Heaven and Hell for the Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane

The blurb states:

Bridget Milligan has donned a uniform and joined the nursing services where she becomes intrigued with the miracles of modern medicine. She’s also torn between family loyalty, her new career and Lyndon O’Neill, the love of her life. Is it too impossible to hope that everything will come out right in the end?
Phyllis Harvey is still serving in Malta where she sees the casualties of war first hand. Finally it seems like Phyllis is blessed with true in love, but fate can sometimes be a rocky road and nothing is that certain.
Maisie Miles is left holding the home front at the tobacco factory but with the sudden death of her grandmother finds herself once more alone in the world. However, thanks to a substantial inheritance, she is able to extend a helping hand to a friend in desperate need.
There are tears and laughter, goodbyes and new arrivals along with the hope that new beginnings are not far over the horizon.

My thoughts:

I was so excited to get the opportunity to review this book as it is the fourth in the series of ‘The Tobacco Girls’ saga and living in the city where the book is set means I could really become immersed in it. Having read all the books in the series so far it felt like I was returning to see how old friends were getting on – Lizzie Lane really captures the realness and essence of their friendships and I enjoyed how characters from other books had become further developed, such as Carol. We were able to see a greater depth to her personality and the way her story unfolded in particular was unexpected – I look forward to seeing in the next book how Maisie continues to support her.

This was the most emotional book of the saga so far – it becomes clear how the realities of war really did hit home and the sacrifices that everyone had to make. The character’s lives were all affected in one way or another by witnessing the deaths of loved ones and having to face up to a future different to that which they had imagined.

I adored reading this historical saga and as I walk the same streets in Bristol that these girls did in the book I feel a further connection to them – I’m sad in a way that they are just characters in a story!

I would highly recommend not only this book but reading the whole of The Tobacco Girls series.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3fh6eJ0

Author Bio –

Lizzie Lane is the author of over 50 books, a number of which have been bestsellers. She was born and bred in Bristol where many of her family worked in the cigarette and cigar factories. This has inspired her saga series for Boldwood The Tobacco Girls.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jgshaddick/

Twitter  https://twitter.com/baywriterallat1

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/baywriterallatsea/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/LizzieLaneNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lizzie-lane

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

The blurb states:

Between life and death there is a library.When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

My thoughts:

This book was thought provoking, imaginative and emotional. I thought it was absolutely brilliant – I had mixed feelings about the character of Nora at the start; she reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant from the novel by Gail Honeyman and I thought the book may be of a similar ilk. As the story went on however I liked how Nora did learn from each experience in her alternate lives, and I was so pleased with the life she finally chose.

This book really made me think and has stuck with me ever since I finished it – I feel it has changed my outlook and positivity at a time where having a newborn baby has meant things can seem a bit cloudy! The decision that Nora chooses to make at the start of the story is one that has affected my family personally in the past, and I only wish that this book had been written sooner in the hope that the person involved could have read it and seen there is alternative outcomes to situations.

I very rarely give five star reviews, but this one is very well deserved. I will definitely be returning to The Midnight Library and reading it again.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The blurb states:

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

My thoughts:

Quite simply I loved this book. This is not normally a genre I would choose to read due to being a complete scaredy-cat, but I was completely gripped from the very first page. I loved the way the story was written from the different character’s point of views, and I very quickly formed my opinions on them! I found myself always looking out for little clues that might be dropped as to who the killer was, however I changed my mind so many times about the events that happened, which meant it was a nice surprise when the truth was finally revealed. I did want there to be a bit more information at the end on the court case- I would have loved to see some actual dialogue from the murderer to see how they would continue their manipulation of people, although I did feel that the story was rounded off nicely.

The writing is beautiful, and the creepy atmosphere of the remote Scottish lodge clearly came across with the vivid explanations. I loved the pace of the book, not too slow or too quick – it felt like you were able to get to know the main characters intimately and go on the journey with them.

5 stars from me for The Hunting Party.

The Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane

Bristol 1939.School leaver Maisie Miles suspects her father, a small-time crook, has an ulterior motive for insisting she gets a job at the W. D. & H. O. Wills tobacco factory but keeps it to herself.

She’s befriended by effervescent Phyllis Mason and kind-hearted Bridget Milligan who take pity on her and take Maisie under their wing.

But beneath their happy go lucky exteriors they all harbour dreams and worries about what the future holds.

Engaged to be married Phyllis dreams of romance and passion but when it comes there are dire consequences.

Bridget seemingly the level headed one harbours a horror of something unspeakable that she cannot easily come to terms with.

There’s great comradeship at the tobacco factory, and with the advent of war everything is about to change and even the closest friendships are likely to be strained.

‘A gripping saga and a storyline that will keep you hooked.’ Rosie Goodwin

The start of a thrilling new series, from bestselling author Lizzie Lane which follows three friends through thick and thin.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2IT11Kv

My Thoughts

I was so excited to be given the opportunity to review this book, as it is based in Bristol where I was born and have lived my whole life, and I currently teach at a school 5 minutes away from the tobbaco factory buildings in Bristol (although they are not used as a factory anymore). The buildings are certainly impressive to look at. Because of all this I instantly loved the book as I can walk along the same roads that are mentioned in the story- it made the whole world so much more real.

I adored the friendships between Maisie, Phyllis and Bridget. They all individually have their own vulnerabilities but I loved seeing the strength they found within themselves as the story developed. I kept swapping between which character was my favourite, however I think little Maisie will always hold a special place as she went on the biggest journey. Even the more minor characters were written in such an effective way that I was rooting for them all.

The impending start of World War 2 provided the ultimate backdrop for the book and the suddenness of the men having to stop work at the tobacco factory and go off to war was so real and authentic that it made the characters even more personable.

I loved every single part of this book. There were heartbreaking moments interspersed with happier times and it is not a book I am going to easily forget – it is one I am going to recommend to everyone I know that has connections to Bristol, and it is certainly one I would recommend to read if you like historical fiction, with well thought out characters who very much feel like friends. I’m so pleased that this is the first book in a series and I can’t wait to read the rest of them when they are published!

A definite 5 stars from me.

Author Bio of The Tobacco Girls – Lizzie Lane is the author of over 50 books, a number of which have been bestsellers. She was born and bred in Bristol where many of her family worked in the cigarette and cigar factories. This has inspired her new saga series for Boldwood The Tobacco Girls, the first part of which will be published in January 2021.

Social Media Links –
Newsletter Sign Up: http://bit.ly/LizzieLaneNewsletter




In Pursuit of Happiness by Freya Kennedy

‘A lovely escape that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Just what’s needed at the moment’ No1 bestselling author Jane Fallon

The world is waiting…but just outside of your comfort zone.

Jo Campbell is perfectly content in a perfectly structured life.
Nothing ever changes in Jo’s life, and she likes it that way.
Or at least, she tells herself she does.
Most of the time, she manages to push down the tiny voice that tells her to chase her dream and maybe, just maybe, open her battered and bruised heart up to love.
But to chase her dreams she needs to take chances that are way out of her comfort zone and learn to not put other people’s happiness above her own.
Most of all she has to learn to trust her heart, which may just be the biggest challenge of all.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3iISOpc

My thoughts

This book was an absolute delight and I loved returning to the residents of Ivy Lane. The start of the book begins just over a year after ‘The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Kennedy’ ended and it was great to be immersed directly back into the world of Derry and Ivy Lane….it felt like returning home to old friends.

In Pursuit of Happiness focuses on the character of Jo, who along with her adopted brother Noah (who featured heavily in the first Ivy Lane book) runs the local pub. In this book we are reunited with Jo, Noah, and Libby as well as a new characters including Lorcan and Ewan McLachlan. Jo has dreams of being a writer and this book follows her journey to try and fulfil those dreams. As someone who would absolutely love one day to write my own book I immediately fell in love with the world that was portrayed and wanted to know more. The book for me got stronger and stronger as it went on, and there was a point near the end where the character of Lorcan surprises little 6 year old Clara with flowers, and I genuinely forgot for a moment that these weren’t real people! My heart felt full to bursting at what a lovely tender moment it was.

Freya has such a real, natural writing style and I couldn’t put the book down by the end – I loved the little twist as at the start I was scratching my head as to how it was all going to work out the way I expected it would.

I think, even after reading this book, I am secretly hoping that I will visit Derry one day and stumble across a real life Ivy Lane and its wealth of characters!!

A HUGE 4 stars for this book – I adored it and I am sure that anybody that reads it will do too.

Author Bio –

Freya Kennedy lives in Derry, Northern Ireland, with her husband, two children, two cats and a mad dog called Izzy. She worked as a journalist for eighteen years before deciding to write full time. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her nieces and nephews, cleaning up after her children (a lot) and telling her dog that she loves her.

She has met Michael Buble and even kissed him. It was one of her best ever moments.

She believes in happy ever afters.

Freya Kennedy is a pen name for Claire Allan, who also writes psychological thrillers.

Social Media Links –


https://twitter.com/ClaireAllan /




Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/FreyaKennedyNewsletter

The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain.

I make no secret of how much I adore all of Heidi Swain’s books and her new one definitely did not disappoint. I was so pleased to find out that the setting had returned to the beautiful Nightingale Square….although I have loved immersing myself in all of her books and their various settings! It is so clever the way she weaves all the characters together, and it feels like the tiniest detail is never forgotten.

The Winter Garden focuses on the story of Freya, a brilliant gardener who suddenly finds herself in need of a new job after the death of her former boss and close friend. A chance meeting with Luke, who has featured in the other Nightingale Square books, takes Freya to the square and her new life begins with plenty of twists and turns along the way. I found myself wanting to give some characters some choice words at certain points when they tried to interfere! I love that as a reader of Heidi’s books we get to be reacquainted with characters that feel like old friends and it is great to find out what they have all been up to. This time we get to meet the mysterious Finn, a character that I really liked for not looking like the archetypal hero in a story – he has long flowing hair for a start!

I have always described Heidi Swain’s books as a lovely cosy read – somewhere to escape to with a blanket, a cuppa and biscuits on a cold or rainy day, and The Winter Garden definitely does not disappoint. The perfect antidote to everything that we are all going through right now.

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

This is the story of Sam and Duncan – two people both trying to start fresh and make new lives for themselves for very different reasons. They are linked together due to knowing each other before their lives took very different turns. Sam is the librarian at The Kempner School and Duncan arrives as the new principal – strict, almost-military like and hellbent on ensuring the security of the school.

This story unfolds in such a beautiful way and I would definitely describe it as a page turner – I was absolutely hooked wanting to uncover the secrets of the main characters and they were written in such a lovely way that I really found myself rooting for them and the whole school community. Sam is much more complex than she first seems and I loved the journey that she went on, coming to terms with how her health condition didn’t need to define her and most importantly learning to allow herself to be loved.

Duncan was equally as complex for very different reasons and I did get emotional when finding out the reasons for his new attitude – maybe that’s due to being a primary school teacher myself and realising how real the situation he found himself in could potentially be!

There were so many moments in this book that I found myself laughing out loud – this is due to the way the character’s were written – they seemed so real. I don’t know if it was the author’s intention to provide comedic moments but the conversations after Duncan’s hospital visit were particularly humorous!

I would highly recommend this book as a page turner with a lovely story of love and friendship at its heart.

Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan.

The blurb states:

When Flora falls in love with Jack, suddenly she’s not only handling a very cranky teenager, but she’s also living in the shadow of Jack’s perfect, immortalised wife, Becca. Every summer, Becca and Jack would holiday with Becca’s oldest friends and Jack wants to continue the tradition, so now Flora must face a summer trying to live up to Becca’s memory, with not only Jack’s daughter looking on, but with Becca’s best friends judging her every move…

The more Flora tries to impress everyone, the more things go horribly wrong…but as the summer unfolds, Flora begins pushing her own boundaries, and finding herself in a way that she never thought she needed to.

And she soon learns that families come in all shapes and sizes.

My thoughts.

I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of Sarah Morgan books and this one has more than lived up to my expectations – after The Christmas Sisters this is definitely my second favourite of her books. I love the way Sarah always explores the intricacies of family relationships and puts women at the centre of her stories – I now see that this is a theme in all her books and I love it. Although the book blurb primarily mentions Flora as the protagonist, I found myself becoming much more engaged in the stories of Izzy, and Clare in particular…..in fact I was desperate to discover more about Clare’s back story with so many snippets given throughout the story…please Sarah Morgan write a book with her as the focus!! I felt there was a very natural progression of the family dynamic and relationship between Flora and Izzy, which definitely made it all the more believable.

This was a brilliant, well-thought out and excellently written book – it has definitely got a place on my shelf of books I would read again.

The Saturday Morning Parkrun by Jules Wake.

The Saturday Morning Park Run

This is the story of two women.
One old, one young.
One looking for new adventures. One looking for a purpose.
Both needing a friend.

And this is how, along with two little girls in need of a family, a gorgeous stranger, and a scruffy dog, they bring the whole community together every Saturday morning for love, laughter and a little bit of running…(well, power walking).

Some people come into your life when you need them the most.

Author Bio

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery. 

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series. 

Between them, the two Js have written fourteen novels, The Saturday Morning Park Run being the latest.

Social Media Links –

Twitter @Juleswake


Instagram: juleswakeauthor

My thoughts
As soon as I heard about this blog tour I knew I had to take part – I am an avid runner and (pre lockdown) Parkrun was a fixed date in my diary each Saturday morning, so I was intrigued about this book as soon as I saw the title and read the blurb…..so it is safe to say I absolutely loved this story. The story starts with Claire and Ash meeting for the very first time, and I was really pleased to see how much the two main characters changed as the story went on as I did not immediately warm to them due to certain reasons! I loved the journey they went on together, and the introduction of Hilda was the perfect tonic for the whole story – despite being the oldest character I loved how she was responsible for breathing new life into Claire and Ash. Poppy and Ava were brilliant characters too and it was clever how their characters sometimes mirrored Claire’s relationship with her own sister.The introduction of the parkrun idea really moved the story along, and I could tell that Jules Wake must be an avid parkrunner too with her knowledge of it – she perfectly encapsulated the spirit of it, and as I have met some of my best friends through parkrun I could completely relate to the new friendships that were made along the way. This was such a lovely read – it left me with a lovely warm sense of positivity – I want there to be a second book! I would highly recommend this – you never know, it could inspire you to attend a parkrun when they start up again!

A highly recommended four stars from me.

The Last Charm by Ella Allbright.

Thank you to netgalley and the author for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the book: When Leila loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake. So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago…

My thoughts:

I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to read this book as I completely fell in love with it and it is a story that has stayed with me constantly since I finished it. I felt every emotion whilst reading it, some quite overwhelmingly at times and I am not afraid to say that at certain moments I sobbed. But that just shows what a powerful story Ella Allbright has written, and it definitely surprised me with the depth of emotion I felt towards characters and situations. I have discovered lately that I really enjoy reading books where the characters challenge me, particularly those I don’t always immediately warm too. It’s as if they have to work even harder to get into my affections, and the two main characters certainly managed that by the end…..Leila more so as I felt she went on an even bigger journey of self-discovery than Jake. I always got the feeling that even though we meet the two characters when they are just children, Jake was always going to turn out alright, whereas Leila needed to find more awareness of herself and those around her.

I loved the way that the story followed the two main characters as they are growing up, meaning it had to span over such a pivotal time in anyone’s life, moving from childhood to adolescence, and into the rigours of adulthood. Ella Allbright very effectively encapsulated all the emotions that everybody goes through growing up.

I would easily give this story 5 stars – particularly so for the last quarter of the book. It was such a stunning read, with plenty of twists that I didn’t see coming, times when I just wanted to shake the characters to see what we as readers could see, and for the depth of emotion it evoked in me.

I would also like to say that having spoken to the author on Twitter as well she is just a thoroughly nice person, and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

The Last Charm will be published on 18th August 2020 but I would highly recommend you preorder it now.