evening was spent at our friends’ apartment in Minusio, with a great view of the lake. 

Saturday was similar to Friday, I spent the day at the badi and then we had dinner at the Acona golf club, the food was delicious. 

On Sunday we headed tot he Bavona valley, it goes off from the Maggia valley. It was so beautiful. The Bavona river with it’s blue and turquoise water, all the rocks and the little villages, all made out of stone houses. We also saw a very impressive waterfall in Foroglio, it really reminded me of Yosemite National Park. Weh ad lunch right there, I had a yummy polenta with typical meat from the area. We drove back to Ascona and had a little drink by the lake at the Seven lounge. Roger Federer was playing the Wimbledon final, so we ordered pimms and always glanced at the live ticker. Before dinner we headed back to the apartment, freshend up, got changed and then went to our beloved Sensi restaurant. Of course, we still had Federer on in the background, sadly he lost. After dinner, we headed tot he food street oft he Moon and Stars festival and then into the little alley, where we listened to the concert for a while, until it started raining. 

Monday started bad weather wise, so we drove to Como, only to find out that most shops are closed in the morning and only open at around 3 pm. We enjoyed an Italian cappucciono and then checked some shops, luckily, some opened earlier, so we spend some time in those, before having a great lunch at Gesumin, one of my fave restaurants in this city. We then drove out oft he city, to a grocery store, there are certain thngs I always like getting in Italian, so I did. We drove back early, because in the evening it was time for our Moon and Stars concert. We took the funicular down to Locarno and went tot he entrace. We always reserve in a restaurant on the Piazza Grande and enjoy the concert from there. We were a bit late, so we called the restaurant to let them know. Anyway, one oft he waitresses almost gave our table away, we just arrived in time. Aloe Blacc szarted playing first, which was great, he played some cover songs, some of his new ones and also the ones everybody knows, he really has a great voice and interacted well with the audience. Then came Christina Aguilera, she started late, but put on a fab show. She played all her famous songs and talked tot he audience as well, but not as much. The thing that annoyed me most, was her gettiong changed every two or three songs. In total she was wearing nine outfis within 1 ½ hours. That might be fine in an arena show, but not for a festival like that. I still really enjoyed it though and fell into bed happily. 

Tuesday was our last day already, we packed and cleaned and then had a late lunch at Sensi, before driving home. 

Ticino is always worth a visist and it’s great to explore new places down there as well. Late me know, if you’re ever going!!!

Monday, 22 July 2019

Living My Best Li(f)e – by Claire Frost

 The blurb: 

Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, Bell is struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January. Haunted by #blessed on social media, she can’t help but compare her life to those she follows online, wondering where she is going wrong . . .

In the world of social media, Millie is the successful online influencer @mi_bestlife. But in real life she’s just a regular single mum trying to make ends meet, while fending off the younger competition and tenacious internet trolls. Her Instagram feed is far more #BestLie than #BestLife, and soon Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.

It isn’t until Bell and Millie’s paths cross that they begin to realise what they’re both missing. Can Millie prove to Bell that life online isn’t always what it appears to be? And in return, can Millie learn that she needs to start living for the moment and not for the likes? 

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I was very excited to start this book, because oft he author, the blurb and also the title. I didnt disappoint at all, I really loved it!

We follow two completely different women in this book. Bell is almost forty and finds herself single after ten years. She needs to change something in her life and move on. Thats not so easy, easpecially when she is comparing herslef to people on social media. She eventually starts a photography course, meets new people and starts enjoying life again. 
Millie is younger than Bell, but she is already a mother tot he adorable Wolfie. She is separated to his father and is an influencer, who posts a lot on instagram. 

When their paths cross a lot changes in both their lives. They are good for each other and build a strong friendship. The can both learn from each other and help each other as well. 

We also get to meet other characters, who play an important role in this story as well. The community comes together and they fight for a place that is close to their hearts. All in all, it was a great mixture of people. It was very interesting to see Bell and Millie togther, because their lives are so different, but that added a lot to the story. 

The discussion about insta photos not being real has been going on for a while and the book touches on it as well. We get inside into Millies instagram psosts and Bell then gets to know the real Millie. 

Claire Frostswriting is fresh, funny, down to earth and just great to read. A heart-warming book full of love, friendship, family and passion!


Claire Frost on Twitter: @FabFrosty

Thursday, 18 July 2019

A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle – by Liz Eeles

The blurb: 

When Flora finds out about her husband’s secret fling, she escapes to the one place she feels safe: her beloved café, The Cosy Kettle, in the charming village of Honeyford. Serving up cream teas to her café regulars is the perfect way to soothe her broken heart, and although she’s never lived in the area, the little community welcome her with open arms. 

She’s soon lodging with local eccentric Luna in her remote and beautiful Starlight Cottage, snuggled between rolling green hills. Luna’s handsome son Daniel lost his wife several years ago, and as Flora gets to know him, sharing walks through the blossom-scented woods, they both slowly begin to heal… and she realises that behind Daniel’s quiet exterior, there’s a passionate nature that makes her forget all about her ex-husband. 

As she settles into her new life, hosting a baking competition for the village’s summer celebration seems like a great idea… but with Daniel’s mysterious silences leading Flora to believe he’s hiding secrets, she can’t help but wonder if she can really trust him. And when the race to bake the perfect Victoria sponge stirs up old rivalries between locals, Flora starts to feel like she’s bitten off more than she can chew. 

After her new start, will Flora ever truly belong in Honeyford? And, this summer, can she risk opening up her heart again?

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

We are back in Honeyford and ready for Flora's story. She took over the bookshop and also added a café in the back.

One day Flora goes home early and catches her husband Malcom in bed with another woman, a much younger one. He begs her to stay, but continues on with the lies. Flora leaves and sleeps in the attic of her shop. Luna Purfoot, the owner of ... Feels that Flora is not doing well and offers her a room in Starlight cottage. Flora is heitant, but decides to take the offer. Luna doesn't live there alone, her son Daniel Nd grandson Caleb live there to.

Flora and Daniel are off a rocky start, but somehow they click. I liked, how they first meet and Caleb is just adorable. Daniel has been through a lot and tries to hide his feelings. Flora has to decide what happens with her marriage. Mal om shows up a lot and wants her back. Both Daniel and Flora have a lot to figure out.
She starts reading a book he suggests and that book turns out to be really important. Then there is the Cosy Kettle and the bookshop, where Flora works a lot. Caleb seems to be in trouble as well. It sounds like a lot, but Liz Eeles managed to created a wonderful storyline, full of atmosphere and I just couldn't put the book down. I loved it from the first minute! The characters are very well lined out and we were also able to catch up with some old characters, that was lovely. 

The book is full of emotions and feelings and has some surprises in store as well. Everyone played a key role in the story and it was grat to see, how they were there for each other.

Loved every second of it!


Liz Eeles on Twitter: @lizeelesauthor

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Q&A with Melanie Blake

Q: Did you always dream of being a writer?
A: Yes, always but my teachers tried to quash my dreams from a young age. Even in my teens I enjoyed writing strong female characters but upon submitting my essays / short stories (at the time) to my English department at school I was told that women ‘don’t behave like this’. I knew then that I was never going to learn anything from them, in fact I’d say I got my whole literary education from the library not my school. 

Q: How did your writing career develop?
A: Over a very long period with many gaps. At 19 I was doing theatre reviews on a local newspaper, getting a taste for print. Then my work at ‘Top of the Pops’ led me to doing celebrity interviews for Hello! magazine with the contacts I had made. I then freelanced for various magazines and newspapers again capitalising on my access to various pop and rock stars. I then did some celebrity ghost writing, autobiographies and fiction and then didn’t write again for 15 years before I was hired as the first female TV critic at the Sunday People and Daily Mirror.

Q: Your debut novel is called The Thunder Girls,what is it about? 
A: The Thunder Girlsis about four women, in the eighties, who were once the biggest girl group in the world but split acrimoniously at the height of their fame because one of them wanted everything for herself and that decision sent the other three lives spiralling out of control. They vowed never to see or speak to each other ever again but three decades later find they need each other once more - and this time the rollercoaster journey they attempt to re-embark on has a deadly ending.

Q: What was your inspiration for the book? 
A: The inspiration came from growing up in the eighties and watching and reading about strong willed, powerful, female characters, of which they were many in that era. The story is unique but was inspired by many reunions, professional and personal, that I witnessed in my lifetime that show just how fascinating it is to try and re-blend people who were once very close.

Q: Can you tell us more about the main character(s)? 
A: The Thunder Girlsis led by four strong willed women, Chrissie, Anita, Roxanne and Carly. All are incredibly different and unique but all with one thing in common- they once were the best of friends. Decades have passed since that friendship was broken and we flip between their younger selves and their older selves as they try to rebuild that friendship.

Q: Where and when do you write your stories? 
A: Abroad always, the only way I can write is in a different time zone because my phone never stops ringing. I batch write which means I go away for a month at a time to a far-flung destination and I tend to write 8 – 12 hours a day. I can usually knock out the entire first draft in a month, then I’ll spend on average 9 months editing it / re-writing it at home.

Q: What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?
A: I rarely get any down time because as well as writing I run several businesses and also produce in the theatre but when I do have time to myself I love to re-read eighties classic blockbusters from the likes of Shirley Conran, Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins, and Jilly Cooper. I find them soothing escapism and a world away from this politically unrestful and upsetting world we find ourselves in today.

Q: If you could switch places with a character from a book, who would it be and why? 
A: If anybody’s read my life story from how I escaped my surroundings to get to where I am and the adventures on the way, my own story is stranger and more unusual than fiction so I’ve never read anything that would be as interesting a ride. I’ve turned down several autobiographies based on my own life, so I’d struggle to find a character I’d want to switch places with even in the wacky world of fiction.

Q: What books have influenced your life most? 
A:  Shirley Conran’sLace, which I read at 11 and anyone who’s read that book will know it’s not suitable reading for an 11 year old and it definitely coloured the way that I write as it imprinted on me at such an early age – I’ve also never been able to look at a goldfish again! The other book was Jackie Collins’ Rockstar,which I read at 9 and gave me the appetite and drive to make it into the music industry, which was where I made my fortune.

Q: What are you working on at the moment? 
A: My second book.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing? 
A: Hearing people’s opinions of it. 

Q: Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.
A: Jackie Collins, which sadly isn’t possible as she’s not here anymore, but I met her several times and she was always an absolute riot. Jacqueline Susann, because she was way ahead of her time and the critics snubbed her work, but she wrote some of the best-selling novels of all time, including the game-changing Valley of the Dolls. She proved that books are for everyone. Lastly, Martina Cole because we have a similar background and I’d be interested in swapping stories.

Q: Imagine The Thunder Girlswould be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters? 
The international rights for the book are already in a bidding war with several Hollywood studios so I couldn’t comment on that one because once you sell it’s out of your control.

Q: How do your own experiences influence your writing? 
A: They say write about what you know, and I’ve led a very high-octane life. It’s always best to write about what you know because the reader knows it’s an authentic tale. The book is fiction and the story is more outrageous than real life I’ve experienced but it is authentic.

Q: Coffee or tea? 
A: Tea – strong and very milky, in the North we call it tan tights!
Q: Paperback or e-reader? 
A: Paperback
Q: Mountains or the sea? 
A: Sea.
Q: Summer or winter? 
A: Winter.
Q: Sweet or salty? 
A: Sweet

The Thunder Girlsby Melanie Blake is out on the 11th of July, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £7.99 in paperback original. 

It’s the 1980s. Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita are ordinary girls with extraordinary lives. They are better known as eighties pop sensation The Thunder Girls. This girl group is dominating the pop scene, their faces on every magazine cover, millions of fans worldwide, constantly at the top of the charts. 
Until one of them brings the band’s dream run to an abrupt end. Three of their careers are over – and so is their friendship.
Fast forward thirty years. Their old record label lands a bombshell by asking them to reunite for a series of huge concerts. These would be the gigs of a lifetime with a pay check to match – some need it more than others – and old wounds leave deep scars. A lot has happened since The Thunder Girls were ruling the charts. Addiction, breakdowns, bankruptcy and divorce have led them far from the lives they once lived.
If they are to move forward, the past needs to be laid to rest – but there is more to this reunion than meets the eye. Each Thunder Girl is hungry to revive their past success, but what they don’t know is that someone is watching their every move – and is determined to stop them succeeding – in the deadliest way possible.
The Thunder Girlsis a page-turning tale of friendship, betrayal, revenge and murder. It’s the perfect read for readers who miss the bestselling blockbusters of Jackie Collins and Shirley Conran and will take you on a thrilling ride back to the days of shoulder pads, glamour and original girl power.
These four girls have been to hell and back – and some of them are still there.

Melanie Blake was born in Manchester (the only survivor of twins). Up to the age of 6 she had a relatively ‘normal’ childhood. Then everything changed. 
Melanie’s father got involved with an extreme religious group which meant family life would never be the same again. Almost overnight, most TV programmes were banned and music posters and toys, which were considered false idols, were destroyed in front of her young eyes. 
Melanie’s mother was a cleaner who worked all hours for little pay. She’d take Melanie with her on her cleaning round, letting her read library books while she worked. This is how she discovered the woman who inspired Melanie to change her life – Jackie Collins. 
Melanie found other ways to escape by sneaking over to neighbours houses and immersing herself in 80s TV classics such as Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing and her absolute favourite – Top Of The Pops. Little did she know, one day she would be working on that show, which would open so many doors for her future career as a top music manager. 
Now a multi-millionairess, Melanie is living her dream – from living off food bank handouts, wearing second hand clothes, being told by her teachers she’d never amount to anything and being homeless– to living in her own mansion. It’s the ultimate rags-to-bitches story – they say write what you know, and The Thunder Girlsis a tale Melanie has lived and breathed from the ground up. She hopes that somehow, the late, great Jackie Collins knows that she inspired Melanie to follow her dreams. She also hopes that Jackie would have enjoyed reading The Thunder Girlsas much as Melanie enjoyed writing it.

Twitter: @MelanieBlakeUK