I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Keith Van Sickle’s second collection of anecdotes about his part-time life in France, ‘Are We Nearly French Yet?’ Like its predecessor it’s wonderfully funny and full of wry observations about his host nation and the idiosyncrasies of its people that make them so very fascinating – and French.

Keith and his wife Val continue to encounter baffling behaviour, vexing vocabulary and French frustrations of various kinds, but with good humour, slight puzzlement and impeccable American manners take it all in their stride.

I have an excerpt to share with you, and you’ll quickly see for yourselves how entertaining and enjoyable this book is.

Going To The Butcher

The first time we stayed in St-Rémy, Madame introduced us to her favorite butcher. She’s known him for decades and put in a good word for us. It helps to have connections.

But there’s one thing to know about a village butcher shop, and it’s that you can’t be in a rush. Everyone gets personal attention and takes as long as they want, which can sometimes be a long time. Val and I might walk into our butcher shop and find, say, two customers ahead of us. She’ll turn to me and say, “Ok, this will take 45 minutes.”

The shop is run by a husband and wife who take great pride in their work. When you order a piece of meat, the butcher asks how you’ll prepare it. He cuts off any extra fat, trims around the bone, and cuts it into the size you want. If you want hamburger, he takes a piece of beef, runs it through his grinder, and forms it for you while you wait. Patty by patty. And he offers homemade goodies like paté, salami, ratatouille, stuffed vegetables and at least four kinds of sausage. The butcher’s wife dishes out these prepared items and runs the cash register while the butcher handles all the cutting.

If you are a local, the butcher and his wife will take the time to chat with you. How’s the family? How are your bunions? How will you prepare the stew? For how many people?  

And then there’s the salt discussion.

“Do you salt your food?” the butcher will ask.

“Yes, but not too much,” the customer will reply.

“My doctor tells me to use less salt,” the butcher will say. “It’s because of my age, you know. But I don’t listen to him.”

“Oh, you’re just like my husband,” the customer will say. “He puts too much salt on his food.”

The butcher’s wife will chime in, “All husbands put too much salt on their food!”

Once we came in to buy a couple of slices of paté en croute (paté in a pastry) but the customer before us had just bought some. The butcher’s wife decided that the remaining log was too small to cut us two nice pieces, so she went to the back room to find a new one. That took a while. Then we decided to order a few other things and that took a while longer. Finally it was our turn to pay, but the customer after us was a very old woman and the butcher had just finished serving her. Of course we let the old lady pay first so she didn’t have to stand too long.

“Please go ahead, Madame,” Val said.

Merci,” the old lady replied. “Now where did I put my wallet…”

She fished around in her purse for a while and finally found her wallet. Then she slowly counted out the exact amount, coin by coin, and all we could do was wait patiently. When the old lady finally finished, we were ready to pay but then the phone rang—someone wanted to place an order for Sunday. 

This led to a long discussion between the person on the phone and the butcher and his wife. How many people did she need to feed? What seasonings would she use? Should she pick it up at 11:00? No, maybe 12:00. No, 11:00 would be better. Finally they settled on 11:30. And you wonder why it takes 45 minutes.

So is Keith nearly French yet? Judging by how he now knows how to correctly interact in a doctor’s surgery and has sussed out what fonctionnaires actually do (or some would say, don’t do) then he’s well on his way!

Are We French Yet?
Keith & Val’s Adventures In Provence

(travel memoir)

Release date: December 15, 2018
at Dresher Publishing

157 pages

Author’s page | Goodreads


Can Two Americans Really Become French?
Val and Keith turned their lives upside down when they quit their jobs and moved to Provence. But they wondered: Can we fit in? And maybe become French ourselves?
Follow their adventures as they slowly unlock the mysteries of France…
– Is it true that French people are like coconuts?
– Can you learn to argue like a French person?
– What books have changed French lives?
– Most important of all, how do you keep your soup from exploding?
There’s more to becoming French than just learning the language. If you want the inside scoop on la belle France, you won’t want to miss this delightful book!


One Sip at a Time Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle
is the author of the Amazon best-seller
One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence.
A lifelong traveler who got his first taste of overseas life
as a university student in England,
Keith later backpacked around the world on his own.
But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland
that made him fall in love with Europe.
With his wife Val and their trusty dog Mica,
he now splits his time between California and Provence,
delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Find the author on Facebook and Twitter
Visit his website

Subscribe to his mailing list and get information about new releases.

Buy The Book On Amazon.Com



You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!

[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to all
5 winners



Are We French Yet Banner


Digging in the garden, builder and current owner, Bill Maynard, discovers some old bones. He worries that the discovery will upset his plans for renovating and selling the house.
Fortunately, his neighbour tells him the whole area was a burial site at the time of the Black Death and finding bones is commonplace. 
“Well, as they’re so old and the museums have enough bones already, I suppose we can ignore them. It’s not like there’s been a murder and we’ve just found the body,” he justified his decision. 
But had they?
His discovery sets off a chain of unfortunate events.

My review

It turns out those unfortunate events actually started long before he moved in…

We all know the saying “walls have ears”, meaning ‘be careful because someone might overhear you’. Well, in this very original book the walls of Orchard View really do hear what’s going on! Orchard View, the house built in the 1920s on the corner plot of Hazelhurst Avenue, is a character in this story. True, a background character, but none the less very much an active presence in this book. How clever is that!

Orchard View is about to be turned into flats by the new owner Bill Maynard. Etta, the neighbour, isn’t having that, and she’s someone who’s rather good at getting her way. Orchard View pins her hopes on her being successful, because she longs to be the home for a happy family again. She’s had some nice people beneath her roof, but some rather awful ones too, and she hides some very dark secrets. Will these be brought to light?

The author presents us with some wonderful characters, modern-day and from earlier decades, and most certainly an intriguing plot. Some quite dastardly deeds take place in this quiet, suburban spot.

Wonderful descriptive writing, with plenty sharp observation, accompanies punchy dialogue. Throughout there’s plenty of humour – much of it dark – and this makes it a totally enjoyable, engrossing read. I admire the author for daring to be different and pulling it off so triumphantly.

Buy the book here: https://amzn.to/2W2oFq6

The Uncompromising Lord Flint

Imprisoned by her past- Set free by her enemy!

Charged with high treason, Lady Jessamine Fane is under the watchful eye of icily calm Lord Peter Flint. It’s a task this spy won’t be swayed from, no matter how alluring his prisoner! Only it’s not long before Flint realises that tenacious Jess hides a lifetime of pain. With so much at stake, can he afford to take a chance on their powerful attraction?

Purchase Link – getbook.at/KingsElite2

My Review

I do enjoy Virginia Heath’s books! The characters are so vibrant and the plots always so original and absorbing. ‘The Uncompromising Lord Flint’ is no exception. It won’t matter if this is the first of her books you’ve read in the ‘King’s Elite’ series as everything you need to know about this anti-smuggling initiative is explained. However, reading ‘The Mysterious Lord Millcroft’ first gives you a little more background before coming into this novel.

Our hero this time is Lord Peter Flint, who appears somewhat remote, at least to begin with. However, you have to admire his strong sense of right and wrong from which he refuses to bend. He’s put in charge of conducting Lady Jessamine Fane, who’s considered a traitor, from France back to England where she will be put on trial. Obviously, Jessamine isn’t too keen on this, and she doesn’t hesitate to use her considerable wits to attempt to escape, and this will cause her to clash with Peter many times. Jess’s back story gradually unfolds and we begin to see things from her point of view. And so does Peter. Despite everything, attraction grows between them as the action rushes towards an exciting denouement.

The author’s hallmark subtle humour, keen eye for detail and infectious enthusiasm for all things regency shine through the words of this novel, making it a delight to read.

Author Bio – When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Despite that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

Giveaway – Win 2 x e-copies of The Uncompromising Lord Flint (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Molly’s dream of taking over her childhood home at Withrin Hill Farm with husband Pip and their three children has finally come true. And, as they settle into the stunning Georgian farmhouse, with their plans to diversify into glamping nicely taking shape, the family couldn’t be happier.

But tragedy suddenly strikes, and Molly’s world is turned upside down.

Heartbroken and devastated, she struggles to face each day. True to form, her fiercely loyal best friends, Kitty and Violet, rally round offering love and support, but Molly doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to smile again. Until the day a tall, dark stranger with twinkly eyes arrives…

 Follow Molly’s story in book 2 of the Life on the Moors Series set in Lytell Stangdale, a picture-perfect village in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors, where life is anything but quiet.

A heart-warming story of love, friendship and hope.

Pre-order Links

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MJ7PPXP

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MJ7PPXP

The Talisman – Molly’s Story will be published on 4th February.

Author Bio – Eliza lives in a 17th-century cottage on the edge of a village in the North Yorkshire Moors with her husband, their two daughters and two mischievous black Labradors. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her Kindle or working in her garden. Eliza also enjoys bracing walks in the countryside, rounded off by a visit to a teashop where she can indulge in another two of her favourite things: tea and cake.

Eliza is inspired by her beautiful surroundings and loves to write heart-warming stories with happy endings.

Social Media Links –

Blog: Eliza J Scott – elizajscott.com

Twitter: Eliza J Scott – @ElizaJScott1

Instagram: Eliza J Scott – @elizajscott

Facebook: Eliza J Scott – @elizajscottauthor

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/ElizaJScott

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/eliza-j-scott

Murder in the Manger by Debbie Young


When Sophie Sayers’ plans for a cosy English country Christmas are interrupted by the arrival of her ex-boyfriend, her troubles are only just beginning. Before long, the whole village stands accused of murder.

Damian says he’s come to direct the village nativity play, but Sophie thinks he’s up to no good. 

What are those noises coming from his van? 
Who is the stranger lurking in the shadows? 
And whose baby, abandoned in the manger, disappears in plain sight? 

Enjoy the fun of a traditional Cotswold festive season, with echoes of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as Sophie seeks a happy ending for her latest village mystery – and for her new romance with charming local bookseller Hector Munro.

My review

This is a fabulous, fun read. Sophie, our heroine and narrator, is a lovely character. She’s kind, empathetic, clever and lively, and we really care both for her and about what happens to her. She has a new boyfriend, Hector, so the last thing she needs is for her ex to show up in her small village, especially when he announces his intention to stay with her. He’s going to be directing the nativity play Sophie has written for the villagers, another imposition she really doesn’t need. She shows amazing tact and resilience dealing with him, as he’s decidedly pushy. She really is a great girl!

The pace is fast and exciting, perhaps not what you’d expect from a story set in a small, sleepy village. But appearances can be deceptive, and village life is every bit as complicated as town or city living. Especially here.

This is a delightful, original, quirky cosy mystery with a warm, festive feeling and theme.  

Buy the book here: https://amzn.to/2GNIpdr

Patricia Sands on Spotlight Tour

December 15-January 15

With France Book Tours

The First Noël At The Villa Des Violettes

(women’s fiction)

Release date: November 15, 2018


206 pages




Everything was going so well in Kat and Philippe’s life together. Then suddenly it wasn’t.

Roman ruins delayed the work on the Villa des Violettes. The Russian drug gang might be back in the neighbourhood. On top of that, Kat had worked herself into what Molly classified as a full blown “Christmas conundrum.” Kat wanted the holidays to work perfectly as she blended a Canadian Christmas with a Provençal Fête de Noêl for the first time in their new home. Now she’d lost her confidence and, with it, the holiday spirit.

Philippe hoped a weekend trip to the famous Christmas markets of Strasbourg would solve everything.

As it happened, things were about to get worse.


Canadian author Patricia Sands writes award-winning women’s fiction.

Her best-selling ‘Love in Provence trilogy’ was drafted in the south of France,

where she spends time each year.

The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes is the first in a new trilogy of novellas.

Connect with Patricia


Her website has links to her books, social media, and the women’s tour she leads each summer in Provence, based on her novels.

She shares her love of photography  at https://www.instagram.com/patricialsands/

Buy the book



You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to all
1 winner



The first Noel banner




When the daughter of a cop finds a body next door, she’s the only one who can solve the strange mystery. 

Stormy Day has moved back home, and it’s not for the local coffee or nightlife, both of which are lacking in Misty Falls, Oregon. She’s there to help her father finally retire from being a cop, and slow the heck down after his hip replacement. Plus she needs to give her brain a break from the high-stakes world of venture capital.

But when she makes a shocking discovery next door, Stormy’s clever brain kicks into overdrive. This murder is too difficult for the local boys in blue to figure out. The new captain of the police department tells her to mind her own business, but he doesn’t take his own advice. He’s always breathing down her neck like a jealous ex-boyfriend (which he is).

What’s there to be jealous of? Stormy’s not even dating anyone. She’s certainly not going to date the ruggedly handsome, bearded lawyer who’s renting half her house. No way. Every time she sees Mr. Logan Sanderson, the town’s newest resident, he’s insulting her one way or another. The man should show his landlady a little more respect! He’s the worst. Sort of. It would be easier to hate him if he weren’t so cute underneath that bushy beard.

Now there’s a murder to solve, and since the legendary Finnegan Day is recovering from surgery, it’s up to his determined daughter Stormy to save the town from a twisted killer. If she fails to solve this twisted puzzle in time, someone close to her will pay a terrible cost.

My review

This is a lovely, lively Christmas-centred cosy mystery.  Stormy Day, our heroine (with a sister named Sunny and a dad who’s a cop) is a very strong-willed character. It takes a chapter or two to warm to her completely, but you soon see that’s she’s genuine, fun and sharp.

She discovers a body hidden inside a snowman – in next door’s garden. Being so close to home she feels obliged to get involved. There are plenty of the muddles and misunderstandings that are part of this genre, but they’re not hackneyed or slapstick, just very clever and amusing.

There’s an array of interesting supporting characters, an intriguing plot and plenty to enjoy in this super story.

Buy the book: https://amzn.to/2R4vS9r

Staying On by CM Taylor

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Duckworth (18 Oct. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780715653371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715653371

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Staying-C-M-Taylor/dp/0715653377/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542126065&sr=8-1&keywords=staying+on+by+cm+taylor

BLURB A geriatric coming-of-age story …

 Retired expat, TonyMetcalfe, is going through a three-quarter-life crisis. VivaEspaña, his bar in a mountain village beyond Spain s Costa Blanca, is failing. Tony started the bar for the English post-war babies who retired early on  good pensions- the por favors, as the Spanish call them – flocking to the dream ofwine, rest and sun around the pool. But now their retirement paradise is shadowed by Brexit: the pound has fallen, pensions are frozen and the property crash happened long ago.

Tony wants to move back to enjoy the remainder of his life in his childhood home, but his tenacious wife Laney wants to stay in the happy valley and forget about England and the dark, unresolved feelings it provokes in their marriage. Sod it – he couldn t go home even if he tried; nobody would buy an ailing bar during a recession.

 But Tony s luck is about to change when his son Nick arrives for a surprise visit with his self-possessed wife,Jo, and their son. With the extra help, Tony thinks things are on the up, but Jo has brought along more baggage than just their family s suitcases.

Staying On is a compelling story of little and greater family secrets come to light and what it means to find home, wherever you are.

My review

As an expat myself, although not in Spain, I’m always interested in reading books, both fiction and non-fiction, about other such experiences. This one bringing in Brexit and all its ensuing insanity was not to be missed.

 I was immediately taken by the realisticapproach of this book. Too many people imagine life as an expat is all about sitting around a pool and sipping wine. That’s far from the truth. Most expats struggle to make a living even though they work long hours seven-day weeks.This takes its toll, and it certainly has on Tony, if not quite so much on his wife Laney.

 The writing is down to earth, with lots of sharpwit and humour, but the author doesn’t shy away from unpleasant truths and there’s plenty of tension and anxiety too. Our main characters are equally down to earth and non-pretentious, although they have few hidden secrets between them.

 There are some big issues in this book, thatare deftly handled. What do you do when, as a couple, you want different things? What do you do when you’re faced with the fallout of political shenanigans way beyond your control? What do you do when your past comes back to haunt you?

 Very entertaining, this is a book that will absorb you completely.  


Writing as C MTaylor, Craig is the author of the cult Kev King novels described as‘Brilliant’ by The Sun, and ‘Horribly entertaining’ by The Mirror, which have been optioned for TV.

He’s been nominated for the British Science Fiction book of the year, and edits fiction for a well-known publisher. Craig co-wrote the thriller, Writers Retreat, which was filmed in 2014 and premiered at the Sitges International Film Festival.

Craig is an Associate Lecturer at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing, and has taught widely, often on the underlying structures of narrative, and on Born Digital Literature, a particular enthusiasm that has seen him crowdfund a literary app, as well as instigate an experiment in digital literature with the British Library.

Craig lives in Oxford where he canoes, runs and hangs out with his kids.

Twitter @CMTaylorStory


Synopsis of Adorable Fat Girl and the Mysterious Invitation

Mary Brown receives an invitationto a funeral. But she has absolutely no idea who the deceased is. She’s told that he invited her on his deathbed, and he’s very keen for her to attend, so she heads off to a dilapidated old farm house in a remote part of Wales. When she gets there she discovers that only five other people have been invited to the funeral. None of them knows who he is either.


 Then they are told that they have 20hours to work out why they have been invited in order to inherit a million pounds.

Who is this guy and why are they there? And what of the ghostly goings on in the ancient old building?

 Featuring Mary Brown, star of theAdorable Fat Girl series of books, in her greatest adventure yet.

This is BOOK NINE in the series, but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone book or as part of the series.

My review

Our heroine, Mary, is a lovely, large lady and also larger than life with her energy and curiosity. She makes for a wonderful, if hungry heroine! She’s kind and funny, but she’s also very smart and savvy. She really is adorable, as the book title suggests!

This is quite a complex and dark mystery that she’s dragged into, but there are plenty of light touches. We move back and forth in time, and that’s extremely well done. This is a much-used scenario in literature but can be clunky or tedious: that’s not the case here.

There are plenty of other interesting characters to meet, including that of the man, Reginald, whose funeral Mary and the others have been invited to. It makes a change to get to meet the dead guy in cozy mysteries! We learn a lot about him as the story unfolds, and he’s a very strong figure.

The plot is intriguing to the point of ingenious, and the writing is flowing and absorbing. This was my first encounter with Mary and it won’t be the last. I shall be reading other books in the series now since she’s such a likeable person and the author is such an entertaining writer.

A very enjoyable, quick read for everyone.  

Purchase Links

UK – https://amzn.to/2LctTu9

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KFSL7VX

Author Bio –

My name is Bernice Bloom and Iwrite funny novels about a crazy lady called Mary Brown in my ‘Adorable FatGirl’ series. 

Mary is funny, gorgeous and bonkers. She’s also about six stone overweight. When she realises she can’t cross her legs and has trouble bending over to tie her shoelaces without wheezing like an elderly chain-smoker it’s time to take action. But what action? She’s tried every diet under the sun.

This series is the hysterical story of what happens when Mary joins ‘Fat Club’ where she meets a cast of funny characters and one particular man who catches her eye.
The series follows Mary as she goes on safari, on a cruise, to a weekend yoga retreat and on an incredible adventure when she receives a mysterious invitation to a funeral.

The stories are laugh-out-loud funny and will resonate with anyone who has dieted, tried to keep up with any sort of exercise programme or spent 10 minutes in a changing room trying to extricate herself from a way too-small garment that she ambitiously tried on and is now completely stuck in. xx

My website is: www.bernicebloom.com

Social Media Links –


Synopsis of Moonlight on the Thames

Worlds collide when two strangers meet at Waterloo station. It’sa moment they’ll never forget. Perfect for the fans of Milly Johnson. 

 Christmas is a joyous time, but not everyone is merry andbright. 

Nicola is a rising star at the top of the corporate ladder, but her personal life is a disaster. Her office affair has lost its allure, and the last thing she wants to think about is Christmas. A night of cancelled trains and festive Christmas carols at Waterloo Station is just about the last straw… 

 Dmitri loves conducting his pop-up choir during the festiveseason, meeting people, and spreading joy and cheer around London. But he carries deep secrets from his past that robbed him of his dream to become a concert pianist. 

Can their hearts and souls be unlocked by music and moonlight and will they discover the healing power of love?

My review

At first glance this book gives the impression of being a sweet, Christmassy novel, that stretches beyond into the next year. And it is, but it also packs quite a punch. It comes with a good dose of grittiness that reminds us Christmas isn’t always magical. There’s plenty of humour and lightness in the novel, but there are some tough issues to deal with too – dark secrets and traumas from the past that have been overshadowing Nicola and Dmitri.

The author handles both sides of life and Christmas – the bright and the gloomy, the joyous and the wounded – with sensitive ease. She creates two amazing, powerful characters in Nicola and Dmitri, and a good cast of interesting secondary personages too. They have very different backgrounds and ambitions, so how they possibly be compatible. But that’s OK, because the course of true love never did run smooth!

The theme of music throughout the novel is lovely, as are so many things. This really is a beautifully written and absorbing story that stays with you after you’ve finished reading. Beautiful.

Purchase  Links

Amazon: goo.gl/oUbgYf

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2LX8DY9

Ibooks: Moonlight on the Thames

GooglePl ay: http://bit.ly/2LUeoG9

 AuthorBio – Lauren Westwood writes romantic women’s fiction, and is also an award-winning children’s writer. Originally from California, she now lives in England in a pernickety old house built in 1602, with her partner and three daughters.

Social Media Links – 

facebook: @Lwestwoodbooks;

twitter: @lwestwoodwriter;

web: www.laurenwestwoodwriter.com;

instagram: @lwestwoodwriter;

Goodreads: Lauren Westwood;

Booktrail: https://www.thebooktrail.com/book-trails/moonlight-on-the-thames/  (this is a third-party site).

Playlist (music plays a big part in the book): http://www.laurenwestwoodwriter.com/playlist

Giveaway – Win 2 x Signed copies of Moonlight On The Thames (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.