#Author Spotlight Helen J. Rolfe & #BookReview ‘What Rosie Found Next’ for @BrookCottageBooks

This Book Review and Author Spotlight is part of a Blog Tour of ‘What Rosie Found Next’  by Helen J. Rolfe, organised by Brook Cottage Books.

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Blurb: What Rosie Found Next
Genre: Romantic fiction / Women’s fiction
Release Date: 3rd November 2015

A shaky upbringing has left Rosie Stevens craving safety and security. She thinks she knows exactly what she needs to make her life complete – the stable job and perfect house-sit she’s just found in Magnolia Creek. The only thing she wants now is for her long-term boyfriend, Adam, to leave his overseas job and come home for good.

Owen Harrison is notoriously nomadic, and he roars into town on his Ducati for one reason and one reason only – to search his parents’ house while they’re away to find out what they’ve been hiding from him his entire life. When he meets Rosie, who refuses to quit the house-sit in his parents’ home, sparks fly.

Secrets are unearthed, promises are broken, friendships are put to the test and the real risk of bushfires under the hot Australian sun threatens to undo Rosie once and for all.

Will Rosie and Owen find what they want or what they really need?

BUY LINKS:
AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

What Rosie Found Next - bookcover - KDP version

My Review of What Rosie Found Next by Helen J. Rolfe

Now and again you read a wonderful book that’s like taking a holiday. No stress, no fussing, just relaxation and enjoyment. That’s exactly how I felt when I read What Rosie Found Next by Helen Rolfe. It’s no spoiler to say that there’s a happy ending, and that’s something the reader senses right from the start, but how to keep the reader interested? It’s not an easy task to convince the reader to keep turning the pages, but Helen Rolfe succeeds delightfully. What’s her recipe? She makes sure we’re interested in the characters and the plot. I was really interested in Rosie and her life, which was at an emotional and professional crossroads, and of course, I was also interested in Owen’s family secret. It was fun to watch their interaction, from his first unexpected intrusion, moving on to friendship, and more. There were also some ups and downs to the romance and twists in the plot, mainly due to a love triangle, including Rosie’s boyfriend, and Owen’s family secret.

I loved the setting in Magnolia Creek, in Australia, including various visits to nearby beaches. It was also interesting to read about how the population prepares for and deals with bushfires. I’m impatiently looking forward to reading more books in this series.

I’d like to thank the author & Brook Cottage Books for my advance copy in return for an honest review.

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I’ve asked Helen to answer some questions about her novel and her writing process, so let’s find out more about this talented writer.

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1. What would you say to a reader to convince him/her to buy your book?

My books are an escape with the beautiful settings and love stories about characters and lives that aren’t necessarily easy. My characters in The Friendship Tree, Handle Me with Care and What Rosie Found Next all have challenges that readers will relate to I’m sure, and the books deal with heavy issues in a way that leaves you feeling uplifted. If you enjoy romance, family stories and blossoming friendships, you’ll enjoy my books.

2. What inspired you to write What Rosie Found Next?

That’s a tough question and I can’t actually remember what triggered the initial idea although I remember when I thought of it I was living in Australia and it was the height of summer. So I guess perhaps the news of bushfires in Victoria may have given me the foundations for my characters and the setting of Magnolia Creek. My ideas often start as small as that and then the characters come to life in my mind and I write a bit of a CV for each of them. This was the first book in the Magnolia Creek Series too so I did spend some time thinking about the town, sketching out where people lived, thinking of characters who may have stories of their own in later books.

3. Can you tell us about your writing routine?

I write Monday to Friday and sometimes a bit on the weekends although I have young children and so weekends are all about family time whether it’s cooking together, playing board games or going to the park or for a walk.

When I write I work during school hours which is great. The house is quiet! I generally answer emails and go onto Social Media first and then with a clear mind I can get on with my Work In Progress.

Like many other writers I do procrastinate – who doesn’t – but try to discipline myself as much as I can.

4. What are you working on now?

I’m writing the second book of the Magnolia Creek Series but I can’t say much else for now… I’ve finished the first draft and am now working my way through editing. It’s quite daunting! I can’t wait to share it with readers sometime in 2016.
Thank you for answering my questions, Helen, and I’m impatiently waiting for book two!

 

MORE ABOUT HELEN J ROLFE

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction. She enjoys weaving stories about family, relationships, friendships, love, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen spent fourteen years living in Australia before returning home. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

You can find out more or contact Helen on the following social media:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/helenjrolfe
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hjrolfe
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/helenjrolfe

Giveaway
£10 /$15 Amazon gift card

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017116/

#BookReview A Kiss From France and #Author Spotlight Susan Hughes for #BrookCottageBooks

This Book Review and Author Spotlight is part of a Blog Tour of A Kiss from France by Susan Hughes, organised by Brook Cottage Books.

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Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Release Date: 19 July 2015 p/back; 29 July 2015 e-book
Publisher: Silverwood Books

London, 1917. Lizzie Fenwick is young, ambitious, and in love. At least, she thinks she’s in love with the soldier who answered the note she concealed in a box of ammunition shells. She spends her days filling shells with TNT, and her nights dreaming of the mysterious Harry Slater.

Eunice Wilson knows the exact moment her marriage to Jack began to fracture. He refused to enlist, and their patriotic neighbours never let her live it down. Now he’s been conscripted and she can’t help but feel regret for shunning Jack before his departure.

As separate tragedies cause Lizzie to make hard choices and Eunice to cope with loss, the two women are unsure how to adjust when peace finally returns. Little do they know that an earlier war-time betrayal will force Lizzie and Eunice to confront everything they knew about friendship, loyalty, and love.

A Kiss From France is a historical fiction romance novel set in London’s East End during World War I. If you like compelling human stories, believable female protagonists, and the suspense and intrigue of war-time London, then you’ll love this heartfelt tale of two women who yearn to feel alive in a broken world.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

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My review: 4 Stars

A Kiss from France is a historical drama set in wartime London. It’s about two women, Eunice and Lizzie, who work at an ammunitions factory during the war. The degree to which both women’s lives will be heartbreakingly intertwined is gradually revealed through a tight and twisting plot.

Although the binding element in the novel is a love story between Lizzie and a soldier with whom she corresponds during the war, I wouldn’t consider this novel strictly speaking a romance. There are other major themes which surpass the love story, such as, loss, betrayal, post-traumatic stress disorder, prejudice, marriage and motherhood, all against a backdrop of the final months of WWI and the beginning of the post war economically deprived and emotionally battered England.

I was impressed by the way it deals with the trauma and desperation of those who return home from war, and the emptiness and pain of those who stayed behind and witnessed the return of men whose minds and lives were irrevocably broken. It’s about how exceptional and extreme situations, like wars, affect the lives of ordinary people in their daily lives, and influence their perception of life and love.

The author describes the toils and peculiarities of wartime England, pulling us into this powerful and moving story of unprecedented sacrifices and passion. The characters are authentically portrayed, in their despair, as well as their goodness, and struggle for survival in an unfair and cruel world. The outcome is surprising, yet unexpectedly realistic, rather than romantic.

A must read for lovers of intense novels set in wartime London.

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Susan Hughes grew up near a small mining village in Northumberland, England. When she didn’t have her nose in a book and, careless of the class and gender expectations of her upbringing, she was climbing trees, catching water boatmen in a jar from a nearby burn or go-karting round country lanes with the kids next door before taking herself off to University.

A career in the City of London during the frenetic ‘Big Bang’ boom of financial de-regulation was followed my marriage, children and a desire for a change of gear. A move to the rural West Country enabled her to raise her sons near the coast and indulge her penchant for visiting stately piles while finding time to keep up her reading habit.

After she found a handful of WWI silk postcards among her grandmother’s possessions, the romantic greeting on one of them inspired her to weave a story around its imagined sender and recipient. It became her first novel, A Kiss from France. She is now working on her second book send in inter-war London.

Contact or find out more about the author:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/su_sanhughes
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14204035.Susan_Hughes
Website: www.susanhughes.net
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/hughes7584

#BookReview ‘Those Children Are Ours’ by David Burnett

This Book Review and Author Spotlight is part of a Blog Tour of Those Children Are Ours by David Burnett, organised by Brook Cottage Books.

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Blurb: Those Children Are Ours

Jennie Bateman screamed at her daughters, cursed at her husband, packed a bag, and walked away. Twelve years later, she petitions the family court for visitation with her daughters, Alexis and Christa.

Her attorney tells Jennie that, ordinarily, she could not imagine that some type of visitation would not be granted. But, she warns, the situation is hardly ordinary.

True, Jennie suffered from a bipolar disorder when she began to drink heavily, abandoned her family, and moved in with another man. True, she has turned her life around: leaving her boyfriend, returning to school, entering therapy, taking medication, finding a job, and joining a church.

But she pressed no claim for her children when her husband divorced her, and she has made no attempt to contact them in any way. Her daughters are now sixteen and fourteen. They live four hundred miles away, and they have busy lives that do not include her, lives that will be totally disrupted by the visitation that Jennie requests.

Their father is engaged to be married to a woman who has taken the role of their mother for a decade, and neither child wants anything to do with Jennie. Alexis remembers nothing good about her. Christa recalls nothing at all.
Conflict ensues as soon as Jennie’s petition is served: her former husband does not want to share his children with the woman who deserted him; her children have no interest in knowing the mother who abandoned them, and her father believes that she is being timid and ought to demand full custody, not visitation.

As court convenes, Jennie’s past is dredged up− the desertion, the men, her drinking, her mental health − and hauled before the judge. Her claim to be a different person, now, is attacked. When the judge appears to be reluctant to grant Jennie’s request, but seems to feel that she must, her husband’s attorney suggests three trial visits, hoping that they will go so badly that Jennie will come to her senses and drop her petition.

Jennie wants to be a part of her children’s lives, but can she convince them to allow her to try?

BUY LINKS
AMAZON UK
AMAZON.COM

Those Children Are Ours

My Review (4 Stars)

Those Children are Ours is the story of Jennie, a dysfunctional young woman, who made a mess of her life due to unwise choices, mental illness, and alcoholism. Twelve years after walking out on her husband and two daughters, her life is back on track. Thanks to the passing of time, religion, and her psychologist, she no longer drinks or sleeps around. Her mental condition is under control and she is working as a teacher.

However, Jennie is still immature and insecure. She is also coping with personal problems, such as a drunk ex-boyfriend and a violent and unsupportive father. Surprisingly, she decides, or rather is convinced, that she wants to see her daughters again.

It takes her time to realize she can’t take up where she left off and expect everyone to forget and forgive how she destroyed the family she once had. Her ex-husband and his daughters’ lives have moved on, they have busy and well-organized schedules, and a step-mother and step-sisters they are very fond of. Jennie discovers she is an unwelcome and unloved intruder.

Although the events narrated are heart-wrenching, and the time period covered is long, from Jennie’s College Days to her mid thirties, it’s so fast paced and well written that it’s a pleasure to turn the pages and follow the evolution of Jennie’s dramatic and traumatic life. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I read it in two sittings. I especially enjoyed the court hearings and the realistic dialogues throughout.

It’s a disturbing, contemporary family drama, which makes the reader become involved and take sides. There are various generations and relatives involved; parents, step-parents and siblings, children, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts. It was hard for me to feel much sympathy for Jennie, especially at the beginning of the novel, but I gradually came to understand and feel compassion for her.

The author cleverly moves the narrative from, ‘Those children are mine’, a selfish cry from all of the adults involved, to a more balanced, ‘Those children are ours’, which appears on the final page. The way the characters and plot evolves to reach an unexpected, yet realistic and hopeful ending, makes the reading experience meaningful and thought-provoking.

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I’ve asked David to tell us more about his novel and his writing process.

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1- What inspired you to write Those Children Are Ours?

I generally say that I do not know the origins of my stories. I certainly cannot explain all of the twists and turns of the plots. I’ve actually posted on my blog on this very question At the conclusion of that post, I write this about the inspiration for my stories:
It is sort of like magic!

In the Second Chance Café, the author writes of a young woman who weaves beautiful scarves. They sell in upscale stores around the country and are often seen wrapped around the bodies of movie stars and celebrities. Each scarf is unique. How does she decide on the colors, the pattern, for a new scarf? She describes the process in this manner:

“I don’t know how you do that,” her father said, looking at the collection (of yarn) she held and shaking his head.

Honestly, neither did she. To this day, she could not explain how the colors came together in her mind. How one flowed into another as she sat at her loom. How the different strands of story became a whole. “I just see it. I don’t know where it comes from. Any of it. It’s just there.”
For me, that’s how it is with writing.

2- What would you say to a reader to convince him/her to read Those Children Are Ours?

As the story opens, Jennie Bateman is certainly not a very nice person.
We typically do not expect people to change. It’s a principle of perception.
If you imagine your best friend, you expect his behavior today to be the same as it was yesterday. You look for it not to be any different next week, next month, next year, or at the end of the next decade. I will tell students in my psychology classes that in a few years, they will be invited tom their high school reunions, and they will expect their former classmates to look and to behave exactly as they did on the night of graduation. And many of them will. And some of them won’t.
People can change, and Jennie Bateman is one who does. She overcomes a debilitating mental illness and she changes her life. All of my books focus in some way on the need for forgiveness. It is important to give people second chances, and third ones, too!
A second focus of the book is her illness. In the Unites States, at any rate, bipolar disorder is a frequently diagnosed condition, too frequently, some believe. Many believe that the disorder simply consists of sudden mood changes and that manic behavior seems like fun. In many cases, though, the popular view is inaccurate. Jennie’s case is one of these. Particularly in the first half of the story, the reader sees the effects of the disorder and comes appreciate just how serious it can be. Her disorder is not presented as an excuse for her behavior. It is an explanation, at least a partial one. She needs forgiveness, she wants forgiveness, and in the story, she is seeking it.

3. What are you working on now?

Currently, I am at work on two stories. One is a stand-alone sequel to Those Children Are Ours. It picks up Jennie’s life four years later, and while it has a romantic theme running through it, it deals with events that unfold when Jennie is shamed into no longer taking her medication, and the classic symptoms of bipolar disorder re-emerge.
The second is a bit different from my other books. It is a paranormal romance (if the characters are angels that makes it paranormal, doesn’t it?) that is set during the war in heaven, when Lucifer rebelled against God. It focuses on a young angel who follows Lucifer, while the one she loves stands with Saint Michael. Readers will, perhaps, recognize it as a re-telling of the parable of the prodigal son.

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Thank you so much for visiting Rereading Jane Eyre, David. It was a pleasure to read and review your novel, and take part in Those Children Are Ours, Blog Tour. I look forward to reading about Jennie four years on!