Monday 31 January 2022

Review: The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

Two lonely people.
One note in the window.
And what happens when they reach out…

Lachlan Wallace is stuck at home after a car accident stalled his army career. With months of physiotherapy still to endure and only his rescue dog and cat for company, he’s taken to gazing out of the window, watching the world spin on without him. And then he notices a vase of flowers on the windowsill of the apartment opposite his. Drawn to their hope and colour, he decides to reach out and sticks a message in his window…

Bethan Gwynne is a stranger in a new town. Bringing up her son Noah by herself, she is slowly rebuilding her life, but loneliness is one obstacle she has yet to overcome. She’s intrigued by a glimpse of her neighbour in the apartment across from hers – and then, one evening, she sees a message in his window just for her:


And so begins a love story of two people reaching out, daring to trust a stranger…

Review: This book was everything I needed to read right now. It is full of hope and feeling and positivity and all of that comes from a place of zero judgement so I just loved it. 

This book is told from the perspective of Lachie and Bethan. I love a dual narrative, but I love it even more when there's the chance that those two narratives are going to cross paths and fall in love and you get the feeling that might just happen in this case right from the word go. This book is also the slowest possible burn. All the information we get about these two amazing people is just so slowly drip fed to us, they are so intriguing and so you just have to keep turning the pages!

Lachie is living in his flat with his cat and dog, we know he has been injured but we don't know how and we don't know what the fallout from that is going to be. Bethan has just moved into the flats across the street and we know that she has experienced some unhappiness but again we don't know what. It is almost infuriating waiting for details about these two and what impact that is going to have on the storyline. Of course being a dual narrative, as soon as we do get some key details, we switch back to the other side of the hedge-just so clever. 

As mentioned above, this is full of the trademark Miranda Dickinson positivity. We know these two characters obviously have it tough but they are trying to make the most of it, trying to find the beauty in life and trying to work as hard as they can to ensure their own stamp on the world but they are also honest about how they're feeling, even if they don't always share that until the last minute. I love how we get to see Lachie open up at times. So often in this genre men don't share their emotions and don't talk about their insecurities, there's a stereotype for the male lead and being emotional isn't part of that so it was so refreshing that even though this book is full of hope, there are real human emotions shown from both our leading characters here. We see Bethan struggling with being a single mum and the pressure that society puts on mums and we see Lachie struggling with the grief of being separated from his usual personal and professional routine and the toll that that can take on a person. 

I adored this story, the romance was so sweet and yet so intense and the storyline was unlike anything I've read before. I loved getting to know Bethan and Lachie. I loved the familiar North Yorkshire setting and I even loved learning a little bit about the inner workings of a garden centre. I highly recommend this book and I truly believe it is the book you need to read right now!

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

Saturday 29 January 2022

Guest Review: The Classical Music Map of Britain By Richard Fawkes

The Classical Music Map of Britain is a charming and fascinating journey around the UK from a classical music perspective. Extensively researched and beautifully written, every entry explains why each place was so special to the composer in question, which pieces were composed there, and whether it's currently open to the public. The Classical Music Map of Britain is an enchanting adventure around some of our lesser-known landmarks - perfect for any lover of history or classical music, or those keen to discover a bit more about how music has shaped our country.

Review: This book is a compilation of various locations in which famous classical music composers and performers have lived, stayed or performed in the United Kingdom. It is divided into the the different countries of the UK, namely England (with a separate section covering London), Wales, Scotland and, since it was part of the UK until the 1920s, Ireland.

The author has selected the locations on the basis of their having a significant impact on the musician’s life or output. Also, those still living at the time of the book’s compilation are not included in order to safeguard their privacy. The result is a detailed guide to various locations associated with composers and performers. It is not just British musicians that are covered, but also ones from overseas, such as Mozart and Mendelssohn, who undertook visits to and concert tours of the UK. There is a map at the beginning of each section showing the various locations, and the text gives details about whether or not a particular place is open to the public.

I found the book to be interesting inasmuch that it described many musicians with whom I was not familiar. However, it did feel more like a gazetteer of the British Isles. I feel that the inclusion of an index at the end of the book would have been helpful, allowing all the locations associated with a particular musician to be referenced. In addition, I found that the maps were too small and difficult to read, which rather defeated their objective. As a niche book, it would be of appeal to classical music lovers.

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

Wednesday 26 January 2022

22 Books I Definitely Want To Read in 2022


Guest Review: The Staycation by Cressida McLaughlin

Travel agent, Hester Monday, has been keeping a secret …

Thanks to her fear of flying, she hasn’t been on a plane in years. Now Hester wants to make a good impression on her newest client, Jake Oakenfield, who was heroically injured saving an old lady, and is now laid up in a luxury hotel.

For Jake, unable to return to New York, binge watching Netflix just won’t do. He wants Hester to invent the ultimate escape and re-create her most magical holidays abroad from the confines of his hotel room.

As their perfect mini-breaks around the globe take on a life of their own, Hester wonders if her world of make-believe is all starting to feel just a little too real…

Review: I always enjoy books written by Cressida McLaughlin, and have recently been following and entranced by her Cornish Cream Tea series. I was pleased to find this new story from her and was intrigued to find out what kind of staycation I was to be treated to; we have all become much more familiar with this term of late, but it means very different things to different people. I was instantly alert as my eye was drawn to my surname on the very first page of the story, but this was a mere detail in a tale that had me engrossed from this page to the last.

The story concerns mainly two people - Hester Monday, a travel agent with a fear of flying, and Jake Oakenfield, a tourist marooned in London following an accident, injuries from which have prevented him for now from flying home to New York. Jake is lucky enough to be spending his enforced vacation in a luxurious hotel, but is frustrated by his inability to get around and in dire need of entertainment. When his sister sends Hester along to plan a holiday for him when he has recovered, he instead asks her to visit daily and describe details of what he imagines are her magical escapes around the world. Of course, Hester, unable to board a plane, hasn’t been to any his desired destinations, but, with the help of the hotel staff, manages to transform Jake’s hotel suite into some exotic locations and depict some experiences to be enjoyed there. As the days pass, Hester begins to feel herself drawn to Jake and he to her, but she is worried about how he will react when he finds out she has been lying to him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end and would not hesitate to recommend it to others. It is, as described, a romantic escape and one that I did not want to end. The story is filled with interesting and well formed characters who I’m confident I would enjoy meeting. I loved watching as Hester and Jake became closer and closer, but, like Hester, feared the outcome when Jake discovered the truth, as of course he must; I was never quite sure how he would react. The ending was all that I hoped it would be, but the story was so skilfully written that it was never a foregone conclusion. Although the circumstances of Jake’s ‘incarceration’ were unfortunate, his suite and the hotel as a whole sounded absolutely wonderful, especially with that amazing concierge on hand; I wouldn’t mind spending a few days there myself. I am already missing Hester and Jake - the sign of a good story - I would love to know what they did next.

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

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors I Read in 2021



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 love this week's list and it ties in nicely with this week's scheduled video! We've ended up with nearer to 20 BUT I've enjoyed the reflection so I chose 19!

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Guest Review: Ice Creams at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown

The third book in the delightful series set in Carrington’s Department Store
Georgie Hart and Carrington’s Department Store have got the world at their feet. Since a reality TV series put them both on the map, life has been amazing! Carrington’s profits are in the pink, Georgie has carved herself a place in the nation’s heart and even better, her romance with Tom, the store’s boss, has finally blossomed after a shaky start.
Now summertime has come to Mulberry-on-Sea and Georgie is in great demand. The town is holding a big summer festival and she and her mates from Carrington’s are planning on making sure that Mulberry puts on the show of its life!
But Georgie is about to get the offer of a lifetime – one that is just too good to turn down and something that will test her loyalties to their limits… Will Georgie be able to pull off it off once again, or has her luck finally run out?

Review: This is book 3 in a series about Carrington’s department store, set in the fictional town of Mulberry-on-Sea, and the staff who work there. I have read and liked quite a few of Alex Brown’s more recent books, and thought I would give one of her older novels a try. I have read it as a stand-alone and found it unnecessary to have read the other two books in the series; relationships between characters are well enough explained. It certainly sounds a wonderful store to visit and to work in.

As the reader joins the story of the store, the central character, Georgie Hart, is in a blossoming relationship with store boss Tom Carrington, and has established herself as a valuable employee in her role as personal stylist. Her abilities are put to the test when she is chosen to represent the company in organising a regatta in the town. However, at the same time, she is given an amazing opportunity that involves a fantastic trip that she could only have dreamed of, she has worries about her father’s health, and Tom is pressing her to take their relationship to another level. How can she cope with all the pressures at once?

This was an engaging and well written story with lots of interesting characters in addition to Georgie herself. I think it would make an excellent summer read.

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

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Top 10 Nonfiction Books & Audiobooks I Read in 2021-Which Books Should Be on Your 2022 Reading List?


Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases I Was Excited For but Didn't Get To


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 great list because there are always books I'm so excited to read but just don't get the chance to get to. Perhaps I'm waiting for my hold at the library to come in or perhaps I buy them but never get to them. 

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Guest Review: A Winter Wedding at Mistletoe Gate Farm by Helen J Rolfe

It's almost Christmas in Heritage Cove - the village tree is all lit-up, the bakery is full of festive treats, the tea rooms and waffle shack are welcoming locals inside out of the cold, and for some of the residents of the Cove, snow might not be the only thing they're wishing for this year...

Tilly is overjoyed when an estranged relative comes to Heritage Cove wanting to make amends. But as she lets him in to her life and Tilly’s Bits ‘n’ Pieces - the shop she owns and loves - her friends aren’t so sure whether everything is quite as it seems.

Benjamin’s parents run Mistletoe Gate Farm, selling Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe. Benjamin has always thought his family was as firmly rooted in the ground as the rows of Norway Spruce and Fraser Firs. But when he finds a letter that rocks his world he realises he may not be able to do anything to prevent the changes coming their way.

Benjamin and Tilly have been falling for one another since the summer but will family complications put an abrupt stop to what is looking like a burgeoning romance?

With festive cheer weaving its way through the Cove as two local favourites plan their wedding, there’s more than one relationship that could receive a little Christmas magic…

Review: This is book 4 in the Heritage Cove series that features events in the lives of characters and visitors in the village by the sea. Although this is a series with many recurring characters, each book can be read as a standalone. I have read some of the series so far and found all the stories entertaining and fast paced.

This story centres mainly on Tilly, who owns Tilly’s Bits ‘n’ Pieces, the gift shop she inherited from her grandmother. With Christmas just around the corner, the shop is busy with people looking for last minute gifts. Tilly is surprised and delighted when an uncle she knew nothing about turns up out of the blue and takes an interest in her business. However, her friends in the Cove are suspicious of this stranger. One of her particular friends is Benjamin, chef at the local pub and son of the owners of Mistletoe Gate Farm, local growers of Christmas trees and mistletoe. As well as worrying about Tilly’s mysterious uncle, he is concerned that all is not well with his parents and the farm. All this is set against the background of the upcoming wedding of a local couple. Can Tilly and Benjamin’s close friendship develop into something more with all that is going on around them?

I absolutely loved this light festive romance, with its air of mystery and danger surrounding a newcomer to the area. Having read some of the books in the series, I was familiar with the main characters in this one and was interested to learn a bit more about them. Tilly is such a kind and welcoming person that I found myself genuinely worried that she was going to end up in serious trouble. Of course, with so many kindly residents of the village watching out for her I needn’t have been concerned. Heritage Cove has such amazing community spirit; definitely a place I would love to live. I can highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an uplifting read this Christmas. I’m sure new readers will want to catch up with the rest of the books in the series.

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

Saturday 8 January 2022

Guest Review: The Distant Echo By Val McDermid

The first novel in the bestselling Karen Pirie series

The award-winning Number One bestseller and Queen of crime fiction Val McDermid carves out a stunning psychological thriller. The past is behind them, but what’s still to come will tear them apart…

Some things just won’t let go.
The past, for instance.
That night in the cemetery.
The girl’s body in the snow.

On a freezing Fife morning four drunken students stumble upon the body of a woman in the snow. Rosie has been raped, stabbed and left for dead in an ancient Pictish cemetery. And the only suspects are the four young men now stained with her blood.

Twenty-five years later the police mount a ‘cold case’ review of Rosie’s unsolved murder and the four are still suspects. But when two of them die in suspicious circumstances, it seems that someone is pursuing their own brand of justice. For the remaining two there is only one way to avoid becoming the next victim – find out who really killed Rosie all those years ago…

Review: This is the first book in the Karen Pirie crime thriller series, although she doesn’t appear in the story until well into the book. Detective Constable (DC) Karen Pirie works in Fife Constabulary’s cold case revue team based in Glenrothes (the story is set prior to the merger of Scotland’s eight regional forces to form Police Scotland). Much of the book is set in the town of St Andrews, home to Scotland’s oldest university, but some of the action occurs in the USA.

The story begins in December 1978 when four St Andrews University students, on their way back to their hall of residence in the small hours of the morning after a night on the town, stumble across a young woman lying in the snow dying from a stab wound. Unable to save the woman, the four young men find that the finger of suspicion points at them as the suspects in her murder. With very little physical evidence to go on, no arrests are made and the police enquiry is eventually wound down. However, 25 years later, Fife Constabulary announces that a cold case review will take place, and it is allocated to Karen Pirie. The hope is that advances in forensic science during the intervening period will allow tests with more discriminatory power to be carried out on old material from the case.

The narrative concentrates mainly on the four students and their later careers. At the time, they felt that they were treated as suspects, rather than witnesses, and this affected their lives. The story moves at a fast pace and there are many twists to the plot. I particularly enjoyed the forensic aspects of the book, which I thought were well researched. Val McDermid is adept at describing locations, and being familiar with several of them, I was able to place myself in the middle of the action. I listened to the audiobook version and thought that the narrator did a good job voicing the different characters and their accents.

I found this to be an exciting crime thriller with many twists and turns to keep the listener, or reader, guessing. Although Karen Pirie does not feature prominently in this book and her character is not developed strongly, it lays the foundation for further books in the series. I should add a care warning that there is a lot of strong language and descriptions of violence in the book. In addition, although the books in this series can be read as stand-alones, I would strongly recommend that you read this one before the second one in the series “A Darker Domain”, since the second book gives away the outcome of the first.

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

Thursday 6 January 2022

December 2021 Reading Wrap Up: Did I Read All The Books on My TBR?


December 2021 Reading Wrap Up: Did I get to All of The Books on my TBR?

So here we are with the December wrap up. The month started out pretty strong, if you've seen my Vlogmas videos you'll know that I was really enjoying listening to my TBR via audiobook on my commute but then as soon as the Christmas holidays began, I just didn't have time for a whole lot of reading. There's one book from my December TBR that I didn't get to but I got all but the final section read and I'll finish that when my library hold comes back again in January. 

See if you can spot the trend here...


Nothing to see here!

Physical Books

No physical books either...



My Videos

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Guest Review: A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

It's time for the wedding we've all been waiting for...

Life at Hedgehog Hollow is never dull, although Samantha hopes that the new year ahead will be a little less chaotic as she prepares to marry the love of her life, Josh. But disaster strikes when she checks the rescue centre's bank account after the festive season and discovers it has been emptied. Who would do such a thing, and why? With the future of Hedgehog Hollow now in jeopardy, planning a wedding has lost its shine.

Phoebe is desperate to escape the shadow of her family, infamously known for their attacks on Samantha's beloved rescue centre. Could the kindness of the Hedgehog Hollow team be the chance she needs for a fresh start, or will her family's secrets continue to drag her back?

Review: This is the fourth book in Jessica Redland’s Hedgehog Hollow series, which follows the fortunes of Samantha Wishaw and the hedgehog rescue centre she has established at Hedgehog Hollow farm in the Yorkshire Wolds. As a fan of Jessica Redland, I have been following this series from book one and looking forward to the next instalment as soon as I have finished the last. The cast of recurring characters grows with every book and I am enjoying watching each of them develop. All of the books, including this one, can be read as a standalone, but they make a wonderful continuing saga if read in sequence. If you haven’t read the earlier books, or can’t remember what has gone before, the author has helpfully started this book with a recap and some character details.

This story brings to the fore Phoebe, a student who has been helping out with the accounts for Hedgehog Hollow. Samantha and the other volunteers at the rescue centre know little about her, but the secrets she has tried to keep hidden slowly emerge after money is stolen from the charity’s account. Samantha has been looking forward to her upcoming wedding to Josh, but all thoughts of those plans have to be put to one side as she tries to help Phoebe escape the clutches of her no-good family and work out how to keep the rescue centre running with no funds. Meanwhile, Samantha is wondering whether her strained relationships with her mother and cousin might be easing as her wedding day approaches.

I really enjoyed this latest book in this series, and can highly recommend it to other readers. It is certainly a fast moving and emotional story, with never a dull moment for the characters and scary situations for some of them. The storyline contains many serious topics including fraud, drug dealing and abuse; some of the descriptions were hard to read and left me feeling anxious for the characters. However, these dark episodes are balanced by the lighter moments where friendship and love shine through. The story had me in tears many times, sometimes happy ones and other times sad. Through all of this, the story always returns to the peaceful surroundings of Hedgehog Hollow with its many spiny lodgers, and, in this case, the promise of a grand wedding. At the end of the book, the author has added some useful facts about hedgehogs and what to do if you encounter one.

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

Tuesday 4 January 2022

January 2022 TBR: New Book Releases & Audiobooks I Want To Catch Up on Reading!


Top Ten Tuesday: 22 Books I'm Excited For in 2022


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.

So you'll notice that this isn't actually a top 10 Tuesday but instead is a top 22 Tuesday HOWEVER the theme for this week was top 10 releasing books releasing in the first half of 2022 and I had like 20 books on my list so thought I may as well turn this post into my 22 books I'm excited for in 2022. I've divided them into months because we know that actual release dates move and change all the time right now!