Tuesday 31 August 2021

Guest Review: Celebrations at the Chateau by Jo Thomas

When their grandfather dies, Fliss and her sisters are astonished to inherit a French chateau! Travelling to Normandy to visit the beautiful if faded house, they excitedly make plans over delicious crepes and local cider in the town nearby.

But they soon discover the chateau needs major work, a huge tax bill is due . . . and there's a sitting tenant to whom they owe a monthly allowance.

Unable to sell but strapped for cash, Fliss determines to spruce up the elegant old rooms and open a B&B. But, why is Jacques, the local mayor, so hostile? How did Fliss's grandfather come to own the place anyway? And will Jacques and Fliss be able to put their differences aside to save the chateau?

Inspired by Escape to the Chateau, this cosy and uplifting novel to curl up with, from the author of Escape to the French Farmhouse and Finding Love at the Christmas Market.

Review: I always look forward to reading a book from Jo Thomas; they inevitably hold the promise a trip to somewhere new and exciting accompanied by some tasty food and drink, and hopefully romance. As the title suggests, this one takes the reader on a trip to France and the lovely building pictured on the cover. As expected, I found it a captivating story that I finished very quickly.

When Fliss and her sisters, Nellie and Lizzie, travel to Normandy to view the house they have unexpectedly inherited from their grandfather, they are amazed to find that they are now the owners of a spectacular, if slightly rundown, chateau. Nobody in the family had any idea that their grandfather owned this grand residence, and the sisters are all keen to find out how he had come to buy it in the first place. While the others return home, Fliss stays behind to organise the sale of the chateau, but is met with problems. A sitting tenant who needs to be paid a monthly salary and a huge tax bill due any time mean that it cannot be sold. If the payments are missed, ownership of the building will revert to its previous inhabitants. Fliss decides to clean up and repair the chateau and try to run it as a bed and breakfast property, but is met with resistance from the town mayor, Jacques, and many of the  local town’s business people. It appears that she must find a way to win them round if she is to succeed in returning the chateau to its former outstanding appearance and run a flourishing business.

I was quickly drawn into this compelling tale of the once magnificent chateau and the sisters’ attempts to keep their grandfather’s property in the family. I loved the way in which the mystery over how the man had come to buy the chateau and his link with the area is gradually solved as the story progresses. There are so many surprises in store for Fliss as she tries to overcome the many obstacles that arise during her attempts to find a way to make the chateau pay for its upkeep. Only once some of its secrets are revealed can she make significant headway. I admired her determination to keep forging ahead in the face of resistance from the local people, and in particular mayor Jacques. I wasn’t sure what to make of him, or his grandmother Charlotte to start with, but warmed to both as Fliss got to know them. Since the story is set in France, there is, of course, lots of delicious food and drink mentioned in the story. There is a particular link with cider, as the chateau’s orchard produces apples that are famous for their cider-making properties. This is a book that I can certainly recommend, with its lovely setting, interesting characters, air of mystery, and, of course, promise of romance.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Saturday 28 August 2021

Guest Review: Alan Turing: The Enigma By Andrew Hodges

The official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley

Alan Turing was the mathematician whose cipher-cracking transformed the Second World War. Taken on by British Intelligence in 1938, as a shy young Cambridge don, he combined brilliant logic with a flair for engineering. In 1940 his machines were breaking the Enigma-enciphered messages of Nazi Germany’s air force. He then headed the penetration of the super-secure U-boat communications.

But his vision went far beyond this achievement. Before the war he had invented the concept of the universal machine, and in 1945 he turned this into the first design for a digital computer.

Turing's far-sighted plans for the digital era forged ahead into a vision for Artificial Intelligence. However, in 1952 his homosexuality rendered him a criminal and he was subjected to humiliating treatment. In 1954, aged 41, Alan Turing took his own life.

Review: This is a very detailed biography of the mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954). It describes his life, his family background and subsequent education at Sherborne School, Cambridge University and Princeton University. He was elected a fellow of King’s College Cambridge in 1935.

However, it is for his work on cryptanalysis, or code-breaking, and his pioneering work on computer science and artificial intelligence that he is best remembered, although due to the secrecy of the work, his role in code-breaking could not be publicised during his lifetime. In 1938, whilst a fellow at King’s College Cambridge, he started carrying out part-time work for the Government Code and Cypher School. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he started working full-time at their new Bletchley Park premises. He worked on breaking the German Enigma code, in particular the version used by the German Navy. With fellow code-breaker Gordon Welchman, he designed the “Bombe” machine, an improvement on an earlier Polish design, which was an electro-mechanical device that used statistical analysis to perform numerous calculations rapidly in order to break the daily key for the Enigma code. He also developed various statistical procedures for breaking other coding systems.

Prior to the war, he had written papers describing the design of what became known as the universal Turing machine for computing. After the war, he continued this work, firstly at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the Automatic Computing Engine, one of the first designs for a computer with an internal programme, and subsequently at Manchester University. In 1952, he was prosecuted for a homosexual act, which was illegal at the time, and pleaded guilty to a charge of gross indecency. He served a year’s probation, during which he was required to receive hormone treatment which, at the time, was believed to curb homosexual behaviour. In 1954, he was found dead at his home from cyanide poisoning and an inquest returned a verdict of suicide.

This is a long and detailed book, at over 700 pages. I listened to the audio version which is 30 hours long. I felt that there was a lot of unnecessary detail, with the author Andrew Hodges attempting to give the background and motivations to Alan Turing’s momentous, but tragically short, life. The author is a mathematician himself, and I did not understand many of the mathematical theories described in the book. Although the subject’s life was very interesting and inspiring, it is only in recent years that his contribution to the war effort has come to be recognised. Although this is a very detailed and well-researched biography, I felt that it was overlong with too much background information obscuring the subject’s brief but exciting life.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Friday 27 August 2021

Review: Three's a Crowd by Simon Booker

 What happens when an estranged father and son unwittingly fall in love with the same woman?

Out-of-work actor Harriet is recuperating from a crash-and-burn affair with Damian – aka ‘Cockweasel’ – and making ends meet as a barista when she meets two rather lovely men. Tom is a regular at the cafĂ©, and seems like such a nice guy. Smooth-talking DJ Richard is older, but in great shape – a real silver fox.
Deciding to take a chance on both of them, Harriet doesn’t realise at first that she is actually dating father and son. Tom and Richard aren’t on speaking terms, and don’t share a last name – so how was she to know? By the time everyone finds out, both Tom and Richard are truly madly deeply in love with Harriet, and she’s faced with an impossible choice.
But as the battle for her affections intensifies, ‘Cockweasel’ makes an unexpected reappearance and begs her to give him another chance…

Review: I love the premise for this story, two people in love with the same girl who just happen to be related. I think it would make an excellent limited series for Netflix and I can imagine is playing out with much humour on the screen. I was expecting a little slapstick humour in the book but it actually goes a lot deeper than that. This book tackles mental health head on, delving into topics not often talked about in a romantic comedy in this way and I definitely applaud Simon Booker for the content choices that he made. 

Harriet, Tom and Richard feel very true to life. Their careers, their home lives and their hopes and dreams all seem very easy to relate to and I felt like they could really exist. I listened to the audiobook for this and was lucky enough to listen on a couple of train/ bus journeys through London. Whilst listening I could picture the characters walking along the streets I was traveling  and I loved the TFL link with Harriet. 

It took me a while to get to know each character and adjust to the structure of the book, I started reading this one as an ebook but I kept losing which character was which and so that's why I downloaded the audiobook. The narration of each character really helped me get to grips with whose chapter we were on an I felt like I got a deeper understanding of who everyone was. The eBook felt a little slow in the beginning but once I got into the audiobook I flew through the rest fo the story. 

I really enjoyed the context and the way the storyline played out. I did find it funny and I was invested in Harriet's story. I warmed to Harriet as a character despite the questionable choices he made. I would like to revisit Tom's character again in the future to find out what has become of his dreams and his relationship with his family. I strong 2021 debut. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Guest Review: The Cornish Cream Tea Wedding by Cressida McLaughlin

Love is in the Cornish summer air…

Wedding planner Ellie Moon is dreaming up the most beautiful bespoke wedding for Charlie and Daniel, owners of Cornwall’s favourite cream tea bus. Even though her own life has been turned upside down and she’s had to rent out her charming Cornish cottage with its climbing roses and lavender beds, Ellie is determined to give them a day to remember.

Her new tenant, handsome mechanic Jago, keeps popping up around the picture-postcard seaside village of Porthgolow. When they’re thrown together in the effort to help his elderly father get a spring back in his step, she discovers that he is full of surprises. Can romance bloom and give Ellie the fresh start she’s been wishing for?

Review: This is the fourth book in the Cornish Cream Tea series by Cressida McLaughlin. It was published originally in 4 parts, but the story is now available in its entirety in ebook, paperback and audiobook formats. I have read all three previous books in this series, and have been looking forward to this part, where two characters who have been in the story from the start are to tie the knot. For anyone who has not read any of the previous books in this series, the thing that connects all these stories is Gertie, a red double-decker Routemaster bus that has been converted into a very fine cafe and is usually to be found by the sands of the Cornish seaside village of Porthgolow.

This particular story centres on Ellie Moon, who has been chosen to plan the wedding of Charlie, who owns the Cream Tea Bus, and local hotelier Daniel. Ellie’s business is struggling and she has had to rent out her lovely cottage to handsome mechanic Jago, who has himself moved back to Porthgolow to try to reconnect with his estranged father. While she is determined to give Charlie and Daniel the wedding of their dreams, Ellie finds that she has also become involved in Jago’s life, helping him to find some common ground with his father. In turn, Jago has helped with some aspects of the wedding arrangements. It seems as if romance may be in the air for more than just the bride and groom.

I have loved every book in the Cornish Cream Tea series, and like the way that this one brings everyone together for the joyous wedding of two central characters. It was great to be encountering familiar characters and at the same time meeting some interesting new ones, including Ellie and her sister and Jago and his dad. Gertie didn’t feature in this story as much as in previous books, but did have a part to play. There was still mention of some delicious food. Of course, the actual wedding was always going to be amazing, but at times I thought the happy couple might never make it down the aisle as various obstacles got in the way. In addition to events connected with the wedding, the storyline also contained a significant amount of gardening activity which should be of particular interest to readers who enjoy this hobby, especially when an unexpected discovery is made. As with all the books in this series, I can recommend this to other readers. It can be read as a standalone or in conjunction with other books in the series.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Disney Magic at Sea UK Staycation Cruise Vlog (How Many Times Can I Say So Exciting In One Vlog?)


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Could Read Again For the First Time


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Most of these books are books that gave me a pretty extreme reaction thanks to some big reveals in the plot but I might include some others that I would love to experience again for the first time because they meant to much to me. What would be on your list?

Friday 20 August 2021

Review: The Promise of Summer by Bella Osborne

 Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…

After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?

When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn't counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.   
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?

Review: I read the first part of this book when it was released as part 1 on ebook and although I did pre-order the other 3 parts I ended up listening to the whole thing on audio. I will say that the narrator of the audio was good. They did different accent for the characters who are mostly from the Sheffield area and did a good job of providing slightly more sinister voices for those characters we love to hate. 

I think that this book did feel different to a usual Bella Osborne book, I don't know if thats just because it was set in and around Sheffield for the most part and so I was getting Milly Johnson vibes or if it's because a lot more bodily functions and fluids are involved than in a usual Bella Osborne book and so it just felt more risque funny and less sweet romance. Either way it suited me down to the ground and I was chuckling away to myself in my car quite a bit listening to the mishaps of the various characters. 

This book centres around Ruby who is just so sweet and innocent. At some times her naivety did grate on my a little bit but I kn ew that this book was a journey for her and I enjoyed getting to see her become more worldly wise but still never losing that sweet side. Kim is Ruby's employer and we get to hear her side of the story as well. Unfortunately both women do fall fowl to some horrible men in their lives and so they have that in common but Kim does find solace with some human and canine friendships and I loved that for her. 

I think my favourite character in the book was Curtis. I think this is because you being the book really quite disliking the guy but then you realise he provides an antidote to some of the other character traits in the novel and he really does grow on you. I would love to hear from him again in future novels. The characters we love to hate in this book are really evil in their own ways. I really did hate them with a passion and I'm glad that this writing evoked such emotion in me. I couldn't believe some of them got away with the things that they did-as always, no spoilers here!

It's always nice to have a book that is set in and around Yorkshire rather than just having a London, New York or Cornwall setting as so many romcoms lean towards these days. I enjoyed the fact that we got some train travel in there and I enjoyed the social norms that were exposed and explored that maybe shouldn't be our norms anymore. I was glad to see that this include's women's biological clocks and the pressure that society puts on women of a certain ago. I really enjoyed this audio and even though it didn't feel the same as Bella Osborne novels I have read in the past, I liked this new direction and I laughed an awful lot so what's not to love?

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Thursday 19 August 2021

Guest Review: The Seaside Cocktail Campervan by Caroline Roberts

Next stop: seaside, sunshine and romance!

When Lucy isn’t in her cosy cottage by the sea, she’s winding through the Northumberland coast with her loveable Dachsund Daisy, cooking up a storm at the local village celebrations. Inspired by her Italian Poppa, Lucy’s chasing a new dream with her pizza van business. And at one particular party she meets Jack, the brooding but gorgeous owner of the Cocktail Campervan.

Wary of repeating mistakes of the past, Lucy and Jack keep it strictly business. But as the summer drifts by in a swirl of garden parties, fun and fizz, laughs and celebrations, and as the cocktail campervan creates the community they so desperately need, romance starts to blossom – one stop at a time…

Review: I was instantly attracted to this book when I saw the intriguing cover and realised it was a new release from Caroline Roberts, an author whose books I have enjoyed previously. The cover is indeed cleverly drawn, and tells a lot about what is going on in the pages within. I sat down to read this book and was instantly drawn into the lives of the main characters; for me, it was finished all too soon.

The story revolves around Jack and Lucy, both of whom have set up their own catering businesses. Jack is serving delicious cocktails and other drinks from his converted red VW campervan, while Lucy, with her Italian roots, is serving equally delicious pizzas from her converted horse box. The businesses are based in the Northumberland coast, where Jack and Lucy take their respective vehicles to a range of events, from private birthday celebrations to festivals. They meet at one such event and continue to bump into each other as the summer of celebrations progresses. After a somewhat fiery start to their relationship, friendship grows, but they are determined not to get emotionally involved. Can romance find a way in anyway?

I thought this was a really entertaining story, filled with fun characters and situations. I loved the idea of the two food vans and my mouth was watering with the descriptions of the cocktails and pizzas. The book was cleverly written, each chapter introduced with an invitation to a particular event where the food vans are present. These events are in various lovely locations in the Northumberland coastal area. Both Jack and Lucy have pasts that are holding them back from starting a new relationship - a situation that has the reader feeling desperate for them to find a way forward. Just when you think that there may be a chance for romance, something always seems to get in the way. I must, of course, mention another important character in the story. This is an adorable little dachshund by the name of Daisy who travels with Lucy and gets up to some great antics. The book ends with recipes for some interesting sounding cocktails, cakes and pizza, which I shall be trying out. I can definitely recommend this easy to read book for a slice of escapism this summer.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday 18 August 2021

UK Book Shopping Vlog & Book Haul August 2021


Guest Review: A Home in the Sun by Sue Moorcroft

A gorgeous summer read about new beginnings from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Home is where the heart is…but what if your heart is broken?

When Judith loses her partner, she loses her life in Malta too – including the beautiful view from her sun-warmed balcony of the sparkling blue waters of Sliema Creek.

Back in England, Judith finds a spare room in her sister’s house where she grew up – but with it comes a whole host of family dramas. Nursing a broken heart, Judith knows she must find happiness again – and rebuild her life on her own terms.

Could an island in the sun be the answer she is looking for?

Review: I always eagerly await the release of Sue Moorcroft’s latest novel. No sooner have I finished one than I look forward to the next. In this book, I was pleased to be returning to Malta, for at least some of the time, the location for the story being split between that lovely sunny Mediterranean island and the UK. As with Sue’s other books featuring Malta, I enjoyed a tour of the island, sunshine and warmth oozing from the pages as I read. This book is a re-release, formerly entitled Uphill All the Way.

The story centres on Judith, who has moved to Malta following her divorce and is working in real estate in partnership with her uncle. Gradually, she enters into a relationship with Giorgio, a local man who has been separated from his wife for many years. Such a relationship is frowned upon on the island and his family refuse to recognise it. Following a tragic accident, Judith returns to her home in Northamptonshire and a very different life, full of incident mainly involving family members. She finds a new career and a growing relationship with a new friend, Adam.  However, she is always dreaming of her home and life in Malta. 

I very much enjoyed and can recommend this emotional story. I found the content and writing style slightly different from the novels I am used to from Sue Moorcroft, probably explained by the book being a re-release of one of her earlier titles. Judith’s life was filled with personal tragedy, but she could not find the opportunity to grieve properly as extra problems were piled upon her by family events. I felt for her and wished she could be more selfish and leave others to sort out their own lives. She seemed to be faced with lots of unpleasant characters, both in Malta and the UK; even those who should be supporting her seemed to think of themselves first. I couldn’t warm to Adam as a person at all. Although he could be sympathetic towards Judith’s situation, he seemed so needy at times. Although the main character, and indeed some of the others, is put through some hard times, the storyline also contains humour and romance, and I would recommend this book as a summer read. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Places To Read


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Basically, if you've seen anything about my reading habits on here or over on my channel, you'll know that I basically read everywhere so this list will just be highlighting a few places. Obviously I don't have any photos of me listening to audiobooks in the car, in the cinema or in the bath so those are a given. Let me know in comments where you love to read!

On A Walk

In my reading chair...

At the library...

In the park...

On a plane...

In a restaurant...

On my balcony

By a pool...

In a coffee shop...

Whilst waiting for anything (a brunch table in this case)...

On any public transport actually...

As well as the car, bath, bed, cinema and of course on the couch!

Monday 16 August 2021

Guest Review: The Wedding Pact by Isla Gordon

August Anderson needs somewhere to live. Dumped by her boyfriend who would rather be alone than move in with her, she has almost given up on happiness. Until she notices that the beautiful Georgian townhouse she's long admired (ahem, *obsessed over*) is looking for a new tenant, and suddenly it seems like things might be looking up . . .

There's just one catch - the traditional, buttoned-up landlord is only willing to rent to a stable, married couple and August, quite frankly, is neither. Competition for the house is fierce and August knows she'll have to come up with a plan or risk losing her last shot at her happy ending.

Enter Flynn, the handsome, charming and somewhat unsuspecting gentleman who August accidentally spills her coffee over. Flynn is new to the area and is looking for somewhere to live, and August thinks she knows just the place, but only if he's willing to tell a little white lie . . .

Review: This is the second book from Lisa Dickenson writing as Isla Gordon. I really enjoyed the first novel, A Season in the Snow, and looked forward to finding out if her new story would match up to that. It certainly did, the humorous storyline grabbing my attention from page one. This book is set in Bath, a place I have visited only once, and so don’t know well; Isla paints a wonderful picture of the city, making me want to return. 

This is the story of August and Flynn, brought together by chance when they are about to view the same apartment that has become available to rent. While for August this is a building where she has longed to live practically all of her life, Flynn just needs somewhere to call home, having recently arrived in the city of Bath, and indeed the UK, from his former home in Japan. The apartment is very popular, but many of the potential tenants are rejected as the elderly landlady is adamant that she will rent only to a married couple. That is when actress August comes up with the plan that she and Flynn should pretend that they have recently married, even though they have only just met. Fortunately for them, their plan works, but then they must keep up the deception. As they get to know each other, a friendship develops, but could it be more than that?

I can highly recommend this funny, and at the same time heart-warming, story. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how August and Flynn were going to keep up the pretence of being a married couple as they got themselves into one awkward situation after another. They really hadn’t had time to consider the pitfalls of the arrangement. I loved both of these characters, even although they were very different. It sounds as if bubbly and spontaneous August was just what Flynn needed, having left a difficult relationship behind in Japan and experienced problems on his arrival in Bath, but I was surprised that he so readily agreed to the arrangement. The apartment they rent sounds wonderful. It is in a converted Georgian townhouse at the top of a hill with a gorgeous view over the city. The tenants of the other apartments in the building are all lovely neighbours - absolutely ideal, so I found myself worried that they might slip up and be asked to leave. As time went on, other potential love interests were introduced for both August and Flynn, making me unsure of how things would end.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Sunday 15 August 2021

Movie Review: Dream Horse (Do I Like Sports Films Now?)


Blog Tour: Review Of The Heights by Louise Candlish

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Heights by Louise Candlish. The book is already out there and (spoiler alert) I loved it. You can order your copy here. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about... 

He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you. 

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren't standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him. 

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.  You know this for a fact.  

Because you’re the one who killed him.  It’s time to confess what we did up there.

‘Kieran Watts has been dead for over two years when I see him standing on the roof of a building in Shad Thames…’


Review: I'm just in awe of how Louise Candlish crafts her novels. The writing style is just addictive and so so clever. I can't begin to image what the process of creating such tightly woven plot points is like. This novel just blew me away and I loved the different nature of the subject matter. 

This book explores in depth the overwhelming love and sense of protection a mother feels for her children. The intensity of feelings that Ellen has for her children Freya and Lucas comes off every page. The pressure she feels is portrayed to the reader and so a sense of urgency and an intense pressure came over me whenever I picked the book back up. I love the idea of the thrill of this novel coming from a mother's love for her son and her despair when he veers from his planned path and away from his potential in life. 

This book had so many twists and turns, I immediately read the first few chapters again after finishing the book because there were revelations along the way that I just didn't see coming and I wanted to know how they might have been hinted at right at the beginning. We also hav the trope of the unreliable narrator being turned on its head slightly. I haven't read anything else that makes use of that trope in quite as unconventional a way as this book and I was here for every minute of it. 

I had so many theories about what was going to happen throughout the course of this novel that I had to talk to someone about my ideas and my thoughts as I was reading it. It is a unique books and I know you will also find yourself thinking about Ellen and her story when you're away from it. I loved the structure, I loved the pressure it put on me as a reader and I loved the way Ellen's story is portrayed in this book. I really loved it and highly recommend The Heights by Louise Candlish. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday 11 August 2021

US Vs US Book Titles and Covers 2021-Why Are They So Different?


Guest Review: Summer Serendipity at the Twist and Turn Bakery by Helen J Rolfe

It’s summer in Heritage Cove, the picturesque village by the sea. Join some of your favourite characters and welcome new faces in this uplifting, romantic read brimming with character, community and friendship…

The Heritage Bakery is finally getting the makeover it deserves, with sisters Jade and Celeste modernising the place and putting their own stamp on it while retaining all the charm of days gone by. But Jade has far more planned than a brand-new kitchen and fancy cake designs. She’s ready for an even bigger change in her life. It’s almost time to take the next step and she knows just what to do to make that happen.

Etna owns the village tea rooms and when she hears that local man Harvey is looking for a labourer to help him renovate the bakery after being let down at the last minute, she suggests to her nephew Linc that it may just be the change he needs to get his head straight. Linc arrives in the Cove willing to give it a go and he works hard, but what he hadn’t envisaged was anything bordering on a romance - not with his track record or what he’s involved in right now.

When a tall, dark, handsome stranger appears in the village and turns Jade’s world upside down, will it be enough to make her abandon her plan before she even sets the wheels in motion? And has Linc missed his chance to tell her how he really feels?

It’s almost time for the wedding of the year for one of the village favourites and the annual Wedding Dress Ball. But when the sun begins to set, will anyone else be lucky in love?

This summer read is Book 3 in a series of standalone novels set in Heritage Cove, the little village by the sea…

Review: This is the third book in the Heritage Cove series from this author. Heritage Cove is a seaside village in the east of England and the books in the series follow the activities of its inhabitants. Each of the stories can be read as a standalone. I have enjoyed many of Helen J Rolfe’s books in the past, and looked forward to reading this one, although I have not read the others in the series. I certainly found it easy to catch up with the characters who had obviously been active in the previous parts of the series and I am sure that I shall now go back and read these books as well.

This story concerns sisters Jade and Celeste, who run the bakery in the village. They have decided to have the shop and kitchen renovated, giving the place a new look and a new name while retaining its outer facade. Local builder Harvey is overseeing the work, but is let down by his assistant and instead passes the labouring work on to Linc, nephew of Etna, the owner of the village tearoom. Linc is currently a supply teacher on summer break, and is considering where his life should go from here. Jade is also at a turning point in her life where she feels it is time to make an important change she has been planning. After a rocky start, there seems to be an attraction between Jade and Linc, but will this go any further? Meanwhile, the whole village is gearing up for the wedding of two important residents and the annual Wedding Dress Ball. 

I have very much enjoyed reading this book, and would happily recommend it to others looking for an easy-to-read story with some lovely characters. The village of Heritage Cove sounds a marvellous place to live, with oodles of community spirit and lots going on. As well as the tearoom and pub, there is the Waffle Shack and the bakery, so nobody needs to go hungry; Jade’s cakes sound absolutely mouth watering as well as very pretty. I liked the way in which the author keeps the reader guessing when both Jade and Linc have secrets that they are keeping to themselves. As well as the central story of Jade and Linc, there are also many minor tales involving other members of the community, adding to the overall enjoyment of the book. I was particularly amused by the way in which Jade and her sister chose the new name for the bakery; I wonder how long it took the author to come up with their decision. I don’t know if any more parts of this series are planned, but I would like to learn more about some of the interesting people who live in and visit Heritage Cove.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Monday 9 August 2021

Guest Review: The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well Birdy Finch didn't just imagine it. She did it. Which might've been an error. And the life she's run into? Her best friend, Heather's.

The only problem is, she hasn't told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems...

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she's ever actually liked (but who thinks she's someone else)

Review: I am unfamiliar with this author, although she has already published three young adult novels. I was attracted to this book when I saw a review published in a magazine, and decided that it sounded like something I would enjoy. How right I was! I listened to the audio version of the book and finished it quickly, lost in the narrative for hours at a time. 

The story follows the fortunes of Elizabeth Finch (Birdy to her friends), who is at a bit of a crossroads in her life. When her friend since childhood, Heather (a renowned sommelier), decides to turn down a summer job at a country hotel in the west highlands of Scotland, Birdy decides that this is her chance to get away from things for a while and contemplate her future. She is going to pretend to be Heather! However, the rundown hotel she thinks she is going to find is actually now a luxury destination with a Michelin-starred chef. Birdy had better find out about wine quickly, as she is supposed to be a very able sommelier. Fearing that she will be found out any day is only one of her problems, not least of which is falling for the place and the staff, in particular handsome sous chef James, and what will happen to their relationship when the truth finally emerges, as it surely must. 

This is such a warm and funny story that I’m sure will appeal to lots of readers looking for a bit of escapism. It may leave you hungry for some of the delicious food served up at this highland hotel along with an accompanying glass of something that has been paired with it by Birdy. All through the book, I had a longing to go and revisit the Scottish highlands, as I could picture the hotel by the loch from the author’s descriptions. Although the book centres on Birdy, there are some other fantastic characters in addition to the ones I have mentioned above, all of whom have interesting stories. I particularly liked motherly Irene, who was so kind and wanting to believe the best in everyone. On the other hand, I particularly disliked Birdy’s ex Tim and pompous head chef Russell. I was somewhat conflicted in my feelings towards Birdy - on one hand foolhardy and on the other courageous - but definitely likeable. I was concerned throughout for the reputation of both Heather and the hotel, and unsure how everything was going to turn out. No spoilers though; you have to read the book to find the answer.

To order your copy now just click the link: UK or US