Thursday 28 July 2016

My Starbucks Story

So many of you may have seen on twitter that one of the reasons I am visiting Seattle is to go to the original Starbucks. You may also have seen that when I visit a new Starbucks I haven't been to before AND BUY SOMETHING I check into it and count it. Here's where that all started... (I know I have mentioned this before but I wanted to mark the momentous occasion of visiting the original one somehow!)

So a whole ago, a freind of mine asked if I knew how many different branches of Starbucks I'd been to. I think I had checked in on face book to one in another area. Like me, he had been to New York and seen the sheer volume of Starbucks there. There are also a lot of Starbucks in London and I was living near London at the time. Apparently I wasn't working very hard at the time so I had a free moment to take to the Starbucks website and list all the Starbucks I had been to WORLDWIDE. Although there are lots in New York and many other cities I have travelled to, I do have a good memory and do tend to 'sit in' when I go to Starbucks and so I was able to remember the various branches I had been to based on the towns, cities, airports and service stations I had been to. 

I came to a number that was in the region of 150, all this after his innocent Faceboook comment! And from then on, I started checking into a new Starbucks whenever I went there and bought something. Initially I just checked in on Facebook and then I discovered four square and started checking in on there. I now use swarm and only use that for checking in to Starbucks so I can easily keep track of them. 

So today marks the 250th brach of Starbucks I have visited. The original Starbucks in Seattle. I can't tell you how excited I have been about this and I knew that it needed to be a significant number. I came very close to the number, but knew I would probably grab a few Starbucks on the journey to Seattle and so left myself a few short. I eneded up not going there on my first day in Seattle just so I could top my number up until I reached 249 because the journey didn't actually allow me to visit many Starbucks due to delays and security etc. 

Just because I have reached 250, I'm not going to stop checking into Starbucks now, I'll just have to decide where I want my 300th branch to be! 


Geek Girl: Head Over Heels by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

She knows duck-billed platypuses don’t have stomachs.
She knows that fourteen squirrels were once detained as spies.
She knows only one flag in the world features a building.

And for once, Harriet knows exactly how her life should go. She’s got it ALL planned out. So when love is in the air, Harriet is determined to Make Things Happen!
If only everyone else would stick to the script…

Has GEEK GIRL overstepped the mark, and is following the rules going to break hearts all over again?

Review: I love a Geek Girl book, you know I love Harriet Manners, this book was the usual mix of fun, frolics and fashion in a way like you've never seen it before that you can come to expect from a Holly Smale Novel (I'm already reading the next one!) Harriet is Harriet and she really was classically herself in this novel. Her group of Freinds, as well as her family, have expanded and so it was really interesting to see how all the new characters react to each other and gel together. I really enjoyed seeing Rin come into the group and explore how she got on with Toby and Nat and Jasper. There was also another member of the group who turns out to be not quite what Hariet expected her to be. Harriet's younger sister also plays a major role in this novel, which was really fun, I hope she's going to play as big a part in future novels too! 

Of course this novel has some modelling in, why couldn't it, and you know that that means favourite character of mine Wilbur is involved too! I love Wilbur and he has a bit of a crisis on his hands in this book, but never fear, Harriet is here! I really enjoyed the fact that Harriet seems to have a bit of a transformation when it comes to modelling in this novel, it has been lovely to see her evolution, when it comes to the fashion industry across the books and the series as a whole and this book feels somewhat final in that, but I'm sure it won't be! 

Of course there were some laughs in this novel, there always are where Geek Girl is involved! I have to say, it seems a little more serious than previous novels, perhaps because Harriet and the gang are growing up, I laughed less but I still laughed! In terms of whether you could read this books as a standalone or not...I really don't think it would work as well as some of the earlier a as standalones. There is mention of other characters and events that have gone before and so I think you would really need to have read the others in order to enjoy this one. Finally, just a nod to some of the locations that Holly Smale has Harriet Travel to in these novels, fabulous, just fabulous! I'll let you read for yourself where she gets to go to in this one! 

A fab read and a must for Harriet fans old and new! 

Wednesday 27 July 2016

My summer plans

So those of you who have been following the blog for a while will know that I have a massive reading and blogging surge during the summer holidays. If you know or love someone who workers in a school then you will know that the end and the start of term are particularly busy times and so reading or blogging tends to take a dip round about then, the surge in read in the summer allows me to catch up on books I want to read but also catch up on reviewing them so I have plenty schedules for the start of term.

Now this summer is going to look a little bit different. I'm planning on a great American road trip followed by a big move across the Atlantic and so I don't know how much reading I'm going to get done but.....a massive but.... I'm not going back to school in Spetember. In Spetmeber I will not be working, I will be sorting out all the stuff one needs to sort out when one moves to another country at the other end but I will also be able to do some reading and....some writing! 

That being said, I will also be sharing with you some of the exciting times I have on my holiday and some of the stuff I learn bookish and otherwise, during my first few weeks in the states...

As you read this now, I will be in Seattle. As many of you know, I am a massive Starbucks fan, so you will all know why I am going to Seattlle! I check in to any new Starbucks I meet (and buy something from) and I'm planning on the original one being my 250th check in! 

We are also going to do some of the sites in San Francisco, including Alcatraz so I'm excited about that. We're driving down the west coast and taking in some of the scenery and some of the wildlife and ending up in San Diego. If any of you want to know about anything in particular, or any of you have hints, tips, places to eat, places to shop then please let me know! I'll try and post as much as possible and keep an eye on my Twitter/Instagram/snapchat to see more! 

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten things books have made me want to do/learn after reading them 26/7/16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Its like this has been created with me in mind. One of the things I love about reading, and one of the things I always tell the children I benefit from when reading is learning new things, reading new things or trying new things as a result of reading a novel. So this top ten is going to be nice and easy!

1. Explore London. So many books set in so many parts of London that I haven't heard of before. When i fist moved down to this neck of the woods and my job wasn't quite as stressful as it is now, I would spend my weekends exploring parts of the tube network that I wouldn't otherwise see. Its amazing what a reduced cost travel card from Slough will let you do/see. Of course I was reading books the whole time too!

2. Go to San Francisco. Obviosuly I won't be arriving in San Fran until 4 days after this post goes live, but It is something that I have been inspired to do by books and writers, so mnay great novels set here, I can't wait to get stuck in!

3. Read other books. Books mention other books, a lot of non-fiction books or perhaps classics. But lots of books have inspired me to read other books. Evene take the example of Matilda. That books inspired me to spend more time at the library but it also told me abotu Charles Dickens and Nicolas Nickleby and to know these authors at such a young age was a really cool thing!

4. Eat. So many books about food, so much good food to eat, its inevitable that I've eaten more chocolate/croissants/cupcakes/bread because of food (Jenny Colgan has a lot to answer for in this department) but I think I have tried a more varied range of food becuase of being inspired to do so by books!

5. Go to Italy. So of course I have always wanted to go to Italy, who hasn't? But i think reading so many books set there or where the main character travels there and has a amazing time has really helped. I love Adriana Trigiani's writing and I love the idea of going to Italy and seeing some of the towns that her main characters travel to!

6. Date. I know this sounds like a bit of an obvious one and could have been inspired by watching Sex and the City or other such TV programme, but seeing characters go out and meet people in books has inspired me to date over the years. I think seeing other's happy endings has given me faith in trying to find my own happy ending. I strange one but a valid one, I'm sure you'll agree!

7. Visit New York. This one is so obvious so I've left it way down the list here. I'm going back there again soon and even considering a move there, books set in New York-I heart you!

8. Go to a Puffin Sanctuary. I'm not sure I'm actually going to have time to do this now before I move away, which is sad, but I was inspired by another Jenny Colgan novel to do this and so one day I will-love it!

9. Be a better teachers. From reading about Miss Honey in Matilda, to reading about teachers who deal with stresses like I do on a daily basis and still manage to have a life and, dare I say it, even manage to have a family! reading books about teachers inspires me to be a better teacher. We never stop learning and so even if the characters are only fictional characters, I know I can learn something from them as I go along!

10. Try out writing of my own. I know this does contradict the previous point slight but hey...This is probably the biggest thing that books have inspired me to do. I have had authors and other bloggers tell me I should start writing. Read books similar to the ideas I have in my own head, seen characters in books reach for their dreams and achieve them. Books have made me try out wirting for myself and now I actually have some time which has been gifted to me to really make a go of it, I'm hoping I'm going to love it just as much as all the wonderful authors I have been lucky enough to come into contact with do.

As you read this, hopefully I will be on a plane and so it would be lovely if you left me a comment with some of the things you've learnt or done as a reault of reading a book so that I have comments when I get off the flight at the other end!

Happy Reading!

Monday 25 July 2016

Booktubeathon Wrap Up

Ok so Booktubeathon-I had high hopes, I had big goals, I totally failed! Planning to do this in the last week of term was such a mistake. I was finishing work at midnight, up again at 5am and then no chance for reading or filming. Yes it has spurred me to do some more filming once I'm all ready and moved house but for now...

So the books I actually read. 

Goal 1: read a book with yellow on the cover-I read 25% of Geek Girl: Sunny Side Up

2. Only read a book after sunset-so I failed this one, I think I listened to the end of the audiobook after sunset a little bit but.... Nope!

3. Read a book you discovered through booktube-nope, failed this one! 

4. Read a book by one of your favourite authors-this one I did! If listened to the audiobook of Head Over Heels by Holly Smale! 

5. Read a book that is older than you-nope! 

6. Read and Watch a book to movie adaptation. This one I did because I did it as part of work. I didn't start and finish but did finish reading the picture book of Harry Potter and the Philisophers Stone and we also watched the movie of this, I really enjoyed reading this with the kids, it was great to rediscover it through their eyes! 

7. Read 7 books in 7 days. I didn't do this one. I am sure that once I get moved and have all those lovely plan rides on the way there, I'll manage a lot more reading but this was all I could achieve this week. 

I didn't do any changellenges on you tube or on Instagram-I mean how hard could it have been? Seriously failing there! But it has definitely spurred me on to make some videos on YouTube so keep your eyes out for those! 

Monday 18 July 2016

Booktubeathon TBR

So this year I have decided that I would like to start making some YouTube videos. I'd like to document some of the exciting new places that I go and I will hopefully be uploading some videos and pictures etc onto YouTube and onto the blog here as well. I already post videos on my snapchat so come and have a look at those. 

But I thought what better way to start off doing some booktubing than to join in with the Booktubeathon! 

There are 7 reading challenges and so I'm going to list my TBR based on those reading challenges, not sure how I'll get on as it's my final 3 days at school and then I'm packing up to move but here goes. 

1. Read a book with Yellow on the cover. 

For this I'm going to be reading Geek Girl, Sunny Side Up by Holly Smale. 

2. Only Read a book after sunset. 

For this I'm going to read my bath time book which is How To Find Your First Husband by Rosie Blake (I've already started this but I need a head start this week!)

3. Read a book you discovered through booktube

For this one I'm going to read Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell because it's been on my shelf for ages and I heard about this author through. BookTube! 

4. Read a book by one of your favourite authors

For this one it's going to be another Holly Smale. I just started the late tes Geek Girl: Head Over Heels on audiobook and so I'm going to finish that this week! 

5. Read a book that is older than you

I really struggled with this one so it may change. I recently bought a chalet school novel, Jane at the Chalet School and so I think is like to read that one! 

6. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation

I'm going to choose Harry Potter and The Philosphers stone for this one. I've been reading the book with my class so we need to finish reading that and we need to watch the film to compare the 2!

7. Read 7 books. This is going to be tough and I don't think I'm going to do it so I'll add another book just in case I have time, which in won't but book number 7 would be...

Love me Tinder by Nicola May-another of my favourite authors! 

Obviously I'm also going to try and make some videos this week, take part in some Instagram challenges and of course tweet about all the reading I'm getting done-totally but aside from that, I'd just like to try and read some of what I've set out to read! 

I hoe you have a great week and I'll see you on the other side! 

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Review: Our Song by Dani Atkins

The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured - perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they've never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally's ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever. 

Full of Dani's signature warmth and emotion, this is a gripping and emotional family drama. With breath-taking plot twists, Dani explores themes of serendipity, friendship and love. She fully engages the reader in the dilemmas faced by her characters. What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else's life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

Review: I put off reading this book for a little while because I was told it was going to make me cry. I haven't been in the mood for a weepy recently but eventually I decided that the best tactic to take was probably going to be to download the audiobook. So i listened to this audiobook as part of a readathon and so I absolutely flew through ti but this allowed me to immerse myself in the story and really get to know these four main characters. Let me tell you-I loved this book so much more that I thought I would!

I think the thing I liked most about the book was the structure. I really like the fact that we meet these two women and have no idea how they are connected to the men we meet at the beginning of the novel or any idea how they are connected to one another. As the story develops, we learn more about each one through her moder day life and also through flashbacks. I love the fact that this is actually a bit of a mystery-figuring out how everything all ties up and how it is going to end up!

I really like the fact that this is centred on two women. I like the fact that they hold the power. Although they are there because of a man or two men, they still hold the power in the book and I really respect thw writer for that. I think that, had this been more male-centric, I wouldn't have warmed to the story line or the characters as much. Speaking or storyline, this is one is seriously dramatic. There are twists and turns left right and centre and of course real moments where tissues will be needed. Because you get so invested in these two women, it is bound to be emotional and so this definitely comes with a tissue warning.

Despite the fact that this book is emotional, this was a really good read. I didn't cry as much as I thought I would. I think this was because the book is also heart warming and also affirms the role of the strong woman in this kind of a novel. I really recommend this book, although set aside plenty of reading time-you're going to want to stick with this one!

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten facts about me 12/7/16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Ok so...trying to come up with some fun facts you don't know about me or may not have noticed so far..

1. I am an assistant headteacher at a primary school and rather than being all about the books as you might imagine, I am in charge of maths!

2. I am getting married in November in las Vegas

3. I collect Starbucks. You will probably know this if you follow me on Twitter but each new branch of Stabucks I go into and buy something, I check in to. It doesn't count if I've aleady been there but if it is new to me it counts as a check in. I have to buy something unless I get to the front of the queue and they've run out of what i went in for or don't have any skimmed milk or drip coffee or something like that-there have to be rules to these things. I'm visitin Seattle in 2 weeks and so 2 weeks tomorrow i will visit the original Starbucks and that will be number 250 for me!

4. I am scared of Balloons and other things that make sudden loud noises (party poppers, hand driers, hoovers etc)

5. I don't follow any sport

6. I am an only child

7. I have a massive collection of shoes but i regularly clear them out by selling a load on ebay to make room (and money) for new ones

8. During my first year of GCSEs I wasn't very well and so I only went to school in the mornings, my attendance that year was below 50%

9. I don't like orange flavour anything EXCEPT mimosas

10. I really haven't read any classic novels apart from those I HAD to read for school

So there you go. I hope you learned something interesting and new about me that you didn't already know. Please link your own top ten facts below so i can learn a little more about you!

Happy Reading!

Monday 11 July 2016

Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

People today have more romantic options than at any point in human history, and thanks to social media, smartphones and online dating, our abilities to connect with these options are staggering. Yet we also have to face new and absurd dilemmas, such as what to think when someone doesn't reply to your text but has time to post a photo of a pizza on Instagram. But this transformation of our romantic lives cannot be explained by technology alone. Whereas once most people would find a decent person who probably lived in their neighbourhood and marry by the age of 23, today we spend years of our lives on a quest to find our soulmate.
While Ansari has long aimed his comedic insight at modern relationships, here he teamed up with award-winning sociologist Eric Klinenberg to research dating cultures from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Paris, crunch the quantitative data and interview some of the world's leading social scientists. The result is an unforgettable tour of the romantic landscape.

Review: I so enjoyed this book, it is such fun! I listened to this book on audiobook and I actually listened to it with my other half. It was so interesting and thought provoking that it took us ages to listen to because we had to keep stopping it to talk about the observation that had just been made! I think the whole concept of the book is something that should be explored nowadays, the way we date and the way we meet people in general is so different now, so reliant on technology that it is something really interesting to sit down and actually think about. One of the observations towards the end of the book is to do with the fact that we wouldn't speak to someone in real life the way we speak to them on a dating app.

Ansari obviously adds his own humour into this book and that's what really tipped it from a four star into a five star read for me. I was laughing the whole way through. Obviously you can have some Hilarius stories stemming from any kind of dating scenario but particularly online dating and so the subject is funny anyway. When you add Ansari's brand of dry quick witt into there, you've got a match made in heaven! Some of the things he was saying were a little risque and definitely not for the most sensitive of souls, but his brutal honesty was what made it for me really.

I really liked the way the book was structured as well, It is always difficult knowing what to expect with a non-fiction title and this book just had it all for me. I liked the fact that we dealt with one subject matter after another. There were scientific studies, comments from anthropologist, results from surveys and observations from people who are actually living in this age of modern romance from online and in real life interviews. I thought it was a really good way to bring the whole subject together. Of course, because i listened to this on audiobook, I got to hear it read by Aziz Ansari and that added another level to the whole thing but I think I would still like to own a hard copy of the book so that I can see the charts and graphs and studies that lie within.

This was such a fun read but also though-provoking and definitely something that it needed in today's society. Add it to you TBR now!

Friday 8 July 2016

Review: Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.
For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.
Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.
For her, the Comfort Food Cafe doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…

Review: Another masterpiece from Debbie Johnson! This is a really engaging story that I read in next to no time. It's really easy reading, full of Debbie's usual humour, but not lacking in depth of storyline. The book starts with the most amazing job application letter you could possibly imagine; that hooked me in immediately, as I'm sure it would most readers.

The main character is widower Laura Walker. She is an incredible woman, who has suffered a huge tragedy in her life, but is still brave enough to up sticks, pack the children and dog into the car and drive from Manchester to the Dorset coast to take up a summer job in the Comfort Food Cafe. The children, Lizzie, 14, and Nate, 12, are not fans of this idea and give her a hard time on the journey. The little seaside town where the cafe is set is fairly brimming with interesting, and sometimes hilarious, inhabitants, not least the owner of the establishment, Cherie Moon.  She has an amazing knack of knowing just what to serve her customers to make them happy, hence the name of the cafe. The cafe itself has a wonderful location, teetering on top of a hill that overlooks the beach. The other major character we meet is Matt, the somewhat dishy local vet. He is another incomer with a misfortune in his past.

Although the story is so funny it had me laughing out loud at times, Debbie is such a great writer that she could also have me sitting in tears, of sorrow or joy. There is a lot of humour in the situations that Laura and her family experience, but underneath it all is a story of people healing from a great shock, coming to life again and learning to let others back into their hearts. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone. If you are not familiar with Debbie Johnson's work, it would be a perfect place to start

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year 14/6/16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

So I missed this post from 2 weeks ago and I wanted to do this more than this week's post so I did a little switch...

1. Letters from Lighthouse Cottage by Ali Macnamara-14th July

2. On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher-14th July

3. I Found You by Lisa Jewell-14th July

4. Killer Diamonds by Rebecca Chance-26th July

5. Letters From My Sister by Alice Peterson-4th August

6. Wildflower Bay by Rachel Lucas-11th August

7. Autumn at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn-6th September

Autumn at the Star and Sixpence by [Hepburn, Holly]

8. We Were on A Break by Lindsey Kelk-6th October

9. Searching For a Silver Lining by Miranda Dickinson-20th October

No cover yet.....

10. All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon-1st December

I am so excited to read all of these now and there are so many others I could've included too!

Monday 4 July 2016

Guest Review: Summer at The Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

When sisters Sam and Nessie left the city lights to take over The Star and Sixpence pub in Little Monkham, little did they realise they'd be taking on the villagers too... 
Thrown in at the deep end with a wedding to organise at the same time as launching their new hotel rooms, the last thing they need is Sam's past catching up with them.
As the scandal strikes, the only question is will the villagers stick their necks out for two relative newcomers? Or will Franny, the terrifying postmistress, see them gone for good... 

This is the third part of the serialised ebook describing events in and around the Star and Sixpence pub in the quaint country village of Little Monkham.

As we learnt in previous parts of the story, sisters Sam and Nessie have inherited the pub from their estranged father and have left their city lives to try and make a go of running it. They have met with resistance from some locals, but are becoming accepted as time goes on.  In this instalment, the pub is being prepared for a big wedding that could have far reaching ramifications, as the bride is a travel editor in a major newspaper. A good review of the pub and its newly refurbished attic bedrooms could be just the boost the business needs. In addition to all the excitement caused by the big event, there is high drama for the girls as Sam's big secret that has been referred to in previous parts of the story suddenly flares up to become national news in the worst possible way. How is this going to affect the sisters' standing in the village, and, more importantly, Sam's blossoming relationship with Joss, the barman? The romantic atmosphere surrounding the wedding preparations is also making Nessie think about her future and her involvement with Owen, the village blacksmith.

I very much enjoyed this part, and the story so far. I am looking forward to catching up with the sisters when the next instalment, Autumn at the Star and Sixpence, is released. Holly Hepburn's descriptions of the pub and the idyllic-sounding village had me once again wishing that I could visit. The rooms at the pub sounded so luxurious that I could almost picture myself lying in the deliciously comfortable bed looking out over the typically English village green.

This would be a lovely read for a summer's day in the garden or on the beach. You wouldn't necessarily have had to read the other parts of the novel to gather what's going on, but I'm sure it would make you want to seek them out to complete the picture so far. 

Sunday 3 July 2016

Cover Reveal: Watch Me by Angela Clarke

Another Sunday, another cover reveal, very exciting though!


Angela Clarke

Publishing in eBook and paperback: 3rd November

You have six seconds to view this suicide note, and twenty-four hours to save the girl’s life.

The brand new novel from rising star Angela Clark, and the second in her chilling and provocative Social Media Murders series. Feisty young journalist Freddie Venton and ambitious police officer Nasreen Cudmore are up against a depraved killer who takes pleasure in taunting them online.

If you liked Follow Me, then just you wait for this one. When a girl shares a photo of herself begging for help only moments before she goes missing, it goes viral. But was the picture really sent by her, or was it a threat?

As the same process happens over and over, it's time for Freddie and Nas to team up once more. But neither of them are quite the same after the Apollyon case. Can they hold their nerve to face another faceless threat?

Are you ready for the cover then?

Friday 1 July 2016

Guest Review: The Plumberry School of Comfort Food by Cathy Bramley

Verity Bloom hasn't been interested in cooking anything more complicated than the perfect fish finger sandwich, ever since she lost her best friend and baking companion two years ago.

But an opportunity to help a friend lands her right back in the heart of the kitchen. The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is due to open in a few weeks' time and needs the kind of great ideas that only Verity could cook up. And with new friendships bubbling and a sprinkling of romance in the mix, Verity finally begins to feel like she's home.

But when tragedy strikes at the very heart of the cookery school, can Verity find the magic ingredient for Plumberry while still writing her own recipe for happines.

Review: I have just finished reading the final 2 parts of this story, which has been published as a 4-part e-serial, and thought that I would review it as a whole. I am always excited to see a new offering from the talented Cathy Bramley, and this story was definitely up there with her best. I'm not a great fan of serialised stories as a rule, and am glad to see that the entire story is being released in print and electronic format in a few weeks.  I really enjoyed this tale from the start. The concept of the cookery school and its idyllic-sounding setting were both attractive, but I was particularly intrigued to find that the inspiration for the story is a lady who runs not only a cookery school but also a restaurant that I know well in the Lake District. 

The main character, who I took to straight from the start, is Verity Bloom. She is a lovely, but a little naive, person, who, at the very start, loses her job in marketing and her underhand boyfriend, who was not likeable in any way. However, as luck would have it, Verity's best friend's mother, Gloria, who is starting up a cookery school, needs a little help in the marketing area, and asks Verity if she could step in for a month. Verity always loved cooking with Gloria's daughter, Mimi, but when Mimi died suddenly 2 years previously, Verity's passion for cooking died with her.  As well as keeping in touch with Gloria since her friend's death, Verity regularly sees Mimi's husband, Gabe, and young son Noah. There is some kind of mystery there which unfolds as the story goes along. The other major characters we meet in the story are: Tom, a pretty dishy sounding if a little serious, Michelin-star chef who has been engaged to work at the cookery school; Mags, a great friend and neighbour of Gloria's who also works with her; Pixie, an aspiring chef; Verity's housemate Rosie; and two extremely cute dachshunds. As the title of the book suggests, the action takes place primarily in the Yorkshire village of Plumberry, where the cookery school is housed in an old mill, complete with river flowing by and original mill wheel - sounds just lovely. The whole village is very food oriented, with all sorts of specialist shops and even its own small brewery. It's all so well described that I felt I had to go and have a snack after each instalment. 

Although, as I say, I am not a great fan of serialised stories, the parts are very well presented, each ending on some kind of cliffhanger, leaving the reader desperate to find out what will happen in the next instalment. I really enjoyed watching the relationships developing between the various characters, and to see Verity gradually rediscover her passion for cooking. However, It was not all plain sailing - there were some very sad incidents along the way. A really nice touch is that each instalment ends with a few recipes to try out, including, as it happens, my favourite pudding from that restaurant I mentioned at the beginning of this review. 

I'm sure that this story will appeal to anyone, and not just those interested in cooking. There is a good, strong story line running through the book. Whether you read it in parts or as a whole, I hope it will pull you in, as it did me. Don't be surprised, though, if you end up a bit peckish; those recipes at the back may just come in handy!