#MentalHealth

So, I have been finding over the last year or so that my love of reading has been affected by deadlines and having to read certain types of books at certain times when I would quite fancy reading something else? Am I the only blogger that feels like that I wonder?

I suffer with anxiety and depression and I can feel myself becoming stressed as a blog tour review is due in a week and I haven’t read the book yet as I am reading the book whose tour is due in a few days time. I feel bad and worry about letting down the authors and the amazing people who organise all these blog tours, as I know they put in so much work behind the scenes. My anxiety heightens these worries, to the point that I have panic attacks. I wish my brain knew how silly it was being sometimes.

It is such a pleasure to receive books to review and I have felt really honoured in the many requests that I have got and the support that readers have for my blog, but it is all becoming too much for me and it breaks my heart to say it as reviewing was a life line for me when I was going through a really bad spell of depression and I hate letting people down or giving up.

This has not been easy and I have already stopped reviewing a few weeks back for a little while and when the pressure was off my love for reading returned and  my anxiety lessened but then I felt guilty again and decided to start blogging again but on a smaller scale, however I can feel my anxiety heightening again and I need to stop worrying about letting people down and think about myself, so I can go back to enjoying reading, which has been a passion of mine since I was a child.

I hope this all makes sense and that people understand that I have to do this for myself. I need to continue to look after myself and do what is best for me. I have come a long way from the dark days of my depression and I don’t want to end up back there. I thought I needed to keep blogging as this is what helped me through the bad times but actually I don’t need to, I am much better without the pressure I am putting on myself.

I am going to continue to buy and read books and will review when I can on Amazon. I also have tickets to go to some book events to meet some amazing authors which I am really looking forward to.

I feel better for having wrote this and hope that all the people and authors I have meet or spoken to will still stay in touch.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Michelle  

A Perfect Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley

Blog Tour

The first in a gorgeous new series from the author of Summer at the Cornish Cafe.

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…

For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).

When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.

Chells and Books Review:

I would like to thank Avon for asking me to review this book and to ask me to be apart of the blog tour.

Here we have a delightful story that melts the heart.

Set in the amazing idyllic setting of Cornwall in the village of Porthmellow we meet Sam. Sam is still coping with the past hurt in her family and by running herself into the ground with work. The community are all behind her in organising a food festival which started out to safe this beautiful Cornish village from being lost from all the tourist maps, like forever and that cannot happen. Defiantly not, by the sound of the gorgeous descriptions that Phillipa Ashley writes describing the location of her story. Sam also works for herself baking and selling pies and does not have time for love, especially after being heartbroken in the past.

However, is all that about to change? In walks Gabe a famous handsome chef who is here to save this years food festival. His arrival is not all together smooth and he is in need of some real smooth talk and action if he wants to make up for the past.

A brilliant read and one I was so excited to get my hands on.

Phillipa Ashley has created a beautiful love story set on the idyllic Cornish coast. One not to be missed.!   

The Liberty Girls by Fiona Ford

Blog Tour Review and Interview

March, 1942

New mother Alice Milwood is itching to return to her job as a shop assistant at Liberty’s.

Despite her husband still being missing in action, Alice is determined to give baby Arthur the best possible start. She soon settles back into the rhythm of life on the shop floor, and the Liberty Girls rally to help keep everything on an even keel.

But when the American GIs start swarming into London, there are more complications to come. And each of the Liberty Girls has their own impossible storm to weather.

Chells and Books Review:

Firstly I would like to thank Arrow for asking me to review this book and to be apart of the blog tour. I am also very excited to be able to welcome Fiona Ford to my blog in a brilliant interview which you can find further below. Thank you so much Fiona for taking the time to answer my questions.

I adore The Liberty Girls. Having read the first in the series The Liberty Girls at Christmas I was hooked. I feel in love with the setting of the story, the characters and the period its set in. Fiona has such a way with words that she draws you completely into her story. I felt every emotion that the characters feel.

In this story we follow Alice, who is a strong women who knows what she wants from life and is determined to give her son what she never had. The American GI’s have landed in this series and Alice’s life gets complicated when she meets one certain good looking American GI. Alice’s home life is not the only thing with complications her work life soon becomes difficult. Alice and her Liberty Girls soon have to lean on each other for support.

If you love wartime sagas then this is most defiantly a book for you. I loved it and really looking forward to ready more from Fiona.

Read Fiona’s Interview below to find out more about The Liberty Girl’s.

About the Author:

Fiona Ford

As a child, Fiona’s mother used to joke that wherever there was a book, Fiona wouldn’t be far behind. With a passion for reading from practically the moment she was born, it was inevitable Fiona would become a writer. Sure enough after studying English Literature at university, Fiona became a local and national journalist before making her move to books where she began ghost writing fiction for celebrities (too famous to name, of course). One day, some bright spark suggested she write her own stories rather than those of celebs and suddenly an idea was born.

Now, Fiona’s passion for writing currently sees her penning the World War 2 Liberty Girls series for Arrow. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction for Aria under the name Abby Williams. 

She lives in Berkshire with her husband, two cats and has an unhealthy attitude towards exercise and chocolate – believing one must surely cancel out the other. If you’d like to find out more about Fiona you can follow her on Twitter @fionajourno or visit her at facebook.com/fionafordauthor.

Interview with Fiona Ford:

  1. Please, tell us a little about the next instalment of the Liberty Girls? This time around we are following the fortunes of the ever lovely, but savvy Alice Milwood. When we meet her in this book it’s spring 1942, she’s coping with a four month old son alone and believes her husband is missing presumed dead. However, she is itching to return to her job as a shop assistant at Liberty’s and soon settles back into life on the shop floor. But when the American GIs start swarming into London, there are more complications to come for Alice, Dot, Mary, Flo and Rose with each of them doing battle on the home front in order to survive a bitter tangle of secrets and lies.
  2. How much pre-planning do you do regarding your characters?  I want to say a fair amount, I have a rough idea of what I want to happen to them, but then when I start writing and we start chatting to each other (Yes I know that sounds weird but in my head these girls are so, so real), I soon discover that actually what I originally thought would happen might change. It’s really important to be flexible I think and let your character take you where they want to go.
  3. Historical fiction research must be fascinating, what research was needed for The Liberty Girls?  I absolutely love it Michelle. Honestly I lose weeks and months of my life disappearing down rabbit holes. However, for The Liberty Girls the research was very special as much of the action takes place in my wonderful home town of Bath. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city was hit by the Baedeker raids in April 1942. Fortunately a lot of the most important buildings such as The Pump Rooms and The Circus were missed, but the world famous Assembly Rooms and a lot of the residential areas were hit causing a huge and tragic loss of life.
  4. Do you have a certain place where you like to write and tell us a little about your wiring process? I have my very own writing cave – a shed at the bottom of my garden which is my favourite place in the world.
  5. What advice would you give to any budding writers? (My dream is to be published, so this is a question I am very interested in)  Michelle if you have passion for writing you’ll do it. There are three pieces of advice I would give. The first is write for you because you love it not because you’re hoping to become the next JK Rowling. The second thing is to be disciplined. Write something every day, even if it’s just for ten minutes. This will keep the story with you and ensure your train of thought doesn’t get lost. Thirdly, get used to rejection. If you want to be published you’ll need a thick skin and to get used to hearing the word no an awful lot. My view is that for every no I get, I’m one step closer to getting that yes.
  6. You are off shopping to The Liberty store, you have an unlimited budget, what would you be buying? Oh god EVERYTHING!
  7. What are your future projects? I’m currently working on book three in The Liberty Series which will hopefully be published next January and then this August I’m doing something completely different, as my first women’s contemporary novel, The Time of Our Lives will be published under the name Abby Williams so I’m incredibly excited about that.

Gloved Heart by Charlotte Brentwood

Can she ever trust again?

Amy Miller is struggling to come to terms with her new life as a mother, while being a reluctant guest in a rigid gentry household. A victim of abuse, she is determined to never trust a man again.

Henry Russell has loved Amy for as long as he can remember, but his family want nothing to do with her. A chance encounter with Amy rekindles a friendship which might save both of them.

The discovery of a secret which holds the key to Amy’s past will change them forever, and jeopardise any chance they have for happiness. Can Henry show Amy that true love will give her everything she could ever need?

Chells and Books Review:

I was delighted to have the chance to review this regency romance. So thank you Charlotte for emailing me and asking me to review.

Gloved Heart is not a difficult book to get into, it had me hooked by the first few pages needing to find out where the story was going. Amy has had a troubled start to motherhood but it is lovely to see her blossom as she discovers motherhood despite all of the set ways of the times trying to stop her. There is something truly lovely about a regency romance and Henry Russell loves Amy with all his heart and we see that by Charlotte Brentwood giving us his view point in her writing as this story is written from both Amy’s and Henry’s viewpoints. While reading you can often see moments when they should have had the courage to say things to each other but the politeness of the times gets in the way, but it makes for a brilliant love story.

This lovely romance set in regency times is perfect for fans of this genre. I adored this story.

If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

Angie has always wanted to travel. But at twenty-seven, she has barely stepped outside the small mining town where she was born. Instead, she discovers the world through stories told to her by passing travellers, dreaming that one day she’ll see it all for herself.

When her grandmother passes away, leaving Angie with no remaining family, she is ready to start her own adventures. Then she finds a letter revealing the address of the father she never knew, and realises instantly where her journey must begin: Italy.

As Angie sets out to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will mysterious and reckless Italian Alessandro help guide the way?

What others think:

‘Heart-warming, wistful and full of joy . . . Paige Toon tugs on the heartstrings like no other; this is a beautiful book about someone searching for her place in the world and finding herself along the way’  LINDSEY KELK

‘Family secrets, new horizons and a gorgeous continent-crossing romance . . . prepare to be swept away! LUCY DIAMOND

‘Warm, inspiring, like a holiday mood in book form’  MHAIRI MCFARLANE

Chells and Books Review:

I would like to thank the team at Simon and Schuster for allowing me to have a proof copy for one of my all time favourite authors.

If You Could Go Anywhere is just another example of why Paige Toon is one of the top authors around at the moment. A brilliant thought out plot, strong unforgettable characters and amazing settings. Her writing style is warm and takes you under its wing for the journey as you discover the trails and tribulations of our main characters and discover love.

Angie is a brilliant heroine, setting of to discover her family even though she has never left the comfort of Australia before. Upon reaching Italy where her journey begins we discover the rather hot sounding Alessandro and in hoping she has a friend and companion as she settles in, Angie is quite unsettled when attraction flutters its wings.

If You Could Go Anywhere has a great message about following your dreams and making them come true as you never know what might happen along the way. A truly inspiring story and one I totally loved.

About the Author:


Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America, following her racing driver father around the globe. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women’s magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two small children and lives in Cambridge.

The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest

Blog Tour Review and Interview

It is early 1940 and World War Two has already taken a hold on the country. Rose Neville works as a Lyon’s Teashop Nippy on the Kent coast alongside her childhood friends, the ambitious Lily and Katie, whose fiancé is about to be posted overseas in the navy. As war creates havoc in Europe, Rose relies on the close friendship of her friends and her family.

When Capt. Benjamin Hargreaves enters the teashop one day, Rose is immediately drawn to him. But as Lyon’s forbids courting between staff and customers, she tries to put the handsome officer out of her mind.

In increasingly dark and dangerous times, Rose fears there may not be time to waste. But is the dashing captain what he seems?

What others think:

‘Heartwarming . . . a must read’ – Woman’s Own

‘A warm, tender tale of friendship and love’ – Milly Johnson

‘A lovely read’ – Bella

Before I write my review I would like to welcome Elaine Everest to Chellsandbooks which I am very excited about being one of the authors I have been wanting to do a QnA with for some time and here she is!

The amazing Elaine Everest

Please, tell us a little about The Teashop Girls and the idea behind the story?

The Teashop Girls is the first in my new series of World War Two sagas and is set in the Kent seaside town of Ramsgate and Margate where Rose, Lily and Katie work as Nippies in one of Joe Lyon’s teashops. Rose meets and falls in love with a handsome army Captain but there are misunderstandings as the path of true love twist and turns. Her childhood friends also have problems with Katie wishing to marry her sailor fiancé and Lily finding herself in terrible trouble. Rose’s mother, Flora runs the Sea View guest house which is a haven for locals as well as the mysterious Anya.

Characters in your stories often become like family to readers. How much pre-planning do you do regarding your characters? 

I have to get to know my main characters long before I write my first words. They have to be different so as not to confuse my readers – or me! I like to see them and know how they would act under any circumstance and then, when I know them, I decide how to throw their lives into turmoil eventually giving them an ending I feel they deserve. Sometimes a character surprises me. One such lady is Mildred, who lives at Sea View guest house. She was only supposed to walk into the kitchen with a packet of fish, but she stepped into the girls lives and became a true friend.

Historical fiction research must be fascinating, what research was needed for The Teashop Girls? 

My first task was to make sure I knew enough about the Lyons empire of which the teashops is just a small part. The life of a Nippy, her training and her working day. What about rationing in the teashops during 1940 and also that of the people of Ramsgate. The first part of !940 was very much a phoney war but rumours and planning for what might happen was very much in the forefront of people’s minds on the Home Front.  I was able to delve into local history of the time, reading newspapers and non-fiction books of the period. Along with writer friends I visited second hand bookshops in Kent and found so many gems that gave me extra ideas.
I know Ramsgate well because it was where my parents took me and my siblings for our annual holiday back in the early 1960s. It was a thrill to be able to set my story in a place of which I hold such wonderful memories. I visited the Ramsgate Tunnels a while ago and just knew that when I was able, they would feature in my books. If you ever visit Ramsgate, then please take a tour to find out how these tunnels saved hundreds of lives during the height of the war. Then of course there are the Little Ships and the big part they played in bringing our lads home from the beaches of Dunkirk. I’ve studied this momentous event before, but it was a joy to revisit and recall how great our country was when people pulled together.

Do you have a certain place where you like to write and tell us a little about your writing process?

I have a lovely room that holds my books and all my memorabilia from my research as well as my desk. One day it will be straight and there won’t be boxes piled high with ‘things’ I need for my work. Often you will find me working in the kitchen on our large table, again with piles of books and notes and everything required to help me with my latest work in progress.
My writing process is one of thinking, planning an outline, visiting archives, listing required research which gradually gels to the point I can start to write. I’m a planner although my plans are fluid and often change as a write. I work seven days a week but if it happens that I need to be sociable, or I have an appointment, I simply stop work and resume when I return home. The joy of working for oneself means being able to down tools and have a day out if I please. On a daily basis I first go through my emails and post to see if there is any writing related business to complete before I start to write. At the moment I follow the Pomodoro method of writing whereby I set a timer for 25 minutes and write then take a five-minute break. I do this four times and, depending on the number of words written, or how close I am to a deadline I will have another session.

As a teacher of creative writing, what advice would you give to any budding writers? (My dream is to be published, so this is a question I am very interested in)

My advice is first not to expect success with the first thing you write. Read all the time and read as much of the genre you wish to write yourself – especially the bestselling authors. After that just keep writing. You have to love writing and reading and the writing world. Don’t be afraid to fail and try to write any genre that interests you. Good luck!

You are having a tea party and can invite three characters from any of your books, who would you invite? (I know for me 3 invitees would not be enough)

I love a tea party- any excuse for cake! First I would invite Johnny Johnson from The Butlins Girls. Who wouldn’t like a handsome matinee idol to gaze at over the tea table? I do think Ruby from The Woolworths Girls would enjoy a tea party as she so often feeds her family and friends it would be a treat for her to not have to make a cake. Finally, I’d invite Anya from The Teashop Girls. Coming from Poland she could tell us about her home country and give us her views on English cuisine. Anya if a very forthright character so it could be an entertaining meal.

An era in history that I would love to experiences is the Tudor period, as an historical writer is there a period of history you would like to go back and experience.

I would love to experience the first half of the 20th century. The house where Ruby from The Woolworths Girls lives is the house I owned when first married.  Built in 1902 that solid bay fronted, three-bedroom terraced house has survived two world wars and so many changes. For twenty years I heard stories of the past residents of Alexandra Road and the town of Erith and it would be great to go back and see it for real. I even know when a bomb dropped making a wall a tad wonky so I could take cover in the air raid shelter!

What are your future projects?

I’m currently finishing another Woolworths book to be published in the Spring of 2020 which has been fun as I get to move on to 1947 and 1948 and see what the girls are up to now that the war is over. After that I will be writing another Teashop book and the ideas are already buzzing around in my head.

Thank you again for appearing on my blog and taking the time to answer these questions? It means the world to me as one of my favourite authors. My Grandma sends her love, she has been quite unwell and struggling to read, so hasn’t managed to read the last Woolworths Girls but I will still be buying her this and will be reading to her, although she falls asleep so often these days. We have had so many chats about the characters in Woolworth girls and Grandma has related it to her life experiences from the war, so I sit there with a note pad and jot a few things down inspiration for my writing and also just to spend time with Grandma and have this great connection. Thank you!

Chells and Books Review:

Firstly, I would like to thank all at Ellen and Bethan from EDPR for organising the blog tour and Elaine for answering my questions, I cannot tell you how exciting it is to have you on my blog.

The Teashop Girls is just as good as I thought it would be if not even better. Elaine’s writing style is just perfect it truly is like a comfort blanket wrapping me up ready for a cosy journey into the 1940s. As for the characters well they are just as good as all of Elaine’s other characters from her other books such as The Woolworth Girls, strong women who become friends that you welcome into you home again and again. Very glad this is to be a new series.

The setting for this book is Ramsgate and it has really grabbed my attention, so much so that I have booked a holiday to visit the sites this very weekend coming.

In The Teashop Girls we meet Rose and her friends Lily and Katie who are all Nippies who work for the famous tea shop Lyons. I would have loved to have been around to visit one in the 1940s but Elaine captures it perfectly in her story, you can almost taste the tea cakes and sausage rolls. The girls along with their families and friends have to endure the hardship of the beginning of the war, coping with loved ones away fighting and running to the air raid shelters at the drop of a hat. What with all that and the secrets that they are keeping from each other, this is one eventful read that will keep you gripped right until the end.

I adore Elaine’s writing and her books are amazing if you love sagas then this is most defiantly one for you.

Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen

Twenty-five years after her passing, Audrey Hepburn remains the most beloved of all Hollywood stars, known as much for her role as UNICEF ambassador as for films like Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Several biographies have chronicled her stardom, but none has covered her intense experiences through five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. According to her son, Luca Dotti, “The war made my mother who she was.” Audrey Hepburn’s war included participation in the Dutch Resistance, working as a doctor’s assistant during the “Bridge Too Far” battle of Arnhem, the brutal execution of her uncle, and the ordeal of the Hunger Winter of 1944. She also had to contend with the fact that her father was a Nazi agent and her mother was pro-Nazi for the first two years of the occupation. But the war years also brought triumphs as Audrey became Arnhem’s most famous young ballerina. Audrey’s own reminiscences, new interviews with people who knew her in the war, wartime diaries, and research in classified Dutch archives shed light on the riveting, untold story of Audrey Hepburn under fire in World War II. Also included is a section of color and black-and-white photos. Many of these images are from Audrey’s personal collection and are published here for the first time.

Chells and Books Review:

I feel I have been very lucky to have been asked to review this book and to be apart of a blog to for it.

This book is a well written account of Audrey Hepburn’s life during war and I found it fascinating. I do not have a great interest in Audrey par say but I do know who she is of course and love hearing about peoples life during the war and this one especially from her parents points of view was very interesting. I highly recommend this read especially if you are a fan of autobiography’s although this is much more than one of those. It is quite inspiring. I will be finding more from this author as very interested in the kinds of books he is writing, those about people who we all know but from an area in their lives that we don’t the war years.