Monday 28 February 2022

Guest Review: The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan

Two’s a love story. Three’s a crowd.

In Stockholm’s oldest quarter, Bell Everhurst loves her job working as a nanny for the rich and charming Hanna and Max Mogert, caring for their three children.

But one morning, everything changes. A woman from a clinic Bell has never heard of asks her to pass on the message that Hanna’s husband is awake. But the man isn’t Max.

As the truth about Hanna’s past is revealed, the consequences are devastating. As the family heads off to spend their summer on Sweden’s idyllic islands, will Bell be caught in the crossfire?

Review: I have read very few books by this author, but was attracted by the title and cover of this one, and very much intrigued upon reading the synopsis. It is set in Sweden, a country I have visited once and I looked forward to visiting again in this story that features the stunning archipelagos off the coast, where many people spend their summer.

The story centres upon the Mogert family (Max, Hanna, 9-year-old Linus and 3-year-old twins Tilde and Elise) and their English nanny Bell, who live in Stockholm. Thanks to Bell, all runs smoothly in the busy household. Everything changes, however, when Bell answers a telephone call from a doctor leaving an urgent message for Hanna telling her that her husband, Emil, has woken up. Bell is confused by this information: surely Max is Hanna’s husband and she just saw him a few minutes ago. However, it appears that Hanna is not confused, and this news heralds a whole series of events that threatens to change the lives of Bell and the family forever.

I absolutely loved this book and can highly recommend it. It is one of those books that I really did not want to put down, so involved was I in the drama and mystery of the story. I am not going to go into too much detail since I wouldn’t want to risk spoiling the story for other readers. I will say that the book is beautifully written, drawing the reader into the world of the characters on the page. There are some almost heartbreaking moments, but also some romance. The marvellously well-described settings had me dreaming of a sunny beach holiday. This is definitely a book that would make a perfect summer read.

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

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Guest Review: Should I Tell You? by Jill Mansell

Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele met as teenagers in the Cornish seaside home of kind-hearted foster parents. Years on, the bond between them is unbreakable

But Amber has a secret. She's in love with Lachlan. She can't tell him, because that would never work - he's definitely not the settling-down type. Surely it's better to keep him as a friend than to risk losing him for good?

Raffaele has his own dilemma. He had the dream girlfriend in Vee, until it all went horribly wrong . . . and he still can't understand why. Is Vee hiding something from him?

Now their widowed foster dad Teddy has found new love. Younger, charming and beautiful, Olga seems perfect. But is she? Or will she break Teddy's fragile heart?

Against a backdrop of sparkling seas and sunny skies, the unexpected is always just around the corner. Welcome to Lanrock!

Review: I have yet to read a story from Jill Mansell that I did not enjoy, so I was looking forward to the release of her book for 2022. I bought the audiobook as soon as possible and was immediately absorbed in the story. The setting is a lovely Cornish seaside town; a map of that town showing some key locations is included at the beginning of the book, a feature that I always enjoy. 

The story concerns three people who met as teenagers when they were fostered by a caring couple, Teddy and May, living in the small seaside town of Lanrock. Sadly, May has since died, but the three she cared for have stayed firm friends with each other and with Teddy. Amber owns a stained glass studio in the town, chef Lachlan has a restaurant there and celebrity hairdresser Raffaele has a salon round the corner. All is not as peaceful as it seems in their lives. Amber is hiding her love for Lachlan for fear of spoiling the dynamic among the friends, Lachlan also has hidden feelings for her, Raffaele is worried about the behaviour of one-time partner Vee, and all three are worried about Teddy, who has turned up with a new, younger girlfriend, Olga. Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele are concerned that Olga may have ulterior motives for the attention she is giving Teddy.

This is a lovely story of family, friendship and romance, told with Jill Mansell’s usual warmth. The characters are all well developed and believable, with their own stories and their own secrets. As well as the central characters, there are many others in the story, some of whom also have a major part to play in the overall tale. Of course, since there is a chef amongst the cast, there is mention of some mouthwatering dishes as well. The setting for the book sounds like the kind of place we would all like to visit and stay awhile, with the sea on the doorstep and some interesting places to explore. I’m sure that other readers will enjoy this book as much as I have.

I must add that I had problems with the audio version of the book that I bought from Audible. Unfortunately, it was faulty in that there was a portion in the wrong place that contained a big spoiler, and another chapter had been missed out altogether. I was advised to download the book again for a fault-free version, which I did, but I was disappointed that the original version had spoiled my enjoyment of the story to a certain degree.

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

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Guest Review: The Farmhouse of Second Chances by Helen Rolfe

Home is where the heart is...

Joy has made a family for herself. She's turned her beautiful old farmhouse into a safe haven for anyone who is looking for a new beginning. She's always ready with a kind word, a nugget of advice and believes that anyone can change their life for the better, if they really want to.

Libby has exchanged her high-flying job in New York for a break in the quiet Somerset countryside. She's soon drawn into Joy's world and into her family of waifs and strays - including Drew, whom Joy once helped get back on his feet.

So when a secret from Joy's past threatens everything, can the unlikely group come together to give Joy a second chance of her own?

Review: This author is a firm favourite of mine; I have read and enjoyed most of her books. This one unusually took me a while to get into, but once it had me hooked, I finished it in no time and was glad that I had stuck with it. The book has a lovely setting on a farm in the peaceful Somerset countryside that is owned by an amazing woman. 

The story concerns Joy, who is living in The Old Dairy, a farmhouse on the edge of a Somerset village. Now approaching the age of 70, she has shared the farmhouse with many less fortunate young people she has met along the way, trying to help them deal with their problems and set them on a better path in the world. She inherited the house and adjoining land from a kindly couple who took her in and helped her once upon a time. She herself was disowned by her family; the reason for this is a secret that she has kept to herself for many years and which emerges gradually as the story progresses. The only family member who has kept in contact is her niece, Libby, who arrives from the USA for a visit out of the blue; she knows nothing of the drama which caused the family rift all those years ago. She soon fits into life in the farmhouse, and becomes drawn to Drew, one of the people given a second chance by Joy’s kindness, and now a local business owner. However, Joy’s secret suddenly threatens to disrupt everything when it becomes known by an unscrupulous character, and she suddenly needs saving herself.

I can highly recommend this heartwarming story of a caring woman, her adopted family and a wonderful community. I was interested to read the background stories of some of the people who Joy has helped over the years, and loved that many have stayed around to repay her kindness. The story is full of likeable characters, whether in Joy’s immediate ‘family’ or in the village. I enjoyed the way in which the story was arranged, with different chapters told from the perspective of Joy or Libby. You can almost feel Libby relaxing into the new environment in which she finds herself - a far cry from the hustle and bustle of New York and a high pressure job. The way in which Joy’s secret of why she was cast out from her family emerges is very clever. There are little hints as to what went on, but I could never have guessed at the whole truth; it was a sad and amazing story with many repercussions. Once again, a marvellous story from Helen Rolfe that I’m sure others will enjoy.

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

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Too Good to Review Properly (I have no words!)



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.

Ooo I like this list, sometimes it's so hard to do a book justice when you review it and sometimes its so hard to review without giving spoilers!

Wednesday 9 February 2022

Guest Review: Heartcross Castle by Christie Barlow

Love Heart Lane – where friends are there for you no matter what

A second chance…

When her grandfather Marley passes away Grace Power discovers she’s been left the beautiful but crumbling estate of Heartcross Castle. As a single mum of three, Grace has no idea what she’s going to do with it – but who can say no to a roof over their kids’ heads and a chance to get away from past hurts?

And a forever home

Heartcross Castle is full of secrets – especially a lost security deposit box that holds the truth to everything… But when celebrity chef Andrew Glossop sets his eyes on the castle and, to make matters worse, mistakes Grace as the new housekeeper, Grace tells him there is absolutely NO CHANCE he is getting his hands on her home.
Devastated to have got it so wrong, Andrew will do anything to make it up to her – but is she willing to listen?

Review: This is book 7 in the Love Heart Lane Series by this author. Each book in the series is set in the Scottish highland village of Heartcross. There are several recurring characters in the collection, but each story adds a new character or characters and can be read as a standalone. I have been following the growing series from the beginning and have found each story quick to read and entertaining. As with the preceding book in the series, I listened to the well-narrated audio version.

In this latest story we meet Grace Power and her three young sons. As a teenager, Grace had run away from Heartcross Castle, where she was living with her grandfather who had brought her up following the death of her mother. Never having seen her grandfather since that day, she is amazed to find that he had bequeathed her the castle on his death. However, she is incredibly relieved to be able to escape with her boys from her abusive partner and put a roof over their heads. On arrival at the castle, she is dismayed to find it in a poor state and surprised to find celebrity chef Andrew Glossop living in the once servants’ quarters. After a turbulent start, Grace and Andrew gradually become closer, and, along with Grace’s old friends from the village, begin to restore the castle and grounds to their former glory. Grace also discovers some things about her grandfather’s past that she did not know along the way.

I have very much enjoyed this latest book in the series. It has so much going for it, with a strong female lead, a stunning setting, a handsome man waiting in the wings and the sense of community in the village that regular readers of the series will recognise. I really admired Grace and her determination to look after her boys. She was even prepared to take on the formidable Andrew if necessary. However, I was glad that he turned out to be more flexible than she expected, and I loved the way in which he respected the boys. The story about how her grandfather had come to own the castle was very moving in itself. I can highly recommend this truly heartwarming book, and indeed all the books in this series, to other readers.

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

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Love Stories 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.

Today was a love freebie so I decided to look at great love stories I read in 2021! These are in no particular order...

February 2022 TBR: New Releases & Audiobook Reading Plans!


Friday 4 February 2022

January 2022 Reading Wrap Up

 So January wasn't the best reading month for me. I had to try hard not to compare this January to the last couple of years because in recent years January has been an amazing reading month for me. 

I didn't get to everything on my TBR but I did start enjoying audiobooks on my commute again. I had a week of isolation so I thought I would read more than I did but I just ended up doing a lot of work so then I was too tired to read when it got to after school time!

As always I will break this down into the kinds of books that I read. 


My Review

Physical Books

I started The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs but I didn't get very far so it's on the February TBR. 


Thursday 3 February 2022

February 2022 TBR: New Releases and Audiobook Reading Plans

 So January was tough for reading and I feel like I'm not going to be able to get to as many paperbacks and eBooks as I've previously been able to until the next big school holiday (I'm looking at you April!) so here are my reading plans for February...

February Releases

(I have these pre-ordered on audiobook)

3rd February

8th February

17th February

(I have this special edition pre-ordered)

10th February

March Releases

3rd March

3rd March

Other Audiobooks

Reading Year 2021: What Was My Favourite Book of Each Month of Last Year & How Many Did I Read?


Wednesday 2 February 2022

Guest Review: The Impulse Purchase by Veronica Henry

Sometimes you have to let your heart rule your head . . .

CherryMaggie and Rose are mother, daughter and granddaughter, each with their own hopes, dreams and even sorrows. They have always been close, so when, in a moment of impulse, Cherry buys a gorgeous but rundown pub in the village she grew up in, it soon becomes a family affair.

All three women uproot themselves and move to Rushbrook, deep in the heart of Somerset, to take over The Swan and restore it to its former glory. Cherry is at the helm, Maggie is in charge of the kitchen, and Rose tends the picturesque garden that leads down to the river.

Before long, the locals are delighted to find the beating heart of the village is back, bringing all kinds of surprises through the door.

Could Cherry's impulse purchase change all their lives - and bring everyone the happiness they're searching for?

Escape to the glorious Somerset countryside with this joyful and uplifting story of family, love and hope.

Review: I have been looking forward to a new book from Veronica Henry, an author whose works never fail to please me. In common with many of her books, this one has a lovely cover which promises a visit to a rural riverside setting in the country. That is exactly what I got, in a compelling and inspiring story, which had me lost in its pages every time I sat down to read. 

This is the story of women from three generations of the same family who set out to achieve the seemingly impossible and learn a lot about themselves in the process. Grandmother Cherry, fast approaching 70 years of age, on an impulse buys a rundown pub in Rushbrook, the small Somerset village where she grew up, and where that same pub used to be the heart of the village. Daughter Maggie has become disillusioned with the business she has been running for many years and decides to join her mother in bringing the pub back to life, focusing on her specialist area - culinary matters. Granddaughter Rose brings the horticultural skills she learned from her great grandmother to the venture. Although Cherry’s partner disapproves of the idea, the three women, along with Rose’s small daughter Gertie, move to the village and begin the refurbishment of the pub and its riverside garden, setting themselves an incredibly short deadline for its completion. Their efforts touch the lives of many local people as well as changing all of their own lives into the bargain. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing story of what can be achieved with determination, even in later years of life. I liked and admired all three women, each at difficult points in their life, suffering family losses and looking for direction. The characters that they met along the way while involved in their project were also likeable and believable. However, I felt a little sorry for Cherry’s partner, who is just about to retire and looking forward to setting out on new adventures with her when she drops the bombshell that she has bought a pub; he is sure that she will fail in her new enterprise and makes his feelings known. I loved that each chapter in the book is told from different perspectives, from the point of view of one of the central female characters, or one of the local women who feature in the story. The pub’s setting sounds absolutely idyllic, with its garden that stretches down to the river with swans gliding past; I could easily see myself sitting there enjoying a glass of something to accompany some of the delicious food coming out of the newly refurbished kitchen. I have no hesitation in recommending this heartwarming summery story to other readers; if new to Veronica Henry, then this would be a great place to start.

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

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Names in the Title



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.

Another great list, I've tried to make it books that I've read in this category... I had to stop in the end because it turns out I have read a lot of books with names in the title! If authors have multiple titles with names (Paige Toon and Sandhya Menon I'm looking at you!) I've only included one of their works.