Books

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances – Christie Barlow

Evie can lose herself in the books she looks after in the local library. Until recently she shared this enjoyment with her mother, Irene who has now retired.

On her birthday, someone leaves a book on the desk for Evie, from one of her favourite authors, Evie is excited but also more intrigued with an inscription that has been left inside for her.

What starts is a year of Evie really finding out who she is and where she comes from. Irene is not in fact her real mother, but someone who came into her life and made everything all right. Evie thinks it may be time to find out who her real mother is and makes the first step towards this.

As Evie starts to discover more about her past, it seems that the people she has in her life are just as important and all have their roles to play. Aiden the new librarian and his sweet little boy Theo, Wilson the delivery man who the librarians see daily and Noah Jones, author.

Of course Clara, Evie’s colleague and housemate is learning as much about Evie as Evie is about herself, but it is time for Evie to open her heart up to everyone not just the love she may have missed out on because of a troubled start in life.

If you are a fan of books, then this is the one with you, what could be more delightful than to spend your time with librarians, fans of books, book club members and authors. Maybe the ending was all a bit too convenient but it did not matter to me, it was a heartwarming read and I would love to have spent more time in the library with the Evie and her friends.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the chance to read this book. 

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is out now 

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Books

Shipyard Girls at War – Nancy Revell

Rosie is still in charge of the woman welders in the shipyard. Their novelty has yet to wear off but slowly over time others are starting to notice the part these women are playing in the Second World War. Rosie though has secrets outside of the shipyard and with these to protect, falling in love with a policeman is not going to help her circumstances or her heart one bit.

Hannah is one of the weaker members of Rosie’s team and she joined the war effort because she wanted to do something that was going to punish Hitler for what he had done to her homeland. Whilst she may not have the strength for the welding, she has other unknown skills and whilst the others have been covering for her for so long, something now has to change, before she loses her job.

Polly is using her work in the shipyard to escape the fact that her brother has died fighting. The return of her other brother wounded and no longer fit for service is making for a very tense atmosphere at an already crowded home. Coupled with this is the worry that her man, Tommy has now left the shipyard to do his bit in the Navy.

Bel, Polly’s sister-in-law and childhood friend is struggling to cope with the death of her husband Teddy, trying to bring up a small child and the reappearance of Teddy’s twin brother Joe does nothing to calm her. As time goes on, can she cope with a constant reminder of her past, especially when her mother Pearl turns up out of the blue.

Gloria is hiding a secret, not just the fact that she is pregnant and the owners of the shipyard have yet to make that discovery but also that her husband Vinnie, has reappeared and thinks he can start again and that of course this time he will be different. Gloria finds some strength, and she is going to need it when the baby decides it is going to be born where and when it wants to be.

Dorothy and Angie are girls who just want some fun and a good man on their arm, they work hard but they play hard to and despite coming from different backgrounds to the others they fit into the team nicely. Martha is mysterious, she is the strongest and biggest of the team and hardly speaks, although her sense of humour is just starting to come through just when they all need it.

Whilst not all of these characters feature prominently in the storyline of this second novel in the series, they are still fully rounded characters. The story follows on from the first novel in the series, it is 1941 and the war is making itself very well-known in the town of Sunderland where the shipyard is based. Of course the war is the background to the story but it is what is happening with these women which kept me hooked and reading voraciously.

When I picked this book up to read I did not realise that I was picking up the second (don’t you just hate it when that happens!) and whilst I started reading it, I felt like I was missing out on something. So I stopped reading and went to buy the first one, which I flew through and then quite happily picked this one back up with all those missing feelings now gone.

Don’t think you will have to read the first, it does give you enough background to enjoy the story straight away without simply regurgitating the first book. However I felt I was not quite in touch with the characters enough and I certainly did not care about them or what happened to them with the story that had gone on before which is the reason I chose to go back a book.

If you are a fan of sagas then this is the book and series for you. From the ending there will be definitely be a book three, as there is so much more to learn about these characters, about the shipyard and about how the Second World War affects the choices they make.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Both The Shipyard Girls and Shipyard Girls at War are out now. 

Books

The Apple Orchard – Veronica Henry

In the charming town of Peasebrook, there’s a place for everyone. War vet Joe has made new friends and a new home for himself here, overlooking a beautiful apple orchard. But when tragedy strikes and Joe is left out in the cold, it will bring them all together in entirely unexpected ways.

If you have never read any Veronica Henry and perhaps you fancy having a go then do seek out this ebook exclusive which is currently on sale for £0.00 (at time of creating this post). In it you will get a lovely story from the town of Peasebrook which is where How To Find Love in a Bookshop is set. The link will take you to my review.

There is an extract from her forthcoming novel The Forever House which will be published on the 18 May and my review will be up on this blog a week before. If you cannot wait that long and follow me on Goodreads then you will find it there already.

Books

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts – Jennifer Joyce

Maddie Lamington is running a teashop having poured all her energy and money into setting it up, to take the focus of some life changing events that has happened to her. She enjoys the early starts and no doubt with a name like Lamington she is going to be good at baking!

Along with help Mags and budding pop star Victoria they are just about keeping their heads above the water. The teashop may well be in a little parade of shops but it is off the main high street and event heir neighbours are walking to the big branded coffee shops to get their daily fix.

Maddie needs to do something and fast. When she sees her lonely dad still pining after her mum, since their divorce suddenly get chatting to regular customer, Birdie over apple crumble. Maddie has an idea.

Speed dating but with cake.

Along with help from Mags, the regular customers that Maddie has managed to attract to the teashop as well as Birdie’s good-looking grandson, Caleb, her man obsessed friend Nicky and her Dad she tries out her theory. It works.

That is when the hard work starts, she needs to now make these regular feature and fast. Everyone pulls together and whilst they are working on introducing people to the possibility of romance, it seems that some is already starting and it doesn’t need any help from some cake either.

With all good romances there is always plenty of misunderstandings and some of the made me laugh out loud, especially when Maddie gets her words all the wrong way round and she is certainly not going to live that down. All of the characters have a story to tell and it forms part of the bigger story and they are all dealt with in equal measure and the book ends with for me all the ends nicely tied up and finished.

I read quite a few books so far this year which have had teashops as part of their storyline and this is one of the better ones. A great read for an afternoon with a large mug of tea and of course a large piece of cake!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts is out now.

Books

The Kicking the Bucket List – Cathy Hopkins

Iris has created a kicking the bucket list – but the list ironically is not for her to complete before she dies.

It is in fact for her three daughters, Rose, Dee and Fleur to complete in the space of twelve months following Iris’ death. Iris sees it as a way of bringing her daughters closer to her, despite her being gone and also to show them that whatever may be going on in their lives that they ultimately have each other. For Iris, their estrangement has gone on too long, it cannot go on past her death.

The stipulation of this list is that they cannot claim the inheritance until after the twelve months has passed and they have completed all of the tasks.

It is going to be a tough year for these three women. Rose is the eldest, controlling, critical, organised and very uptight, she is hiding something from her sisters. Dee is about to lose her home and any sort of base she has ever had, she cannot find the man to make her happy. Fleur is a flighty as her name suggests to me, although successful she is alone and without any real purpose.

Will the tasks that their late mother has left them, show them what life can really be like?

The tasks are very wide-ranging and seemingly come out of nowhere, but all of them when looked at together are there to enable them to reflect. However, despite their late mother’s hope and messages in setting all of this up, it seems as if the three sisters are never going to get on.

This is a book which has a bucketful of emotions in it. At times you are going to laugh, to cry and to stop and reflect about your own place in the world and the relationships you have within that. It also makes you realise that you really do not know what is going on in people’s lives, especially those close to you and perhaps all it will need is five minutes to reconnect.

As an only child the dynamic between the sisters is intriguing and engaging as a storyline and I have read books using a similar concept to the plot, but this one was captivating and kept me reading. Well worth a read.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Kicking the Bucket List is out now. 

Books

The Bluebell Bunting Society – Poppy Dolan

If you are a fan of Cathy Bramley, Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde to name a few of my favourites, then you will love this book.

Connie finds herself coming up to 30 having not achieved anything that she really wanted to. Life certainly has not gone the way she thought it would. She is currently the caretaker of the local village hall, aptly named Bluebell Hall taking on the mantle after her grandmother died.

It might not be what she wanted to do, but she loves Bluebell Hall and the community and it all it stands for. If the numbers using the hall do not increase then it means the hall will have to be used for another purpose – one that the residents of the community will not want. It is a common problem, small villages do not want to see part of their history taken over by a big corporate entity but they do nothing to use the existing buildings until it is almost too late. Connie has ideas to draw people into the building and increase the numbers……..

…………….. this one involves material, thread and sewing machines.

Of course disaster is waiting to happen and you can see it hanging over their head (literally as it turns out) but with the determination of Connie and the friends she has suddenly made in the village it looks like Bluebell Hall could be staying for a little bit longer.

This is a heartwarming novel, which taps into the themes of friendship, loss and community. There is a smattering of romance, but for me that did not overtake the main substance of the novel, it nicely simmered in the background. Add into that the village feel, crafts and a lovely bright cover what more could you want from a novel.

Actually I do want more – I want to go back and see how Connie is faring and the other villagers.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel. 

The Bluebell Bunting Society is out now.