Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Guest Review: New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse by Christie Barlow

When Heartcross’ resident clairvoyant tells Molly McKendrick to expect a whole lot of scandal and upset to blow in with the approaching winter storm, Molly doesn’t know what to think.

With a baby on the way any week now, and Christmas not far off, the last thing Molly needs is drama, but when she crosses paths with Bree, a sixteen-year-old homeless girl, and takes her in from the cold, secrets from the past flood the present and Molly, her partner Cam, and their son George, are soon experiencing a holiday season filled with unexpected festive surprises…


Review: This is book 9 in the Love Heart Lane series, stories set in and around the small village of Heartcross in the Scottish highlands. I have been following the series from the start and am enjoying learning more about the residents and newcomers to the village with each new book. Each story can be read as a standalone, even although they are all linked. This book has a map of the village at the beginning, useful for setting events in context. This story of the residents of the Old Bakehouse captured my imagination from the start, and for me was a quick and easy read.


The main characters in this story, which is set just before Christmas, are Molly and Cam, who live in the Old Bakehouse with their son, George. Cam is a skilled baker and is running a successful business. Vet Molly is helping out while on maternity leave, with her baby due any time. While delivering leftover baked goods from the shop to the local homeless shelter one evening, Molly meets a young girl, Bree, who has been living on the streets. Although Molly has never met her before, Bree feels somehow familiar to her. When Molly takes Bree in, it transpires that she is not the only one to feel some kind of link and a surprising history is revealed, filling in gaps in Molly’s past as well as that of the bakery.


 I very much enjoyed this latest story in the Love Heart Lane series. There is a lot going on in the lives of Molly and Cam over and above Christmas preparations. Although Molly played a central role in an earlier book in the series, this story gave a new insight into the character. Her meeting up with homeless Bree sparked off an investigation into a mystery that I found intriguing and enjoyed watching as it was gradually unravelled. Since the story is set partly in a bakery, there is mention of some mouth-watering breads and pastries, as well as some delicious sounding chocolate confections. Once more, I can recommend this ever-growing series of books.


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

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall 2022 TBR 20.9.22

 

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. 

I missed this one last week so we're doing it this week!

Firstly we have some recent and upcoming releases...








Then we have some books to add for nonfiction November/Netgalley November which is always a fun time...










Monday, 26 September 2022

Review: Together Again by Milly Johnson

Sisters Jolene, Marsha and Annis have convened at their beautiful family home, Fox House, following the death of their mother, the tricky Eleanor Vamplew. Born seven years apart, the women are more strangers than sisters.


Jolene, the eldest, is a successful romantic novelist who writes about beautiful relationships even though her own marriage to the handsome and charming Warren is complicated.

Marsha, the neglected middle child, has put all of her energy into her work, hoping money will plug the gap in her life left by the man who broke her young heart.

Annis is the renegade, who left home aged sixteen and never returned, not even for the death of their beloved father Julian. Until now.

So when the sisters discover that their mother has left everything to Annis in her will, it undermines everything they thought they knew. Can saying their final goodbyes to Eleanor bring them together again?

Together, Again is the story of truths uncovered and lies exposed, of secrets told – and kept. It is a novel about sister helping sister to heal from childhood scars and finding in each other support, forgiveness, courage and love.


Review: Once I started this book, I was hooked and I could not put it down. I read this novel in 2 great big delicious chunks. This book is definitely on the darker side of what we come to expect from this author but with the darkness comes the light of love found in family and the love found in unexpected or forgotten ties. 

I loved getting to meet these three sisters. They come from this big house in a village but they are by no means the March sisters. Because of the fact that they were born seven years apart, they were basically each raised as only children and so their bond is essentially non-existent at the start of the book. The beauty of this novel is the fact that we get to go on this journey with them of rediscovering their family, rediscovering a bond that was incredibly tenuous to begin with and therefore rediscovering themselves in the process. 

The house itself feels like a side character in this book too and I think that the house is essential to what happens between these three women and also their memories of their mother Eleanor, who we do get to hear some opinions from via a letter being drip-fed to us throughout the book. The house is cold and unforgiving, it holds so many memories within but memories that are unique to each woman and those memories start to unfold as new ties and new warmth are made. 

I really like the fact that each of these women are self-sufficient. They don’t need to be there for a place to stay, the thing that unites them is grief but they each have their own lives to lead. These are strong women who have made their own way and their won fortunes and at no point was I worried about their integrity because of that. I was worried about these women though and I think that sympathy for them definitely powered me to read more and carry on turning the pages in the hope that they would see the light. 

In true Milly Johnson style we have some particularly shitty male characters we have to deal with as well (of course) and the men in this book, on the whole are real pieces of work. Each woman has a man in their past or present that is not good news and so their new bonds definitely help them to better deal with these men but Joelene’s home situation definitely does come with some care-warnings so check the blurb before you read this one. 

I loved getting to meet and getting to know Jolene, Marsha and Annis. I think these characters and this book will stay with me for a long time. I would love love love to read more from them and I think you will too!


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


Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Guest Review: A Postcard From Capri by Alex Brown

In the Golden Age of Hollywood, Kelly Sinclair is on the cusp of becoming the next big movie star. Until then, she’s spending the summer of 1953 on the magical island of Capri…

Sixty years later, on a visit to her elderly grandmother’s cottage, photographer Maddie Williams unearths a box of old film memorabilia featuring a glamorous and beautiful young woman with platinum blonde hair. She also finds a postcard from the island of Capri, detailing the heart-breaking end of a passionate love affair.

Her grandmother now has trouble remembering anything from all those years ago. So when Maddie is commissioned for a photoshoot in Italy, she visits Capri to see if she can find out the truth. Can she unravel the mystery and discover what really happened in the summer of 1953, and will her magical island escape hold some surprises for Maddie, too?


Review: This is the third book in the Postcard series from Alex Brown, following on from A Postcard From Italy and A Postcard From Paris, both of which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. All of these books concern a search into a family’s history triggered by the discovery of an old postcard. In this case, the postcard is from the beautiful Italian island of Capri and the narrative is split between the 1950s and present day, forming the basis of a story which had me enthralled right from the start. 


The central characters in the story are aspiring photographer Maddie and her grandmother, Rose, who now lives in a care home and has early signs of dementia. When Maddie and her sister are looking through some old photos in Rose’s cottage, they come across a collection of theatre and film souvenirs, mainly from the 1950s, including pictures of a glamorous film star and also a postcard from the isle of Capri. They begin to wonder if that film star could possibly be their grandmother, but she is too confused to give them any further information. By chance, Maddie lands a photography contract in Italy, and decides to follow that up with a holiday in Capri, where she intends to do some research into the film star in the photos and her grandmother’s connections with the island. With some effort, she finally gets to the bottom of the mystery and discovers is a whole part of her family’s history that had been lost in the mists of time. 


I thought this was a charming, but powerful, story of a grand-daughter’s love for her grandmother leading her to travel many miles to help unravel a mystery from her past and put her mind at ease. Maddie discovered so much about Rose’s life in the 1950s; many happy times but also so much tragedy. The story of Rose’s life at that time was discovered only by some skilled investigating, and had me captivated; there was a surprise around every corner. Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed being transported to the stunning island of Capri, with its beautiful views, tasty cuisine and links with film stars from that bygone era. I would have loved to join Maddie on a terrace overlooking the mediterranean drinking limoncello cocktails. I highly recommend this book to other readers, but it may leave you, as it did me, with a hankering for a holiday on that lovely island.


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

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Guest Review: Tornado In The Eye of the Storm by John Nichol

 Former Tornado Navigator John Nichol tells the incredible story of the RAF Tornado force during the First Gulf War in 1991; the excitement and the danger, the fear and the losses. It is an extraordinary account of courage and fortitude.


‘We were doing about 620 miles-per-hour, 200 feet above the desert, in total darkness. Everything was running on rails as we approached the target. Then all hell broke loose. I remember the missile being fired at us; I broke left and shouted, “Chaff!”

 All I could see was a flame, like a very large firework, coming towards me. Then there was a huge white flash. I remember an enormous wind and then I was knocked unconscious. My last thoughts were that I was going to die.

In 1990, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion and occupation of neighbouring Kuwait, setting in motion a chain of events that had unimaginable political, military and personal repercussions, which still reverberate around the globe today.

This is the story of the aircrew at the heart of Operation Desert Storm, almost none of whom had any prior experience of armed combat. It is the story of the Tornado’s missions, of those who did not return - and of the families who watched and waited as one of the most complex conflicts in recent history unfolded live on television. It is a story of untold fear and suffering, and astounding courage in the face of hitherto unimaginable adversity.



Review: In August 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. A coalition force was formed to implement United Nations resolutions to restore Kuwait’s sovereignty. The United Kingdom was a member of the coalition and, to this end, aircraft of the Royal Air Force (RAF), including the Tornado ground-attack aeroplane, were deployed to bases in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The author, John Nichol was a navigator in the Tornado force. He was captured along with his pilot by Iraqi forces when their aircraft was shot down during a bombing raid in January 1991. He has written previously about his experiences during this time, but this book is more about the Tornado and the people who flew and maintained the aeroplanes, together with their families, during and after the conflict.

The Tornado, designed as a low level bomber during the Cold War, entered operational service with the RAF during the 1980s. Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, it was feared that their army could press on into Saudi Arabia and take over their oil wells. The first part of the coalition’s operation, named Desert Shield was to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s defences, to ensure Iraq did not invade, allowing time to build up sufficient forces before liberating Kuwait. The second phase of the operation, named Desert Storm and beginning in January 1991, was the eviction of the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Prior to ground troops entering Kuwait, the coalition needed to ensure air superiority. The RAF Tornadoes, with their low level capability, were at the forefront of this campaign, attacking air bases in Iraq using their runway-busting munitions. However, these tactics made them vulnerable to ground fire and, during the initial stages of the campaign, a number of aircraft were lost. Once it was established that the threat from Iraq’s Air Force had diminished, the Tornadoes switched their attacks to medium level and later used laser guided bombs.

The book describes the development of the Tornado and its deployment during what is known as the First Gulf War. During the hostilities, six tornadoes were lost over Iraqi-controlled territory. Of their twelve aircrew, seven were captured, whilst five unfortunately did not survive the crashes. The treatment of the prisoners is described, along with the effects of the losses on their colleagues and families. In most cases, the fate of those missing in action was unknown until after the ceasefire. I found these parts of the book, along with the descriptions of the prisoners’ repatriation, very moving. I should also add that the descriptions of the prisoners’ interrogations are fairly harrowing. The book describes briefly what some of the airmen and their families did after the conflict, and also deals with subsequent missions of the Tornado until it was withdrawn from service with the RAF in 2019.

I found the book to be full of interesting detail, as may be expected from someone who was in the thick of the action. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions, from the excitement and fear of a bombing mission under enemy fire, to the devastation caused by armed conflict, and to the emotions experienced by the service personnel and their families.

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

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Guest Review: The Creek by LJ Ross

YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE...

Kate Irving arrives at her grandfather’s cottage at Frenchman’s Creek in the dead of night with her young son, a small suitcase and little else. Its scattered community of fishermen, farmers, artists and jetsetters barely bat an eyelid, because theirs is a rarefied world, tucked beneath the lush forest that lines the banks of the Helford estuary, deep in the heart of Cornwall, where life is slow and people generally mind their own business. Unless, of course, your grandfather happens to be a pillar of the local community…

Kate’s left the past behind and guards her privacy and her son fiercely. She’s wary of accepting the friendship her new neighbours offer, but their kindness is too great to refuse and she begins to feel she has found her place in the world. That is, until tragedy strikes, and her new friends look to her for the answers…

Kate soon learns that the past always catches up with you, in the end—the question is, will she be able to face it, when it does?

Suspense is peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced mystery, set amidst the spectacular Cornish landscape.



Review: This is the second book in the Summer Mysteries Suspense Series by LJ Ross, an author whose mysteries and thrillers have always kept me enthralled. It has a really eye-catching cover depicting the setting for this story, which is Frenchman’s Creek, on the Helford estuary in Cornwall, familiar to many readers in the work by Daphne du Maurier. The storyline here had me hooked from the beginning and guessing how things would turn out right to the end.

The central character in this story is Kate Irving, who we first meet creeping out of her house at dead of night with her young son, Jamie. Though her husband, famous actor Will Irving, tries to stop them, they get away and travel a great distance, arriving at Kate’s grandfather’s cottage in Cornwall in the small hours. At first reticent to venture far from the cottage, Kate soon begins to relax and blends into a community where she spent happy times as a child. As well as the threat that her husband may find her at any minute, tragedy suddenly strikes the village and suspicion is thrown in Kate’s direction. Luckily she has an ally in the form of Nick, an old friend who has never forgotten her. The question remains of what will happen when Kate’s husband comes looking for her and who in the community is responsible for the tragic events?

I have very much enjoyed this suspenseful story and happily recommend it as light reading that might find its way into holiday packing. The setting of the book is idyllic and the writing such that I could imagine myself sitting outside the pub listening to the water flowing by. However, with the suspense connected with Kate’s situation and events in the village, it might not be so very relaxing. I was never sure of what was going to happen next and feared for the safety of Kate and Jamie - thank heavens that the strong and handsome Nick was close at hand. The author has hinted that these characters might crop up in future books; I will look forward to reading more about them.

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

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Blog Tour: Review of The Reason by Catherine Bennetto

 

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Reason by Catherine Bennetto. I have a review for you today but don't forget to stop by the other blogs on the tour for more reviews and exclusive content!

How much is the smile from the person you love worth to you?

 
Brooke’s life has derailed. Her social life and career have evaporated, her daughter is desperately unhappy and being bullied at school, and, for a 43-year-old, she probably spends way too many weekends at her parent’s. But the reason for all this is no mystery. A year and a half ago, Brooke’s husband died.
 
But Brooke does have one secret. Her husband’s death, the worst thing that has ever happened to her, has made her unbelievably rich.
 
Despite her despair, Brooke suddenly realises she has the power to make her daughter’s life, and the world a little brighter.


Review: A book about a mother and her teenage daughter getting ready to start a new school that’s released in autumn? Even the blurb alone gives me Gilmore Girl vibes and the relationship between Brooke and Hannah made sure that continued throughout the novel. 

Brooke is really struggling with grief and her daughter is too and so this book takes us on a journey of Brooke trying to help her daughter through her own trauma and grief responses whilst ignoring her own and the allout from that. I adored the love that Brooke has for her daughter, it is of course reciprocated, but the lengths that Brooke will go to to ensure that Hannah has a reason to smile and is living the best life possible is just wonderful to read about. 

I really liked getting to meet Hannah and discover more about what makes her tick. She is such a mature person and she really does know herself and what she wants. It’s been a while since I read a ‘secondary’ character who is so well rounded and who has stayed with me since finishing the book. Like a lot of children in their last year at school she has some friendship issues but her school is just so wholly unsupportive and clearly thinks it’s following policy when it really isn’t, it made me very very angry. 

Catherine Bennetto never fails to make me laugh with her writing, she has such a great sense of humour that she imparts on her characters. I laughed at so any points during the opening of this story and then there’s a moment where Brooke is shopping for a new bed that had me guffawing as I was reading it! The humour and the heart in this book is a great balance. 

So much of this book also involves family. Found family, family it’s easy to get along with and family it’s not so easy to get along with but there’s that bond that drives the whole thing and I really enjoyed exploring how different the idea of family can look to the same person in different contexts. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was so easy to come back to it the next day and I was always excited to pick it up. If you’re a GIlmore Girls fan, or if you’re not, I highly recommend No Reason by Catherine Bennetto.


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


Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Book Review: Is Girl Friends by Holly Bourne my Favourite Book of the Year?


via IFTTT

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Geographical Terms in the Title 13.8.22

 

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. 

This is an interesting one, I'm going to look through my goodreads read list and see what I can find...I think there will be more than I think!


















Thursday, 8 September 2022

Review: Girl Friends by Holly Bourne

 "Men see women in two separate categories. There are the women they sleep with, and the women they fall in love with. And they will treat you differently based on that."


From the day they first meet as teenagers Fern and Jessica are best friends. Despite their differences, they are there for each other throughout everything, navigating the difficulties of growing up and fitting in. That is, until Jessica crosses a line that Fern can't forgive.

But now, more than ten years later, Jessica has unexpectedly reappeared in Fern's life.

A lot has changed for them both - but can their relationship be different now they are older? Is it possible for either of them to rewrite the role that they have been cast in? Or will their shared history ultimately be doomed to repeat itself?

Set between the present day and the past, GIRL FRIENDS is a blisteringly funny and devastating novel: both a joyful celebration of female friendship and a razor-sharp look at the damage we can all cause to those we claim to love the most.


Review: I adored Holly Bourne’s last adult novel but I think I loved this one even more. You know when you want to stop doing other things or avoid other commitments in life because you want to stay home and read your book? Thatv was this book!

I think the main reason I connected with this book so much is because I related to it so hard. The main character in this book is one year younger than me and would have been rhe year below me at school so we had very similar experiences during our school years and beyond and just everything she was going through I could recognise and if it wasn’t happening directly to me the same way as it was to Fern, then I knew someone that it did happen to. I was quoting bits of the book outloud to friends and family as I was reading because I just felt like it was written about my own formative school years!

Fern is a great character to get to spend this book with because she is so beautifully imperfect, I feel like anyone could relate to her. She has her own mental health issues and her own self-esteem issues and there will definitely be millions of readers out there who can empathise with her as well as sympathies with her situation. She has a great career and a great relationship but she has this imposter syndrome because she still feels like the self that she was when she was a teenager. 

And then we have Jessica. She comes back into the picture and we know that this is not the most positive thing in the world but it takes until just about the very end of the book to find out why this is not such a positive thing. Jessica is wild and free and she seems to be good for Fern, in the beginning. I was always very anxious for Jessica, the choices that she made in the past and the choices that she makes in the current day thread of this story made me very concerned and I was always on the edge of my seat waiting for her to take things just one step too far. 

The structure of this story is also just perfect in every way. We flash back and forth between the present day storyline and the storyline of Ferns youth. Both timelines proceed in a chronological way but we switch back and forth just at the moment where we’re going to find out something juicy or see the consequences of someone's action. I think that is why this book gave me such anxiety as a reader, thankfully I read it over basically 2 days, because I was always worrying about what was going to happen next or what the fallout of something was going to be. I loved every minute of it though. 

The author's note at the end of this book really sums up why this book is important and why I connected with it so much. There are care warnings in that and at the start of the book so definitely have a look at this before picking this one up but if you’re ok with those then I highly recommend this book about growing up and friendship and having it all in the world that we live in today. Easily one of my top books of the year!


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


Wednesday, 7 September 2022

August 2022 Reading Wrap Up: Nonfiction Audiobooks, Quick Reads and Book vs Movie Listens!


via IFTTT

Guest Review: Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

It should be the most wonderful time of the year for Samantha and Josh as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby. But life at Hedgehog Hollow rarely goes to plan and the pair are faced with adversaries, old and new, and unexpected challenges to overcome.

Fizz's job at the heart of the rescue centre is a dream come true but her personal life is more like a nightmare. With her love life a disaster and her past about to dramatically catch up with her, she needs the love and support of her Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever.

As the snow falls over Hedgehog Hollow, will Samantha and Fizz find the Christmas miracle they need to overcome their heartache and find happiness?



Review: This is the sixth, and, sadly, last, book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, which has chronicled events in the life of Samantha and the hedgehog rescue centre she established in the Yorkshire Wolds. As with previous books in the series, the author has helpfully included details of recurring characters, a ‘story so far’ section and lists of useful facts about hedgehogs for those lucky enough to meet these cute and interesting animals. I have read all of these books in order as they were published and have enjoyed getting to know Samantha and the increasing cast of characters surrounding her. I was particularly looking forward to this one, as I love stories set in the run up to Christmas and beyond.


This story features most of the characters readers of the series will have encountered so far, but focuses mainly on Samantha and her friend and colleague Fizz. Samantha and husband Josh are excitedly looking forward to the arrival of their first child just after Christmas, although there is a busy time ahead before then. Fizz, on the other hand, is not so happy, with problems in her love life and a secret she has kept for many years about to be revealed. There is plenty of drama ahead for both girls, with happy and sad times, but luckily they are surrounded by the Hedgehog Hollow family to offer support, and hopefully there may be a Christmas miracle or two.


This is a wonderful end to this series of stories. I can recommend it without hesitation, but, as usual would suggest reading all the books in order to get the most out of the series. I found this possibly the most dramatic of all the stories in the series, with one worry after another about Samantha and her friends; just when one problem was solved, another was waiting round the corner it seemed. This made it a book that was very enjoyable, but not easy to put down. I shall miss hearing about Samantha and her ever expanding family, but at the same time look forward to reading more from Jessica Redland.


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

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved So Much I Had To Buy a Copy for my Personal Library 6.9.22

 

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. 

This is a 

list formed of books I read for review and then bought a beautiful finished copy, books I borrowed from the library and then bought myself a copy or books I had a copy of and then bought a special edition of after reading and loving them for a while...