Tuesday 28 June 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Summer 2022 TBR


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. 

Summer is around the corner, 4 weeks left of term and August is within reach! You're getting a preview of my July and August TBR here-enjoy!

Monday 27 June 2022

Guest Review: Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

Samantha has a secret. Returning home from her dream honeymoon to the normality of running her beloved Hedgehog Hollow rescue centre, she's ready for the next chapter of her life with Josh. Or is she? Samantha is hiding something which could forever change the dreams they shared and bring their happy ever after crashing to the ground.

Lauren has given up on love. Twenty-six years ago the love of her life, Shaun, left her a note and was never seen again. Two painful divorces later she still can't face opening up to anyone. But little does Lauren know that the closure she's dreamt of for all these years may be closer than she thinks, and perhaps the only way to let new love in is to forgive and forget.

Samantha and Lauren will need the love and support from the Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever. After all, some dreams are worth chasing...

This is the fifth, and penultimate, book in this series, which follows the fortunes of Samantha and her hedgehog rescue centre, based at Hedgehog Hollow farm in the Yorkshire Wolds. I have been following the series from the start and eagerly looking forward to each new part. For those new to these stories, or as an aide memoir, this book begins with a list of recurring characters from previous parts, with details of where they fit into the series, and an explanation of the overall story so far. At the end of the book, there is information about hedgehogs and their care.

This book carries on from the last one, which culminated in the wedding of the two principal characters, Samantha and Josh. This story is told from the point of view of Samantha and Josh’s aunt, Lauren, different chapters being told from the perspective of one or other of them. Following the tragic breakdown of two marriages, Lauren shares her house with Samantha’s dad, who is now separated from his wife. As she begins to wonder if she might have feelings more than friendship for him, it looks as if he may be reuniting with Samantha’s mum. However, a chance for love appears from an unexpected direction, but is Lauren ready to trust another man? Samantha also has a decision to make. Is she ready to take the next step in her relationship with Josh; is there room in her life for the busy rescue centre and a family?

I have loved all the books in the Hedgehog Hollow series, and this one is no exception; I can highly recommend it to readers new to Jessica Redland as well as those familiar with these tales. The descriptions of the hedgehogs at Samantha’s rescue centre are amazing and make me realise how lucky I am to have these nightly spiky visitors to my garden. This story incorporated most of the characters from previous books in the series and I very much enjoyed catching up with them all. Samantha was, of course, one of the principal characters, but it was good to find Lauren coming to the fore. There were some painful and tear-jerking moments for her and some big surprises for the reader which had me, for one, gasping. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, but sad that it will be the last; knowing Jessica’s writing, I am sure that more than one character may appear in future books.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Guest Review: An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan

Olivia and Anthony are planning A Very Extravagant Wedding at the newest hotel on the tiny Scottish island of Mure. They're flying in chefs, musicians and something called a living flower wall... and no one is even allowed to think the word bridezilla.

Flora is trying - and failing - not to let Olivia and Anthony's wedding distract her from planning her own big day with Joel. But the couple have wildly different ideas about how to celebrate and somehow, just when their relationship should be plain sailing, everything is suddenly very hard indeed.

And then there's Lorna and Saif. The local headmistress and the GP desperately keeping their relationship a secret to protect his sons. But while they're looking out for the boys, who's looking out for them?

Three couples. One midsummer's night. Can everyone get their happy ever after?

Review: This is the latest book in a series following the fortunes of Flora MacKenzie and her family, who live on the tiny and remote Scottish island of Mure. At the beginning of the series, readers met Flora as she returned to her childhood home following the death of her mother and settled back into island life. Much has happened in the intervening years, happy and sad events being chronicled in the books, all of which I have enjoyed immensely. Jenny Colgan has charmed me once again with this book, but as well as the story within, I must mention the cover, which this time is absolutely stunning. 

In this next part of the saga, Flora is preparing finally to marry her American partner, Joel. Joel wants a small wedding, but everyone on the island is assuming it will be an event involving the whole community. Meanwhile, there is to be another wedding at the Rock, the island’s prestigious hotel run by Flora. The strikingly beautiful Olivia who left the island many years ago is planning to stage the society wedding of the year there, with a whole host of outlandish ideas proposed by her wedding planner. At the other end of the island, doctor Saif is struggling with the decision of whether he should once more uproot his young sons and return to Damascus, where he feels he could be useful and the boys might be reunited with their mother. But what of his growing relationship with the island’s teacher Lorna?

This is another triumph of a story from Jenny Colgan, filled with drama intertwined with her usual brand of humour. As someone who has been following this series from the beginning, I really enjoyed catching up with Flora and other recurring characters, but I equally enjoyed meeting the new introductions. Having said that, I think that the book functions perfectly well as a standalone for those who are new to Mure. For newcomers and returning readers alike, I love that the author has included an update on the ‘story so far’ at the beginning of this book, along with a pen picture of the island and, most precious of all, a map. I can heartily recommend this book; it is entertaining from start to finish and kept me guessing right to the end.

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

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Wishes


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. 

These are the books that are on my wishlist right now, my wishlist is ever moving and most of these are actually on my audible wishlist... 

Here's a link to my wishlist:

Monday 20 June 2022

Review: The Girls by Bella Osborne

 Four old friends. Thrown back together after forty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?

In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they're in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.

As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other?

Review: Another great read where we get to read about people who are over 30 and have seen some life, I am so here for it! This new side of a Bella Osborne novel is just wonderful. I love the way she explores some of the darker elements of life, those moments that we go through but not everyone talks about, and weaves them into her novels in an uplifting way!

The Girls is a group of four women who have known each other for forever but have fallen out of touch in recent years. When they come together for Zara’s big birthday party, against their better judgement, they reconnect and this is the jumping off point of the book. Zara is a classic diva, I can just imagine her as one of these old hollywood stars that they’ve made an E True Hollywood Story about. Jackie annoyed me to begin with, she really grated on me but she definitely grew on me over time. I think I related most to Val, trying to be the voice of reason and get everyone organised. I felt for her throughout the book since she seemed to be the only person to truly be able to look at things logically, despite her own struggles, And then we have Pauline who is the voice of anxiety and panic to Val’s voice of reason.

I loved the premise of the book, the fact that these four women will be once again sharing a house together just like they did in their wild and free days. I loved the location of the house and even the reasons behind Zara asking them to all come together for her. I really enjoyed the way they bumped up against each other and the way their personalities clashed and yet got along at the same time. This aspect of the book I found really interesting. When we started going down the road of a murder mystery type of genre and a bit of a ‘who said that?’ and “where were they when this happened?’ type of affair I didn’t find myself enjoying it quite as much.

I really loved the way that Bella Osborne explored this side of adult friendship, the way she showed this kind of reconnecting that doesn’t always go smoothly. I also loved the way the women in this book all have fully formed lives and personalities just like they would in real life. Often in fiction, just because someone is progressing in years, they have their personality taken away from them. This is certainly not the case here. These women have thoughts and feelings and can totally handle themselves as well as being able to support each other. There are 2 animals in the book for some added comedy too so you’ve got that to look forward to. I listened to this book and it was well-narrated. I definitely recommend giving Bella Osborne a try!

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

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Guest Review: A Golden Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley

Under the golden Cornish sun, buried treasure and family secrets will change Emma’s life forever…

Emma loved her life in the seaside village of Silver Cove. But when the discovery of sunken treasure ignited a feud between her family and that of Luke, her first love, everything fell apart. Heartbroken and betrayed, she fled.

Now, as she wades into the sparkling surf for the first time in fifteen years, she remembers everything she loved about this beautiful place. Then a huge wave knocks her off her feet. Wet and dripping, Emma is rescued by none other than Luke – who is, to her dismay, even more handsome than ever.

As their paths continue to cross, and Emma is reminded of everything she ran away from, she starts to wonder if returning home was a huge mistake.

Or could the real treasure have been waiting here for her all along?

Review: This is the latest book in the Falford Series from Phillipa Ashley, the stories being set in and around the fictional Cornish village of Falford. Being part of a series, the book contains some recurring characters and locations, but it can be read as a standalone. I have already read the other books in the series, and was looking forward to returning to this location and the new characters introduced in this story. From the synopsis, I suspected that I was going to be taken on an adventure, and, as promised, I was hooked from the very start and didn’t want to put it down.

The story involves illustrator Emma, who is returning for the summer to her childhood home of Silver Cove, a small seaside village not far from Falford. She has not been there for fifteen years, her family having left following a bitter dispute with another family over sunken treasure. Unfortunately, the other family included her boyfriend Luke, and the pair parted company on very bad terms indeed; things were said that could not easily be overlooked. Emma has no idea when she returns to stay with her best friend Maxi that Luke has also returned to the village after a career in the navy and lives there in Emma’s former home. She decides to stay nonetheless and even becomes involved with Luke’s beachcomber group, who clean up the beach after the tourists have gone and recycle as much as they can. It is clear that Emma and Luke still have feelings for each other, but can they overcome what happened in the past?

I can thoroughly recommend this heart-warming and romantic story. I enjoyed returning to the setting for the previous books in this series, and being introduced to Silver Cove, a particularly idyllic sounding village right on the sea. What a shame that a family feud had forced Emma to leave. I liked Emma and thought her brave to stay in the area when she discovered that Luke was in residence. Luke is also a very likeable character. He has had an interesting life since the feud caused him and Emma to part, and is now a successful business owner determined to protect the beaches and wildlife in this area. Another interesting character in the story is a former teacher of both Emma and Luke. She obviously didn’t like Emma as a pupil but can’t help admiring what she has become and Emma begins to discover another person under her strict and stubborn exterior. I wasn’t sure whether Emma and Luke were going to end up together in this book. They had a very on and off relationship, enjoying each other’s company one moment and fighting the next. It was definitely worth the wait to find out the answer.

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

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Had an Epilogue


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. 

An epilogue is one of my favourite things so this is a great top 10 for me. Some of these do have epilogues but sometimes you just want to know what happens after what happened next!

Monday 13 June 2022

Review: The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor

 What would you do if your husband framed you for murder?

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was convicted of plotting to murder her husband.

Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals. Repair her relationship with her daughter. Clear her name. And bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her?

Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life…

Review: I think this is possibly CL Taylor’s twistiest novel yet. You don’t know who is telling the truth, what will happen next and you start believing nothing you hear because someone could be double crossing someone else. All set around a marriage that broke down, several affairs and someone out for revenge. It is juicy and stressful and fabulous all at the same time!

Olivia is such an interesting character to spend this novel with because when we meet her she has just got out of prison, we know she is not above underhand moves and we know she wants revenge. She is also a mother who has been separated from her child and we know the power that can have over someone so you start off with some sympathy for her but mainly there’s just some suspsician and sense of ‘how much can we really trust’ about her. Then add in her friends on the inside and the outside and the long list of people who scorned her and you have a melting out that is just waiting to bubble over. It is quite literally the perfect storm!

The host of other characters in this thriller is phenomenal. We have a police officer who just seems to lie her way around everything that she does. I feel like I never really got to know who’s side she was on or whether anything she said or did ever was in fact the truth or what actually happened, she needs her own spin-off book that’s for sure. And then we have the husband. I don’t know what happened in his past to make him the way that he was but he is a complex fellow and someone else I’m not likely to ever be able to work out. Just like the other main players in this book, I never felt like I could trust him but again I know that some of what he did came out of love for his child and some of what he did came out of lust and thinking with his pants so I can sympathies to some extent with the position he was in.

The child in this novel just adds to the messiness. She is a teen by the time her mum gets out of prison and she therefore has some autonomy in the whole situation and so often the choices that she makes as the plot thickens really do add to the twists and turns along the way. She plays such an important role in the whole situation and yet sometimes she does hinder things going smoothly and definitely stops anything being resolved most of the time. I like that she was involved in the story but I worried about her so much for the majority of the book and I was glad for her when I was turning those final few pages!

I listened to this book on audio. I haven’t listened to a CL Taylor book all the way through before and so it was interesting and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep up with the plot and the characters but I think it added to the thrill. The narration was great and I was just as dgripped as when I have read paperback, hardback or ebooks from this writer. This book was excellent. It filled me with adrenaline and I think it is the perfect book to escape with this summer!
To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Friday 10 June 2022

Guest Review: Retreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas

Eliza has a full house! When her three children grew up and moved out, she downsized to a smaller property... but now they're all back. Every room in the house is taken and Eliza finds herself sharing her bed with her eldest daughter and her daughter's pug. Combined with the online course she's trying to finish, plus her job to fit in, there just isn't the peace and quiet that Eliza needs.

So when an ad pops up on her laptop saying 'house-sitters wanted', Eliza can't resist the chance to escape. She ends up moving to a rural finca in southern Spain, looking after the owner's Iberico pigs, learning about secret gastronomic societies... and finding a new zest for life and love along the way.

Review: I am a big fan of Jo Thomas books and look forward to finding out where her latest release will be taking me. There is always an interesting setting, some delicious fare and at least one romance on the go. The title of this book gives away the general location for the action, but I didn’t suspect that I was going to be given a lesson in production of a very specific food item in sunny Spain. 

The main female character in this story is Eliza, divorced mother of three who finds herself once again sharing her accommodation with her grown-up children who have returned home for various reasons having previously fled the nest. Having downsized after they all left the first time, Eliza is finding conditions difficult when she is also working from home and trying to study for a qualification. An agency advertising for house sitters seems an ideal solution to her problem. Before she knows it, she finds herself in southern Spain looking after not just a house, but also a herd of Iberico pigs and two large dogs on a finca while the owner is away for two weeks. However, her plan to use the time to do some work for her course is interrupted by a series of events as she also gets involved with the local village and the people there. There is also the fact that the owner of the finca, Josep, arrives home unexpectedly and the pair gradually develop a friendship. 

I found this book truly compelling reading from start to finish and can certainly recommend it. I really felt for Eliza as she tried to cope with the crowded conditions at home; it was definitely not what she was expecting when she moved to a smaller place after her divorce. A 2-week stay in a warm climate with time and peace to finish her course seemed like a dream, but she hadn’t counted on the need to learn all the ins and outs of Iberico pig rearing and the guarding of the valuable hams, never mind being drawn into the problems of a local village being smothered by its secret and exclusive gastronomic society. I was absolutely fascinated to learn all about these special pigs which Eliza took to her heart. As well as the animals, the book contains an interesting cast of human characters, including a group of ex-patriots supposedly trying to learn Spanish and some locals trying to make ends meet. The finca owner Josep was initially a rather unfriendly individual, but mellowed with time and I came to like him also. I think it is the sign of a good story that I missed all the characters once I had finished and would love to go back to the village and find out what happened next.

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

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Review: A Wedding at Sandy Cove Part 2 (Stitched Up) by Bella Osborne

 Possible spoilers for part 1 if you have haven't read that yet...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a bride in search of the perfect dress must be a total pain in the bum…

Wedding dress whisperer Ella is striking out on her own. After years of taking orders from the owner of the bridal shop where she worked, she will answer to no one.

Except the brides, that is.

Helping to make the dream of running her own business a reality is handsome builder Kit, the man she mistook for her blind date. But is it strictly professional between them or is there more behind Kit’s passion for this project than meets the eye?

But Ella doesn’t have too much time to dwell on matters of her own heart.

Because the hen weekend for her best friend Brittany has arrived.

Two full days of bridesmaids gone wild, coupled with juggling her demanding new set of Bridezilla clients may just push Ella to her limits…

The second instalment of this totally addictive summer read, full of laugh-out-loud moments, romance and friendship.

Review: Now part 1 of this series introduced us to the wonderful characters we were going to meet, in particular Elle and Laura but part 2 has a hen do so you know you’re in for a good time. 

I love the wedding aspect of this series and really exploring the ups and downs of your friends getting married and the madness that comes with it. I’m so excited to see what we get up on on the journey to the wedding in part 3 because this hen do had it all, let me tell you. I felt the stress that Laura and Elle had to go through and I felt their exasperation at the organisation of the whole thing!

This story also has an entrepreneurial side to it too though and we get to see Elle make moves to strike out on her own and start her own business in this instalment though. I love the fact that she ends up enlisting the help of builder Kit who we got to meet in episode 1 of this series because I knew I definitely wanted to see more of him. I think Elle feels like a lot of us when it comes to starting over again and being our own boss and I love how he helps her to make that a reality. 

There are also more dark time for Laura ahead. I love how much she only thinks with her head and not her heart but we get to see a softer side to her in this instalment and I really can’t wait to see where she goes on her journey. To be honest I could handle a whole book about just Laura alone. 

The other aspect of this story that I am really enjoying and really can’t wait to watch develop is Kit and Elle’s espionage against their parents. They had a lot of false starts in part 2 and so I hope they finally get some answers in part 3! I can't wait to read it!

To order your copy now, just click here!

To order the paperback of all 4 parts just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday 7 June 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With a Unit of Time 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. 

Love this one! I'm sure I've read more of these but here are a few to get us started. Let me know in comments which books with units of time you've read!