Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller @bookouture #blogblitz

** advanced copy received via publisher **

It is my absolute pleasure to join the blog tour for Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller today! Many thanks to Kim Nash and Bookouture for the opportunity and the advanced copy!

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Author : Amy Miller
Title : Heartaches and Christmas Cakes
Series : Wartime Bakery #1
Pages : 259
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : October 20, 2017

aboutthebook

December, 1940: All that Audrey Barton wants is her family together for Christmas. But the war changes everything…

The Barton family bakery in Bournemouth has been at the heart of the town for generations: Audrey and Charlie Barton have never been rich, but their bread and cakes – and their love and advice – have enriched the lives of others in the town for many years.

When war breaks out, it doesn’t take long for trouble to arrive on the bakery doorstep. Audrey’s brother William has joined up to fight, and William’s fiancé Elsie fears she may lose him before their life together has even begun. Audrey’s stepsister Lily comes to stay, but Lily is clearly hiding a dark secret.

And a silent and strange little girl is evacuated to the town – will Audrey get to the heart of what is ailing her?

mythoughts

Once again, you find me reviewing a book I wouldn’t normally pick up but I was swayed by the words “bakery” and “wartime” because weird as it sounds, stories set in World War II always seem to intrigue me. If like me, the word “romance” gives you the heebie-jeebies, let me tell you that while there is some of that going on here, it’s not the be all and end all of this tale. So please don’t let that put you off!

Charlie and Audrey Barton run a bakery in Bournemouth when war breaks out in Europe. Charlie wants to sign up to fight but is rejected as his bakery plays an important part in the war effort and for some people bread is the only food they’ll get. I love that the story centres around this bakery and its status in the community as I admit, I never really realised its value.

Audrey wants nothing more than a child of her own and her family around her. But then her brother William goes off to fight and everything changes. When Audrey’s stepsister Lily arrives unexpectedly and Audrey takes in Mary, a young evacuee, life will change forever. Because Lily has a secret and Mary doesn’t seem to talk.

This is such a wonderful story that shows the other side of war. It offers everything you could possibly want. Love, loss, secrets, family and friendships. We get to know these characters who are desperately trying to survive with what little they have. I feel the author truly showed the community spirit that was so important in those days by, for instance, coming together and somehow managing to create a lovely wedding day, seemingly out of nothing.

Charlie and Audrey have to be incredibly inventive to keep coming up with cakes in the middle of rationing when products they’d normally use are suddenly unavailable. It also shows how the world changed when women stepped up and took over jobs that used to be for men only.

I felt all these characters were extremely likeable and I warmed to them all quite quickly.  With a war raging and family members away fighting for months, unable to send news, it’s hard to imagine that life must go on somehow. And in doing so, these people showed amazing strength and resilience. War doesn’t just change lives, it also changes people and some will realise they’re stronger than they thought.

This is the first book in the Wartime Bakery series and I absolutely loved every minute of it! Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is a sometimes heartbreaking, yet also truly heartwarming and uplifting story and I honestly can’t wait to read more about the Barton family and their friends.

Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is available now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Amy Miller is the pseudonym of Amy Bratley, who started her writing life working on magazines and newspapers. She has previously written three women’s fiction novels published by Pan Macmillan, the first of which was a bestseller in Italy.

Her day job is being a freelance managing editor of both a vintage interiors magazine and a food magazine, two subjects she’s passionate about.

Amy lives in Dorset with her husband and two children.

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Heartaches and Christmas cakes - Blog Tour

Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances by Sue Watson @suewatsonwriter @bookouture #blogblitz

** advanced copy received via publisher **

I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting a stop on the blitz tour for Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances by Sue Watson! Many thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the opportunity and the advanced copy!

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Author : Sue Watson
Title : Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances
Pages : 269
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : October 12, 2017

aboutthebook

A year after she separated from her husband, Gianni, on Christmas Day, Chloe’s heart is still in pieces as she unpacks the decorations for her first ever festive holiday alone. That is, until the phone rings…

It seems Gianni’s new seaside restaurant is in trouble and Chloe must go to Appledore to save the business – and him. Equally famous for his experimental culinary extravaganzas and his explosive temper, Gianni has been really stirring up a sensation with the locals – and not in a good way!

As pans fly and the temperature in the kitchen rises, Chloe’s calming influence and magic touch might just get critics back on side in time to save the restaurant from sinking like a sad soufflé. But will it be enough to save their marriage?

mythoughts

Some of you may know, this isn’t really my normal sort of read. I tend to shy away from romance things and pretty much anything to do with Christmas. Just call me Scrooge. But this is Sue Watson and her Ice-Cream Café series holds a special place in my heart so the decision to read and review this one was a lot easier than you’d think.

Sue Watson takes us back to the lovely town of Appledore but this time, Winter is coming. (Sorry!) Gianni, a fiery Italian, has opened a restaurant there but things aren’t going very well. Gianni isn’t exactly a people person and has an incredible temper which results in staff leaving, altercations with food critics and grumpy customers. He calls in the help of his estranged wife, Chloe, though he won’t admit the idea was his as he’s far too stubborn for that.

Chloe and Gianni started out having a wonderful relationship and marriage but after the sadness of three miscarriages, each tried to deal with their grief by throwing themselves into their work. A lack of communication, misunderstandings and too much time apart eventually leads Chloe to leave the marriage behind. Forced to spend time together in Appledore and make Gianni’s latest venture a success, could their marriage possibly get a second chance?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Appledore with Chloe and Gianni. Although I must admit to frequently feeling my temper rise at Gianni’s attitude and if I’d had a pan handy, it probably would have found its way to his head. Despite his character also delivering quite a few chuckle-worthy moments, he’s also utterly infuriating and Chloe, quite frankly, has the patience of a saint most of the time.

Throw in the delightful residents of Appledore we’ve all come to love, snow and the impending arrival of the holidays, and this does exactly what you’d expect. Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances is a feel-good Christmas romance that will definitely get you into the spirit and is as warm and comforting as a cosy fire or a blanket. Yes, there is a level of predictability but really, I couldn’t care less because this author always manages to come up with realistic characters you care about and root for. And she makes me laugh. It’s that simple, really!

If you’ve read any of this author’s previous books, you will absolutely adore this! If you haven’t, maybe now is the time to give them a go and kick-start the festive period (too soon?) with a giggle or two.

Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances was published on October 12th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Sue Watson was a journalist then a TV Producer at the BBC until she realised that instead of working, she could stay at home, make stuff up and sell it!

So far Sue’s written ten books, and some have been translated into Italian and Portuguese (she’s big in Brazil!) Originally from Manchester, she now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire where her days are spent baking (and eating) lots of cake, while making big life decisions about whether to have Caramel Chew Chew or Salted Caramel ice cream while watching ‘The Biggest Loser USA,’ on TV.

You can contact Sue via her website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page or Instagram

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Make sure to check out these brilliant bloggers on the tour!

Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances - Blog Tour

Safe With Me by Grace Lowrie @AccentPress #blogtour

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Author : Grace Lowrie
Pages : 356
Publisher : Accent Press
Publication date : June 22, 2017

aboutthebook

Abandoned as children, Kat and Jamie were inseparable growing up in foster care. But their bond couldn’t protect them forever.

From a troubled upbringing to working in a London greasy spoon, Kat’s life has never been easy. On the surface Jamie’s living the high-life, but appearances can be deceiving.

When they unexpectedly reunite, their feelings become too intense to ignore. But as secrets come back to haunt them, are they destined to be separated once more?

mythoughts

Kat and Jamie grew up together in foster care until Jamie was adopted and they were separated. Decades later, their lives couldn’t be more different. Kat went from foster care, to living on the streets, to being caught up in an abusive marriage. Jamie works in insurance and has a gorgeous actress girlfriend but cracks are starting to show in the relationship. Then Kat and Jamie meet again unexpectedly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book, where I think its strength lies. Kat’s life especially had me engrossed. I really felt for her as it becomes increasingly clear she’s a prisoner in her marriage, working her fingers to the bone and never knowing what mood her husband will be in.

Chapters alternate between Kat and Jamie. I liked the concept where the reader knows what’s going on but the characters don’t. That being said though, I think the big plot reveal happened a bit too early in the book, even though it was really well done. But it did make me wonder how the rest of the story would unfold.

The second half of the book didn’t hold my attention as much but I’m admittedly not much of a romance reader. There is conflict and tension as the focus of the story shifts to the relationship between Kat and Jamie but the pace slowed down a bit too much for me.  I also felt a little disappointed in how quickly the husband situation was resolved.

That said Safe With Me is well written, very atmospheric and realistic. This isn’t a fast paced read with buckets of drama but it is full of emotion and romance so if that’s your thing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Many thanks to Karen at Accent Press for the advanced copy and for inviting me on the tour!

Safe With Me is published today! Happy publication day, Grace Lowrie!

Amazon USAmazon UKGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Having worked as a collage artist, sculptor, prop maker and garden designer, Grace has always been creative, but she is a romantic introvert at heart and writing was, and is, her first love.

Safe With Me, the first women’s fiction novel in The Wildham Series, is published by Accent Press, who also released her debut contemporary romance novel, Kindred Hearts, in 2015.

A lover of rock music, art nouveau design, blue cheese and grumpy ginger tomcats, Grace is also an avid reader of fiction – preferring coffee and a sinister undercurrent, over tea and chick lit. When not making prop costumes or hanging out with her favourite nephews, she continues to write stories from her Hertfordshire home.

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