Monday, 25 September 2023

Review: More Confessions of a Forty Something F**K Up

 There is no magical land you finally arrive at where everything is figured out, fixed and sorted. Life, like us, is a sum of moving parts, and if we’re lucky, we get to keep f**king up, figuring it out and laughing in the face of it all.

Nell’s back. Her life still isn’t going to plan. And she’s still asking the big questions and getting none of the answers. Like, for example:

1. Why is falling in love so easy, but staying in love so hard?

2. What do you do when your friendships are put to the ultimate test?

3. Can we ever really live in the moment and leave the past behind?

4. When everything goes tits up, do you fall apart or jump on a plane to LA with Cricket (an eighty-something widow and your BFF)?

5. And when all else fails, will celebrity-scented candles, smashed avocados and Instagram filters save us?*

In this hilarious, un-put-downable follow-up to the bestselling Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up, now the basis for the major TV series, Not Dead Yet, there are laugh-out-loud lessons to be learned, truths to be told, adventures to go on and joys to discover.

But first, Nell has some more confessions . . .

*#onlyjoking #sortof #LOL

Review: It was great to be back in Nell’s world again after having LOVED Confessions a couple of years ago, but a little different to be reading a sequel to a book almost directly after having watched the TV adaptation of the first book, I kept having to bring my head back to ‘book Nell’ world and not what I had just watched on the small screen. 

I love that this author heard my pleas and wrote a follow up to catch up with all these characters, especially Nell and especially these characters post-covd. I like the way Covid was mentioned as something that had happened and changed the lives of the characters but it wasn;’t something that was the main focus of the book and I don’t think it pulled me away from this imaginary world and into the real world too much. I think this author found a nice balance of keeping it real for the integrity of the characters and being fictional enough to be escapism. 

Of course Nell has grown older and slightly wiser but she is still getting the wrong end of the stick and still flailing around trying to conform to normality when she is just too unique of a person to have a ‘standard’ life. I sometimes wished I could go into the book and tell her to just go her own way and do her own thing. Luckily for Nell she has the wonderful Cricket who helps keep her weird. Her other friends are wonderful and I like that we get to catch up with them and where they have been too but they do have rather ‘normal’ lives. Cricket does her own thing and helps to show Nell that we don;’t all have to be the same and not to really care what other people think which I adore about her. 

I love the fact that Alexandra Potter never fails to make me laugh. There are some serious issues tackled in this book and yet there’s a great balance between that and Nell messing up for comic value. I laughed a lot, I cried a little, I worried a bit, but overall I really enjoyed being back in Nell’s world and seeing that a happy ending isn’t really the end, a bit like Grease, it’s only the beginning.

To order your copy now, click here!

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Guest Review: In From the Cold by Sarah Bennett

On the day of his father’s funeral, Ben’s life changes forever when a woman he’s never met shows up claiming to be his sister. As he investigates the past, Ben is shaken to discover that much of his life has been built on a carefully constructed foundation of his father’s lies. Needing answers, he agrees to visit Juniper Meadows, the ancestral estate owned and run by his long-lost relatives, the Travers family.

Arriving in the pretty Cotswolds countryside, the first person Ben meets is Amelia Riley. They are immediately drawn to one another, but Amelia has her own complicated ties to the Travers family. Her only goal is to set the past to rights so she can move on with a clean conscience.

As Ben starts to see the events of his childhood more clearly, he allows the warmth and fun he finds at Juniper Meadows to draw him in from the cold. But just as he’s contemplating setting down roots, Amelia is making plans to leave…

Review: This is Book 2 in the Juniper Meadows series from this author. As with book 1, the story features the Cotswolds estate belonging to the Travers family who have turned to main house into a hotel and spa, the extended family living in the farmhouse or elsewhere in the grounds. I often say that a book can be read as a standalone even when part of a series, but in this case I would recommend that you read the first in the series (Where We Belong) before reading this one to get complete enjoyment from the story. After reading the first book, I eagerly awaited the release of this one to find out what was happening in the lives of the main characters. The story continued to captivate me, and I read this book in the space of 24 hours. 

This story features Ben Lawson, who discovers on the day of his father’s funeral that he has a whole family he knew nothing about. Totally shocked by the secrets and lies that his father kept from him, he decides to travel to the Juniper Meadows estate to investigate the situation and meet his mother, who he has believed dead all his life, and his sister, Hope. Unwilling at first to believe the extent to which he has been fooled by his father, he soon falls under the spell of the Travers family and even begins to see a way forward in his life and how he can follow his dreams. He also meets Hope’s friend, Amelia Riley, another person struggling to come to terms with the actions of her father. Just as it seems he may form a relationship with her, she is planning to escape from her past. Can they get together and find love at Juniper Meadows?

I think this series may be my favourite from Sarah Bennett. The romantic stories have had me completely spellbound and I wouldn’t fail to recommend them to other readers. This one definitely lives up to its description of being heart-warming and uplifting. Ben’s story is certainly emotional; it is difficult to imagine how you would react to the discoveries he made. The amazing Travers family were just the people to envelop him like a warm blanket and bring him in from the cold. The family is made up of such interesting characters with amazing back stories. I would love to visit the estate and meet them all, never mind stay at the luxurious hotel. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Guest Review: Christmas Nights at the Star and Lantern by Helen Rolfe

The Copper Plough is at the heart of village life for the residents of Heritage Cove, and never more so than at Christmas, when the tree glows in the alcove and the smell of mulled wine carries out onto the street. So when new owners for the beloved pub arrive and decide to shake things up, not everyone welcomes the changes with open arms.

Local bakery owner Celeste is ready to keep an open mind. But she’s shocked to discover that one of the new landlords is Quinn, a former Navy sailor with whom she had a short but powerful romance years earlier.

Fate may have brought Quinn and Celeste back together, but life seems determined to keep them apart. Can the villagers learn to embrace the newcomers this Christmas? And will Quinn and Celeste find a way back to each other before snow falls over Heritage Cove?

Review: This is book 6 in the Heritage Cove series from Helen Rolfe. Although part of a series, this book, along with the other five, can be read as a standalone. However, I’m sure that, like me, regular readers of the series will enjoy catching up with returning characters as well as meeting new ones. The stories in this series focus on events in the seaside village of Heritage Cove. This one covers the period leading up to Christmas, the book’s cover featuring a lovely, appropriately snowy scene.

The story this time revolves around the village pub, which is under new ownership and has had a name change into the bargain. The pub is very much the hub of the village and the new owners are keen not to alienate the locals while at the same time introducing some changes that may improve profitability. Celeste, part owner of the Twist and Turn bakery, is shocked when she realises that one of the pub’s new owners is someone she recognises. Quinn McLeod, who has bought the property along with brother Eddie, visited the village two years previously, when he and Celeste had a brief affair. She has not heard from him since, and is unsure if she wants to resume their relationship. Meanwhile, ex-naval sailor Quinn is struggling with ghosts from his past and wonders if he has done the right thing in returning to the village and hoping to rekindle his romance with Celeste.

I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment in the Heritage Cove series, and can wholeheartedly recommend it. I picked it up and was so immersed in the story that I put it down for only short periods, finishing the next day. I have read all of the books in the series so far, and enjoyed finding out what was happening in the lives of the villagers. There has been at least one other story set at Christmas in the village, and I remember how magical a time the author has described. It sounds a wonderful time, with all the Christmas traditions, many involving the village pub. Quinn is a very likeable and handsome character, but is having a hard time dealing with his past; the author has dealt sensitively with the difficult subject of mental health problems that plague so many in his position. I hope to meet him again in future parts of this series and find that he has found help.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Guest Review: Christmas at the Cat Cafe by Jessica Redland

It's the most wonderful time of the year on Castle Street, and there's a paw-some new business opening....

It had always been Tabby's dream to work with cats and an inheritance from her beloved nanna has finally made that a reality. Idyllic Castle Street in Whitsborough Bay couldn’t be a better place for pastry chef Tabby to open a cat café with her boyfriend, Leon.

But when Leon leaves her in the lurch, the pressure mounts for Tabby. With Christmas fast approaching, she has to open the café on her own – a daunting prospect, especially when she's been hiding her health issues from the ones she loves.

Faced with local resistance to the café – and somebody seemingly determined that she won’t succeed – Tabby will need her friends, family and cats more than ever to recover her broken Christmas spirit and pull together for a Christmas miracle.

Will the cat café bring the festive joy to Castle Street as Tabby had hoped or will it be a cat-astrophe? And can the magic of Christmas on Castle Street mend Tabby's broken heart as well as her business?

Review: Like many of Jessica Redland’s earlier books, this story is set in the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. I always enjoy meeting up with familiar characters in a book, and this one has many of those. The story returns to the town’s Castle Street with its independent shops selling all manner of goods, the owners forming a friendly community. The book is set in the run-up to Christmas, when the street is decorated with twinkling lights and marvellous window displays. This is where the Cat Cafe of the title is to be established by the story’s heroine. Having an allergy to cats, I have never visited a cat cafe, so I was interested to read about how they work, knowing that Jessica Redland would have done her research well as always. 

The central character in this story is pastry chef Tabby, a young lady with a great love of cats, as evidenced by the 16 she currently has living with her. An inheritance has allowed her to buy a property on Castle Street in Whitsborough Bay where she can realise her dream of opening a cat cafe. The building has retail space and a flat above, where she intends to live with her boyfriend who will help her run the cafe. Unbeknown to her family, Tabby suffers from a health issue which, due to its nature, would make it almost impossible for her to run the business without help. When her boyfriend backs out of the venture and the relationship, Tabby is warmed to find that family and friends step up to help. In the face of many obstacles along the way, and with particular support from good friend Tom, can Tabby make her dream come true and have the business up and running in time for Christmas?

This book is going to be a popular purchase for cat lovers, who I’m sure would love to find it in their stockings this Christmas. I found it really interesting to read about the trials and tribulations associated with opening the cat cafe. It was heartening to witness again the sense of community in Whitsborough Bay as people rallied around to help Tabby when she was struggling. The author has dealt sensitively with a difficult subject regarding Tabby’s health condition; I certainly learned a lot about the effect it has on sufferers. I loved the determination in Tabby to forge ahead in the face of all obstacles and also the growing realisation of the true friend, and perhaps more, that she had in Tom. I found it heart-warming that he was willing to put his life on hold to help her. I’m not sure if we will meet Tabby and Tom again in future books from this author, but I would like to find out how their lives progress.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Thursday, 7 September 2023

August 2023 Reading Wrap Up

 Well August was a surprisingly bad reading month for me. Normally is August is always my top month of the year for reading books but I just couldn't seem to settle to reading this year. I think I hyped myself up for it and then felt all this pressure to do so many things that I had left to the summer holidays that I was just busy a lot of the time-thanks heavens for audiobooks!

As always I will break down what I read into the way that I read them...



And then I read 50% of this eBook

and started this one too...

Wednesday, 6 September 2023

Guest Review: Heading Home to Lavender Cottage by Alison Sherlock

Welcome to Alison Sherlocks brand NEW series, full of heart warming characters set in the idyllic English countryside.

With nowhere else to go, Harriet Colgan has returned to the sleepy village of Cranfield to sell her beloved aunt and uncle’s cottage, the only place she ever called home.

When she arrives at Lavender Cottage, Harriet discovers plans to replace the beautiful lavender fields, her uncle’s pride and joy, with an industrial warehouse.

With time on her hands, she realises she must fight to protect her family’s legacy and the village of Cranfield as well.

Workaholic businessman Joe Randall was expecting an easy purchase of the lavender fields. But suddenly his quiet life is disrupted by protests from angry locals, organised by Harriet.

Can Harriet show Joe that there’s more to life than just work? And can Joe change his mind and help Harriet save the lavender fields?

Over a long, hot summer, and with the help of a stray dog, perhaps Harriet and Joe can find their way home too.

Review: This is the first book in a new series from Alison Sherlock. I really enjoyed the stories in her last series, set in the little town of Cranbridge and was interested to find that this new series features the small neighbouring village of Cranfield. It was good to meet the new characters and places in this story, while visiting some familiar locations in Cranbridge. I was quickly drawn into this story and found it compelling reading. 

The story centres on Harriet Colgan, who finds herself simultaneously without a job and home and sets off for her late aunt and uncle’s home, Lavender Cottage, in Cranfield, a house where she spent the happiest times of her childhood. Harriet is sad to be sorting out the house ready for putting it on the market. She is appalled to find that the fields adjoining the cottage, where her uncle cultivated lavender, are about to be sold to developers. Determined to save the village from industrial development, Harriet organises protests, much to the dismay of Joe Randall who was hoping for a quick purchase of the land on behalf of his father’s company. However, he begins to be won over by Harriet’s arguments against the development at the same time as enjoying the slower pace of life in the small community. After a rocky start, could it be that Harriet and Joe are becoming close? 

I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others. It is filled with amazing characters with interesting back stories of their own, including friends Harriet made when she visited the village in her younger days. In addition to the central storyline, there are a few other stories dealing in particular with the local farm and the now defunct  railway station. In the course of organising her protests, Harriet was befriended by a rather adorable stray dog, who became her constant companion; I for one enjoy a cute dog in a book. I loved the author’s descriptions of the village and the activities arranged by the locals; the feeling of community just oozed out of the book. This is a village that readers are bound to want to visit. I cant wait for the next book in the series. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday, 5 September 2023

Top Ten Tuesday-Books That Defied my Expectations!


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 idea for a topic. I love when a book surprises me in a good way and I hate when I am expecting to love a book and I don't. To make this a little more fin I'm just going to list 10 books and you can make your guesses (if you don't already know) as to which books fall into which category. 

Monday, 4 September 2023

September 2023 TBR: New Book Releases and Catching Up With my Other Books!

I'm going to keep it simple this month because it's back to school so I will be Mega tired. I have plans most weekend in September and I'm in the middle of a number of books already so a small TBR for you here. I also have the Beth O'Leary Pre-ordered on Audible so it might end up being an October read rather than a September because it won't hit my phone until after my drive to work-if Audible would get their act together and release books actually at midnight when they come out I would be able to listen to an hour of the book before going to school!

September Releases

14th September

28th September

28th September

Books that I started in August to be finished...

Friday, 25 August 2023

Bout of Books 38 Update and Wrap Up

As you know, I was never planning on doing a full week of reading for this Bout of Books Readathon so I did about 4.5 days of reading and managed to read 2 full books and 3 part books so I don't think that's too bad for what turned out to be a very busy week. 

Days 3 and 4 were decent reading days with quite a bit of audiobook reading but not a lot of ebook reading. I read the most of my ebook on the morning of day 5 to be honest!

Here's what I read

50% 133 pages

400 pages

168 pages

384 pages

52 pages

Pages Read This Week: 1137
Complete Books Finished: 2

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Bout of Books 38 Day 2 Update


Day 2 was meant to be more about being at home and reading the ebooks that were on my list and whilst i tried to read over breakfast out, over lunch at home and in the sunshine I was really struggling to engage. I worked out (whilst vlogging) that it's not the books faults its just because I'm getting ready to go on my trip and I'm really excited and runnighn through everything I need to do and pack in my head. So I leaned into that and just took my audiobook and packed. I know it seems extreme packing on a Tuesday for a trip that leaves Saturday but firstly I'm heading down there Friday morning and secondly, once I get that urge to pack, it just can't be ignored. I listend to a lot of audiobook in the car and in the gym and hopefully now my head is packed I will read more ebook tomorrow. 

First book of the readathon finished!

Here's what I read on Day 3

26 pages

I finished readinng this one: 268 pages

Pages Read Day 1: 294
Pages Read This Week: 478
Complete Books Finished: 1

Guest Review: The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan

Born into a family of successful pilots, Morag is used to flying high. But when a tragic accident above the clouds grounds her, could the future she'd always imagined be suddenly out of reach?

When she receives a call telling her that her beloved grandfather has been taken ill, Morag leaves her fast-paced life in London to return home to the tranquil Scottish Highlands. With her grandfather out of action, Morag has no choice but to take over flying the local route in his rickety old plane, ferrying locals across the beautiful islands of the archipelago.

But as the weather takes a dramatic turn, Morag is forced to crash-land on a remote island and suddenly finds herself far from civilisation and all alone. Then she discovers Gregor, the gruff and reclusive ornithologist taking care of the island for the season. Though the pair don't see eye to eye, Morag is forced to seek shelter at his cabin and it seems the pair are stuck together until help arrives. However long that may be . . .

As she awaits rescue, might Morag discover that a remote Scottish island, cut off from real-life, is exactly the place she needs to be?

It seems a while since I discovered a new release from Jenny Colgan. I have always enjoyed her books that I have read in the past and looked forward to starting this one. I chose the audiobook format this time, having noted that the narrator was one whose performance I have very much enjoyed previously. For readers of other formats, there are handy maps at the beginning of the book depicting the Scottish Islands referred to in the story. There is also an interesting foreword from the author with some background into where the story began.  

The story concerns Morag McGinty, a pilot who has had a ‘near-miss’ and is wondering whether she will fly again. When her grandfather falls ill, she finds herself returning to her former home in the remote Scottish islands, flying his tired old plane transporting mainly locals, and sometimes even their livestock, among an archipelago of small islands. However, when she has to crash land on the beach of one of those islands in an emergency, she finds herself marooned there with Gregor, a rather dour ornithologist who is manning the station for the summer. What at first seems disastrous for Morag being cut off without power or such luxuries as the TV and internet soon begins to appeal as she unwinds and Gregor’s icy demeanour gradually begins to thaw. Will she actually want to return to the life she knew before and the plans she had made for her future?

I quickly became immersed in this book and would recommend it to other readers. It wasn’t clear what direction the story was going to take and I liked that it kept me guessing. I have always appreciated Jenny Colgan’s style of writing, and, as usual, this story is full of her quiet humour alongside the more serious aspects of Morag’s struggle to see what her future might look like. Before landing on an island that she shared with little else than Gregor, a few chickens and a goat, she was sure of what would make her happy, but being forced to accept the lack of technology and what she considered creature comforts made her see things slightly differently. I’m sure quite a few readers will envy her this chance to destress, although maybe they would not choose to do it in the midst of a raging storm! I loved watching as the real characters of Morag and Gregor gradually emerged during their time on the small island, and was definitely willing Morag to listen to her heart and make the right choice. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday, 22 August 2023

Bout of Books 38 Day 1 Update


Day 1 of Bout of books went pretty well for me... I spent quite a lot of time in the car and so was able to listen to a third of Talking at Night on Audio. I also did some reading over breakfast and some reading over coffee before going to see a movie. You'll have to check out my vlog on my channel in order to find out what I made of the movie...

Here's what I read on Day 1

52 pages

132 pages

Pages Read Day 1: 184
Pages Read This Week: 184
Complete Books Finished: 0

Monday, 21 August 2023

Bout of Books 38 Sign Up and TBR


It's Bout of Books time again! Can't believe we're already up to Bout of Books 38... I love doing bout of books but this time I am going away on a very soecial trip on Friday and so essentially I'll only be doing it for 4 days becaue there isn't really any possiblity I will read during my trip, like no way whatsoever! So I have some August TBR books I want to read, a couple of physical books I have received recently and then a couple of other audioboks to choose from. I will of course be vlogging the week on my channel and it you've never heard of Bout of Books before, here's what the team have to say:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, daily Discord questions, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 38 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

 August TBR Books

Physical Books


Saturday, 19 August 2023

Guest Review: Not Far From Brideshead: Oxford Between the Wars By Daisy Dunn

 Oxford thought it was at war. And then it was.

After the horrors of the First World War, Oxford looked like an Arcadia - a dreamworld - from which pain could be shut out. Soldiers arrived with pictures of the university fully formed in their heads, and women finally won the right to earn degrees. Freedom meant reading beneath the spires and punting down the river with champagne picnics. But all was not quite as it seemed.

Boys fresh from school settled into lecture rooms alongside men who had returned from the trenches with the beginnings of shellshock. It was displacing to be surrounded by aristocrats who liked nothing better than to burn furniture from each other's rooms on the college quads for kicks. The women of Oxford still faced a battle to emerge from their shadows. And among the dons a major conflict was beginning to brew.

Set in the world that Evelyn Waugh immortalised in Brideshead Revisited, this is a true and often funny story of the thriving of knowledge and spirit of fun and foreboding that characterised Oxford between the two world wars. One of the protagonists, in fact, was a friend of Waugh and inspired a character in his novel. Another married into the family who inhabited Castle Howard and befriended everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Virginia Woolf. The third was an Irish occultist and correspondent with the poets W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and W. B. Yeats.

This singular tale of Oxford colleagues and rivals encapsulates the false sense of security that developed across the country in the interwar years. With the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich came the subversion of history for propaganda. In academic Oxford, the fight was on not only to preserve the past from the hands of the Nazis, but also to triumph, one don over another, as they became embroiled in a war of their own.

Review: This is a factual book about Oxford and its university during the period between the First and Second World Wars. It focuses on three academics in classics, Gilbert Murray, Maurice Bowra and Eric Dodds, and the writers, such as W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh and W. B. Yeats, that they influenced. Evelyn Waugh was the author of the novel “Brideshead Revisited”, published in 1945, which evokes Oxford during the inter-war years. In the novel, the author based some of his characters on people he encountered as an undergraduate at Oxford University during this time. In addition, the acclaimed television series of the book used Castle Howard, a stately home in Yorkshire, as a location for Brideshead Castle. Gilbert Murray married into the Howard family, owners of Castle Howard. This explains the reference to Brideshead in the title of Daisy Dunn’s book.

The book highlights the differences between the 1920s and the 1930s in Oxford. During the former, there was an optimistic mood as people emerged from the First World War and the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. This may explain the excesses of this period among the Oxford undergraduates. However, the economic crash at the end of the 1920s and the rise of fascism in Europe during the 1930s, led to a more pessimistic outlook, with another war appearing more and more likely. The rivalry among the various academics is also described.

Not having any knowledge of Ancient Greek and Roman writers meant that most of the references in the text to their works were lost on me. I also found that the narrative tended to jump around at times. However, as a snapshot of a bygone era and the way that teachers can exert an influence on their pupils, I found this book to be an interesting read.

To order your copy now, just click the here!