Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Trees

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Covers/Titles with Things Found in Nature (covers/titles with things like trees, flowers, animals, forests, bodies of water, etc. on/in them) (Submitted by Jessica @ a GREAT read) I am choosing to focus on trees for my post!

At the Foot of the Cherry Tree by Alli Parker - Listened to this on audio this year and it was really good! It is a fictionalised story of how her grandparents met just after WWII in Japan.

The Flame Tree by Siobhan Daiko - If you are looking for a WWII story set in the Pacific theatre of war, then this could be a good option.

Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak - This was one of my favourite reads of 2022.

Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr - This is part of the Virgin River series.

The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman - I have read a number of this author's books but it has been a while.

Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky - I don't remember anything about this book. To be fair, I did read it back in 2008.

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan - This is another author I haven't read for a long time.

The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay - I often think about the love story in this book.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty - I have had this book sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now.

The Cedar Tree by Nicole Alexander - This is one that has been sitting on my Kindle for a while! The description does sound good.

Monday, February 26, 2024

This Week....

I'm reading

Last week I mentioned I was reading Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See. I finished it while we were away and thoroughly enjoyed it! Because I finished it while we were on the plane I couldn't download anything new so I had to choose from any books I had already downloaded. I mean, that is still more than a hundred books but it's a narrower choice than I might otherwise have had.

In the end I decided to start reading The Paris Cooking School by Sophie Beaumont. I mean Paris and food! Sounds like a winner to me!

I also finished listening to The Inheritance by Nora Roberts. I can't really decide which audiobook to listen to next. I am sure I will find something!

I'm watching

Not much really!


We spent the weekend in Sydney which was a lot of fun. We had a few flight issues going both ways so we were a bit late landing - us and all the Swifties who were flying in for the Taylor Swift concerts that were happening this weekend.

Our main reason for going was to watch SailGP. On Sunday we were on an island in the middle of the course and so the boats were sailing very close to us. It was very cool.


We did learn though that it would be best to stay in Sydney for the Sunday night if we do it again. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare but it was still a bit angsty!

We also went to see an artist exhibition at the new Art Gallery of New South Wales. The new building was extraordinary and so cleverly done. One of the galleries is actually a WWII storage tank that has now been made into an exhibition space. For this exhibition, the Tank was left quite dark which was very unusual. As for the artist, Louise Bourgeois,I am not sure she was our kind of artist, but you don't know until you try right?

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: You Already Own That Book
Weekend Cooking: That's a Bit Strange 

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Weekend Cooking: That's a bit strange

A couple of nights ago we had a work event where we went to Holey Moley, which is a mini golf place. After having a couple of beers because it was 37 degrees Celsius outside – in other words hot! – we did our golf thing and then it was time for pizza. As conversations do when you are in a social environment, the conversation meandered from one topic to another. Towards the end of the night we found ourselves talking about weird food things.


Firstly, we spent a lot of time talking about porridge/oats and all the ways people eat it. Now, when I have oats we cook it in the saucepan (no microwave oats here) and then I have it with a little bit of milk, some pieces of butter dotted around and then sugar over the top. Other serving suggestions included just with honey, and another person suggested having it with condensed milk.


The condensed milk suggestion led to comments about just eating it by the spoonful, but the weirdest suggestion by far was to get an avocado, cut it in half, remove  the stone and then fill the gap where the stone was with condensed milk. Then you eat the avocado, you mix a taste of the avocado and condensed milk in each bite. I am not sure that I would want to try it but my husband likes both avocado and condensed milk so maybe he would like to try it!


Inevitably we ended up talking about the weird ways that people eat Vegemite. To me, any way that you eat vegemite is weird because I just don’t like it at all. I am a bad Australian!!


I am trying to think what my weirdest food thing is. I do get hung up on the shape of some food, particularly chocolate. For example, you can get Cadbury chocolate in different shapes here. You can get rolls, different size bars which all have different size squares, and to me the different shapes all taste different! For the purposes of this blog post, I had to go and buy a Cadbury roll. I can tell you, the ones that are in the packet that face towards each other taste different from the ones that are in the packet facing away from each other. I'll eat both, but when I start eating the packet I will start with the complete shapes first. 

This is a terrible photo, taken in an airport lounge while we waited for our delayed flight, but I would start eating the middle ones first because they are a complete shape!

And another thing, drinking Coke out of a can tastes different from Coke out of a glass bottle, and again to plastic bottles!! And then there is the fact that the formula for Coke varies around the world so it tastes different wherever you go!!


Recently I was talking to my husband about a particular type of lolly (by which I mean soft jube like lollies/candy). I am absolutely convinced that if you have the lollies that are in a mixed bag absolutely taste different from a bag of just the same type of lolly!


Do you have any food ideas that other people might find a bit odd? Or any weird food combinations that you love?

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Steak, baked potato, grilled broccolini and mushroom sauce
Sunday -  Pot roast
Monday - BBQ chicken noodles
Tuesday - Pork chop, mash, peas and gravy
Wednesday - Chicken Kebab, baked potato and coleslaw
Thursday - Chicken Shwarma
Friday - Airplane food

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Blog Tour: A French Adventure by Jennifer Bohnet

If I started to think about what key words there are that make want to read a book the words France, French and Paris would be right up there! Of course, there are so many books with these words that I could just read those and I would never run out. 

Vivienne Wilson is a successful author writing under a pen name. She books a trip to Antibes on the French Riviera so that she can finish her upcoming book. It also won't hurt to have some time away from her husband. Hopefully absence might make the heart grow fonder. However, he blindsides her at the airport when he tells her that he wants a divorce as he has met someone else. And then, cheeky beggar that he is, he wants Maxine to be the one to tell their grown up children. 

Despite being somewhat shell shocked, Vivienne still gets on the plane. When she arrives she meets Maxine Zonszain, a woman who recognises emotional pain when she sees it. She also meets Olivia Murray who lives in the downstairs apartment. 

Maxine found her great love later in life, and was devastated when her husband Phillippe passed a year before. She is definitely still grieving but she is also trying her hardest to still live life. But she too is shocked when she receives a letter from a solicitor which brings back the traumatic events from her past that had affected her life for years. Fortunately, her stepson is very supportive of Maxine, so she is not totally alone, but he lives overseas.

Olivia is the youngest of the trio. She inherited a florist business that she runs out of a bright pink London taxi, providing flower arrangements to a lot of the luxury yachts moored in Monaco.  Her mother in particular, really just wishes that Olivia would get a proper job and also find the right man, get married and have kids. And if Olivia can't find the right man, then her mother has an endless parade of suitable men.

Despite a rocky start, the three women soon begin to build a friendship, helping each other to deal with both their current issues and to help them to look to the future. They all have pressing issues that they need to deal with now. For one, Vivienne needs to decide what her life is going to look like. Is she going to agree to her husband's demand to sell their family home? He wants to move on, and he wants it done immediately.

The scenery of the French Riviera is integral to this book, being quite close to Monaco, but Vivienne also heads up into the hills to visit a small town to investigate her own potential French connection. 

This was my first Jennifer Bohnet, and I liked it a lot. There was one small niggle for me and that was the tendency to have secrets from the reader. I get that it was supposed to build tension, for want of a better word. For example, Vivienne finds out who the other woman is but we don't get told as readers for a number of chapters. But this is a small niggle in an otherwise enjoyable read.

Luckily for me Jennifer Bohnet lives in France and has any number of books that are set in the area!! Guess I have another author I trust with a backlist to work my way through!!

I am sharing this review with the New Release Challenge hosted at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog.

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy. Check out other stops on the blog tour!

Rating 4/5

About the Book

A French Adventure

When your old life ceases to exist, its time to build a new one…

It’s early summer on the French Riviera when Vivienne Wilson arrives for a one-woman writers’ retreat after learning that her philandering husband or 30 years, wants a divorce. There to collect the shell-shocked Vivienne is recently widowed Maxine Zonszain, who is struggling to come to terms with her empty life. To add insult to injury she receives another knockout punch with a letter from her very estranged first husband…. Florist extraordinaire, Olivia Murray, shares the Villa that Vivienne is renting. She’s content with life - but sad to add another failed relationship to her growing list and longs to meet 'The One'. Life under the summer sun in Antibes becomes a challenging time for all three women as secrets are shared, problems halved as they forge unexpected friendships and embark on new adventures. Sometimes life’s surprises turn out to be unwanted but just sometimes the ‘new normal’ makes for a happier life than the one lost.

Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/AFrenchAdventureSocial

About the author

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenniewriter1

Twitter https://twitter.com/jenniewriter

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

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

Bookbub profile:Jennifer Bohnet Books - BookBub

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: You already own that book!





Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme Bookish Superpowers I Wish I Had (e.g. never accidentally buying the same book twice, every book I buy would be automatically signed/personally dedicated by the author, the ability to read faster, etc.) (Submitted by Cathy @WhatCathyReadNext)

My list takes one of those suggestions and twists it just a bit. Fortunately, whenever I try to book that I already own, Kindle very gently reminds  me that I already own it! My list this week is therefore the books I have tried to buy more than one!

The Enchanted Garden Cafe by Abigail Drake - I have actually read this book, but that doesn't stop me from attempting to buy it again! (my review)

The Recipes for Love by Anni Rose - Food and romance. What isn't to love. And what's better than 1 book. Well a box set obviously!

The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock - I think I first bought this after seeing Kim Lock at a reader retreat last year.

The Right Place by Carla Caruso - From memory this is another foodie book. I just read the blurb again and it does sound good!

The Last List of Mabel Beaumont by Laura Pearson - I saw this book around the place last year and bought it, and then attempted to buy it again.

Champagne for Breakfast by Maggie Christensen - I have read many, many Maggie Christensen books, but not this one! Yet.

Elizabeth's Star by Rhonda Forrest - This is partially set in New Guinea in WWII, which is a very unusual setting! 

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Jessica Dettmann - I read Without Further Ado last year and loved it, so now I need to read her backlist at some point.

The Irish Cottage by Juliet Gauvin - Maybe I should read this book soon given that Reading Ireland hosted by Cathy at 746 Books is about to start.

A Rogue of One's Own by Evie Dunmore - I can't even remember the last time I read a historical romance, and yet I still keep on trying to buy this one!

Monday, February 19, 2024

This week....


I'm reading

I am pretty pleased to have finished reading two books this week. The first was A French Adventure by Jennifer Bohnet which I read for a blog tour. My review will be up in a couple of days. I also finished reading Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa. I started it a couple of weeks ago, but had to put it aside. When I picked it up again I read it very quickly and liked it, although I did think that it  ended very abruptly.

I think I now have a few days where I can read whatever I like so I started reading Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See. I am about 15% in and so far I love it! I can't wait to go and read some more tonight!!

I would like to point out that I posted 5, count them, 5 reviews in the last week! I can't remember the last time that happened!!

I do have two blog dilemnas at the moment. Whilst I always post on my Facebook page, I still, after all this time, have not quite figured out what to do on Instagram. I mean, do I want to post every post, or is it just some, or is it none at all?

My other blog dilemna is that I have been thinking about getting a new blog layout for approximately 4 years. I think my husband even gave me a blog redesign for Christmas one year, but I still haven't done anything about it. I would like it to reflect books, baking and travel. One day, I will surprise myself and just get it done. Anyone have a great blog designer they can recommend?

I'm watching

My husband has been very good since we met and always ensured that we go out for a nice dinner every year for Valentine's Day. I think it may have kind of crept up on us this year, so instead of going for dinner, we went to the movie to Anyone But You which stars Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney. We still had dinner but it was only a burger and chips from Hungry Jacks. I was very pleasantly surprised by how funny the movie was. Yes, it was a bit silly, but we did laugh out loud. It took me quite a few minutes to realise that the movie was inspired by Much Ado About Nothing! The movie is set in Sydney, and it was a good taster for our upcoming visit to the city this weekend!

One of the key songs in the soundtrack for Anyone But You is Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield, and it has been stuck in my head for days!!

Here's the trailer

I started watching One Day on Netflix on the weekend, which is based on the novel by David Nicholls. I am about half way through and so far, so good. The story starts in 1988 and works it's way through the 90s. I think I am up to 1994. Watching this is giving me lot of memories from the music and fashion, and even the fact that there was no such thing as a mobile phones yet. How on earth did we manage back in the day!!  

We also watched several episodes of a series called The Secrets of the Imperial War Museum which was really interesting. We will definitely be spending at least one day at the IWM when we are in London later this year!


I've been listening to Inheritance by Nora Roberts. Last week I listened to a section of the book where the main character tested her cooking skills by cooking a pot roast. Despite the fact that it is not really the right weather for it, I convinced my husband that we needed to make pot roast on the weekend, and it was delicious!! Have you been inspired to cook something just because you read about it? 

I was talking to one of my colleagues on Friday. She was at the hairdresser and I was like it must be about time for my cut and colour. Turns out it was last week! Ooops. Luckily I have been able to make a new appointment for Wednesday this week. I hope I remember this appointment!

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Sunday Salon: What You Are Looking For is in the Library/Before Your Memory Fades

Today I am going to be sharing two mini reviews of books I have read for this years Japanese Literature Challenge. I am half way through another and have one more to read but whether I will finish both of those before the end of the month is debatable.

When I reviewed The Kamagawa Food Detectives a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I tend to be reading books which are constructed as a series of vignettes, and both of these books fit this description.  

The first book is What You Are Looking For is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama, translated by Alison Watts, who also translated Sweet Bean Paste,which I read and loved last year.

The stories include a young woman who is working in a fashion department in a store. Tomoko doesn't want to stay working there but she also doesn't have the first clue of what else she can do. She starts talking to a young man who encourages her to go to her local library to help learn some new skills. My favourite part of Tomoko's story was when she decides to challenge herself to learn to make Castella, a Japanese cake. I think I might even try to make it.

Other stories include a woman who is working her way up the ranks at a magazine publishing company but finds herself moved into a new role when she returns from parental leave, a young man without a job and an older man who finds himself moving into a new phase in his life when he retires. In a way, each of the stories is about beginnings.

The magic in this book comes in the form of the librarian who can not only help the characters find what they are asking for, but also gives them something that they didn't even know they needed. In addition, she gives them a felted mascot to carry with them.

One thing I really liked was the way that these characters are ever so loosely connected, not in an obvious way, but still connected. They all have the library in common as well.

However, I did have one quibble with this book and that is the way that the librarian, Sayuri Komachi, is described. She is a larger lady and some of the ways that she was described were a bit....off. Maybe I am a bit sensitive to this but it was still a bit of a stain on an otherwise good read. I did see someone else comment on a similar thing recently, so maybe it is a cultural thing.

This book also counts for my Books About Books Challenge

The second book I wanted to mention is Before You Memory Fades which is the third book in the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is translated by Geoffrey Trousselot. I have listened to each of these books and I expect that I will listen to the next one too, partly because they are pretty quick and easy to listen to. I will say that one of the characters in the first story had a bit of an odd accent but luckily that was only in the first story.

This series has been a Booktok favourite for a while (not that I am on Booktok) so I will only give a  brief summary of the book. I did review the first book a couple of years ago.

The first two books are set in a cafe called Funiculi Funicula in Tokyo. This time, the location has changed to Cafe Donna Donna which is in a town called Hokodate on the island of Hokkaido in Northern Japan. It does make me wonder how many other places there may be a time travelling cafe in Japan! Whilst the location has changed, there is one character who has temporarily moved from Tokyo to Hokodate and that is the chef Nagare. Fortunately, the rules are the same for anyone who wants to travel either to or from the past, otherwise that might get a bit confusing.

  • You must sit in a particular chair in the corner and the you can't move from the chair
  • You can only meet people who come into the cafe
  • Nothing that happens in the past will change the future
  • You must finish the coffee before it gets cold in order to return to your own time

I liked the change in location. The cafe stands on a road which goes up a mountain and so you can look out across to the harbour. It sounds like a beautiful place, and be changing the location the author was  able to share different cultural events with us

Once again we have four stories that make up this book along which almost stand alone although there are regular customers who appear in all the stories. One of the cute ideas running through this novel involves a young girl who is reading a book which asks 100 questions about what would you do if the world was ending tomorrow. It's a fun mechanism to get the characters talking to each other.

Once again the stories feature people who have lost someone wanting to make one last connection. This does mean that there is a certain sameness to the stories, but I guess it makes sense because those are the people who would want one last conversation, one last chance to see their loved ones.

Before  you can sit in the designated chair, you have to wait for the ghost who normally sits there to get up and go to the bathroom. In this book, the ghost is a man who appears to have been there for years. It might be interesting to get to hear the ghost's stories, especially how they got stuck in the cafe, unable to move on.

I think for next year I will try to focus on a longer, single story for the challenge, in addition to these episodic type of books.

I am sharing this post with Sunday Salon hosted at Readerbuzz, the Books in Translation challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader, and also with the Japanese Literature Challenge.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Weekend Cooking/Blog Tour: The Secret Ingredient by Sue Heath

Sometimes you pick up a book, start reading and just know it is going to be a great read from the first page.  This was one of these books for me!!

Kate was very happy in her marriage to Eddie. He cooked for her, he made friends with the neighbours, and generally was an all round good guy, until he went out one day and never came back. Kate was beyond devestated and blindly stumbled through life for a period of timeuntil she realissed that she actually needed  to take stock of her life. She quit her job, anddecided to start by learning to cook for herself. She has her grandmother's recipe book, which includes lots of handwritten notes such as "Kate's favourite".

Whilst she is making a terrible mess whilst attempting to make lemon sugar pancakes her doorbell rings. At the door is  an older man who lives just down the street. He asks if he can come in as he remembers when Kate's house used  to be a tea house where he courted his wife. At times, Charles seems confused but Kate is intrigued and agrees to set the house up as it used to be so that Charles can bring his wife Mary for tea. Now Kate really needs to learn to cook scones if she is going to host an afternoon tea.

Soon Kate is getting to know her neighbours, sharing recipes and food, and learning just how much time Eddie had spent getting to know the people in their street and how thoughtful he was. For  example, Eddie made homemade liver treats for the dog that another neighbour, Della owns. He was just that kind of guy.

One neighbour who Eddie never met was newcomer Jack. Jack ran a very successful local restaurant  and was something of a local celebrity chef, until he suddenly closed down his restaurant and has basically withdrawn from life. Jack and Kate clash from the first second they almost meet. Everyone is intrigued as to why he has stepped away from his life as a chef and why. He has his reasons, but he is not ready to share them just yet.

Each of the characters has lost or are losing someone or something, and at times it is heartbreaking as the story unfolds, especially for Charles and Mary.

When you meet each of our main characters it would be easy to expect that this would be a melancholy read. It is, but it is also funny, feel good reading about finding cross generational, community based friendships, about new starts. I genuinely laughed out loud when Kate made pancakes and the aforementioned dog treats! I did wonder if I should try to use the recipe in the book to make dog treats for our dog but when she talked about how bad it all smelt I decided against it!! 

There was only one moment in the book, and it was a very brief moment, where Kate confessed about something that made wonder about her but other than that I really loved getting to know all the characters and learning their stories.

And the food!! Obviously this book is about a lot of things from loss and friendship but also about Kate learning to cook, how to love cooking, but also more importantly about how food and cooking can be used to show love to the people in their lives.

This is Sue Heath's first book under this name, and I loved it! I already can't wait to read whatever she publishes next. 

I am sharing this review with Foodies Read hosted at Based on a True Story and with the New Release Challenge hosed at The Chocolate Lady's Book Blog

Rating 5/5

About the book

The Secret Ingredient

She’s writing her story one recipe at a time…

‘A delicious story that wraps itself around your heart’ Evie Woods, bestselling author of The Lost Bookshop

It’s been three years, two weeks and one day since Kate Shaw’s life changed forever. Three years, two weeks and one day that Kate has been angry – with herself and life.

But today is different. Different because Kate has finally taken the step she’s been avoiding…back into the kitchen. Now, what begins as a (disastrous) attempt to make pancakes becomes a culinary journey that is not only a love letter to someone so important to her, but also an unexpected means of connection to a community she never knew she had…

Purchase Links



About the author:

Sue Heath lives in Cheshire, England. When she isn’t working, she can often be found running around agility courses with her spaniel, and in the evenings, she loves to cook and spend time with family and friends.

‘The Secret Ingredient’ is an uplifting story that explores how a sense of community, sharing, friendship, love, and a feeling of belonging can help us make sense of life, find comfort, and heal. How we can find our happiness in ordinary things.

Sue has also written fourteen USA Today bestselling romcoms under the pseudonym Zara Stoneley and has sold over half a million copies of her stories worldwide.

You can find out more about Sue on her website – www.sueheath.co.uk

Social Media Links –

Website: http://www.sueheath.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zarastoneley/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/stores/Sue-Heath/author/B0CBVHB8T5

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Butter chicken and rice
Sunday -  Nothing
Monday - Creamy Mustard Pork Chops
Tuesday - Chicken Parma and chips
Wednesday - Takeaway
Thursday - Pork Nachos
Friday - Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Friday, February 16, 2024

Blog Tour: Shout Out to My Ex by Sandy Barker

Last year I read and enjoyed the first book in the Happy Ever After series, Match Me If You Can. I already knew that I would read the second book, and I might as well declare it now.... I will be reading the next book too!

Elle Bliss is unlucky in love. Unlike her older sister and business manager, Cassie,  Elle does go out on dates, but none of the men has ever lived up to the memory of her greatest love, Leo. Elle and Leo were inseparable until he broke up with her and disappeared off the face of the earth. She has searched for him on and off over the years, but there is no trace to be found.

Luckily Elle can throw herself into her work. She is an up and coming fashion designer who is on the verge of a huge career breakthrough. A spot has opened up at Paris Fashion Week and she is going to take it, even though it will be a huge amount of work for her team to get everything ready in time.

Cassie has decided to do something about Elle's love life though. She has enlisted the Happy Ever After agency to try and find out what happened to Leo and maybe, just maybe, orchestrate a meeting between them. However, the whole thing needs to be kept secret from Elle.

As for Leo, he too is an emerging fashion designer known as Lorenzo although his focus is on designing fabulous shoes. 

Poppy, whose story we got to hear about in the last book, is back at work after her honeymoon and ready for her latest assignment. If that assignment means popping over to Paris whilst pretending to be a fashion journalist then so be it. But the assignment becomes increasingly complicated as she juggles pretending to be a journalist, trying to ensure that Elle and Leo's meetings appear coincident, and navigating the hurt feelings that are there, just under the surface

Given that Elle and Leo are both in fashion, it should be easy to orchestrate a meeting, especially when there is an opportunity for a collaboration, but Elle was very hurt, and she is also angry.

I liked Elle and Leo, and I understood why they both felt the way that they did. Leo was clearly ready to try and mend bridges with Elle before she was, but once she got past the Lorenzo persona, she did begin to see the Leo she knew and loved hiding under there. But the world of high fashion is cut throat and everyone has their own agenda, so there are plenty of obstacles that get in the way.

Now I am not a particularly fashion conscious person. I am not 100% sure I actually have a style, and my days of wearing sky high heels are a distant memory so some of the fashion stuff passed me by a little. However,  you know that I am all about Paris at the best of times, so I loved that this book was at least partially set there in the heady days of Paris Fashion Week.

One of the unusual aspects of this book was that there were two viewpoints. One was obviously Elle, but the other was less obviously Poppy rather than Leo. It was different, but it worked. It was especially lovely to see how Poppy was going given that she was the star of the first book. 

If you are after a fun read, featuring fashion and France (see what I did there) give this books a go!!

Thanks to Netgalley, Rachel's Random Resources and the publisher for the review copy. Be sure to check out other stops on the tour 

I am sharing this review with the New Release Challenge hosted at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog

Rating 4/5

About the book:

Shout Out To My Ex

Fashion designer, Elle Bliss, is unlucky in love.

She's still hung up on her first love, Leo, who ended things abruptly, then mysteriously disappeared – and a decade on, no one else can measure up.

But Elle's all-time dream of showing in Paris Fashion Week is about to become a reality, and she has no time to dwell on her dismal love life. That is until Leo – now going by Lorenzo – comes back into her life.

A celebrated up-and-coming shoe designer, ‘Lorenzo’ is nothing like the man she fell in love with. Rude, brash and with an ego the size of Paris, he’s too caught up in his own celebrity.

But as they constantly cross paths in the city of love, Elle begins to question how much of 'Lorenzo' is an act – a persona for the cameras. Because deep down, she can see glimpses of the man he was, and feelings from all those years ago become impossible to ignore…

Join Elle in the most romantic city in the world in this laugh out loud enemies-to-lovers romance, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Emily Henry.

Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/ShoutOutToMyExSocial

About the author

Sandy Barker is a bestselling author of destination romance. She’s lived in the UK, the US and Australia, and has travelled extensively across six continents, with many of her travel adventures finding homes in her books. The first in her new romcom series for Boldwood will be published in September 2023.

Social Media Links –

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Blog tour: Happy Ever After in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen


Cass Marshall has watched one of her best friends, Greta, fall in love but she knows that her chance for love is well and truly gone. She was badly burned years ago and she is not going back Although...she has always had a bit of a thing for Greta's ex, Mick, but she knows that she could ever act on that attraction. After all, Mick had a reputation for being a ladies man back in the day.

The reality is Cass doesn't have time for romance anyway. Her mother is in a nursing home. Some days she recognises Cass but most of the time she doesn't. And Cass is bearing this burden alone as her sister lives in London. What she doesn't expect that her sister will send her nephew Justin to live with her to get him away from a bad crowd.  The biggest issue with Justin really appears to be that he doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps.

Mick has now accepted that his ex Greta has moved on, so he is throwing himself into his business running a whale watching business. However, he and his brother have responsibility for ensuring that theirdad is getting adequate care, and so he too has a parent in the nursing home.

Cass and Mick keep on running into each other, especially after he offers Justin the opportunity to work with him on the boat. But Mick isn't the only man who has his eye on Cass. Her ex, a successful TV anchor, is back in town and he wants to reignite the relationship which floundered so long ago, and he isn't going to take no for any answer. 

Despite the challenges that are put in their ways, Cass and Mick find a way to begin to explore their feelings, but will their relationship be able to get off the ground?

Once again, there are plenty of familiar characters that we have met over the course of the last 9 books, including Ruby Sullivan who once again has a prediction for our pair.

In some ways it is quite bittersweet to read this final book in the Bellbird Bay series. I followed from Granite Springs to Bellbird Bay and I will definitely follow again to Pelican Crossing! We did take a brief trip to Pelican Crossing in the pages of this book.

This book counts for both new release challenge and What's in a Name Challenge. I am using this for the "double letters" prompt

Given that this is the last book in this series, I thought I would share the links to all the Bellbird Bay reviews I have previously shared 

Coming Home to Bellbird Bay

Thank you to the author and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy.

Rating 4/5

About the Book

Happy Ever After in Bellbird Bay

It’s been over twenty years since Cass Marshall’s relationship fell apart, and she returned home to Bellbird Bay. Now, although happy with the success of her beachwear business, Cass often longs for someone special to share her life.

Nursing the wounds of a failed marriage, Mick Roberts has finally accepted his ex has moved on with her life. Determined to avoid his daughter’s attempts at matchmaking, he immerses himself in his whale-watching business.

When family sickness brings the two together, Cass wonders if her life is about to take a turn for the better. But with Mick’s ex-wife also being Cass’s best friend, a seed of doubt emerges.

This doubt intensifies when Cass’s recently widowed ex arrives in town, determined to use any means to drive a wedge between Cass and Mick as he fights for a second chance.

Can Bellbird Bay work its magic again and provide a happy ever after for Cass and Mick, or are they destined to spend the rest of their lives alone?

Purchase Links



About the author –

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing romantic women’s fiction, feel good stories of second chances. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her trips to visit family in Scotland, in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. Maggie has been called the queen of mature age fiction and her writing has been described by one reviewer as like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing.

From the small town in Scotland where she grew up, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call to ‘Come and teach in the sun’. Once there, she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

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