Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Walloon Ways by Valerie Poore

In 2003, Val Poore bought her dream: a barge with a garden in Brussels. With her partner, Koos, she embarked on a life of weekend residency in Belgium. For three years, they explored the lovely Walloon countryside as well as the Belgian river and canal network while they made their floating home habitable.

This collection of recollections, anecdotes and observations focuses mostly on Wallonia: its waterways, towns and rural areas, not to mention their encounters with the charming French-speaking Walloons. However, it also includes the areas around Brussels and a few not-to-be-forgotten forays into Flanders.

If you don't know Belgium, this could be the starter that gives you a taste for more!

 This is Valerie's third book of memoirs documenting her life on a barge. This one tells the story of her life as a weekender barging in Belgium where once again Val falls in love with a barge (The Volharding) that needs work done to it. Given the terrible news about Belgium I think it's good to focus on this book and the beauty of the country and it's people.

I'm wondering why I love Valerie Poore's books so much. I have never set foot on a barge and I have never heard of Wallonia. I think I've just answered my own question. I enjoy reading about places I have never been and things I have never done. I never knew that Belgium was so beautiful or housed such an eclectic mix of people. I do know that Val Poore's words could make the reader love anywhere, she even makes me want to live on a barge,as long as I had someone else doing all the hard work for me.

Val is not work shy. Her barges have called for her to be a plumber, joiner, boat painter, fixer upper and everything else it takes to make an old barge pretty as well as livable. The Volharding is no different.
Of course Val's trusty sidekick and partner Koos is always on hand to steer Val through the problems one can find living on the water.  Koos spent his childhood living on a working barge so there's no one better than him to have by your side.
We are taken on Val's week end journeys through Belgium. My favourite has to be Ghent the Venice of the north with it's waterways and bridges, I would love to visit one day.
Val is an unconscious comedienne and her books are full of her mishaps. One morning she awoke to the barge lying at an angle and found out that the water had drained through the lock and they were on a boat sitting on muddy land. Her description of trying to get herself and Sindi her slightly mad dog down a wobbly gangplank was hysterical. Val eventually had to throw a hysterical (large) dog to Koos to get her off the barge.
This book is a delight to read. I learnt about the people, the customs and about somewhere I would never have thought of visiting. I know that a boot is a barge, helling is a slipway and a ligger is a harbour resident. I had a laugh and a cry and a lovely journey around Belgium and it cost me less than a fancy coffee. Who can say better than that.
Put your fiction book aside and read a real life adventure.

Walloon Ways:Three years as a part time Belgium.  Amazon for kindle download.

Valerie Poore's other books are:
Watery Ways
Harbour Ways
African Ways

Her fiction books:
How to Breed Sheep,Geese and English Eccentics
The Skipper's Child

Monday, 28 March 2016

Blog Tour Introducing The Way We Were by Sinead Moriarty.

When Alice's husband Ben dies suddenly, her world falls apart. They shared twenty years and two daughters and life without him is unimaginable.
Having lost her parents while young, Alice understands her girls' pain. At fifteen, Jools is at that awkward age and only Ben could get through to her. And eleven-year-old Holly looks for the answer to everything in books but this time she's drawing a blank. Alice realizes that for their sakes she must summon up superhuman reserves of strength.
Somehow all three of them come through the dark days. In time, it's even possible for Alice to consider marrying again, with the girls' blessing. So when Ben turns up after three years, her world is again turned upside-down. The girls assume that their family can go back to the way they were. Alice is not so sure.
Once more Alice has to find the strength to be the mother her daughters need her to be. But this time what that means is far from clear ...

 Sinead answers a question about her book.....

Sinead Moriarty on her lead character: What makes Alice such a strong character?
Alice started out as a kind of everywoman. A busy, working mum of two in her early forties whose marriage has gone a bit stale. But then, when her husband Ben, a surgeon, decides to go to Eritrea and disappears, her whole life changes. Alice finds strength she didn’t know she had. At first she is shattered, barely able to function. The grief and loss are too much. But she has two young daughters who need her and so she has to dig deep and find the strength to carry on.
Alice is lucky to have her brother Kevin who she is very close to. He is her rock throughout everything. He is there for her and the girls and he is the one who shakes her back to life. He tells her that she can’t go on wallowing in grief because her daughters need her. He is the one who makes her move forward and helps her overcome her guilt when she meets a new man and falls in love again. Alice to me is someone that anyone could know – she could be your sister, friend, neighbour…. She is a ‘normal’ woman trying to deal with the difficult cards life has dealt her.

The Way We Were was published just a few days ago. I haven't read it yet but I'm itching to get stuck into it. My review will be coming soon.
 The Way We Were on Amazon

Check out the other book blogs on the tour ,there's something interesting in them all.


Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Glittering Art of Falling Apart by Ilana Fox

1980s Soho is electric. For Eliza, the heady pull of its nightclubs and free-spirited people leads her into the life she has craved - all glamour, late nights and excitement. But it comes at a heavy cost.
Cassie is fascinated by her family's history and the abandoned Beaufont Hall. Why won't her mother talk about it? Offered the chance to restore Beaufont to its former glory, Cassie jumps at the opportunity to learn more about her past.
Separated by a generation, but linked by a forgotten diary, these two women have more in common than they know . . .

This story takes place in the present day with Cassie and the 1980's with Eliza. We hear Eliza's story through her diaries which are found and read by Cassie.
Beaufont Hall has come into Cassie's mother's possession since a cousin who had been living in it died. Cassie has always been fascinated by the hall and why her mother never wants to talk about it.
Beaufont Hall is in a state of disrepair and has to be sold but Cassie wants to see the house and say goodbye to it. She volunteers to clear it out and this is when she finds the Diaries.
In 1978 Eliza is bored with her life and when her friend suggests a trip to Soho she jumps at the chance. Lured by the bright lights and being able to do as she likes and not as her parents tell her Eliza moves to Soho to live in a squat. The streets are not paved with gold and Eliza's time there has many up and downs and is tempted in many different directions.
I loved this story and I do not want to tell you too much about it. I found myself being mad at Eliza's parents, they should have dragged their daughter kicking and screaming away from Soho and sorted her life out. Eliza's story is heartbreaking and I wanted someone to talk some sense to her.

Cassie's story is engaging too as she puts her energy into saving Beaufont Hall but little does she know what skeletons she's about to shake in the closet.
I found this to be a page turner. When I read about Cassie I wanted to hear about Eliza and vice versa.
This is the first book I've read by this author and I love finding new authors to add to my "go to " list.

 Here is a link to Kindle at Amazon but it's cheaper from The Book Depository at £3.85 with free delivery worldwide.
Amazon uk
The Boook Depository.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Question and Answer with Manning Wolfe Author of Dollar Signs.

Merit Bridges, an attorney and widowed mother in Austin, Texas, works hard, drinks too much wine, and sleeps with younger men. When Merit goes after a shady corporation threatening her client, she encounters hired gun Boots King. His charge is simple, “Stop her!” Merit and her team – including Betty, a mothering office manager with a bad-ass attitude – struggle to stay alive, while they navigate a labyrinth of legal issues, and prove once again that you don’t mess with a Texas lady lady lawyer.

I'd like to introduce Manning Wolfe and welcome her today to Books with Wine and Chocolate. Manning is here all the way from Austin,Texas where her debut novel has just been published. This will interest those of you who love legal or courtroom drama novels and it is also the first part of a series of books so that should keep us all occupied for a while.
I asked Manning a few questions.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

One would think I write legal thrillers because I am an attorney, but it may be the other way around. I became an attorney because of the stories in my head and my ideas about fairness and equality. Those concepts are evident in all of my writing.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

When I write my first draft of a novel, I see the story in my head like a movie. I always have an outline before I begin, so when I sit down to write, I go into the scene I’m working on almost immediately. I can see colors, hear sounds, feel temperature, smell aromas, and most importantly feel the tension of the conflict of the scene.  Sometimes when I go back and re-read a scene during editing, those same emotions are re-created.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

The hardest part was finding time to write while I was still a full time attorney and raising a young man. As I’ve shared in my blog many times, my son, on whom the character Ace is based, is dyslexic. His learning disability required a lot of extra Mom time.  Now, he self advocates, is totally independent, and he actually helps me from time to time.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoyed many part of the process, but one that comes to mind is writing Betty.  She is Merit Bridge’s office manager who has a no nonsense style and sassy mouth.  She’s like your irreverent Auntie who speaks her mind and keeps everyone under her wing.  You can’t help but love her, even when she’s bossing you around.  She has a whole list of Texas sayings that are in the series and also posted on Twitter and Facebook.  People seem to get a kick out of them because they’ve been shared a lot.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?  If so, discuss them.

In Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boot King, a Goliath corporation has taken advantage of a pair of Hispanic brothers who have English as their second language. The brothers have bought into the American Dream and now have come up against an American Nightmare through the legal system. Merit Bridges, the attorney/protagonist in all of the Texas Lady Lawyer books has a soft spot for the underdog as exhibited by her representation of these men, women who have found themselves on hard times, and her diverse office staff.

If you were a superhero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

I’d be a cross between Rosie the Riveter – We Can Do It, and Wonder Woman – Girl Power. Of course, I’d wear red, white, & blue with a cape and bandana tied like a headband. Plenty of mascara and red lipstick would be good.


It was interesting to hear that the ideas of stories in your head may have led you to your career as an attorney. Time seems to be the hardest part for any writer to find and even for bloggers too. If only we had an extra day each week we could keep for writing I think we'd all be a lot happier.
Thank you Manning for taking the time to answer the questions. Good luck with your book and I'm looking forward to reading it.

On Amazon for kindle.