BLOG TOUR ~ Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley

Title - Appleby Farm
Author - Cathy Bramley
Publication Date - August 13th 2015
Publisher - Corgi
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 480

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She's been happy working at the cafe round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.

Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything...

The farm is in financial trouble, and its taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.

Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?

I'm going to begin my review of Appleby Farm with a list of things that can comfort and soothe me in the same way which Cathy Bramley so effortlessly achieves:
1.) Nothing.
2.) Nothing.
3.) Nothing.

That's right, folks. Nothing! 
Okay, so perhaps that's a tiny exaggeration, because cups of tea and cosy pyjamas sort-of have the same effect on me, but if we're talking strictly book-wise then my answer remains the same. Nothing

I was first introduced to Cathy Bramley's 'authorly magic' last year when I delved into her gorgeous story Ivy Lane and then, earlier this year, I read Conditional Love. I think it's fair to say that I have been completely and utterly beneath Bramley's story-telling spell ever since. I knew without a doubt that I'd be lapping up every future story that Cathy had to offer and that is still very much the case with Wickham Hall currently in the process of being released in four-parts. Now, having read and adored Appleby Farm, I feel like my Cath-o-meter is full once more! (Is that weird? It does sound a bit weird, doesn't it? Sorry, Cathy.) Anyway, I digress. What I'm saying is, I adore Cathy's work. Everything that I have read by this author has left me massively impressed, so much so that if there were a way to pre-order all of the forthcoming books by Bramley, I'd do so in a heartbeat. Cathy writes with warmth, heart and feeling, displaying beautifully all of the things that her characters, and readers, hold dear to their hearts. I'm talking families, relationships, money issues, and real, true-to-life dilemmas that we all experience at one point or another in our own lives. Despite Cathy's stories leaving me in a warm, snuggly and satisfied afterglow, the author ensures that her characters aren't always on a straight and narrow road. While problems crop up, her characters deal with them, and their emotions, in the realest way possible so no circumstances ever feel as if they are too far fetched. I always finish Cathy's books with a burst of positivity that completely overwhelms me, because no matter what her characters are faced with, they do whatever they can to overcome their problems, with the help of family, friends and, most importantly, courage. Cathy writes real life, but with the most delicate and delicious touch that I can never get enough. She doesn't sugar-coat, but you finish Bramley's books feeling as if you can conquer anything and everything. The pages are full of delightful descriptions, precious imagery and charming characters that win me over constantly. The way Cathy refers to the most simplest of things, from the clouds to the chickens, there's such a champion style to the author's choice of words that transports me from wherever I am at the time to the beautiful location being built up from within the pages. If possible, I'd wrap myself up in Cathy Bramley's words and wear them like the prettiest dress you ever did see!

As the story within Appleby Farm unravels, we're introduced to a brand new heroine who goes by the name of Freya Moorcroft, who, by the way, I adored immediately (not surprising in the slightest!). Freya has an absolute heart of gold and is fiercely loyal, just the type of woman I admire. Her relationship with Charlie, who we first stumble across in Ivy Lane, seems to be going fantastically well, but she's growing restless, which is something we learn about Freya's character early on. She's ambitious and loves life, and enjoys trying new and exciting opportunities. It seems though, that her path has already been made up for her when Freya receives a phone-call from her Aunty Sue, calling her back to Appleby Farm where she grew up. Due to Freya's lovely Uncle Arthur having a pretty scary accident, things turn topsy-turvy, but it's clear that no convincing is needed. She's off back to the place she spent her childhood and, put simply, there really is no stopping Freya once she puts her mind to something! She's a whirlwind of possibility, a beautiful force of nature with wild, red hair and naughty, green eyes, and a whole lot of adventure bundled up into her pretty mind. Despite the things that Freya would rather not leave behind, she knows that she can't turn away from her Aunty Sue's plea for help so there's no point trying to fight it. This is truly where Freya's love and passion for Appleby Farm becomes evident, and I was almost as excited as the heroine herself for the journey back home. That is, after all, how Freya looks upon the place, because Appleby Farm were the most happiest and joyful days of her childhood. The anticipation for Freya to arrive back at Appleby Farm was unbearable. I couldn't wait to arrive and see all of the things that Freya adored so much, from the chickens and the horses, to her most-loved family members. It was all so captivating and irrepressibly charming, even the farmyard animals worked their magic on me, and it didn't take me long to fall in love with Appleby Farm too. As mentioned above, Cathy's descriptions really are second to none. The setting felt so real to me and brought all of my senses to life. The smells of the farm, the sounds and the sights all came into play, making this one hell of a read and so brilliantly enjoyable.

Appleby Farm, without a doubt, had it all. A captivating plot with twists and turns galore, a wonderfully colourful and engaging cast of characters who each held something special and unique, making me feel that little bit closer to them, an absolutely stunning setting, a whole bucket-load of dilemmas and that one-of-a-kind Cathy Bramley sparkle that captures my attention completely from the very first page to the very last. I loved every single aspect of this story, rooting for Freya from the get-go, and cheering her on right the way through. There were moments of tenderness, moments of glee, moments of joy and relief, and all together, they worked to charm me completely as Cathy Bramley does so easily. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph. I just cannot put into words how much I adore this author, and Appleby Farm is another to add to my 'will always love' list, just like I've done with Bramley's previous books. 

All in all, another complete triumph from Cathy Bramley, encapsulating all of the most beautiful parts of life that make it such a memorable experience, very much like reading one of Cathy's novels. I think it's safe to say that this is receiving only the highest rating from Becca's Books, and that's FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! I'll be following Cathy's novels for a very long time, that's for sure, because I can't imagine our bookish world without Cathy Bramley being a part of it.

*Special thanks to Cathy Bramley and Transworld for providing me with a physical copy of Appleby Farm in exchange for a fair and honest review*

After four years of flinging herself round the dancefloors of Nottingham's nightspots, British author Cathy Bramley somehow managed to get an honour's degree in business. She then plunged herself into the corporate world of marketing, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears until deciding in 1995 to set up her own marketing agency.

She now lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl.

Random facts about Cathy Bramley:
Lucky charm: pottery frog out of a Christmas cracker
Favourite tipple: Polish cherry vodka 
Best ever Christmas present: Potter's Wheel (toy version)
Hates the expression: Compliments to the chef

You can find Cathy Bramley on Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Catch up with the rest of the Appleby Farm blog tour!




Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse

"I've got a feeling nothing is going to be the same after today."

Title - Without a Trace
Author - Lesley Pearse
Publicaton Date - August 13th 2015
Publisher - Penguin
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 416

The blurb

Coronation Day, 1953.

In the Somerset village of Sawbridge, young shopkeeper Molly Heywood slips away from the celebrations to her friend's cottage and makes a shocking discovery: Cassie is dead and her six-year-old daughter Petal has vanished without a trace.

In her grief, Molly seeks help from her childhood friend George, now the village policeman, but no one can find Petal. The only clue is a letter from London, where Cassie once lived. Despite George's reluctance and her growing feelings for him, Molly resolves to go to London in the hope of discovering the missing child.

Arriving in the big city, Molly quickly learns it's a dangerous place for a country girl on her own. But there's hope too - in the Blitz-ruined East End, she unexpectedly finds friendship with strangers from Cassie's past and, with handsome, mysterious workman Charley, the possibility of something more.

However, the closer Molly gets to the truth, the more perilous her journey becomes. She has given up everything - her home, happiness and a chance at love - all to find Petal. 
But is she also risking her life?

Becca's thoughts

Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse was a highly evocative novel, draped in mystery and positively brimming with fierce desperation, powerful love and utter triumph. This is the first novel by this author that I have had the pleasure of reading and I'm thrilled to announce that it certainly won't be the last. I was taken on such a twisting, turning journey throughout my reading of Without a Trace, wrung completely of emotion and breath, so much so that I felt like I'd lived the entire nightmare right beside Molly Heywood, Lesley's heroine within this tale. It was dark, it was mysterious, and it was everything that I, as a reader, normally wouldn't go for, but I seem to be surprising myself more and more just lately and it is such a fantastic feeling when you come across a brand new author and learn that you now have a backlog of their books, as well as any future releases, to look forward to. It is fair to say that after reading this, I will be keeping my bookish eyes peeled for more book news from Lesley Pearse.

 Molly Heywood's journey begins on Coronation Day, 1953. Right from the moment I was introduced to Molly, I warmed to her immediately. Despite having a far from perfect home life, Molly was a young woman who had a heart of gold and she was beautifully loyal too. As Lesley began to unravel the bits and pieces that made up Molly's past and background, I just knew that she was going to be a character who I would be behind throughout the entirety of this novel, agreeing with the choices she made because she had such a good head on her shoulders. Despite the Coronation Day celebrations, Lesley adds such a foreboding tone to her storytelling and it becomes evident that something just doesn't feel right to Molly. Her friend, Cassie, and her daughter, Petal, haven't turned up for the celebrations, and Molly detects right away that something is wrong, which in turns prompts her to grab hold of her bicycle and race through the driving rain to Stone Cottage to see what is going on. Molly is shocked by what she finds, as was I, and chilled to the bone when she realises that Petal is nowhere to be seen or found. This, dear readers, was the moment this glorious novel spiralled out of control and threw me head-first into a tangled web of secrets so expertly weaved, it was impossible to put down for a single moment, and I loved every single second of it.

Lesley Pearse is incredibly skilled when it comes to writing dank atmospheres, dreary circumstances and horrifying turns of events, and I was transported to the dark streets alongside Molly as she tried to find her way. I was absolutely gripped as Molly's journey of discovery progressed, and the things that this poor young woman had to overcome, all for the love of Cassie and Petal. It was clear that Molly's loyalty went far beyond the usual call of friendship and this just made me love her all the more. Of course, along the way, Molly stumbles upon a fantastic array of characters who either help or stop her in her tracks in some way or other, as well as love interests who aren't all they first appear to me. Not forgetting the exciting job opportunities that help her in her search.  

I absolutely loved Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse. It was mysterious, dark and deceptive at times, and throughout, ultimately gripping. I was constantly on edge, waiting for the next clue to be revealed to me, as well as Molly, and found myself holding my breath on more than one occasion. There were so many topics to hold my interest, not just the search for Cassie and Petal, and so with so much going on, I read eagerly right the way through. From Molly's life behind doors with her timid mother and bully of a father, to her best friend George who is now the local policeman. Lesley Pearse delivered a striking story with just the perfect amount of history and mystery to keep me turning those pages. Despite this not being my usual choice of genre to read, I'm thrilled that I didn't let this brilliant novel slip by without diving in and discovering myself a brand new author who I utterly loved!

Becca's Books is awarding Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse with FIVE FANTASTIC CUPCAKES! My only advice to you is, if like me you haven't read anything by this author before, then do it! Lesley Pearse is an author to add to your MUST-BUY list, for sure.

*Special thanks to Lesley Pearse and Penguin UK for providing me with a physical copy of Without a Trace in exchange for a fair and honest review*