A Day Out In London (Elan Cafe, Liberty and Afternoon Tea with Rosanna Ley)

Last week, I was finally able to tick off a few things from my list of places I wanted to see in London. I had the opportunity to attend an afternoon tea in the wonderful Covent Garden Hotel to celebrate the launch of Rosanna Ley’s newest novel, Her Mother’s Secret. Such a treat! My lovely friend Laura and I decided to travel to London early and explore this fantastic city a little beforehand. I don’t go to London too often, and if I go, I usually go straight to a set place or event. So this time, I wanted to see a few more things. We headed to Elan Cafe first. I had seen so many gorgeous pictures on Instagram and was desperate to see this place. This cute little cafe certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a lot smaller than I anticipated, but luckily we managed to get a table straight away. The atmosphere in this place is amazing! I don’t think anyone left this cafe without having their picture taken – so when in Rome… (or, erm, London)

The food was superb as well. I went for avocado and egg on toast. Yummy!! Afterwards, we took a stroll through some pretty amazing back streets and made our way to Liberty.

And then it was already time to head to Covent Garden for afternoon tea. Meeting Rosanna in person was fantastic. We chatted so much about her new book and even got a small insight into the book she is currently writing.

About Her Mother’s Secret

For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?

Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?

The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.

Her Mother’s Secret is currently available in hardback, with the paperback version to follow on 14th June 2018.

Thank you so much Rosanna and Quercus for such a brilliant afternoon.

Book Review: The Lido by Libby Page

PUBLISHER: Orion

PAGES: 384

PUBLICATION DATE: 19th April 2018

I cannot praise this stunning and charming debut novel by author Libby Page enough. It didn’t take me long to fall for this story of friendship and community empowerment. 

Main characters Kate and Rosemary are fantastically depicted. Kate is a twenty something journalist trying to built a career in London, but feeling rather overwhelmed by the big city. Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but the changes around her pose a challenge. Together these two embark on a journey to save the local Lido and in the process form an incredible friendship.

Rosemary’s persona really touched me. It is not all that often that you come across a main character in a novel who is already in her mid eighties. I found her extremely interesting, easy to relate to and completely admired her. She reminded me very much of my great aunt and only after a few pages I had a complete picture of how I imagined her to look in my head.

The storyline felt so incredibly real, raw and utterly relatable. This novel doesn’t only showcase the immense power a community has when everyone comes together to fight against something that is important to them (in this case the closure of their local swimming pool), but also how meeting different people and forming friendships (no matter how unlikely on first sight) can shape, heal and support a person. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a proof copy of this book. All opinion are entirely my own. 

Book Review: The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster

PAGES: 416

PUBLICATION DATE: 19th April 2018

As soon as I read the title and the rules of the Sunday Lunch Club, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. Every family should have regular family gatherings just like the Piper’s do. What better way to discuss and (hopefully) solve problems, gossip and generally just enjoy each others company. If only my family lived closer (we are all in different countries), I’d definitely be an advocate for a Sunday Lunch Club!

I was certainly not disappointed by this book. The whole plot went a lot deeper than I had initially thought from reading the back cover. I loved that there was not just one main character, but in fact the reader gets to know the whole Piper family inside and out (including some hidden and well-kept secrets). The Sunday Lunch Club kept me guessing throughout and some of the plot twists and turns I did not see coming.

If you are looking for an escape from the busy day-to-day life, join the Piper family on their Sunday Lunch Club. I promise, you will laugh out loud, almost feel like one of the Piper’s and if you are anything like me, also shed a few tears along the way.

Interview With Author Claudia Carroll

I have the huge pleasure of welcoming Claudia Carroll to the blog today. I’ve been a fan of her books for years and as part of the blog tour for her newest release, Our Little Secret, I was able to ask her a few questions. I met Claudia at an event a few years ago (you can read all about it here) and she is just the nicest person ever!!

I am so excited to read your newest novel Our Little Secret. Can you please give a brief summary of the book?

Did you ever see the old movie, All About Eve with Bette Davis? It’s basically about a good deed that comes back to bite you. Just like the song in Wicked (my all time favourite musical) about no good deed going unpunished. The movie All About Eve, was a huge inspiration point for me, so I got to wondering – suppose you had a middle aged, older woman who, with no motive other than kindness and a genuine altruism, decides to help a younger woman, who needs a bit of a leg up in her own career. But of course there’s a twist, and pretty soon, my leading character comes to deeply regret ever having giving this young one the time of day.

You have published several successful books. Did publishing your first book change your approach to writing?

Writing is writing, I always think. The process is exactly the same, whether you’re writing a TV script, a movie, a play or a novel. But publishing my first book certainly taught me a thing or two about discipline and writing to a tight deadline! 

 How do you select the names of our characters?

With great difficulty! It’s astonishing how fast you run out of names. And also I don’t like to name a character after anyone I actually know – people can sometimes get offended! 

 If you could be a character from any of your books, who would you choose and why?

Baddies are always such fun to write. So I suppose I really enjoying writing the character of Lauren, who is basically all sweetness and light on the surface, but tough as a boot just underneath and with an ambition that’s terrifying. Someone who would walk all over you, just to advance their own career. So the moral of the story is—- be on the lookout for Lauren’s everywhere! 

What does your research process for a book look like and how long does the research stage take?

It depends on the book really! For Our Little Secret, I did spend a lot of time talking to security men in shopping centres asking what happens to teenagers who shoplift, as happens in the book. I got more than a few funny looks, I can tell you.  

Do you ever face writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome this hurdle?

I find writing a good, watertight plot synopsis in advance really helps me on the bad days. It’s like having a roadmap that you can constantly keep referring back to. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t take up smoking just because all your friends are doing it. And stop worrying!

Thank you so much for visiting today, Claudia. I cannot wait to read Our Little Secret.

Book Review: Christmas under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

Only three more sleeps to Santa. The excitement in our house is clearly tangible. Christmas is by far my most favourite time of the year. I love all the smells, the hustle and bustle, the smiles and excitement and of course watching Christmas films and reading Christmas related books. The one novel I absolutely loved this year, was Christmas under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin.

PUBLISHER: Zaffre

PAGES: 368

PUBLICATION DATE: 2nd November 2017 (paperback)

I’ve read quite a few of Holly’s books in the past and enjoyed them all. Christmas under a Cranberry Sky was no exception.

Travel writer Piper finds herself at Stardust Lake Hotel for her last resort review of the year. Little does she know that the owner of this hotel is her former best friend and boyfriend Gabe who left her completely heartbroken several years ago. Will these two be able to re-unite and leave all bad feelings in the past?

I completely adored this book and the storyline nestled within. Holly is such a master of words and it was so incredibly easy to completely lose myself in Piper and Gabe’s world. Set in the beautiful winter wonderland of Juniper Island, the story encompasses all the Christmas feels. I’ve been dreaming of taking my family to a place like this for ages and found myself googling the resort that Stardust Lake Hotel is inspired by, as soon as I finished reading Christmas under a Cranberry Sky (thank you for creating such a wonderful setting and for adding to my wanderlust, Holly :-)).

The characters in this book are perfect! Not only are Piper and Gabe extremely likeable, but every single person who makes an appearance in this novel is just right – from little Wren, Gabe’s daughter, to Stephen, steward and general all-rounder. I loved the close-knit village community and the support and commitment they all gave to make Stardust Lake Hotel a success.

Christmas under a Cranberry Sky will definitely be added to my shelf of most favourite Christmas books. If you are searching for a novel to get you in the festive spirt, look no further – this one is perfect!

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All options are entirely my own.