Wednesday 27 March 2024

Guest Review: The Lifeboat Sisters by Tilly Tennant

Escape to Seaspray Cottage on the Cornish coast, with its stunning views of honeycomb sand beaches and aquamarine seas, where Ava is about to discover the man of her dreams might be closer than she thinks…

Twenty-five-year-old Ava Morrow smiles through her tears as she links arms with her two older sisters. They’re surrounded by the friendly locals from the tiny village of Port Promise who’ve come together to celebrate her father’s life. As she and her sisters swap memories over cider in the pub garden, the sun warm on her shoulders, the seagulls diving for her crisps, Ava feels something close to peace. At least she knows she has friends and family who love her, even if she might feel a bit stuck in the place she’s lived in all her life.

And yet the next morning, waking up in her cramped caravan, she can’t ignore the feeling that her life is at a standstill. Determined her father’s legacy should never be forgotten, Ava makes the brave decision to train as a lifeboat volunteer alongside her best friend Harry, the one person who can make her smile in the toughest times.

As they learn how to save lives in the winter-blue Cornish waters, Ava begins to see Harry in a different light. Ava’s sisters think working on the lifeboats is risky, and Harry is the only person who understands what she needs to do. What’s more, she’s finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the depth of his sea-green eyes and the sun shining on his sandy blonde hair.

But just when Ava decides she can no longer hide her feelings for Harry, he reveals a devastating secret about the night Ava’s father died. With her world turned upside down, Ava has an important decision to make. Should she open her heart to Harry and take a chance on love? Or will the secret he has shared drive her away from him and the new life she loves?

I have decided to review what is actually a collection of three books set in the small Cornish seaside village of Port Promise, and featuring three siblings from the Morrow family. In common with their father and ancestors before him, all have strong connections with the village’s lifeboat station and a strong desire to save the lives of those at sea.

In the first book in the series, The Lifeboat Sisters, we meet Ava Morrow, the youngest of the three sisters. She is currently teaching watersports to locals and holidaymakers. At the beginning of the book, the sisters are mourning the loss of their father during a rescue at sea. Despite being acutely aware of the dangers, Ava is keen to train as a lifeboat volunteer and join her brother-in-law Killian and best friend Harry serving on the local lifeboat. Her mother and sisters are strongly opposed to any more of the family endangering their lives in this way, and Ava turns to Harry as someone who understands her desire to help others in this way. However, she gradually begins to realise that she is developing more than just feelings of friendship for Harry.

The second book in the series, Second Chances for the Lifeboat Sisters, features middle sister Clara Morrow. Trained as a chef, she is living with artist fiancĂ© Logan in a flat in Port Promise and planning their wedding in the village, while helping friend Cormac run his fish shack. Logan is not totally at home in the village, and when he inherits a house in London, he is keen to return there and set up home with Clara after they are married. Clara can’t imagine life without her mother and sisters close by and doesn’t want to let Cormac down. It seems that she and Logan now have very different ideas for the future. Which life should she choose?

The final book in the series, A Secret for the Lifeboat Sisters, focuses on the oldest Morrow sister, Gaby. She is married to Killian and has two children. Her belief that she has a happy and strong marriage has been challenged recently as Killian has become withdrawn and is apparently hiding secrets from her. Relations become strained between them and when she finds that he has concealed something that threatens radically to change the family dynamics, she is unsure how to act. However, when it seems that Killian’s life is in danger, she realises what is most important to her.

I have enjoyed these three books, and learning about these sisters from such a close-knit family, and indeed community. The girls are all very different in temperament and ambition, but share their love for family and home. The little village of Port Promise is well described, and sounds just the kind of place I would like to visit and stay for a while. The lifeboat station is central to the whole community and the stories bring home to the reader just how important this service and the volunteers who run it are for anyone in or on the sea. The books are well worth a read and best read in order.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Guest Review: The Accidental Housemate by Sal Thomas

Cath Beckinsale is in a jam. She’s a single mum of three, with her 40th birthday in sight and a precarious hold on employment. And she can’t quite let go of her late husband Gaz, whose ashes are still in an urn on the kitchen table.

To make ends meet a student lodger seems like the perfect solution – after all, what’s one more child in the house? But when Dan flies in from the US with guitar and chest hair on display, it’s immediately clear that he’s no teenager, but someone who quickly sends life in an unexpected direction.

Review: This is the first book by this author, and I’m happy that I spotted it on my library’s website. I was attracted by its interesting title and eye-catching cover, but was unprepared for just how much I was going to enjoy the story within. Right from the first few words, I was hooked and it had my attention until the very end.

The story concerns single mother Cath Beckinsale, who is struggling to make ends meet while bringing up her three children after the death of her partner Gaz, whose ashes are sitting on the kitchen table and who she often consults. When an unscrupulous colleague gets her into trouble at work and she loses her job, Cath agrees to take in a lodger as a source of income. However, when he arrives, the lodger turns out to be not the American teenager student she was expecting, but Dan, still from the USA but more of her age group. She doesn’t take to Dan to start with, but he begins to ingratiate himself into the family and to change her life in ways she had never considered.

This is one of the funniest books I have read and would recommend it to absolutely anybody who enjoys a good laugh. Having said that, you feel it shouldn’t be so funny since there are some really serious issues in the past and along the way for Cath and her family, but some of the situations she finds herself in are just hilarious. I loved the way that handsome and laid-back Dan came along and turned everything upside down for the family like some kind of fairy godfather. This is definitely not just a standard romcom but a story with true depth and a message that it is possible to turn fortunes around, told with a good dose of humour. I can’t wait to read the next book from Sal Thomas.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Top ten Tuesday: Books I'm Worried I Might Not Love As Much The Second Time Around


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 list. I only started re-reading a few years ago and I think this was part of the reason so...

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Guest Review: I Remember Paris by Lucy Diamond

Jess Bright, single mum and journalist, feels her life has stalled. So when she's offered a writing job in Paris for the summer, she leaps at the chance to go. Hasn't she always felt that she left a piece of her heart in the city years before?

Her subject is the iconic artist Adelaide Fox, whose personal life has been steeped in scandal and intrigue. Now approaching eighty, she's ready to tell her side of the story - and serve up some scalding-hot revenge in the process.

Amidst a stormy working relationship, Jess and Adelaide must face up to their pasts. As passionate affairs, terrible betrayals and life-changing secrets surface, there may be more surprises in store than either of them dared imagine . . .

I am a great fan of Lucy Diamond’s writing and was looking forward to being taken on a trip to Paris with her latest book. It certainly didn’t disappoint; I was quickly immersed in Parisian life and missed the city when the book was finished. I love the bright yellow cover, which invites the reader into the city with its well known landmark. 

The story features writer and journalist Jess Bright who has recently separated from her cheating husband and is currently trying to relaunch her career while bringing up her teenage daughters single handed. When she is given a chance to travel to Paris for an assignment, she jumps at the chance to return to the city where she lived for a while in her youth. The job involves writing the life story of artist Adelaide Fox, who is now in her 80s and ready to ‘tell all’. It turns out she has had a life peppered with scandal and rumour, and that revenge is one of her main motives for writing her memoirs at this point in her life. Adelaide is not the easiest person to work with and Jess finds herself involved in many confrontations with the artist. Fortunately Adelaide’s nephew, Lucas, is on hand to smooth things over as necessary. As her summer in the city progresses, Jess finds herself being drawn to Lucas and wonders if her feelings are reciprocated. She also thinks back over her time in Paris as a younger woman.

I found this a powerful and well-written story that stayed with me long after I finished the book. It has so many facets to it, from the simple development of the relationship between Jess and Adelaide, to their intriguing and eventful individual stories from the past, and then the possibilities for their futures. Of course, through Lucy Diamond’s excellent descriptive writing, I also enjoyed a tour of the sights of Paris and could almost smell the garlic and taste the wonderful French dishes Jess herself was experiencing. I can definitely recommend this book to any other readers looking for an escape to another world and another time. 

To order your copy now, just click here

Monday 4 March 2024

February 2024 Reading Wrap Up

 Well that book hangover from reading the new CL Taylor novel Every Move You Make certainly stayed with me throughout most of February and so, despite picking up and starting 3 or 4 things, I only managed to read 1 book in the month of Februay. Please tell me it wasn't just me that struggled this month?!

I listened to the audiobook of:

Saturday 2 March 2024

Guest Review: Abyss: The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 By Max Hastings

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was the most perilous event in history, when mankind faced a looming nuclear collision between the United States and Soviet Union. During those weeks, the world gazed into the abyss of potential annihilation.

Max Hastings’s graphic new history tells the story from the viewpoints of national leaders, Russian officers, Cuban peasants, American pilots and British disarmers. Max Hastings deploys his accustomed blend of eye-witness interviews, archive documents and diaries, White House tape recordings, top-down analysis, first to paint word-portraits of the Cold War experiences of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Nikita Khrushchev’s Russia and Kennedy’s America; then to describe the nail-biting Thirteen Days in which Armageddon beckoned.

Hastings began researching this book believing that he was exploring a past event from twentieth century history. He is as shocked as are millions of us around the world, to discover that the rape of Ukraine gives this narrative a hitherto unimaginable twenty-first century immediacy. We may be witnessing the onset of a new Cold War between nuclear-armed superpowers.

To contend with today’s threat, which Hastings fears will prove enduring, it is critical to understand how, sixty years ago, the world survived its last glimpse into the abyss. Only by fearing the worst, he argues, can our leaders hope to secure the survival of the planet.

Review: For 13 days, from 16th October 1962, the world stood on the brink of possible nuclear conflict as the two superpowers of the day, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, faced-off over the deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. This book is the author’s account of the events leading up to, during and after those 13 days, which is usually referred to as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1959, a socialist revolution in Cuba led by Fidel Castro overthrew the American-backed government. Castro became the country’s Prime Minister and pursued an agenda of socialist policies. This earned the enmity of America and led to many disaffected Cubans emigrating to America. In April 1961, a group of these Cuban exiles, trained by America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and with the acquiescence of the newly-elected American President John F. Kennedy, attempted an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The American administration, feeling humiliated, imposed trade embargoes on Cuba and made plans secretly to overthrow Castro. Cuba felt isolated and, fearing another American invasion, turned to the Soviet Union for economic and military support. As well as providing this aid, the Soviet Union’s Premier Nikita Khrushchev also came up with a plan to deploy covertly nuclear missiles, together with supporting technical and military personnel, to Cuba over the summer of 1962. These installations were photographed by American aerial reconnaissance missions in mid-October so that, despite Soviet denials, the Americans were aware of the nuclear deployment 90 miles from their south-east coast, precipitating the crisis. There followed 13 days of tense negotiations, together with an American naval blockade, before President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev drew back from the abyss and reached a compromise by which the Soviet nuclear missiles were withdrawn in return for America undertaking not to invade Cuba.

Max Hastings has used eyewitness interviews, archive documents and diaries in order to research this book. In addition, President Kennedy had installed tape recorders in the White House so transcripts of the meetings of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council during the crisis are available. As the author himself acknowledges, no such records of the deliberations in the Kremlin in Moscow are available, so there is some imbalance in the historical archives. Nevertheless, I found this a well-researched and very comprehensive account of a dramatic period during the 20th century. As well as accounts of the leaders Castro, Kennedy and Khrushchev and other politicians and top military personnel involved, the book provides an insight into the reactions of ordinary servicemen and civilians during this period. As well as detailing the actions of America and the Soviet Union, the book also has accounts from the perspective of the Cubans and America’s NATO allies. Throughout the book, the author does not shrink from giving his sometimes forthright views about the individuals involved. I found it to be a detailed and very interesting account of a dramatic period that should appeal to all enthusiasts of modern history.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Friday 1 March 2024

March 2024 TBR: New Book Releases and Nonfiction I Want to Read

 Ok, we will take a moment to recognise the fact that I did not read very much in the month of February but it's a short month so I am definitely forgiven for that! There will be a lot of holdovers from last month but there are also a few new things I want to read this month!

March Releases (I've read but want to highlight!)

February Releases


Book vs Movie

Alice Oseman