Wednesday 31 May 2023

Guest Review: Falling for You by Debbie Johnson

Single mum Jenny's life is turned upside-down (quite literally) when her beloved cottage on the Norfolk coast falls off a cliff. And so, with the storm raging on, Jenny and her eighteen-year-old son Charlie are forced to take refuge in her neighbour, Luke's, cosy campervan.

It's a tight squeeze for the three of them - and Luke's adorable dachshund, Betty - but somehow they make it work. And when far-too-handsome Luke suggests a spontaneous road trip around England, it ignites a desire for adventure in Jenny she thought long extinguished!

And soon she begins to wonder whether losing everything might just have been the best thing that ever happened to her...

Review: I am a great fan of Debbie Johnson’s books and would always have bought this one anyway, but I was very impressed when I saw the bright and attractive cover of Debbie Johnson’s latest book which simply called the reader to dive into its depths and join the characters for an adventure. When I started reading, I was instantly drawn into the world of the main players and found this book really hard to put down. 

The story centres on Jenny and her 18-year-old son, Charlie. Jenny is not having the best time, what with her job being under threat, money being scarce, her car breaking down and, to top it all, she is suddenly made homeless in the most dramatic fashion when her cottage falls off a cliff in a storm. Luckily, the pair are offered shelter by Luke, who has been staying nearby in his motorhome. With no belongings and nowhere to stay, they decide to take Luke up on his offer to have them join him and his adorable dachshund Betty on a road trip, heading wherever they fancy but never staying long in one place. As they travel around England visiting places each want to see, they learn lots about these locations but also about themselves. The group also become drawn closer to each other as time goes on. 

I found myself completely spellbound by this romantic and uplifting story filled with Debbie Johnson’s trademark humour, but also featuring some emotional and heartbreaking moments. I loved the three central characters. Although abandoned by his father, Jenny has raised a very sensible boy in Charlie; his mature attitude helped her cope with what could have been an even more tragic situation. Luke is quite an amazing person, happily traveling the country with his gorgeous canine companion while deciding what was next. I’m sure we would all agree that Jenny was really lucky to be rescued by such a handsome and capable man. In addition to the main story, there are interesting and emotional backstories for Luke and Jenny. I also enjoyed hearing about the places that the trio visited on their road trip. I would recommend this beautifully and sensitively written book to all; it is definitely one of my favourite books from this author so far.

To order your copy now just click here!

Friday 26 May 2023

Guest Review: Summer Wedding by Sarah Morgan

A family wedding
Catherine Swift is a bestselling romance author, but her personal story hasn’t been quite so successful; three failed marriages have left her relationship with her daughters strained. Engaged once again, Catherine is counting on this wedding, at her villa in Corfu, to finally bring the family together.

A summer of secrets
Adeline can’t believe her mother is getting married for a fourth time, or that she’s expected to attend. It brings back the pain of her mother’s infidelity and the baby who was the result. Not that she blames her half-sister Cassie, but then she's never tried to know her, either. Cassie, on the other hand, is thrilled by her mother’s news – she’s always admired Catherine’s resilience, and is excited to meet the mystery groom. Cassie also has a secret of her own, and a summer in Corfu will give her the time she needs to process everything.

A chance to start over again
As the guests arrive on the island, and the big day approaches, Catherine begins to reveal secrets from her past, and suddenly both Cassie and Adeline realise that they don’t know their mother at all . . .

Review: I’ve been looking forward to reading the new book from Sarah Morgan, one of my favourite authors. I know I can expect a family story with some strong female characters and an exciting location at the very least. This book is set on the Greek island of Corfu, making it perfect summer holiday reading.

The story concerns successful author Catherine Swift, who now lives in a luxurious villa on Corfu, her daughter from her first marriage, Adeline, and the daughter from her second marriage, Cassie. Adeline is estranged from her mother and lived from an early age with her father, while Cassie has lived most of her life with Catherine. The girls have not spent much time together since early childhood. When Catherine announces that she is to be married for a fourth time, and that she wishes both of her daughters to be present, the news is met with surprise, especially since the identity of the groom is being kept a secret. Catherine is hoping that bringing everybody together may heal the rift in the family. Once all three women are gathered, secrets begin to be revealed, some of which shock Adeline and Cassie and make them realise that they must rethink what they believed about their mother and past events in their own lives. 

I found this a really compelling story, full of secrets, revelations and surprises for the characters and the reader. It is very cleverly written, in that the bombshells just keep on coming throughout the text right to the end. I enjoyed speculating about what was going to happen and be divulged next. In addition to the central story concerning the family and the wedding, each of the daughters has things going on in their lives which will surprise the others, which, for me, added to the overall enjoyment of the book. I wasn’t sure that I liked all the central female characters to start with, but they grew on me as the story progressed and they began to feel more comfortable with each other. The setting for the book was very well described, and I could envisage the lovely villa by the sea and almost taste all the delicious Greek cuisine. In my opinion, this book is yet another triumph for Sarah Morgan, and one I would recommend unreservedly to other readers. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Thursday 25 May 2023

Review: Seven Exes by Lucy Vine

 Esther is out with her two friends, bemoaning her lack of relationship, when she finds a magazine from the noughties. Seeking comfort – and a laugh – she turns to the dating advice only to find an article that feels a little too close to home. According to the journalist, there are seven people a woman will date before finding the one:

The First Love, The Work Mistake, The Friend with Benefits, The Overlap, The Missed Chance, The Bastard and The Serious One. 

Her friends laugh but Esther realises each of her exes fits these roles perfectly. Deciding that she’s mistaken her true love in the reject pile she decides to contact each of her exes to find out which is the one that got away...

Review: Oh I loved this book and I knew that I would. I identified with Esther so much and the idea that she categorised her exes in the way that she did? Just genius! I also love the idea that she planned her whole life’s journey (for the time that we spend with her in the book) around a magazine article that she found stuffed into a booth in a pub. It is so very early 2000s and so I really feel her there. She is such a fun character because she wants to have her shit together and sometimes you feel like she is as far from that as she could be but then she’s holding down a job and a flat and friendships and so actually, she’s doing alright for herself!

One of the things that I love about a Lucy Vine novel is the unconventional characters. I like that not all of her main characters are in search of ‘the one’ that sometimes it is more about the friendships and the journey of self-discovery or simply more about having a good time. I also love that not all of Lucy Vine’s characters are conventional body types, or straight. I just love finding out more about her characters because I know they’re not going to be on-dimensional and Ether’s friendship group in Seven Exes fit’s this beautifully. I loved spending time with her friends and I felt like I was part of their group over the duration of the novel. 

I’ve seen a few people compare this book to the movie What’s Your Number which was also based on a book (that I have read) and I liked that comparison but in my mind, this book is much more than that. I think the fact that we have some British nostalgia in here, some more divers characters and also that solid friendship group just elevates this story. I loved what a quick read this book was. I couldn’t put it down, wanting to find out about each of the exes and thank goodness I read this with a friend so that we could discuss each funny moment and share our love of Esther and her friends. Highly recommend!

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Guest Review: An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft

Will one summer in Sicily change her life for ever?

After her marriage falls apart, Ursula Quinn is offered the chance to spend the summer working at a hotel on a beautiful island off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Excited by a new adventure, she sets off at once.

At Residenza dei Tringali, Ursula receives a warm welcome from everyone except Alfio, son of the Tringali family. He gave up his life in Barcelona to help his mother Agata with the ailing business, and is frustrated with Ursula’s interference – and she in turn is less than impressed with his attitude. As they spend more time together, though, they begin to see each other in a different light.

But what with Ursula’s ex-husband on her tail, family secrets surfacing and an unexpected offer that makes Alfio question his whole life, there’s plenty to distract them from one another. Can she face her past and he his future, and together make the most of their Sicilian summer?

Review: What could be nicer than escaping on a summer trip to Sicily while the snow is falling outside my window! This is what I was promised when I began this book, and it did not fail to deliver. As an added treat, I was delighted to be reacquainted with characters from Sue Moorcroft’s earlier book, Under the Italian Sun, and catch up on their lives.

This story focuses mainly on one of the central characters from the earlier novel, Ursula Quinn. Having divorced her controlling husband, sold her flat and left her job behind, she is pleased to be offered a part-time position and accommodation in a small boutique hotel on an island off the coast of Sicily, where she will also be able to follow her ambition to learn the art of ceramics painting. She soon fits in with the delightful family who own the hotel, until the arrival of their son, Alfio. He has returned to the hotel having given up his job in Barcelona to help his mother and sister, and is none too happy to find that Ursula is already doing just that. Fortunately, their initial mutual dislike soon changes to friendship and even romance. However, interference from her ex-husband and the emergence of a shocking family secret begin to spoil Ursula’s enjoyment of her new life. At the same time, Alfio finds himself having to make decisions about his future.

I enjoyed this book very much. It is full of friendship, emotion and romance, with a few family dramas thrown in of course. In her usual fashion, Sue Moorcroft transports the reader to an exotic location and makes them feel at home there; I could almost feel the Sicilian sun in my face. The family-run hotel where Ursula works sounds so warm and welcoming, just the kind of place I would like to stay. I loved meeting Ursula again and seeing her emerge from the difficult place she was in to a happier and stronger person altogether. Alfio sounded a good match for her. The one thing that I didn’t feel happy about in the story was the situation with Ursula’s parents; I personally felt uneasy about how the state of affairs was left. That aside, I would definitely recommend this book as a read that will leave many planning a trip to Sicily soon.

To order your copy now, click here!

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Guest Review: A Secret Garden Affair by Erica James

July 1981. As the country prepares to celebrate Prince Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana, Libby wants to be as far away from royal wedding fever as possible.

Having caught her own fiancé in bed with her best friend just weeks before they were due to marry, she’s fled London for the comfort of the Suffolk countryside.

At Larkspur House, with its magical garden created by renowned garden designer and one-time socialite Elfrida Ambrose, and its comfortingly familiar kitchen presided over by Libby’s great-aunt Bess, she hopes to find a way to put her life back together.

But for lifelong friends Bess and Elfrida, Libby’s arrival has stirred up the ghosts of the past. And before they can help her rebuild her shattered future, they must confront their own unspoken secrets, lost loves, and tragedies…

I have read quite a number of books by Erica James and always found them full of interesting characters with detailed storylines. This latest book has a beautiful cover, promising a visit to at least one stunning garden and perhaps a journey back in time. It certainly had me captivated from the start and I found myself on an interesting journey that took me to a variety of locations along the way. 

At the beginning of the story, we meet Libby, whose life has suddenly taken a major change of direction after she found her fiancé in bed with her best friend just days before their wedding. It is July 1981, and Libby wants to leave behind London, with the frenzy of anticipation for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. She escapes to Larkspur House, the Suffolk home of her great aunt Bess and famous garden designer Elfrida Ambrose. Bess was originally employed as Elfrida’s maid, but the two have become firm friends over the years. As Libby tries to decide on the shape of her future, she spends some time exploring the house and unearths various objects from the past that stir up memories for the two older ladies as they reflect on their adventures over the years. 

This is a powerfully-written book that I enjoyed immensely, even though I, unlike the author, am no gardener. There are frequent references to garden design and plants throughout the story. Elfrida has been a gardener of some renown, trailblazing the way for other ladies when working in a garden was not the ‘done thing’ for the fairer sex. I enjoyed the way in which the storyline wandered between recollections of Elfrida and Bess’s lives from the 1920s onward, prompted by items found in a trunk in the attic, and present-day events with Libby. Not all of the memories are pleasant for the ladies, some heartbreaking to read about. Elfrida’s enduring romance with a Russian count was a wonderful story in itself. As with most of the Erica James books I have read, family is very much central to the characters’ lives, rifts in relationships causing anxiety for each of them. However, there are surprises in store for some of them that I could not have predicted and shocked me as well as the characters themselves. I can definitely recommend this highly emotional family drama.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 16 May 2023

Bout of Books 37 Wrap Up-How Many Pages Did I Read?

 This week went exactly how I predicted it would...I read a lot on bank holiday monday then read some on my commute and then the weekend hit and I did some stuff and slept. But this was how I called it so I'm fine with that! I also had afternoon tea in a library and can I count the reading paper in my reading total because, as we know, that was a lot of words!

Here's what I read this week!

436 Pages

177 Pages

400 Pages

209 Pages

Part Books

100 Pages

50 Pages

Pages Read This Week: 1362
Complete Books Finished: 4

Friday 12 May 2023

April Reading Wrap Up: More Books Than I Expected To Read and I Stuck to My TBR?!


Bout of Books 37 Day 3 and 4 Update

Well day 3 involved going to see the movie of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret so that was a massive win. It meant a little more audiobook listening in the car on the way there as I was stuck in traffic so got an hour plus of that listened to. I also started a new eBook after being very indecisive about what to read next! Day 4 was just a busy one at school but I did listen to some of my pre0ordered audiobook before bed. I couldn't read in any way in the morning because my phone was completely dead so that put an end to my breakfast reading hopes!

Here's what I read on Day 3 & 4

20 Pages

100 Pages

50 Pages

Pages Read Day 3 and 4: 170
Pages Read This Week: 998
Complete Books Finished: 3

Thursday 11 May 2023

Review: The Cassandra Complex by Holly Smale

 Cassandra Penelope Dankworth is a creature of habit.

She likes what she likes (museums, jumpsuits, her boyfriend Will) and strongly dislikes what she doesn't (mess, change, her boss drinking out of her mug). Her life runs in a pleasing, predictable order. Until now.

She's just been dumped.
She's just been fired.
Her local café has run out of banana muffins.

Then, something truly unexpected happens: Cassie discovers she can go back and change the past.

Now, Cassie should be able to find a way to fix the life she accidentally obliterated. And with time on her side, how hard can it be...?

Review: This book blew me away. It was one of those books that I couldn’t wait to get back to when I wasn’t reading it so, despite being in the midst of moving house, I read it over 2 or 3 days. Holly Smale's first adult fiction is a true hit and I am sure that, whether you have read the Geek Girl series or not, you will love it!

Cassandra is not one of those characters you will instantly like, she is prickly and she doesn’t really like herself all that much so how are we as readers supposed to like her from the word go? However she is a completely intriguing individual who draws you into her life and gets you on her side through her disaster of a day when we first begin the book. Everything that could go wrong for her does and she really can’t understand why all of it is happening at once when she planned for an entirely different day. It is when she discovers her gift that we start getting to know her as a character and that she starts to get to know herself. 

I’m not a huge fan of having to think outside the box and suspend my disbelief but I completely and utterly bought into the theory that Cassandra was able to rest her days and go to different days or weeks in her past and that is where the adventure of this book really happens. I;m not a fantasy reader, I don’t really like anything to stray from real life in my reading so if you are worried about the time travel aspect, please don’t be. If I can be fully invested in closing my eyes and travelling back in time, you can too!

What makes this book so uniquely brilliant is the level of detail that Cassandra goes into through the power of Holly Smales writing. She is obsessed with Greek mythology, who isn’t, and so we get to hear where she got her name from and the ways in which she compares her life to Greek heroes and villains. She is also fairly self-reflective and she realises that she has to learn how to act around some people because it doesn’t come naturally. Watching her having to learn some social queues and why it is not always OK to say exactly what you think in all situations was really emotional for me but it is part of the heart of this book. 

This book is own voices for autism but really it says all there is to say about trying to make it in this world as a woman who wants to have a good life and do it independently. It is exhausting and takes multiple tries to even come close to what you thought it would be! I highly recommend this novel whether you have read Holly Smale before or not, it is brilliant and a must read!

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 10 May 2023

May 2023 TBR: New Book Releases, Book Vs Movie Reads and All The Audiobooks I Want To Listen to!


Guest Review: The House on Rockaway Beach by Emma Burstall

A gripping tale of family secrets, sibling rivalry and summer romance, set against the backdrop of New York's sizzling urban beach.

Sisters Sophie and Celia haven't been on speaking terms for years. So it's a huge shock when they discover their grandmother has left them her quirky old house on Rockaway Beach, New York.

Just a stone's throw from the bright lights of Manhattan, they spent many idyllic summers there as children, swimming in the Atlantic ocean, playing in the sand and watching day trippers come and go. Then suddenly, the visits stopped. Sophie knows her mother and grandmother fell out, but has never found out why.

Together, the sisters return to Rockaway, and can't agree on anything. Sophie wants to keep the house, Celia's determined to sell. It seems they'll never see eye to eye, until Sophie makes a shattering discovery that forces her to question everything...

Why do she and Celia have such different memories of their grandmother? What caused the rift with their mother? Can Sophie trust the handsome stranger who seems to take such an interest in her? And who is the mysterious old woman watching them from afar?

Review: I have enjoyed several novels written by Emma Burstall, all of which were set in Cornwall. This book is different from that series, in that it is set on Rockaway Peninsula, part of the New York City borough of Queens. I found it an easy story to get into and a quick read.

The story concerns two sisters, Sophie and Celia, who have been left their grandmother’s house at Rockaway Beach. They arrive from the UK to clear out the house and come to a decision about its future. The sisters are very different and have never really got on, especially now in adulthood. Sophie has happy memories of summers spent in their grandmother’s house, which stopped abruptly with no explanation, and can feel her grandmother’s presence in the house. She wants to keep the house and perhaps turn it into a retreat for artists, but Celia wants to sell. They have a big fall out, which results in the revelation of a long kept family secret, which makes Sophie reevaluate her life so far. Fortunately, she has made several friends in the area, including a handsome man who can help and support her in this uncertain time if she can trust him.

For me, this book was a light and easy read full of secrets and family drama. The setting of Rockaway Beach sounds a place I would like to visit. The sisters in the story are so incredibly different that it’s no surprise that they have grown apart. Their late grandmother hoped to bring them together by leaving her house to them jointly, but I’m not sure that she achieved her ambition. I have to say that I didn’t really like the sisters, but was drawn to other characters such as the lovely man who took Sophie under his wing. There was lots going on in the story and promise of more but I felt it lacked real depth. I was slightly disappointed that the storyline here didn’t inspire me as much as other books I have read from this author, but I shall still look out for further titles.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Bout of Books 37 Day 2 Update

Well day 2 was a pretty good reading day. I started listening to the audiobook I thought I was listening to yesterday-see my end of the week vlog for that fun! I also read the book for the movie I'm going to watch on day 3 so that was EXCELLENT timing!

Here's what I read on Day 2

40 Pages

177 Pages

Pages Read Day 2: 217
Pages Read This Week: 828
Complete Books Finished: 3

Tuesday 9 May 2023

Review: An Invitation to Seashell Bay Part 1: All Things Crafty by Bella Osborne

One ambitious businesswoman.

One irresponsible heir.

A deal that will turn both their lives upside down…

To grow her craft business, Nancy is in desperate need of two things: help and money. So when a potential investor she’s looking to impress recommends an assistant, she jumps at the chance to secure both.

Freddy Astley-Davenport is a notorious playboy with zero work experience. He’s poised to inherit his family’s estate in sunny Seashell Bay – but only if he can hold down a job for six months first. His plan is to take the assistant role in name only, then do the least work he possibly can.

Nancy has other ideas, though, and the pair butt heads from day one. However, as they argue, sparks begin to fly, and they soon discover exactly why opposites attract…

Review: I loved the start of this new series from Bella Osborne. We meet main character Nancy when she is having a disaster of a day. We know that she is off to a very big pitch, something that could be life-changing for her and then everything starts to go wrong. I love her attitude to everything that days throws at her and her determination to carry on and do her best regardless and that’s when I clicked with Nancy and I knew we were going to have a good time this series.

Nancy has her own business and this brings with it some other characters we will be introduced to this series. Love that Nancy has such a diverse workforce but they all obviously love her as a boss because they all support her and will go the extra mile to make things happen at All Things Crafty. Then along comes Freddy. I feel like we only scratch the surface of Freddy in this episode but there will be plenty of comedy moments and some difficult times ahead for Nancy with Freddy on board!

We also get to know Nancy’s flatmate, who is a teaching assistant, over the course of this instalment of the series. I like that it says in the acknowledgements of the book that this author called on a teaching assistant friend and did her research before writing this book but that friend must work in a very toxic school because poor Alice has a very bad run of things. There are definitely some questions I would ask about her school in regards to safeguarding but on the whole I loved the snapshot we got into her work and personal life and I can’t wait to read more from her.

This was a great start to the series and I will definitely be pre-ordering the rest of the books so I can read more about Alice, Freddy and Nancy’s adventures!

To order your copy now, just click here!

Bout of Books 37 Sign Up, TBR and Day 1 Update

Well it's that time again-it's Bout of Books week! Although I am very tired and very busy I'm still excited to do some reading this week. Here's what the Bout of Books team say about the readathon if you're thinking of signing up!

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th 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 37 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

TBR (pretty much my May TBR)

Day 1

400 Pages

209 Pages

Pages Read Day 1: 609
Pages Read This Week: 609
Complete Books Finished: 2

Monday 8 May 2023

Review: Imogen Obviously by Becky Albertalli

Imogen may be hopelessly heterosexual, but she’s got the World’s Greatest Ally title locked down. And when she visits her best friend, Lili, at college who is newly-out, newly-graduated, and newly thriving, with a cool new squad of queer college friends, no one knows that Imogen’s a raging hetero – not even Lili’s best friend, Tessa.

Of course, the more time Imogen spends with chaotic, freckle-faced Tessa, the more she starts to wonder if her truth was ever all that straight to begin with…

With an irresistible cast of characters, hugely funny and empathetic writing, and all of Becky Albertalli's trademark warmth and wit, Imogen, Obviously beautifully explores the nuances of sexuality, identity, and friendship – perfect for fans of Alice Oseman and Adam Silvera.

Review: Once I started this story, I just couldn’t stop. I loved the author's note at the beginning of this book and felt like I could relate to it so hard. I loved what she put into this book and I think the whole novel felt more personal because of the letter at the beginning. 

I’m such a sucker for books that deal with that transition from high school to college/university and so I knew I was going to be a fan of this one right from the word go. Imogen is going to visit her best friend who is already at the college that she is going to be attending in the summer. It's a big move for her, the college, the gap in time that she hasn’t seen her friend for and then all the new friends that her bestie has made since starting college. I always felt trepidation when I would go and visit friends at other universities and see their lives that they had built post-school and so I really related to this. 

Imogen is a proud ally and loves the fact that her pan friend has found her queer clan but this makes her begin to question her own identity, especially when her other best friend is bi and her sister is gay. She has always been the straight ally but is that who she really is? This book opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to queerness and identity and those around you who are supportive on the surface and yet may not have your best interests at heart. It also has a lot to say about growing up and changing and discovering your identity. There is no way that I am the same person now that I was in high school, never mind university or even the person I was 10 years ago. So why should we all have to choose our labels as soon as possible and then stay in our lane?

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was how relevant it is to pop culture and it is so in tune with the queer voices on social media right now. I think that it does assume some knowledge of social media though, especially tik tok and terms used within the queer community online so you may want to bear that in mind before picking this up. The romance in this book is just as sweet as the friendship and I was just loving the heart and soul that was so open and raw on the page. I loved getting to know Imogen, I loved Becky Albertalli’s words and I just loved the way Imogen’s story was told. I can’t stop thinking about her and I really hope that this isn’t the last time that we get to see her!

To order your copy now, just click here!

Thursday 4 May 2023

Guest Review: The Boathouse by Stepping Stone Bay by Helen Rolfe

Sun, sand and secrets at the bay!

As a kid, Nina O'Brien spent all her summers at her grandparents' cabin by the beach at Stepping Stone Bay. Long, sunny days full of fun and laughter with her best friends, Leo, Adrian, and Maeve, her friendship with Leo slowly blossoming into love. Until one fateful night changed everything for them all...

Twelve years later, Nina must return to the bay to renovate the old cabin and pass it on to a new owner. But not only does Leo still live in the cabin next door, he works at his family's boathouse right there in the bay. As they begin to work through their differences and what happened all those years ago, can Nina really walk away from him twice?

Maeve has finally returned home to face the past. Her eleven-year-old son, Jonah, loves the sea, unlike Maeve who is terrified of it. But she knows she can't keep Jonah away from the sea or the truth forever..

Review: I always enjoy a book by Helen Rolfe. I have read many of her titles, including some that are part of a series. They can always be read as standalone stories, but I like to find myself meeting up with a familiar face or two in a book. Some of her books are set in the USA, but the action in this one takes place on the south cost of England. I listened to the audiobook version, which was well narrated and kept me happily entertained on a long car journey.

The story concerns a group of friends, three of whom have recently returned to Stepping Stone Bay and the nearby town of Salthaven-on-Sea. The friends left the area following a tragic accident at sea 12 years previously. Nina has returned at her grandfather’s request to do up his seaside cabin where she and her brother spent many happy summers. Maeve has returned after living in Canada for many years and is accompanied by her 11-year-old son, Jonah. Adrian, after marrying and divorcing, has returned having trained as a teacher with a view to working in the area. Adrian’s brother, Leo, is the only one of the group to stay in the area following the accident. He lives in the cabin next to Nina’s grandfather’s property and works in the nearby boathouse where he sells boating equipment and gives lessons. All of them have been deeply affected by the accident, Maeve so much so that she will not let Jonah near the water, although he is pulled towards it and begins to help Leo in the boathouse. Nina and Leo were once lovers and find things awkward to begin with. Maeve is hiding a secret which she must eventually reveal, especially to Jonah. Adrian is suffering from feelings of guilt and, even though he has returned to the area, is resisting Leo’s attempts to get him involved in the business. Can the group eventually come together and rekindle the friendship and more that they once shared?

This really is a feel-good story with great depth that had me completely immersed in the lives of the characters. Despite the tragedy that had so many of them unable to stay in the area, the pull of this gorgeous setting was too much to keep them away. I could understand a longing to return to such a lovely place - it was so skilfully depicted that I too wanted to up sticks and move there with the sea on my doorstep. As well as the setting, the characters were also well described so that the reader could well understand their feelings and their need to return to the bay where they had experienced happy and sad times.  I liked the way in which the story of the tragedy that has affected them all gradually unfolded and also that there was a mystery surrounding Maeve and her son that was bursting to come out. The central characters in the story are joined by locals from the area, including some that readers of Helen Rolfe’s books about the Little Cafe at the End of the Pier will recognise. I can confidently recommend this book; readers new to this author’s work will probably find themselves seeking out more of her books.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 3 May 2023

April 2023 Reading Wrap Up: The One Where I Listened to Audiobooks as I Moved House (again)

April really wasn't a bad reading month. Becuase the first 2 weeks fell in the easter holidays, I was able to read a little over breakfast each day and then when it came time for term to start again, I was already in that habit. I also listened to a lot of audiobooks whilst painting and unpacking in my new house so that was fun!

As always, I will break it down by the kind of book that I read and link any reviews I have...