Wednesday 27 April 2022

Guest Review: A Wedding in Provence by Katie Fforde

Late summer, 1963

Fresh from London and a recent cookery course, Alexandra has always loved a challenge.

Which is why she now finds herself standing outside an imposing chateau in Provence.

Waiting for her inside is three silent, rather hostile children who are to be her charges for the next month.

They will soon be more friendly, she tells herself. All they need is some fun, good food and an English education.

Far more of a challenge though is their father - an impossibly good looking French count with whom she is rapidly falling in love . . .

I do love a book from Katie Ffforde and have been eagerly awaiting her new release, which I snapped up in audio format as soon as it was available. The title promised a trip to France, but gave no clue to the complex tale within that took me back quite a few years and kept me entertained there for many pleasant hours. 

The story begins in 1963 where the reader meets Alexandra, a young woman who has lived in the grand family house in London cared for by various nannies and companions since the death of her parents some years before. Her guardians now wish her to attend finishing school in Switzerland and she is reluctantly on her way there, stopping over in Paris for just 24 hours. However, a chance meeting with a young American lady leads to her procuring a temporary job working for a count - Antoine. What she doesn’t realise when she accepts the post is that the job involves acting as nanny to his three children who consider themselves too old to need a nanny, and that the count’s home is not in Paris, but a chateau in Provence. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Alexandra sets out to win round her charges, but can she stop herself from falling for their handsome father into the bargain?

I absolutely loved this charming story and can highly recommend it. There is so much more to it than the title might suggest, with its lovely location, great cast of strong and interesting characters, and a promise of romance. Alexandra is an amazing young woman who has learnt a lot from her difficult earlier years. As well as having to deal with hostility from the children, she suddenly finds herself in sole charge of the crumbling chateau, and faces opposition from Antoine’s mother-in-law, ex-wife and sophisticated girlfriend; quite a challenge for a 20-year-old, but she steps up and gets on with things. Antoine is away a lot on business but whenever he returns, he is impressed by Alexandra’s abilities and finds himself liking her more and more, while for her part she is trying not to be drawn to him. The skilful writing of the story keeps the reader guessing but hoping for a happy outcome for the pair. 

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

Tuesday 26 April 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Drawings of People On The Cover


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.

Monday 25 April 2022

Review: The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh

 I was sent this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. 

I have held you every night for ten years and I didn’t even know your name. We have a child together. A dog, a house.

Who are you?

Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she's told them about herself is a lie.

And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer and Emma is a well-known marine biologist, so, when she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – reading and writing about her life. But as he starts to unravel her past, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name is fictitious.

When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past life finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .

But first, she must tell him about the love of her other life.

Review: Wow this book had me hooked in from the word go and I could not stop thinking about it as I was listening! Sometimes you have mega high expectations for a book or an author and those expectations are not met, you hype it up too much for yourself and you’ve only yourself to blame. I had high expectations going into this since Rosie Walsh is one of my favourite authors of all time and those expectations were not only met but exceeded. This is, without a doubt, one of my all time favourite books of the year!

I loved getting to meet Emma and Leo and even though this book is about Emma and who she actually is, we get to discover an equal amount about both characters. If you love a character driven novel then you will love this one. Emma is so complex, we know she has a hidden past and we know that we may discover some things about her we might not like but you find yourself really getting behind her and empathising with her all the way. At the same time we have Leo who is suddenly prying into his wife’s past and going through her things, we should hate this invasion of privacy and this breaking of trust and yet you find yourself totally backing him and his decisions too because he is helping us as readers find out about who Emma is too-such a surprise!

But it is the writing and the crafting of this book that really blew me away. This is a book that leaves you with more questions than answers at the end of every chapter. You jump around in time and you jump around between Leo and Emma’s story and so you’re always waiting and wanting to find out more. To drip feed information so painfully slowly to your reader is such an awesome skill and one that I am in total awe of. I listened to the audiobook and it was great aside from the way the narrator pronounced the station Leuchars which unfortunately Emma goes to quite a bit in this novel. It bothered me but it definitely didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the writing. 

This was the kind of audiobook that I stayed longer in my car to keep listening to, that I had to keep playing once I arrived somewhere just to see the fall out from a revelation that just happened. I loved every minute of it and although it wasn’t always a pain-free read in terms of the content, it was all worth it. I just loved the intricacies of these two characters and I adored the way this book was crafted and the story woven oh so carefully. I highly recommend it!

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

Wednesday 20 April 2022

Guest Review: Life’s A Beach by Portia MacIntosh

Sun, sea and inescapable exes...

Peach is excited to hear that her sister, Di, is getting married. Of course, she would have preferred her little sister to be engaged to someone she's known longer than a week - and the fact that his name is Charles doesn't bode well - but who is she to judge?! After all, her own love life is non-existent, and who doesn't love a destination wedding...?

Whisked away to the gorgeous Italian coast, Peach assumes her role as chief bridesmaid and, despite her reservations about the groom, she tries to ensure everything goes to plan.

But weddings are never straightforward affairs... throw in some unexpected guests in the form of ex-boyfriends and one night stands, and soon enough there is more drama than a reality TV show.

Can Peach keep the show on the road, or might she end up in a whirlwind romance of her own...?

Review: Although Portia MacIntosh is a well established author of romantic comedies, somehow this is the first one that I have read. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleased to find an enjoyable tale that had me chuckling from beginning to end and checking out her backlist of books.

The story concerns mystery shopper Peach (short for Penelope) and the lavish destination wedding of her sister Di. Peach is rather surprised that her sister is planning to marry a man she has known for just one week having met him on holiday, but nonetheless undertakes her chief bridesmaid responsibilities with due attention. However, things do go wrong along the way, and with hilarious results. There are unintended guests, a string of ex-partners turning up, a best man who Peach has a history with and a groom who is also a blast from the past. All of this with the backdrop of a gorgeous villa in the Italian countryside. Will the wedding go ahead without any more hitches and will Peach perhaps find some romance for herself into the bargain?

I can highly recommend this romantic and very funny book. It is the kind of pure escapism that we all need from time to time. The characters are interesting and, in the main, likeable. Peach is a very entertaining person, unlucky in love and more than a little accident prone, but she has a great job that we would all envy, with many perks. I loved the way that the surprises in the wedding party  heaped one on top of the other; I was just waiting to see who would turn up next. The setting sounded absolutely fabulous though. I wouldn’t mind spending a few weeks there myself. As well as being really funny, the story was also so well written that I really had no idea how it would all end, but it was worth the wait.

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

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I haven't Read Yet, But Want 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.

So this is last week's theme but I really wanted to do it so here's a top 10 for you-it's a tough one, I'm not going to lie!

Friday 8 April 2022

Guest Review: The Cafe at Marigold Marina by Tilly Tennant

Welcome to the café on Marigold Marina, where the smell of freshly baked cakes fills the air, the boats bob merrily in the mellow evening sun and an unexpected meeting means the chance to love again…

When Rosie inherits the café on Marigold Marina after her husband’s tragic death, she is determined to pour her heart into his dream. Nine months later, as she serves coffee and cakes to customers, she is all smiles and laughter. But when the sunshine-yellow doors of the café are closed, she allows her heart to break all over again.

Rosie doesn’t have much room in her life for anything but the café. But when Kit, the owner of a bookshop barge, starts to come by regularly for lunch, she finds it difficult to ignore his dark eyes, dishevelled curls and warm smile. As the pair grow closer, and Kit teaches Rosie how to swim in the sparkling marina waters, Rosie begins to hope that she might get a second chance at happiness.

But just as she is letting herself open her heart for a second time, she discovers the shocking secret that the husband she loved for so many years kept hidden from her. And when Kit disappears when she needs him the most, she closes her café for good and leaves the marina. But has she cut herself off too quickly? Will moving away allow her to move on? Or can she only find true happiness if she learns to trust again?

Review: Tilly Tennant is one of my must-read authors, so I was keen to get my hands on her new book asap. It sounded like I was really going to love it with its riverside setting and cafe full of gorgeous offerings. Unusually, I found it took me a while to get into this story, but once hooked I was eager to follow the fortunes of its characters.

The central character in the story is recently-widowed Rosie. She finds herself living above the cafe at Marigold Marina, a river basin near to the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Renovating the rundown cafe and opening it once again was her husband, Fergus’s, dream and she is doing her best to succeed in his memory. When it is up and running again, Rosie finds she has little time for anything else, but a distraction comes along in the shape of Kit, who owns a book barge which he ties up nearby, and his sister Tabitha, who agrees to help in the cafe. Just as Rosie is beginning to believe that she might find happiness again, she learns a shocking secret that rocks her whole world and makes her want to turn and flee. She is faced with a terrible dilemma - should she give up all that she has achieved or should she stay at Marigold Marina and perhaps find love once more?

Although I, personally, found it took me longer than I expected to get into this book, I was glad that I did and can recommend it to other readers. It has such a lovely setting right on the river and I could certainly envy Rosie waking up to that view every morning. Rosie herself was an interesting character; on one hand strong and determined in relation to her business but incredibly naive in other ways, particularly in respect to the qualities of her late husband. I certainly didn’t like the sound of Fergus. Most of the other characters at the marina were warm and welcoming, in particular Kit and his sister. I would love to catch up with them all and find out what transpired in their lives - surely the sign of a good book.

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

Tuesday 5 April 2022

Guest Review: Spring Tides at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland

Welcome back to the Starfish Café - where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.

A new season...

As winter turns to spring, Hollie - owner of The Starfish Café - is feeling content as she settles into her new life with her loving boyfriend, Jake, and their adorable dog Pickle.

But when an unwelcome visitor threatens the future of her café, Hollie must stay strong to protect her family's legacy...

A leap of faith...

Emerging from an unhappy relationship, Tori finds herself with nowhere to stay and nobody to talk to. The long-hidden secrets of her past weigh heavily on her until a chance encounter with Finley, struggling to come to terms with his own secrets, provides an opportunity to open up.

Can she find the strength to stop hiding from her past and face up to her family? Especially when that would mean letting her guard down and learning to trust again...

A fresh start...?

Little do Hollie and Tori know that their lives are about to collide at The Starfish Café and they may be able to help each other with a fresh start. After all, with good friends in your life, nothing is impossible...

Review: This is the second book in the Starfish Cafe series, following on from Snowflakes Over the Starfish Cafe. In common with many of Jessica Redland’s books, the story is set on the Yorkshire coast, in and around the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. There are many recurring characters in her books, which give them a warm feel that I very much enjoy. This book begins with a list of characters returning from the last book in the series, with details of their places in the story. It could be read as a standalone, but I feel it would be much better to read the books one after the other as the storylines are very much interlinked. 

In this book, the author continues the story of Hollie and Jake. Hollie owns and manages the Starfish Cafe in addition to running a craft business and training with the RNLI. Jake is a nurse at the local hospital, aspiring photographer and RNLI crew member. After an emotional start, they are now happy with their life together. However, their peaceful existence is suddenly threatened by an unscrupulous local businessman who it seems will go to any lengths to buy the cafe. In the meantime, Hollie has met and befriended a new customer, interior designer Tori, who has her own troubles with a relationship that has turned sour and family problems. However, when Tori meets Jake’s friend Finley, also emerging from a failed romantic partnership, it seems that they may be able to help each other. 

I really enjoyed this continuing saga of the Starfish Cafe and the people involved with the business  It was great to catch up with Hollie and Jake and find out how their relationship had developed. They are both such likeable characters who are bound to have any reader cheering them on to succeed. The introduction of a dangerous man who is bent on having the cafe for himself gave the story an unusually edgy feel and had me, along with Hollie and Jake, trying to work out his motive. I found myself worried about just how far he would go before he was stopped. Once again, the wonderful community spirit of Whitsborough Bay shone through as friends rallied around to help. I was intrigued by Tori’s story; she is from a very unorthodox family to say the least and has fought hard to establish her own identity. I am looking forward to discovering if there is more about her and Finley in the next book in the series. I can recommend this series of books to other readers; it would be a marvellous introduction for those unfamiliar with Jessica Redland’s work.  

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

Friday 1 April 2022

April 2022 TBR: New Releases and Other Audiobooks to Read!

 Yes we're still making TBRs even though my reading is just going nowhere right now. I'm not keeping up to date on Goodreads and my Netgalley shelves are screaming at me!

So let's talk April releases. I have 2 weeks off from school so I should get some reading time but I am moving during those 2 weeks so whilst I can have an audiobook on whilst unpacking on my own, if there is someone else around, I'm not going to be able to do that-ho hum it should still be better than March's reading right? Right?!

Let's break this down into some new releases and some other books leftover from March or still sitting unlistened to on my library audiobook shelves...

April Releases

14th April

14th April

May Releases

5th May

12th May

Other Audiobooks