Sunday, October 30, 2022

Book review of A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft

French Village Diaries book review A White Christmas on Winter Street Sue Moorcroft
A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft


A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft

When Sky Terran returns to the village of Middledip after losing the job she loves, she anticipates a quiet Christmas getting used to her new life. However, the annual street decoration competition is coming up and this year, the residents of Winter Street are determined to win.

 

As she is pulled into the preparations, Sky quickly grows to love the quirky, tight-knit community she is now part of. Including the extremely handsome Daz, who soon becomes more than just a friendly neighbour.

 

But when Daz’s ex turns up determined to win him back and it seems he might not be the man Sky thought he was, she remembers how much allowing people into her life – and heart – can hurt. As the snow falls, will she and Daz find a way through – and help win a Christmas victory for Winter Street?


 

French Village Diaries book review A White Christmas on Winter Street Sue Moorcroft
A White Christmas at Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft

 

My Review

I’m not very Christmassy at the best of times and never normally in October, however, over the last few years one of the things I’ve come to look forward to is reading Sue Moorcroft’s latest Christmas novel set in Middledip, Cambridgeshire and this one is another winner.

 

A White Christmas on Winter Street introduces us to Sky as she arrives in Middledip at a low point in her life. As the new owner of The Corner House, she is thrust into the spotlight as hers is the only house that could let down the street in the Christmas decorating competition. There is no time to slowly adjust to her new life as she is drawn into the community, despite her fiercely independent nature.

 

Sky was a lovely character, (one of those who you wish you could be real-life friends with). She is passionate about nature and wildlife, and if she can make a difference to the environment, she will. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I wanted to be more like Sky. 

 

As Christmas in Middledip draws closer, this book is full of community spirit, crisp snow and warming hot chocolate, but there are lots of tough issues for many of the characters to deal with too. These rollercoaster emotional situations added an extra dimension to the book that made the characters and the village feel real. I cried with Sky, laughed at Wilfs antics and felt safe when Daz was around. In fact, I’ve got a confession to make. I read most of this book on the drive back from a UK visit and became so wrapped up in it that for a brief moment I actually thought we were driving back from celebrating Christmas and completely forgot that husband and son in the car hadn’t been with me in Middledip – oops!

 

If you are looking for a festive read filled with Christmas magic and sparkle, with lots of emotional scenes, that will warm you like a rich and creamy hot chocolate, read A White Christmas on Winter Street.

 

This book has a (briefly mentioned) French character whose surname Sue chose from my suggestion, Moynault, which was the name of a lady in her nineties from our village who died earlier this year. Thanks Sue and Happy Christmas.

 

Purchase Links 



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French Village Diaries book review A White Christmas on Winter Street Sue Moorcroft
Sue Moorcroft


Author Bio

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has reached #1 spot on Amazon Kindle UK as well as top 100 in the US. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s emotionally compelling, feel-good novels are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers in other countries. Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.

 

Born in Germany into an army family, Sue spent much of the rest of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire, England aged ten. She loves reading, Formula 1, travel, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.

 

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French Village Diaries book review A White Christmas on Winter Street Sue Moorcroft
A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Book review of Christmas in Paris by Tilly Tennant

French Village Diaries book review Christmas in Paris Tilly Tennant
Christmas in Paris by Tilly Tennant


Christmas in Paris by Tilly Tennant

 

As the snow flutters down on the Eiffel Tower and fairy lights sparkle on the pavement cafés of Paris, meet the girl determined not to fall in love in the most romantic city in the world…

When Brooke arrives in Paris at Christmas, it feels like the perfect place to escape her heartbreak after being dumped by her long-term boyfriend. And while her head might be turned by the romance of couples strolling arm in arm along the riverbank, and the air scented with chocolat chaud, her heart remains firmly under lock and key – this trip is going to be about her.

But when a chance encounter leads Brooke to green-eyed Armand with his dark wavy hair and warm smile, she is annoyed to feel her heart skip a beat… And when he opens his heart to her in a candlelit restaurant and kisses her at the top of the Eiffel Tower, she throws caution to the wind. Armand isn’t her ex – and doesn’t she deserve a second chance at love?

But when Armand begins to blow hot and cold, she wonders if she has been taken for a fool. Why does he lie about where he has been? Who is the mysterious tall blonde French woman who always seems to be watching Brooke? And when Armand leaves Paris without warning as Christmas Eve approaches, will Brooke be able to find out what he is hiding? Brooke will need the courage to leave her own past behind if she is to find magic this Christmas…

A completely gorgeous romantic read that will warm you from head to toe and have you booking a trip to Paris! Fans of Sarah Morgan, Josie Silver and Carole Matthews will be swept away by Christmas in Paris.


 

French Village Diaries book review Christmas in Paris Tilly Tennant
Christmas in Paris by Tilly Tennant


My Review

I loved meeting best friends Brooke and Felicity. Felicity is full of life, bubbly and dynamic, and thankfully on hand to help pick up the pieces when Brooke needs it most. I felt sorry for Brooke, with her heart set on a big wedding in Ely cathedral, a break-up in the shadow of the spire is the last thing she expected.

 

As with many great romance novels, Paris is there to provide the necessary distraction and the two friends arrange to have a stand at one of the Christmas markets. There was a real touch of festive magic with the lights, the biting cold and the sweet smells, as the market at the Jardins des Tuileries came alive for me in this book. Then there were the interesting characters the girls met. Manon with her air of mystery who Felicity was smitten by and Armand, Brooke’s knight in shining armour, who as well as saving her one dark night also said the nicest things to her as they skated into each other’s arms and dined out together. As they all got to know each other, there were ups and downs, uncertainties and will they won’t they moments, interspersed with lots of humour and a generous sprinkling of Parisian magic too.

 

This is a lovely warming tale for Christmas, best enjoyed with a glass of mulled wine, or vin chaud as the French would call it. 

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French Village Diaries book review Christmas in Paris Tilly Tennant
Tilly Tennant


Author Bio

 

Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop assistant, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing. She wrote a novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and hasn't stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor and part-time lecturer.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. In 2016 she signed to the hugely successful Bookouture and is currently working on her fifteenth Tilly Tennant novel. Christmas bestseller A Very Vintage Christmas has just been made into a movie for Lifetime Channel.

Tilly also writes young adult fiction as Sharon Sant.

 

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Thursday, October 20, 2022

Book review of The Girl I Used To Be by Debbie Howells

French Village Diaries book review The Girl I Used To Be Debbie Howells
The Girl I Used To Be by Debbie Howells


The Girl I Used To Be by Debbie Howells

 

Marie Kondo for the soul.

Anna and Will have been passing in and out of each other’s lives since they were just kids.

 

Now 20 years later, Anna is married - she has a lovely house, a step daughter in university and a husband with a good job.

 

What she doesn’t have is joy. When she runs into Will it sparks something in her, a longing for the Anna she used to be.

 

Together they embark on a journey to find what brings them joy, to discard what doesn’t and to become the people they always wanted to be.

 

But in finding themselves, can they also find each other?


 

French Village Diaries book review The Girl I Used To Be Debbie Howells
The Girl I Used To Be by Debbie Howells


My Review

Having enjoyed The Life You Left Behind, I couldn’t wait to read this next novel from Debbie Howells and let’s just say I devoured it. France may only get a brief visit in this book, but it is another emotional read from an author whose words speak to my heart. 

 

I enjoyed getting to know Anna and Will through the times their lives crossed paths over the years. They have always felt a connection, but each time they meet seems to coincide with a trauma or major life change for one or other of them, resulting in nothing but missed chances for the life they can only dream of. As the years tick by, it is so easy to slip into the routine of the mundane and lose sight of what makes us happy and what is important in life. 

 

As Anna and Will grow from teenagers to life-weary adults, their maturity brings with it an acceptance that sometimes in life, the timings just don’t work, and maybe they are not meant to be. Their latest meet proves to be a catalyst that Anna in particular grasps and makes the decision to search for the happiness she realises she’s lost sight of and begin a new chapter in her life. This is a lesson we could all do with being reminded of and I loved the confidence these changes gave her.

 

The characters grew as their stories played out and despite the difficulties and obstacles, this is also a book filled with hope, love and heart-warming moments that kept me turning the pages and brought many smiles. 

 

If you are looking for an emotional read that will whisk you away from life, I can recommend The Girl I Used To Be. You might also like The Life You Left Behind and you can read my review here.



French Village Diaries book review The Girl I Used To Be Debbie Howells
Debbie Howells


Author Bio

 

Debbie Howells’s first novel, a psychological thriller, The Bones of You, was a Sunday Times bestseller for Macmillan. Four more bestsellers followed, including most recently The Vow, published by Avon. Fulfilling her dream of writing women’s fiction, she has found a home with Boldwood and her first title with them, The Life You Left Behind was published in February 2022.

 

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French Village Diaries book review The Girl I Used To Be Debbie Howells
The Girl I Used To Be by Debbie Howells


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Book review of Spring Breeze by Angela Barton

French Village Diaries book review Spring Breeze Angela Barton
Spring Breeze by Angela Barton


Spring Breeze by Angela Barton

 

Paris, June 1940. The enemy has entered the city and Matilde Pascale hopes to sink into the shadows for the entirety of the war. However, when tragedy strikes it changes everything and Matilde focuses on revenge in order to fight back against the Nazis and their heinous crimes against humanity. But life sometimes takes a bizarre twist and it seems that love has a way of infiltrating the most impenetrable of boundaries. A common purpose drives two enemies into each other’s arms and together they discover the capacity of their combined strength.


French Village Diaries book review Spring Breeze Angela Barton
Spring Breeze by Angela Barton


My Review


I have read and enjoyed many historical novels set in Paris, during the Occupation, and this one certainly held its own in this genre, offering a slightly different angle to others that I have read.

 

Matilde was an interesting character from the beginning, and I enjoyed watching her grow in strength and confidence as the novel progressed. She might have started mousy and fearful, but she soon showed she had spirit, fire and determination, despite the dangers she faced. Living in occupied Paris with its shortage of food, forced into working for the Germans and then determined to do her bit for the Resistance, danger was lurking at every corner and knowing who to trust, was difficult. Even in friendship, she found the lines between friends and the enemy were blurred many times.

 

With one of the focusses of this book being the rounding up of Jewish families in Paris’s velodrome, this was an emotional read, but it also came across as a well-researched novel. I could feel the hardships, visualise the suffering and I got a real sense of the oppression that so many had to live through, as well as the strength and bravery they found in the darkest of times. My heart was often in my mouth, willing Matilde to stay safe, intrigued to know where her war journey would take her, who would betray her and who would love and support her. Despite so many problems there was a tenderness to this book that I hadn’t expected. 

 

I can’t wait for the author’s next historical novel that will be set near the Pyrenees. If you like historical fiction, I’m sure you will enjoy this book.


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French Village Diaries book review Spring Breeze Angela Barton
Angela Barton


Author Bio

 

Angela Barton was born in London and grew up in Nottingham. She has three grown up children and loves to spend time with her eight-year-old twin granddaughters and a new baby granddaughter born Christmas 2021.

 

Angela is passionate about writing both contemporary and historical fiction and loves time spent researching for her novels. She lived in France whilst writing Spring Breeze and explored Paris and its catacombs for Spring Breeze.

 

In 2018 Angela signed publishing contracts for three of her completed novels. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, a reader for their New Writers’ Scheme, a member of the Society of Authors and also Ellipses and Ampersands’ fiction critique group.

 

Angela is busy writing her fifth novel set in France during WW2. Her next story takes us away from the capital to the Pyrenees bordering Spain.

 

In addition to writing, Angela also relaxes by making landscapes using free motion sewing on a machine and has a small online gift business at ButtonMoon Creations 

 

French Village Diaries book review Spring Breeze Angela Barton
Spring Breeze by Angela Barton


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French Village Diaries book review Spring Breeze Angela Barton
Spring Breeze by Angela Barton GIVEAWAY

 

Giveaway to Win A Parisian tote bag, a Spring Breeze notebook and Hotel Chocolat Pink Champagne chocolates (Open to Europe Only)

 

*Terms and Conditions – European entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Book review of Twenty-One Nights in Paris by Leonie Mack

French Village Diaries book review Twenty-One Nights in Paris Leonie Mack
Twenty-One Nights in Paris Leonie Mack


Twenty-One Nights in Paris by Leonie Mack

 

An heiress to a fortune, Ren’s home-from-home is the Ritz, while the handsome and brooding Sacha has grown up in Paris’s less salubrious suburbs. So when an accident brings them together, romance seems an unlikely outcome.

 

When Ren’s society engagement reaches a very public end, Irena’s over-protective grandmother wants her home in London.  Ren needs an excuse to stay in Paris, and so after some persuasion, Sacha agrees to pose as her new boyfriend. But only for the twenty-one days Ren's grandmother has allowed her to nurse her broken heart before heading home to face the music.

 

Over the course of three weeks, Ren realises the world outside her exclusive bubble is more beautiful than she could have imagined.  While Sacha reluctantly begins to see the goodness of the woman behind the wealth. When their time is up, will Ren want to return to her gilded cage, and will Sacha be able to let go of the woman he’s been ‘pretending’ to fall in love with…



French Village Diaries book review Twenty-One Nights in Paris Leonie Mack
Twenty-One Nights in Paris Leonie Mack

 

My Review


They should never have met, but when their worlds collide a bit of Paris magic begins, and it didn’t take me long to fall hook line and sinker into this rich storyline.

 

Ren was vulnerable and easy to warm to, despite her rich-girl naivety. Her enthusiasm for the hidden Paris she discovers with Sacha shines from the pages. Sacha is broody, and mysterious enough to make him intriguing. The situations they find themselves in are often awkward, sometimes hilarious, embarrassing (if her grandmother is around), but also heart-melting. The emotions in this book are complex and not always easy, but I loved every page. 

 

To begin with, I thought I had this book sussed. I quickly realised I was wrong. It was so much more than an unexpected boy meets girl romance. It was about faith, about discovery and about letting go of past traumas to realise the future is always up for grabs for those who are brave enough. It was poetry, it danced in the shadows, it shone with hope. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down, but I didn’t want to reach the end either.

 

As you would expect from a Christmas novel full of romance, Paris as a location sparkled just as much as the story and I felt like I was there, seeing it all for the first time, just like Ren. 

 

This is a book worth reading this Christmas.


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Purchase here 

 


French Village Diaries book review Twenty-One Nights in Paris Leonie Mack
Leonie Mack


Author Bio

 

Leonie Mack is the bestselling author of romantic novels including My Christmas Number One and Italy Ever After. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!

 

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French Village Diaries book review Twenty-One Nights in Paris Leonie Mack
Twenty-One Nights in Paris by Leonie Mack


Friday, October 7, 2022

The last smile - an update on life

French Village Diaries the last smile, an update on life
Dad, on his last visit to France, 2014


This blog has been neglected and I’m sorry. Looking back, I see my last Life in France post was 7thAugust, sharing a day out in Poitiers on the bikes. Summer was in full swing, with endless days of sunshine, heatwaves and drought. Life was busy and cycling was mainly just my commute to the Château, although we did our best to enjoy days out, when we were lucky enough for our days off work to coincide. 

 

As anyone whose family spans more than one country will know, when life in the other ‘home’ throws a curved ball, catching it can feel a bit like juggling two lives in two locations. Fast forward to 7thSeptember and Ed and I were in the departure lounge at La Rochelle airport, awaiting my first flight in almost six years. Our faces were glued to the window watching in disbelief as the rain poured down outside and pooled ominously on the tarmac. The plane we were hoping to board was circling above in an attempt to avoid the eye of the storm.

 

My head was already full of questions, would the rain ease, would the plane land and would we get to the UK, just added to them, and the sense of foreboding that arrives when you realise life is about to change forever. We were traveling for the saddest of reasons, hoping we’d make it back to be with my Dad before he died. The change in weather certainly reflected my troubled mood.



French Village Diaries the last smile, an update on life
Stormy sky La Rochelle, 7th September 2022


 

After almost an hour and a half, Flight Radar showed a change in the plane’s overhead track, and it stopped circling, to head south. A little bit of me accepted that if this was it changing course for Bordeaux, the outgoing flight would be cancelled and we wouldn’t be going anywhere, except back home. However, the universe hadn’t given up on us, or Dad, and as the skies cleared a little, the pilot tried once more and this time, landed successfully. As we boarded, we messaged Adrian’s Mum who was waiting for us at Stansted, ready to drive us back to Mum and Dad’s. We were on our way.

 

Despite the predictions form the hospice district nurse, who was just one of a superb team visiting daily, Dad was not only still fighting when we arrived, but also when we left four days later. The time for real conversations had passed, but he was certainly aware that Ed and I were there, and I’ll never forget the cheeky grin I got from him as I said my final goodbye. A week later, on 17th September, Dad died, in the house that has been the family home for almost fifty years. 



French Village Diaries the last smile, an update on life
Dad, 1939-2022


 

We come into this life vulnerable, helpless and needing only that those around us love us and keep us comfortable, clean and calm. When age and illness conspire and a body slowly begins to shut down, we come full circle. No matter who we are, where we come from or what we have achieved, all that is important at the end is that we have those we love around us keeping us comfortable, clean and calm.

 

In years to come, people will ask where you were and what you were doing when the news broke that Queen Elizabeth II had died. My memories will be more poignant than most as I was sitting by Dad’s bedside, holding his hand, and watching his slow breathing. It was an odd feeling grieving for a personal loss as the country was joined in mourning for the Queen.


 

French Village Diaries the last smile, an update on life
Chateau de Javarzay museum 



As I took time to come to terms with losing Dad, the seasons changed from summer to autumn. Overnight, the weather changed too, and October arrived in a swirl of heavy drizzle and gusty winds. It is now the 7th October, the tourist season is almost over at the Château, and this Sunday will be my last day welcoming visitors and sharing our superb museum experience with them. In short, there have been so many recent changes, my mind has struggled to keep up, the words I want to write lost like the sun behind an autumn morning mist.

 

Thankfully, some things never change and life in the village provides plenty of distractions. With Ed and Pearl visiting last weekend we all went down to the village library for the dictée or afternoon of French dictation. This is always a crowd pleaser (I’m not joking) and we squeezed onto a table together, our pens poised over a new page. This was Ed and Pearl’s first dictée since college, seven years ago, and they were the youngest there by decades, but they entered into it with enthusiasm and a competitive edge too. While it was obvious that I would be the one with the most errors, even I couldn’t help laughing at the hilarity my written French caused Ed (in particular) and Pearl. My problem, they have diagnosed, is that my English ears just don’t hear the difference between the spoken vowels or the silent ‘s’ that everyone else seems to hear, however having just turned fifty-one, I’m not sure there is much I can do to change that now.

 

C’est la vie !