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Moonlight Over Manhattan: Sarah Morgan

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Book Blurb

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog-walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list – dealing with Madi’s temporary dog-sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi – how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple – he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide 24-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Available from October here

My review

Sarah Morgan has long been one of my favourite writers. Her ability to weave words on a blank page is renowned and it wasn’t me that coined the phrase magician with words, but it could have been.

Moonlight over Manhattan is a charming tale of strength over adversary. Harriet and Fliss are twins: we have already found out Fliss’s tale in holiday in the Hamptons, a summer hit for Sarah. Now, it’s Harriet’s turn. Harriet is the shy twin, she also suffers from a speech dysfluency, or stammer if you like.  Now this, for me is where the story got a little freaky. As a parent of twins, one of whom suffers from a speech dysfluency I think you’ll agree that I wasn’t able to view this from a position of neutral.  I was all for being super critical but I was left eating my words (no pun intended) and can only comment on the indepth level of research that has been undertaken. The story grabbed me from page one and, although I didn’t finish it in one sitting it did only take two.

Now the big question is: this my favourite Sarah Morgan of all time  and the answer would have to be no. That would be Miracle On 5th Avenue, which was last years Christmas story. However as this also appears in my top favourite five books of all time I think you can allow me some largessse especially when you take into account that this list includes  Wilkie Collins The woman in white and, of course, Jane Austen’s Pride  and Prejudice. In fact, I think I’m going to snuggle up under a cat or two and read all three again…

 

 

 

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Marc Levy: PS from Paris and Those Things We Never Said

 

OK so I have a thing for French writers. It’s not a disease, or even a virus – more of an obsession. Living of the cusp of this wondrous Isle, and lucky enough to spend 6 weeks a year emerged in all things French, their culture sort of grows on one and it’s no coincidence that words like chic originate from the French – something to do with a little man called William in 1066. Last year I literally fell in love with two Frenchmen, well on paper at least, and Black Water Lilies has moved from my favourite book of 2016 to my top ten of all reads, with Antoine Laurain’s The Red Notebook on my shortlist.

Marc Levy is French, but lives in New York (or so I’ve heard 😆) and this mix shows up in his writing. He’s an architect/ writer and has published now in double figures, the only sad thing being I’ve only read two, but all the more to look forward to then.

All Those Things We Never Said (out November, but on pre order – here’s his author page for more).

Days before her wedding, Julia Walsh is blindsided twice: once by the sudden death of her estranged father…and again when he appears on her doorstep after his funeral, ready to make amends, right his past mistakes, and prevent her from making new ones.

A cross between Cecelia Ahern and Carrie Hope Fletcher. To have to bury your father on your wedding day is bad enough, especially as you didn’t even like each other let alone love. And then you find he’s reinvented himself as a robot, a robot that for 7 days tries to make amends while on the road trip of a life time. Suddenly her fiancé, waiting in the wings isn’t such an attractive proposition. Such an unusual premise. Paranormal fiction isn’t usually my bag but this is done with style and panache. If you like odd (in a good way) but well written…

PS from Paris

On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

I can’t tell you just how much I loved this book (oh yeah, I just have, duh!) It’s only August and already, let me tell you, this is my favourite read of 2017 ( not so easy when, already I’ve read 211 books). Reading is a very personal endeavour. It’s the only way one can ever truly know what’s going on in someone’s head at any one time (knowing when your partner wants a cuppa doesn’t count). For me this book ticked all my personal boxes with regards to what a good read should be. It had a strong beginning. A good voice. Page turning quality and a flawless ending. Because I read so much it’s rare an author gets to surprise me ( I’m the irritating best friend that’s guessed the plot of a The Sixth Sence ten minutes in) but there’s a huge surprise here that was handled beautifully.

Finally, a huge congratulations to Marc, No 1 US charts is a huge achievement. Continue writing, dear sir – enchanting… IMG_2378

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Dunkirk – Rescuing Robert (short story)

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It’s another launch day for me today but this time it’s a story with a difference. You’ve all heard now of the movie, Dunkirk. Funnily enough when I wrote this short story I hadn’t so it’s just luck I suppose that they coincide. Dunkirk is a fascinating exploration into just what can be achieved by people in such a short span of time. Three nights, many thousands rescued and by normal people, not soldiers. Just people like you and me.

In researching the idea I did a lot of reading around the subject and it drew me in like a magnet. Individual accounts of man’s determination to overcome adversity. The way the men lined up passively in the beaches, stretching back across the crisp white sands. The discarded army vehicles and ambulances lit across the background of Dunkirk burning with Messerschmitt’s overhead still shooting any targets they could….

The Red Cross is synonymous with this time. We’ve all heard of the work they did both at home and abroad but for the Channel Islands (my home) they were a life saver. We were occupied for 5 years. People that remained were literally starving and if it wasn’t for the likes of The SS Vega and their deliveries of over 100,000 food parcels goodness knows what would have happened. In the cottage where I live, which was built pre-war we found crystal sets hidden under the floorboards and it turns out our home was a hive of local resistance. We even used to have a cow living in the lounge in order to prevent Germans from stealing it because, in those days the German soldiers were starving too.

When ‘Guernsey’ the movie is released next year you’ll hopefully get more of a picture of what it was like to be, almost abandoned…

Today The Red Cross continues to do great work and, here in Guernsey, we have a thriving store, which I used to volunteer at before kids took up all of my spare time. We live in difficult times but still, despite everything the Dunkirk spirit survives – all profits from any sales of this book are going to the local branch of The Red Cross.

Rescuing Robert will be on Amazon later but for now I have 100 copies to give away here’s the link 

 

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The secrets of Villa Rossa

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Book blurb

When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she’s reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn’t prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate’s director Max Johnson, or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso…

Available from Amazon here

My review

This is my second book by this writer but after reading Cottage in the Country it was a cert I’d be out hunting for more but this is different in both style and flavour. Although a romance it’s also a mystery, a dark one. Will Ellie stay true to her family, to Josh or will she discover the mystery of the villa and fall for enigmatic Max?

Linn writes well about Italy, one of my favourite places since visiting in the 1990’s but this isn’t about the setting this is about the mystery that shrouds every scene and when it’s revealed it comes as a shock. I like to watch other writers over time grow and develop and that’s certainly something that happens here. Linn has moved from a light writer to something altogether different. 5 stars

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Writer, reader? Undecided…

Writers are great procrastinators in that there’s usually something more exciting to do than sitting in a room all by yourself tapping away. For me it’s reading. It doesn’t matter to me a jot if it’s Kindle or paper but I am pretty much book obsessed.

So should I just jack in the writing thing in altogether and drown in someone else’s words? It would be so much easier except that, in truth there are too many books out there. As a writer I know the competition to find eyes for my words is enormous but as a reader there are just too many good books to choose from.

Conceptually  this is a huge personal issue. I need books in my life in the same way people need air to breathe. But if I was on a desert island I wouldn’t want to choose one book, I’d have to go for either a whole library or unlimited paper and pencils so I could write my own. That’s why I like writing. I like the power to dream up that story that is unravelling in my head like raffia around an Easter bonnet. There are three such stories currently all vying for pole position and the reason, at the moment I’m not going to give up. It’s not that I’m stubborn but you’d have greater luck with getting a donkey to change its ways. It’s not that I think my writing is good as, like most artists self-doubt is the watchword. It just that I have a dream, three dreams and until my head is completely empty of the words pummelling the inside of my head I’m going to continue…

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Gâche And Gossip by Jill Watson

IMG_2307Book Blurb

In the summer of 1990 Lizzie Bayley moves to the tiny Channel Island of Ormerey to live with Raoul St Arnaud, a man she has met on only four previous occasions. Surprised by the hostility she encounters, Lizzie finds it hard to settle down but she is befriended by Raoul’s cousin, Francesca Saviano. Francesca has problems of her own. The man she loves, who had dropped her without explanation forty years earlier, suddenly reappears in her life and wants to resume their relationship. On a wild and beautiful island, where land is precious, the community is divided by a controversial planning application to build a large hotel in the green belt. Against a background of public dissent and personal feuds, Lizzie and Francesca both struggle to find a way to happiness and fulfilment.

My review

It’s not often I have to explain the book title but, for those non-locals among you Gâche (pronounced Gosh) is a yeast based fruit loaf popular with the locals. Gossip is… well Hilda Ogden comes to mind…

I live in Guernsey and as this is set in the Channel Isles albeit a fictious one it was a sure fire book for me to read. There’s a Guernsey feel about this: Guernsey mixed with Alderney and a coating of Sark. These islands, although very small fish in a very small pond have their fair share of political intrigues and this is reflected in the book. If I was pushed to give a book comparison I’d say JK Rawlings ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling and Graham Norton’s ‘Holding’, both amazing reads. If I was pushed to give a TV comparison I’d have to say Midsomer Murders, without the murders. The writing is strong, and well edited, the ideas original and the story of how ‘ the new kid on the Island’ struggles to find her place in such a closed off society one I recognise. A delicious 5 star read. I received an ARC from the author. This opinion is my own.

Gache and Gossip is available from Amazon here

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Book Launch Day: Englishwoman in Scotland

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Book Blurb

Talented artisan baker Lady Titania (Tansy) Nettlebridge is betrothed to be married to Lord Brayely no less. She should be ecstatic. She should be delighted at such a match. She would be if she’d actually met him…
Viscount Hector Brayely, or Tor for short isn’t interested in women. He isn’t interested in men. As a renowned mycologist all he’s interested in is fungi, and one particular fungi at that. So when his mother arranges a bride he’s not really interested. He’s more interested in the new cook at the castle, Miss Tansy Smith…
Set in Oban and The Slate Islands Tansy quickly falls in love with the Inner Hebrides but she wouldn’t marry Tor if he was the last man on Belnahua…

Belnahua is one of the State Islands of the Inner Hebrides. Deserted now it used to be a thriving community of workers and their families until WW1 when all the men left to fight and their families were evacuated to neighbouring islands.

When I considered writing another one in this series I decided to go back a little and write a book to sit between the two already published so Scotland comes after Paris but before Manhattan. Apologies if it’s confusing!

And why Scotland? I loved finding about Stonehaven and wanted to feature Pascal and Sarah in this book too. Oban, well I’ve never been but my husband spent a week there many years ago. Why baking and fungi? I bake all my own bread and my hubby’s degree is in microbiology. So, just like a jigsaw the story took shape in my mind. Nanny Mac loves jigsaw puzzles, but I like puzzles of a different sort.

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That’s the facts but this book is more a voyage of discovery…. Tansy’s voyage of discovery in the dark distant land of Belnahua. The Slate Islands, not well known but very important all the same. We’ve all heard about Balamory but this is no place for sweet children’s stories. I’ve spent many hours scouring the internet for photos of this harsh and tragic place… These photos  were playing in my head when I wrote those words (thanks to the blog owner for posting such amazing photos, which are available to purchase).

As a writer I like to use my imagination but I do use real photos, places and things to inspire me. I could never write pure fantasy.

Tansy’s dress, so like a bridal gown but not. A Jenny Packham design available from Harrods here and her matching cream Manila Blahnik shoes ( shoes that are arguably more important than the frock). That’s them in the centre – aren’t they swashbucklingly delicious? Next time I’m in London I’m going to visit the fourth floor and go a hunting. I have nowhere to wear a dress like that but I’ll find somewhere even if it’s only the school yard!  IMG_2286

And who can forget that Chloe handbag that oh so nearly gave the game away? Yes, I’ve agonised for hours searching for just the right bag for Lady Titania. I’ve even sourced her limited edition Stella McCartney phone case and as for notebooks and pens…. Who says writers don’t have the best time in the world?

Englishwoman in Scotland is available for 99p from here  

Thank you Harrods, I’ll be seeing you shortly…

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2 days to book launch

It’s only two days to go. With working nights, days sort of run into each other and this date has stormed by. While I plan a book launch post I thought I’d include some things about me you won’t know…

I love the sea and am never happier than sitting by the ocean. I’m also a closet gardener, loving nothing more than planting and propagating. I also like tea, but in a proper cup or mug. Friday evenings are a must curled up in my favourite chair with the kids fighting over what to watch. I also admire talent in others whether that be writers or crafters. Animals are my favourite of all and I won’t harm them from wasps to worms and ants. (Yes  I do know they’re not animals). I used to help at the local animal shelter (pre kids) looking after the hedgehogs and oiled seabirds and my ideal would be a small animal sanctuary.

I hate making school lunch boxes with a passion and long for the day they are old enough to do their own. I hate queuing but funnily enough traffic jams aren’t a problem as I seem to get most of my book ideas stuck in a bottleneck. Whilst I love flowers I prefer them in the garden. Once they’re picked I lose interest. Whilst I don’t hate make-up I don’t wear any apart from the odd slick of eye liner if I’m going somewhere other than work, school run or supermarket – a rare event.

Englishwoman in Scotland is on pre-order for the princely sum of 99p here

Book blurb

Talented artisan baker Lady Titania (Tansy) Nettlebridge is betrothed to be married to Lord Brayely no less. She should be ecstatic. She should be delighted at such a match. She would be if she’d actually met him…

Viscount Hector Brayely, or Tor for short isn’t interested in women. He isn’t interested in men. As a renowned mycologist all he’s interested in is fungi, and one particular fungi at that. So when his mother arranges a bride he’s not really interested. He’s more interested in the new cook at the castle, Miss Tansy Smith…

Set in Oban and The Slate Islands Tansy quickly falls in love with the Inner Hebrides but she wouldn’t marry Tor if he was the last man on Belnahua…

 

 

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Cover reveal: The little Purfume Shop off the Champs-Elysees

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I’m delighted to help the lovely Rebecca Raisin with her cover reveal today, especially as it’s such a fab one.

Book blurb

What is French for falling in love?

When Del leaves small town America to compete in a perfume competition in Paris, she thinks it is just the next step on her five-year-plan. It’s an exciting opportunity. What started out as just a dream for Del and her twin sister is nearly in her grasp. If she wins this competition, they are on their way to opening their very own perfume boutique!

Arriving in Paris, watching the sun glinting off the Seine and wandering the Champs-Elysees, Del discovers the most perfect perfumery she’s ever seen. Yet, as the competition dawns Del realises that whilst she might have had the best nose in her small village, her competitors seem to know more than she could ever have dreamed. This competition isn’t going to be easy…

Del has the romance of Paris to sweep her away from her worries, but as the competition heats up, so does her desire for that which she cannot have! If only the dashing owner Sébastien didn’t smell so seductive, look so handsome and make her heart flutter like it never has before. They say love smells as sweet as a red rose in bloom, but Del would tell anyone that true love can’t be bottled – it’s beautiful and unique to everyone…even herself. With everything on the line for her future, can Del really let a little attraction get in the way of securing her dreams?

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Cover and Title reveal: Englishwoman in Scotland

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If you follow my blog I’m normally about reviewing  other authors books but today it’s my turn…

Book blurb

Talented artisan baker Lady Titania (Tansy) Nettlebridge is betrothed to be married to Lord Brayely no less. She should be ecstatic. She should be delighted at such a match. She would be if she’d actually met him…

Viscount Hector Brayely, or Tor for short isn’t interested in women. He isn’t interested in men. As a renowned mycologist all he’s interested in is fungi, and one particular fungi at that. So when his mother arranges a bride he’s not really interested. He’s more interested in the new cook at the castle, Miss Tansy Smith…

Set in Oban and The Slate Islands Tansy quickly falls in love with the Inner Hebrides but she wouldn’t marry Tor if he was the last man on Belnahua…

Belnahua is one of the State Islands of the Inner Hebrides. Deserted now it used to be a thriving community of workers and their families until WW1 when all the men left to fight and their families were evacuated to neighbouring islands.

Englishwoman in Scotland is book 3 of my stand alone Englishwoman in series, which will be published towards the end of June. ARC’s are available on request (jennyobrienwrites at yahoo dot co dot uk)

 

To celebrate my cover/title reveal Ideal Girl is free today from Amazon, normally £1.99

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22 year old Nurse Liddy Murphy is meant to be the Ideal Girl, but for whom? Up until now all the men she’s met have let her down. That is until she meets Mitch…
Professor Mitch Merrien is disillusioned. Following the break-up of the latest in a string of relationships he’s in search of yet another tall ice cool blond to fill that place in his bed, if not his heart. That is until he literally falls over short, dark and decidedly feisty Liddy. Working side by side on St Justin’s Head Injury Unit is a dream come true for both of them until the unthinkable happens.
Lost and alone Liddy escapes Ireland to live in France. She escapes her previous life and everything she holds dear. But she can’t escape the memories of her past. She can’t escape her dreams just as she can’t escape him