Thursday 25 April 2024

Guest Review: Finding Hope in Starshine Cove by Debbie Johnson

Lucy Brown has spent years hiding from the world, as far away as she could get from her old life – and her ex-husband – back in London. But when she reluctantly agrees to leave her safe haven to attend her old friend Ella’s wedding in Starshine Cove, little does she know what’s in store for her down in Dorset…

When a chance airport encounter with a handsome stranger unexpectedly leads to a deeper connection, Lucy finds her trip becoming much more than just a last-minute holiday. But then her dark past comes knocking, just as she always feared it would. Will the magic of Starshine Cove be enough to heal the hurts that Lucy has carried with her all these years, or has this one-of-a-kind village by the sea finally met its match?

Review: This is the third book in a series from Debbie Johnson set in the magical and mysterious Dorset village of Starshine Cove, which is apparently difficult to find unless it wants you to do so. Once someone does find the village, its magic pulls them in and they never want to leave, but not in a creepy way. Each of the books can be read as a standalone, but reading them in order builds up a nice picture of the village and its growing number of inhabitants.

This story centres on single mother Lucy Brown, who now lives in Ireland with teenage daughter Rose, having left behind her life and marriage to a controlling and cheating husband in London. Lucy and Rose arrive in Starshine Cove for the wedding of one of Lucy’s oldest friends. They are both taken with the village and the people there right away. Lucy gets a shock when she encounters best man Josh, a man she has met once before in an airport lounge when there seemed to be an attraction between them. The wonderfully peaceful atmosphere of the village and growing relationship with Josh are disturbed for Lucy by an arrival who awakens in her feelings from the past. It remains to be seen whether this most magical of all villages can help Lucy conquer her fears and allow her to love and have hope for the future again.

I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a few hours of real escapism. The village of Starshine Cove has drawn me in yet again; if only it were real, but then it would be full to overflowing by now with people looking for a bit of magic in their lives. As I have come to expect as an avid reader of Debbie Johnson’s books, this one has quite a lot of humour mixed in with the drama of the story - altogether very enjoyable. A very real problem faced by all too many people trapped in a marriage by a coercive partner is dealt with sensitively by the author. I hope that there may be more tales from Starshine Cove to come. I am enjoying getting to know all the characters who reside there and finding out how newer arrivals from previous books are faring.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Guest Review: The Wedding of the Year by Jill Mansell

Love, friendship and secrets revealed as the sun beats down on dazzling blue Cornish seas . . .

It's set to be a perfect day - until the chauffeur is asked to keep driving the bride around the church. This wedding definitely isn't going as planned.

Lottie is a guest at the wedding when she sees Max. No kiss has ever matched the last one they shared fifteen years ago. They were on the brink of a beautiful love story, until a shocking event tore them apart. Now here he is, still ridiculously good-looking, teasing Lottie in the old way - and that overwhelming electric attraction is back. But Max is way out of bounds.

Freya owes Cameron everything. But she doesn't love him. Which is a shame, because they're about to be married.

Ruby has been the perfect wife. When she discovers the truth about her husband, her response is reckless and delicious. But after that, nothing will ever be the same again.

Review: I always look forward with great anticipation to the annual offering from Jill Mansell, expecting a thoroughly entertaining read. Her novels are always full of well-developed characters and dramatic storylines. This book is set in Cornwall. I was not sure what to expect from the title, but its dramatic opening had me hooked from the start.

The story begins in the church in the village of Lanrock, where Freya is about to walk down the aisle towards her groom, Cameron. However, the wedding is suddenly halted by Ruby, the vicar’s wife, who has just made a shocking discovery. Her actions are just the beginning of a chain of events that will impact on more than one marriage. In the congregation are old acquaintances Lottie and Max. They have quite a history, a budding romance in their teens having been abruptly brought to a halt by events outwith their control. However, it seems that although there is still a spark there, there are still major obstacles in the path of their relationship nevertheless. Meanwhile, it appears that the interruption to Freya’s wedding may have been fortuitous for her, as she is unsure if she really loves Cameron, and she may now have time to find a way to wriggle out of their relationship.

This was a delightfully entertaining book with multiple storylines involving the various characters from the village of Lanrock and beyond. They included several particularly strong women. I loved the drama of the opening pages of the book, with one shock after another. Ruby proved a much stronger person than villagers realised; she was not taking any nonsense from anyone. I was also struck by Freya’s actions in dealing with her situation. She had an idea of how to act and stuck to it. Lottie and Max’s story was reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet’s situation, but fortunately they found a different solution from the star-crossed lovers. I loved their story most of all. I can highly recommend this enjoyable book, full of drama and romance, and certainly never a dull moment.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Saturday 6 April 2024

Guest Review: Hurricane: The Plane that Won the War By Jacky Hyams

Britain’s first-ever wartime fighter plane, the Hawker Hurricane, shot down more enemy planes than any other fighter. It was the true aviation hero of the Battle of Britain.

Often eclipsed by the legend and aerial heroics of the Spitfire, the Hurricane was the authentic warhorse of aviation history. Stable, rugged, less expensive to build – and far more easily repaired and maintained than the Spitfire – the ‘Hurri’ as it was affectionately known, proved to be the most fearsome fighter plane in aerial combat – at a time when Britain’s survival was at stake like never before.

In 1940 the Hurricane made its mark: more than half of the 1,200 German aircraft that were shot down in the war were taken down by HurricanesAt the time, the RAF could call on 32 squadrons of Hurricanes and 19 Spitfires: the Hurricane was, in fact, the dominant British fighter plane, developing a reputation as a plane that could take more than a few hits from the enemy – and continue to fly. The Spit was the aviation thoroughbred, superb until damaged. The Hurri was much stronger. The skilled airmen came from all over the world; one of them from RAF 80 Squadron would later become a very famous author – Roald Dahl.

Using documents, letters and first-hand accounts, this is the historic untold story of the Hawker Hurricane and the lives of the men and women who flew, helped design and construct, fit and worked behind the scenes of the ‘Hurri’, all contributing in ways big and small, to its outstanding success as a legend of the Second World War.

Review: This is a book about the Hawker Hurricane, a British fighter aeroplane that saw service during the Second World War. The first prototype flew in 1935 and the aeroplane first entered service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the end of 1937. It served with distinction throughout the Second World War (1939-1945) in all the major theatres of this conflict, although it was becoming obsolete and replaced with more modern designs towards the end of the war. Its finest hour was in the Battle of Britain during the summer and early autumn of 1940. Although often overshadowed by the more glamorous Supermarine Spitfire, the Hurricane’s design was simpler (parts of it were fabric-covered), meaning that it could be built more quickly and was easier to repair following damage. During the Battle of Britain, 32 squadrons of Hurricanes were available to the RAF, compared to 19 squadrons of Spitfires, and Hurricanes shot down more enemy aircraft than did Spitfires. In fact, the highest scoring squadron during the battle was 303 Squadron, a Polish squadron that flew Hurricanes.

The author has set out to redress this imbalance in the reputation of the Hurricane. By using first-hand accounts, she has provided personal histories of the men, and women, who designed, built, flew and maintained the aeroplane. In a comprehensive history of this aeroplane, its wartime roles in Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Far East are described. However, the text contained many factual errors. She describes SS troops in Germany prior to the outbreak of war as wearing khaki uniforms, whereas it was the SA (Sturmabteilung), the main paramilitary “enforcers” during Hitler’s rise and early years in power, that wore khaki uniforms, hence their nickname of “brownshirts”. She has converted a pilot’s pre-decimal daily pay of 11 shillings and 9 old pence to 40 pence in decimal currency, whereas the correct conversion is 59 pence. In addition, throughout the book, the designation of the German fighter aeroplane Messerschmitt 109 alternates between Bf 109 and Me 109. I also thought that some of the accounts could have been enhanced by the inclusion of more detail. She describes how the Polish 303 Squadron became operational on 31 August 1940. However, the circumstances as to how this came about are omitted. On the previous day during a training flight, one of the pilots Ludwik Paszkiewicz broke formation and shot down an enemy aircraft. His squadron commander officially reprimanded him but privately congratulated him and recommended the squadron become operational. Similarly, in the account of the battle for Malta, the arrival of naval supply convoys in November and December 1942 are described, but the earlier and most famous convoy, Operation Pedestal in August of that year is not mentioned.

I found the book to be a fairly comprehensive history of this famous, if unglamorous, fighter aircraft. However, I feel that greater attention to detail and more rigorous proofreading, together with inclusion of more detail could have elevated a reasonably good book into a very good book.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Thursday 4 April 2024

March 2023 Reading Wrap Up

 March was tough, I was very motivated to read everything on my TBR but this term at school has just been mind-blowingly busy and fast and really really hard so I've listened to some aduiobooks but nowhere near what I thought I would get to!

I only read audiobooks this month:

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Guest Review: Chasing a Highland Dream by Lisa Hobman

Since having to drop out of her design degree, Bella Douglas has been unlucky in just about everything life has thrown at her.

She’s lost more jobs than she cares to remember and despite her Granny Isla’s best attempts to set her up with every eligible bachelor in the Scottish Highlands and she’s still single.

Currently PA to her best friend, aka, Lady Olivia MacBain, at the 17th century Drumblair Castle, Bella is yet to find a role that sets her soul on fire. But when disaster strikes for Olivia, Bella steps into the breach to rescue her best friend from a fate worse than a bad interior designer.

When Bella and her Granny Isla find themselves homeless, they relocate to the castle where a handsome new neighbour brings mystery, intrigue and a spark of romance.

Is Bella finally on the track to find true happiness? Or do more catastrophes lie ahead? And does true love hide where you least expect it?

Review: This is the second book in The Highlands series from this author, following on from Coming Home to the Highlands. I very much enjoyed the first book in the series, and was looking forward to finding out what would happen to the characters in this sequel. I listened to the audio version, which was beautifully read by one of my favourite narrators, Eilidh Beaton. Although the book is part of a series, and I loved rekindling my acquaintance with many of the characters, it can equally be read as a standalone if you missed the last book.

This time, the story centres on aspiring interior designer Bella Douglas, best friend and personal assistant to Lady Olivia McBain at Drumblair Castle.  Bella lives in a cosy cottage with her elderly grandmother, Isla, a lovely lady always on the lookout for a husband for her granddaughter. Although Bella had to drop out of her design degree, she still has an interest in that field. She is delighted therefore when she has the opportunity to put her skills to good use in designing some properties at the castle. After a flood in Isla’s cottage leaves Isla and Bella homeless, they move temporarily into the castle where Bella meets neighbour Aiden, and a relationship develops between the two. However, all is not quite right with this handsome man, and it seems that Isla suspicions about him may have been spot on. Is it possible that the Mr Right might have been right in front of Bella all along?

It was great to return to Drumblair Castle and meet up with the people there in this romantic story, which is packed with interesting characters and the lovely scenery of the Scottish highlands. Bella is such a kind and cheerful young lady, happy to give up her studies to look after her grandmother. Isla is also a wonderful character, with a host of malapropisms that had me laughing throughout. The new neighbour they encountered was distinctly dodgy and had alarm bells ringing in my head from the word go. Just as well that Isla had picked out another more reliable companion for her granddaughter. I can happily recommend this highland romance and indeed all of Lisa Hobman’s books that I have read so far.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 2 April 2024

April 2024 TBR: It's Getting a Little Repetative Now!

 Be honest, are you getting tired of seeing the same books on here month after month? I keep including them because I do genuinely want to read them all and I'm excited to do so!

February Releases I Still Want to Get To

April Releases

May Releases


And of course, Alice Oseman