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Book Blogger Hop – 21.02.20

This week’s book blogger hop question comes courtesy of Amanda from Give Me Coffee and Books – thanks for this great question Amanda!

What is your go-to recommendation for someone who doesn’t read often?


Book Blogger Hop

 

This is a bit of a tricky one for me because my favourite books tend to be fairly big fantasy books which might be off-putting for someone who doesn’t read much. If I was to recommend anything from this genre, it would probably be something like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere rather than, say, the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. As much as that is one of my all time favourites, the sheer size of it might be a bit daunting for the casual reader.

My other favourite genre is YA fiction, which again is difficult to recommend because a fair few people in my age group would maybe be unwilling to try something with a much younger target audience. For this, my recommendation would have to be Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, or maybe something by John Green.

I think though for someone who really doesn’t read much, I would recommend a thriller from someone like Louise Jensen or Mark Edwards, both of whom write books that are impossible to put down because you just have to know what is going to happen next. Of Louise’s books, it’s a toss up between The Surrogate and The Family as to which is my personal favourite, but all her books are great. The same goes for Mark, but The Lucky Ones was my introduction to his books, and it led me on to read all of his others.

If they were a more romantic soul, it would have to be The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper, or something by Isabella May, books that just sweep you away on a wave of emotion. I think Costa del Churros might just pip the others to win the title of my favourite Isabella May read, but I would recommend The Cocktail Bar as the best book to start with.

There are so many great books out there, and I love introducing a new author to my friends and finding that they fall as in love with them as I am.

What books would you recommend to someone who isn’t an avid reader?

 

Book Review

The Cake Fairies – Isabella May

Isabella May makes a welcome return to my blog today with her latest novel, The Cake Fairies. As you will already know, I am a huge fan of Isabella and so I was delighted to be able to get involved with this blog tour. Many thanks to Isabella, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

1960’s Somerset is no fun for cousins Polly and Annabelle Williams. Mourning their non-existent love lives, and the mundanity of village life, their only pleasure is baking – until a chance encounter has them magically transported to the bright lights of London… in 2019!

Promised a chance of love, first they must teach the people of the future about the simpler pleasures of life by becoming Cake Fairies. Over the course of a year they set off on a delectable tour of the UK, dropping off cakes in the most unexpected of places and replacing the lure of technology with much sweeter temptations.

But will their philanthropical endeavours lead them to everlasting love? Or will they discover you can’t have your cake and eat it?

The Cake Fairies Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

What can I say? Isabella has done it again! With her trademark mix of delectable food and a sprinkling of magic, Isabella May is most definitely one of “happy place” authors – you know, the ones you go to whenever the world is too much and you just need a little pick me up in book form.

As the title and cover suggest, The Cake Fairies is filled to bursting with mention of cakes that had me scurrying over to Google looking for photos and recipes to save for future attempted creations of my own. Never read one of Isabella’s books when you are a) hungry, b) on a diet, or c) both!

Moving on (reluctantly) from talk of cake, there is just so much to love about this book, from the enigmatic Amber Magnolia, to the wonder of Polly and Annabelle discovering the joys of everything that we take for granted in the modern world. As we watch the girls thrive and struggle in equal measure, it gave me a new appreciation for the choices that we have available to us nowadays, but at the same time left me setting myself the challenge of spending less time glued to my phone!

I think I experienced every emotion going as I read this book, from having a lump in my throat reading about the ripple effect of good deeds that followed the first cake drop, anger at Annabelle for some of her behaviour, right through to the joy I felt at seeing a couple of familiar faces put in a cameo appearance.

The Cake Fairies is a timely reminder that there is more in life than social media “likes” and shows just how much good can be done if we just take the time to look up from our screens. Now I just need to convince Isabella that we need a sequel because I am dying to know what happens next for Ivy, Annabelle and Polly!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oh What a Author PicIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, churros, ice cream and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s rules.

The Cake Fairies is her fifth novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour to find out more about this great book.

The Cake Fairies Full Tour Banner

Book Review

The Ice Cream Parlour – Isabella May

As you well know by now, I can never resist a book by Isabella May, and so I am over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest book, The Ice Cream Parlour. Many thanks to Isabella, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for providing me with my copy of the book.

BLURB:

Giovanna Tonioli is a successful stockbroker with a famous sports star boyfriend, but things aren’t as sweet as they seem. When life in the city of Bath goes from Vanilla to Rocky Road, she takes herself off to Italy for an ‘Eat Pray Love’ style tour of all things gelateria. What she doesn’t expect to find on her travels is one smooth, hot dollop of temptation that she just can’t shake. 

How will her spiteful twin sister react when Giovanna returns to open a rival ice cream parlour? Will Natalia get her just desserts? Or will things become even stickier? All’s fair in love, war and ice cream. Isn’t it?

*Marian Keyes meets Paulo Coelho meets Nigella*

The Ice Cream Parlour is a mouthwatering tale of fate, family, love and jealousy – with a delectable drizzle of alchemy besides.

The Ice Cream Parlour Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Order here

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say? From the delectable front cover to the mouthwatering gelato and ice cream flavours (yes, there is a difference), Isabella’s latest offering is another triumph.

I have something of a love affair with Italy, and gelato to be honest, and reading this book made me long to return. Capri is one of my bucket list destinations and reading this book just made me move it closer to the top of the list. I lived in Bath too for a short period, and Isabella’s descriptions took me right back to my time there.

They say that hell hath no fury, and this is certainly true of Giovanna. Although some of her decision making was perhaps questionable, you can’t help but fall in love with her spirit and passion. No matter what adversity she faces, she just keeps fighting back. Alongside Giovanna, there is a colourful supporting cast, each individual and beautifully developed. I loved getting to know the regular customers at the ice cream parlour, their little quirks and favourite choices of frozen dessert.

This book isn’t all about the food though. It also comes with a healthy dose of intrigue relating to a certain well known Italian family, a dash of romance, and a rather dramatic conclusion.

Isabella May has created such a strong brand with her instantly identifiable, gorgeously tempting covers, she is one author where you know you can always judge the book by it’s cover. Add to this the sprinkling of magic and spirituality that has become Isabella’s trademark in her writing, and you have another winner.

I could rave about the beauty of this book for hours and still never say enough. You really must read it – just not when you are hungry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oh What a Author PicIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, gelato, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.

The Ice Cream Parlour is her fourth novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

For more mouth-watering goodness, why not have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

The Ice-Cream Parlour Full Tour Banner

Meet the Author

Isabella May

As a massive fan of all of Isabella’s books, I was thrilled when she agreed to take the time to answer a few questions for me.

Oh What a Author Pic

The covers for your books are so distinctive, and are all incredibly appetising. How much input do you have with the design?

Thank you so much! That’s one of the loveliest things you could ever say to a new-ish author; to any author. The beauty of working with a small and independent publisher like Crooked Cat Books is the fifty-fifty decision making process on aspects such as cover art. I love the way the (almost) aerial shots of the food and drink montages hint at the comedy and chaos to come in the story – as well as the delicious culinary thread. I’d never have considered using photographic cover art before but it really does work well and my novels just wouldn’t have the same feel to them with illustrations. I mesh a lot of different subjects together and so it’s important that my books have a brand and identity to help them stand out in a very crowded literary world. Hopefully we have succeeded!

Your books always include beautiful locations and equally beautiful sounding food and drink. What would be your dream destination and culinary experience?

It may seem an obvious choice, but I’d have to plump for Italy every time. The versatility and simplicity of the food, the vast array of stunning backdrops; there’s nowhere on Earth quite like it! Every course is equally delicious. Not to forget the gazillion styles of coffee. And then the Aperol and Limoncello…

Were the café/bookshop in Oh! What a Pavlova and the cocktail bar in The Cocktail Bar based on real locations and can I have their addresses please (shh, it will be our little secret)?

Haha – I am happy to reveal all…

The café/bookshop in ‘Pavlova’ is partly a figment of my imagination and partly based on a gorgeous little den of a café/bookshop which used to exist in Bath. They served the best Frosted Banana Cake I have EVER eaten. I can’t work out why they closed down. It’s an absolute crime that the people of Bath didn’t rally together to buy the place!

The Cocktail Bar is based on a Glastonbury institution. Gothic Image is an eccentrically gorgeous shop which has been going since I was in nappies. It can be found in the High Street and I recently got goosebumps when everything came full circle and the owners agreed to stock copies of… The Cocktail Bar!

Did you learn to flamenco dance as part of your research for Costa del Churros?

I can’t dance for toffee! Neither can my husband. I won’t tell you how much money we spent having lessons for the first dance at our wedding… and still we did it wrong! But somehow we have managed to produce an eleven-year-old child who is a very talented dancer – tap, ballet, jazz, pop, musical theatre; you name it, she does it. She used to take flamenco lessons too… until we ran out of days of the week (more’s the pity). Still, I gleaned quite a lot from watching her classes and teachers in action. The rest I have learned from living in a part of Spain where this glorious art form is engrained in the culture. I won’t rule out lessons one day, but I’ll need to find a very patient teacher!

If you could have a meal with one author, alive or dead, who would you choose and what would you like to ask them?

I am a huge Joanne Harris fan but my favourite author does have a tendency to get opinionated on Twitter… so it might not be the most relaxing of dinners!

I’ll go for Nigella instead. Her cookbooks read like literary works of fiction, after all, and I would love to ask her JUST HOW she manages to adapt recipes on a whim without everything turning pear-shaped. I’d love to have the ability to cook like that.

This might be like asking you to choose a favourite child but, which of your books are you most proud of and why?

I am fond of them all for completely different reasons. But If I could narrow it down to two, then I’d say The Cocktail Bar because it was my second novel, and therefore the book which (hopefully!) proved I wasn’t a One Trick Pony. And my current WIP (book 4) because it feels like my best writing yet…

What can you tell us about what is coming next for you?

Well, book 4 is written and ready for editing. It’s another foodie adventure with a magical/spiritual thread. There may be a bit of Capri and Bath involved in this one… However, it’s off on a brand new publishing journey. All will be revealed (one way or the other!) in 2019. Watch this space…

Thank you so much for your time Isabella!

 

Book Review

Oh! What A Pavlova – Isabella May

It’s party time today as we wish a massive “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” to Isabella May, and her first novel Oh! What a Pavlova.

Regular readers of my reviews will know by know that I am a massive fan of Isabella May. If you haven’t already seen them, please have a read of my previous reviews of The Cocktail Bar and Costa del Churros. Oh! What a Pavlova was Isabella’s debut and I am so happy to be helping celebrate her book birthday. If you want to find out a little more about Isabella, head on over to my interview with her under the Meet the Author tab.

BLURB:

Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation. 

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

Oh Waht A Pavlova Book Cover

You can order your copy of Oh! What A Pavlova here.

REVIEW:

As with all of Isabella’s books, I found myself drawn to Oh! What a Pavlova by the delectable cover. Whenever I hear of a new release, it is a toss up between whether I am more excited to see what culinary masterpiece will be gracing the cover this time or to actually read the book!

Oh! What a Pavlova is a warm, funny tale of a woman who from the outside appears to have it all, the husband, the job, the travelling all over the world. However, it also highlights the important issue that domestic abuse does not only involve violence. Mind games and mental abuse can be just as damaging, and sometimes more so because they leave no marks and so the victim feels less likely to be believed. It also shows that victims are not always obvious. Looking from the outside, no one would ever believe what strong, vibrant Kate goes through behind closed doors. Despite the seriousness of this theme, Oh! What a Pavlova maintains a positive feeling throughout, and I can only imagine that it will serve to give hope to people in Kate’s situation.

I adore the foodie focus of this books, discovering new wonders with each country that Kate visits.  Kate and I also share a dream – doesn’t the idea of incorporating a bookshop and a cafe just sound wonderful!

If you haven’t already discovered the joy that is Isabella May, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to the bookshop!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oh What a Author Pic

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

GIVEAWAY:

Win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally)

Oh Giveaway Prize - The Cocktail Bar

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link 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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494147/

Book Review

Costa del Churros – Isabella May

The blog tour for Isabella May’s latest book, Costa del Churros, comes at the perfect time as I find myself sat by the pool, sipping my cafe con leche and enjoying a pain au chocolat in the sunshine. I may not have located the nearest churreria just yet, but I am a girl on a mission. Anyway, enough about me, here’s all the info on the book.

BLURB:

The rain in Spain doesn’t mainly fall on the plain…

Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina need more than the sweetness of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to save them from their unsavoury states of affairs.

Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town’s flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers?

One thing’s for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again.

You can purchase Costa del Churros here.

Costa Del Churros Cover

REVIEW:

I have read all of Isabella’s books and her writing goes from strength to strength with each new release. If, like me, you are a returning fan, I am sure you will be pleased to see a familiar face from The Cocktail Bar popping up in the cast of truly relatable characters in this book.

Costa del Churros tells the tale of four very different, but equally dissatisfied, ex-pats who are thrown together in a flamenco class led by the wonderfully flamboyant Carmen, but although flamenco and churros feature heavily, there is so much more to this book than that.

Costa del Churros is a warm, funny story of each woman’s rediscovery of themselves and their dreams, and the importance of having great friends cheering you on from the sidelines. It is an inspirational book that makes you feel as though anything is possible and that your own dreams are achievable with just a little bit of faith.

I can’t wait to see what Isabella has up her sleeve for book four!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Pic

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally)

Giveaway Prize - The Cocktail Bar

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link 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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494135/?

Many thanks to Isabella and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this tour and for providing me with my copy of the book. Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Costa del Churros Full Tour Banner