Wednesday, 12 December 2018

New Release Spotlight & Review: Deck the Halles by Stephanie Dagg

Deck the Halles by Stephanie Dagg

It’s next Christmas at the little French llama farm.
Last Christmas infamous Australian author Nick bought the farm, that was meant to be furnished and without llamas. The reverse proved to be the case. Noelle had been sent to pet sit the llamas until his arrival. After a decidedly frosty start, Nick and Noelle’s relationship warmed up rapidly and they’re now happily living together, with an ever growing assortment of animals.
They’re looking forward to a quiet, romantic Christmas together but at the last moment Noelle is called on to find a venue for the annual national llama show. The local agricultural halles are free so she books them, thinking that’s all she’ll have to do to help. She couldn’t be more wrong! On top of that, various relatives start turning up on her doorstep unexpectedly, as the result of assorted crises. The farmhouse is about to burst at the seams. Add in a few other events, such as playing the part of a pixie at a Christmas fĂȘte, organising Nick’s book launch and training a non-cooperative llama for the agility class in the show, and Noelle is pushed ever closer to the end of her tether. Can she hold it together and stay as calm as a llama? Or will she be the next member of her family to make a bolt for pastures new?
This festive, feel-good and fun novel is the sequel to ‘Fa-La-Llama-La: Christmas at the Little French Llama Farm’ but can be read as a standalone.

Festive escapism, Deck the Halles is a sequel novel to Fa-La-Llama-La and can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Eleven months since Noelle and Nick ended up together, they've settled into life and routine as there menagerie of stray animals increases. With a Llama Show scheduled for December (who knew they existed!), it's decided they would combine it with the unwritten novel Nick was going to write and launch; on the release day of a rival writer. With a plan in place, they spring into action, but life in rural France with its rules and red-tape isn't going to make the theory become a reality without an uphill battle or two.

I was unfamiliar with the author's writing style before reading Deck the Halles but instantly fell for the charm and humour of her writing. Littered with English and Australian colloquialisms, the light-hearted hilarity is captivating as I devoured the pages filled with rural French life and Llamas. Noelle and Nick make a cute couple and enjoyed the banter flowing between them. With a friendly bunch of secondary characters in place, the narrative kept my interest as I absorbed the amusing seasonal tales against the lovely French backdrop.

Some of the most intriguing sections of the novel are about the llamas and the author's own experience with this fascinating creatures shines through with her descriptions. I appreciated how she explains the nuances of their nature and behaviour and how to interact with them.

Who knew Llamas, Christmas and France could be so fun together? If you're looking for a laugh-out-loud, and entertaining novel with a delightful plot and a happy ever after, this romantic comedy should hit the spot!

***review copy received courtesy of the publisher***

I'm an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than 'belonging' to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it's been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at
I'm married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.
I'm a traditionally-published author of many children's books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at The rest of the time I'm running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal's poop.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Blog Blitz: Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood

Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood

Worlds collide when two strangers meet at Waterloo station. It's a moment they'll never forget. Perfect for the fans of Milly Johnson. 
Christmas is a joyous time, but not everyone is merry and bright.

Nicola is a rising star at the top of the corporate ladder, but her personal life is a disaster. Her office affair has lost its allure, and the last thing she wants to think about is Christmas. A night of cancelled trains and festive Christmas carols at Waterloo Station is just about the last straw... 
Dmitri loves conducting his pop-up choir during the festive season, meeting people, and spreading joy and cheer around London. But he carries deep secrets from his past that robbed him of his dream to become a concert pianist. 
Can their hearts and souls be unlocked by music and moonlight and will they discover the healing power of love?

Lauren Westwood writes romantic women's fiction, and is also an award-winning children's writer. Originally from California, she now lives in England in a pernickety old house built in 1602, with her partner and three daughters. facebook: @Lwestwoodbooks; twitter: @lwestwoodwriter; web:; instagram: @lwestwoodwriter; Goodreads: Lauren Westwood

facebook: @Lwestwoodbooks;
twitter: @lwestwoodwriter;
instagram: @lwestwoodwriter;
Goodreads: Lauren Westwood;
Playlist (music plays a big part in the book):

Giveaway – Win 2 x Signed copies of Moonlight On The Thames (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Blog Blitz Post including an extract: The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

 (Natalie has just arrived in Loch Lomond)
Natalie closed the door behind her and surveyed her new living quarters. The darkness had made it difficult to notice much about the garden outside and the driving rain had made her keen to get inside as quickly as possible. She found herself in a small hallway, with a deep pile carpet, mocha in colour. She couldn’t wait to slip off her boots and luxuriate in the feel of the pile between her toes. Her feet ached from the journey; it was rather a long way.
An antique mirror, was it real? she wondered, hung from a hook in the hallway, which was dimly lit by a fake gas lamp. Off the hall were five doors. The first turned out to be a cupboard, also home to the boiler. The second led her into a country kitchen, complete with French dresser and pine table and chairs, with an Aga taking centre stage; well-equipped and quite spacious, considering it was a one bedroom cottage. Natalie exited the kitchen and tried the next door - her bedroom for the next month. A double bed, a large wardrobe and two bedside cabinets made up the room, nothing special, but comfortable enough. On the other side of the hall, the first door she tried led into the bathroom.
Oh, what a treat! A tiled wet room.
For a cottage, it was modern; a rare mix of old meets new.
The last door led her into a large living room with a bay window overlooking the front garden. She hadn’t been aware of how far up the hill the driver had come, but now she could see, even in the dark, the splendid views over Loch Lomond. Lights twinkled in the distance; she assumed they were from moored boats, or a boathouse perhaps.
The living room welcomed her with a coal fire. Lovely. It required extra effort, but was definitely worth it. Natalie planned on cosy nights in after work, although she did expect to be working long hours, relaxing in front of the fire with a good book, or cooking on the Aga. Bliss. The corner sofa wasn’t to her taste, but was new and clearly from the period when corner sofas were back in fashion recently. Heavy curtains hung over the bay window, keeping out the cold.
Yes, this’ll do nicely.
She returned to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Aw, the lady who had leased her the house and the bakery had put a few goodies in for her first night. How sweet, and much appreciated. Natalie realised she was worn out from the journey, and checked out the cupboards to see about pots and pans. Two bottles of red wine greeted her when she opened the first door and she made a mental note to thank the landlady; just what she needed to go with her first meal and help her unpack. Tomorrow would be a long day and a new start.

Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day.

Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Twitter – susan_buchanan
Blog – Sooz’s journal –

Giveaway – Win e-copies of Sign of the Times and The Dating Game (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Review: Sadie's Wars by Rosemary Noble

Sadie’s Wars By Rosemary Noble

An astonishing tale, spanning continents, where truth is stranger than fiction. This historical saga of an extraordinary Australian pioneer family continues into a new generation.

Sadie is brought-up amongst the vineyards of the Yarra Valley while her work-obsessed father reaps riches from the boom years before the Great War.

With post-war depression looming, Sadie's only option is to flee from her disastrous marriage, seeking refuge in Cleethorpes, a small seaside town in northern England.

Years later, when her sons are in RAF Bomber Command, she receives a letter from her long-lost brother which forces her to confront the past and her part in her family’s downfall.

Can old wounds be healed?
Will she find new love?
Will this second war destroy everyone she saved?

A fascinating historical family saga spanning Australia and England. Sadie's Wars is the third book in the Currency Girls series and a standalone novel.

Many times when I get around to reading a review copy of a novel, I've usually forgotten why I chose to read a particular one, and as I don't usually refresh my mind by reading the blurb, I dive in blind. Sadie's War was such a novel and I love how I found out the reason within the first pages; Cleethorpes and Grimsby, towns not so far from where I grew up but familiar enough to trigger nostalgic feelings. Coincidentally, the third chapter is set in Cannington, Western Australia, a place I've visited too, although a vastly different to how the town would have been in 1902. As a reader, I loved the surprise and familiarity of delving into how life was in times gone by in places I can relate to.

Alternating between Australia after the turn of the twentieth century, including the time during and after WW1 where Sadie grew up and England during and after WW11 each part focusing on significant aspects of Sadie's life during what were intensive times in world history. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of daily life during war times realising some household names I recognise have been around much longer than I thought. Ms Noble captured the mood of the two eras with her descriptions and inclusions of atrocious events happening in the news at the time.

Sadie's life is colourful enough but the struggle of living during war times intensify the traumas and problems she faced. She's portrayed as a strong woman who always manages to handle what life throws at her, yet she survives with vulnerability and sadness while coping with the stress and tragedy. Thankfully she has people around her who make her see and believe she deserves to be happy too.

An intriguing page-turner, the writing flows fluidly as Sadie's life and events are documented. The scenes are informative and believable as are the emotions expressed; defeat, sadness and hope.

My favourite books read in 2018 have been historical novels based on true stories and Sadie's War definitely makes the list.

***arc received courtesy of the publisher***

I worked as a librarian, mostly with young people, so books have been my life, ever since I first stepped into a library and found a magical treasure trove. My other love is social history. Retirement gave me the opportunity to travel to Australia where I discovered stories that deserved to be written. I found a new career as an author which gives me immense pleasure. I write for myself but am delighted that others enjoy my books.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Release Day Spotlight & Review: Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin by Helen J. Rolfe

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin

Do you believe in Christmas Miracles?
Holly is looking for a change and even though not everyone agrees with her career choices, she’s determined there’s more to this life than the long hours she works as an editor in New York City. What she doesn’t expect is to meet Mitch, a recluse who’s hiding more than she realises.
Mitch does all he can to avoid human contact, spending his days in the little log cabin out in the woods behind Inglenook Falls where he owns a Christmas tree farm, so when Holly falls into his life, he’s not sure how to react. All he knows is that something needs to change if he ever wants to get his life back on track.
Along with friends Cleo and Darcy, Holly is determined to bring joy back to Mitch’s life, but will he appreciate their interference? And when a business proposition throws everything up in the air, will it do more harm than good and ruin lives forever?
Both Holly and Mitch must learn that on the surface people aren’t always what they seem…but if you dig a little deeper, they can take you by surprise.
Curl up this Christmas for plenty of snowflakes, roaring log fires, a marriage proposal, unlikely friendships and second chances as we return to the much-loved characters in the New York Ever After series.

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

Filled with hope and love, my first Christmas novel of 2018 has an overwhelming message of never giving up on a dream.

Holly loves living in New York but wants the freedom to pursue her dreams. She decides to quit her job as an editor to become a freelance journalist where she can indulge her interest in photography. She's happy with the decision and as she becomes her own boss, with work already lined up she knows she made the right decision for her. She's happy and positive, but disappointed her boyfriend Pierre doesn't support or share her enthusiasm. During her first assignment in Inglenook Falls, she meets a dishevelled man, who helps her. Despite his appearance, he intrigues her in a way she never thought possible, making her realise she needs to make more changes in her life.

Mitch is a mess, hidden away living like a recluse, a position he wants to get out of but most of the time he lacks the determination to improve his situation. When a trespasser near his log cabin falls and loses consciousness, he's angry but does what any decent person would do – he helps her. When she leaves, he hopes he never sees her again, but does he really want that?

A feel-good novel which embraces the atmosphere of the season as two people find each other at a crossroads in their lives. Mitch misses his son, not knowing where he is, while Holly seizes a career ambition, which makes her question some aspects of her life. Yet not everything is rosy in the cosy town as heartbreaking details from the past surface. Predictably, it leads to an uplifting and romantic finale. We all love a happy ever after, don't we?

The author manages to capture the essence of the winter holiday, using descriptions to bring the small town of Inglenook Falls to life. The secondary characters add additional warmth and humour to the magical narrative, where believing in a little faith, means miracles can come true. The protagonists compliment each other perfectly despite their differences against a winter wonderland backdrop. Like many holiday-themed novels, this is a perfect read to curl up and enjoy with a glass or mug of your favourite seasonal drink. Christmas Miracles at the Little Log cabin is the fourth book in the New York Ever After series and can be read and enjoyed (as I did) as standalone.

***arc received courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources***

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women's fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen's stories always have a happy ending.
Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen's books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Guest Post: Karen Botha, author of Naked Truths

Guest Post
Today, we welcome author Karen Botha as she discusses how she manages her writing schedule:

I’ve tried writing in all sorts of ways over the past few years. I used to just sit down and write for as long as it took me to get bored and then I’d move on to do something else with my day.
Now, I have a target. I need to write 5k words a day to meet my deadlines, and so that’s what I do. I found I struggled with inspiration at first. I’d get to the point when I would usually have gotten up off my backside and done something else and I’d get twitchy. So, someone gave me a tip.
I use an App called Brain Focus which is the best. It counts down 25 minutes during which you write as much as you can. Then you take a 5-minute break. I couldn’t believe how much my output increased when I started using this.
I’m releasing one book a week from 3rd September to Christmas and so I’ve been on a tight turnaround, juggling lots of moving parts.
My old routine used to be to get up in the morning and exercise. What I found though as the pressure increased was that I couldn’t focus. I was too desperate to get into the office that exercising became a source of pressure.
So, instead, I use Les Mills on Demand and I noticed that their classes are in roughly five-minute bursts. So, when I have the break now, I get up and I do another batch of exercise.
Guess what?
My output increased even more. It must have something to do with the blood rushing around my body or something because I am now on fire.
Naked Truths was written both ways because this was my first book. Back in those days, I was proud to say I could write 1000 words in a sitting. It sounded a lot, right? When I came back after getting it re-edited eighteen months later, I’m now up to 1600 per hour.
And that’s critical for me because I have so many books floating around my head, driving me crazy and stopping me from sleeping, that it makes a difference if I can write faster.
My poor husband is a star. I am up at all times of the night paying homage to a new idea which has sprung into my head at the most inconvenient of times. He’ll often wake in the morning to find I have crept out of bed and am ensconced upstairs in my office, putting some words down on paper before they drive me totally insane. Although, he may argue that I’m already there, but you’ll have to ask him about that.

He’s a grieving widower, the perfect boyfriend, and the prime suspect…
Lucy knows the importance of boundaries. As a massage therapist, she keeps her work and her personal life completely separate. But when a handsome widower shows up on her table and sparks an instant attraction, Lucy is shameless. Breaking her rule, she crosses the line, triggering a series of thrilling mysteries.
Paula isn’t so sure about her best friend’s perfect man… or the story of his wife's death. To uncover the truth, the former detective infiltrates his social circle. When she examines a scandalous lodger, a jealous brother, and a protective mother-in-law, everyone seems to have a hidden motive for murder…
Lucy is torn between her old friend and her dark new love. Will she follow her head or her heart? And can Paula discover the true killer before her friend makes a fateful mistake?
Naked Truths is the first book in a series of pulse-pounding romantic suspense books. If you like the odd steamy sex scene, complex characters, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love the suspense of Karen Botha’s gripping romantic suspense.

Karen Botha was born in Lincolnshire, England where her father was in the Royal Air Force. As a young girl she always had a passion for reading and writing, studying English Language before University.
Working most of her adult life in digital marketing didn't leave her much time to pursue her passion for stories. But, at the age of 36 she retrained as a reflexologist and started working for herself. This helped her free up more than enough time to enjoy a re-found passion; writing.
Her first novel was inspired by the true life experiences of her clients. But don't believe everything you read, she has more than enough imagination to catch you out with twist and turns galore.
She enjoys romance, travelling and motor sport, which also provide her inspiration for her books.
She currently lives in London with her husband and rescue dog, Shadow.