Books

The Wedding that Changed Everything – Jennifer Joyce

As a child Emily believed in fairy tales – but then her childhood changed and her belief in such things disappeared, consigned to the bin or the fire.

As an adult Emily still doesn’t believe in fairy tales and is taken a hiatus on finding Mr Perfect, she is having to wade through a lot of Mr Not Much Good and it is getting to her.

Emily’s friend Alice has other ideas. As she is now in love thanks to Emily, Alice feels that she should return the favour. And what better place to find that person that at a wedding.

Alice’s sister is getting married, in the family castle and the celebrations are running for a week and Alice has decided that Emily is going to be her plus one.

Emily is not so keen, but there is mystery to this castle and the relationship between Alice, her sister and two other friends, Tom and Archie who were all once close but have now drifted apart. While trying to avoid everyone she is paired up with, she keeps bumping into Tom. Which isn’t always a bad thing, especially when you get lost in the grounds.

As the past comes to the present and the truth about soured friendships is brought out in the open, perhaps Emily can see that love is quite attainable if you perhaps don’t try so much!

This is a lovely escapist read, what more do you want than a wedding, a castle, old feuds, a wicked stepmother and a gorgeous gardener?

I was not sure how this book was going to pan out, it took a while to get going and the prospect of being emerged in wedding preparations for a week did seem a tad odd. But it works well and had me laughing out loud as well as booing and hissing the baddies as if I was almost at a summer pantomime!

A good read in wedding season!

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

The Wedding that Changed Everything is out now. 

 

 

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Books

Confessions of a First Time Mum – Poppy Dolan

Stevie is the First Time Mum in this new book for Poppy Dolan. She has a beautiful bouncy baby called Cherry who has arrived in her and Ted, her husband’s life – like a force of nature.

But Stevie now feels lost – all she seems to do is deal with baby sick, stinking nappies and a few hours sleep. To vent her frustration she has started a blog and reaches out to other people who may be struggling like her in the wee small hours between night feeds.

In reality though, Stevie struggles to deal with everyday activities like taking Cherry to the health clinic for her checkup or trying to get a cup of coffee in a cafe. She meets Nelle who is struggling in her own way for the third rather surprising time with her baby Joe and Will who is father to twins, who have one speed – fast.

A friendship forms and whilst this helps Stevie and she starts to feel she might have a purpose in life and be worth something, her marriage with Ted seems to be slipping away from her. Of course to vent her frustration on her anonymous blog is a way to deal with it…..

….until being anonymous stops….. and the whole world wants to know who you really are and what gives you the right to make any sort of comment or judgment on families and parenthood.

I wasn’t sure about this book, as I did not think I would be able to relate to any of it, as I am not a mum but Poppy Dolan gives it such depth and wonderfully funny laugh out loud moments that really this book is about how you need to talk about what is going on and that hiding behind something is not always the right thing to do. The use of parenthood is the vehicle for it all.

What a wonderful account of what can happen when the media turns and it becomes news, and sad we live in a world where some publications in print or online thrive on such material.

The structure of the book was great, blog posts, emails, texts and was very ‘current’ and ‘on topic;, a book of its time probably and that is why it will resonate with lots of readers. You don’t have to be a mum to read it but if you are I am sure this book will strike a chord with you all.

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

Confessions of a First Time Mum is out now.

Books

Take A Chance on Me – Carol Wyer

Charlie’s life is going nowhere – she might have a lovely job baking cakes for the local cafe and volunteering at the local hospital radio. But that is all that is in her life, with her ex husband remarried and about to be a father again, Charlie thinks that she is missing out on life.

Mercedes, doesn’t let her horse riding accident stop her doing anything. Of course there are some things she cannot do so she comes up with an idea that Charlie needs to complete Mercedes Bucket List and in return she will complete Charlie’s.

But the bucket lists are very different and cover belly dancing (which sounded like great fun!), swimming with sharks, zip wiring, knitting, bungee jumping, appearing on television and that life is for living and also for loving.

Add into the mix, Jake a local journalist who seems to keep turning up when Charlie is not at her best and old boyfriend who has his own agenda and the plot moves from humorous and touching to quite thrilling.

The storyline kept me reading, but the book for me only had moments that captured my attention and I was absorbed in the story. I was left disappointed by this, because I felt I was reading pages that added nothing to the story. It perhaps needed to be a bit stronger in plot and character to keep me hooked from beginning to end.

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

Take A Chance on Me is out now and has previously been published as Three Little Birds. 

Books

Dancing Over the Hill – Cathy Hopkins

Married life for Cait and Matt has become, tea, biscuits and the latest boxset.

Gone is the romance, the love, the respect.

It is replaced with resentment, loathing and routine.

Surely after 30 years together there must be something which is holding them together.

Cait cannot see what it is and when an old flame gets in touch, everything is thrown up in the air.

Matt on the other hand discovers that being made redundant

Cait feels she is missing something and when Matt suddenly retires, he can’t find what he wants to do – let alone be.

What follows is a journey as we watch this relationship go through peaks and troughs as they recapture the past, look to the future and be ever present. The secondary characters, of Cait’s good friends, Lorna an Debs add some grounding to the storyline. But when it comes down to it, the only two people that are going to be able to do anything are Cait and Matt.

For me this book seemed to not go anywhere, we were watching the challenges of a relationship which was by no means interesting just ordinary. Perhaps that is the appeal. But I could not relate to very much in the book and I think that is why I struggled with it. From other reviews many will relate to it so don’t be put off by my perception of the book.

Not all books work for the reader.

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

 

 

Books

Summer on the Little Cornish Isles: The Starfish Studio – Phillipa Ashley

And so ends another magical trilogy from Phillipa Ashley where we have returned to those gorgeous little isles (more commonly known as Scilly Isles) and catch up with some of the locals we have grown to love and know in the first two novels and meet some new characters too.

Poppy and her boyfriend Dan come to Cornwall on holiday, to escape the inner city life they are living they fall in love with place so much, and with the little Starfish Studio Dan makes the decision that they should have what they know behind and take it on and live there all the time.

It sounds like the perfect dream for Poppy, that is until Dan changes his mind about going and also about Poppy being his girlfriend with only days before she goes.

Poppy therefore arrives to lick her wounds, heal and make a success of this little studio. She learns to accept help from the locals – Jake the landlord’s grandson is tasked to make sure she settles in well but he is very distracted as well as being ruggedly handsome too!

Poppy does everything she can to get the studio to open to catch at least some of the summer season – despite leaks, territorial cats and obnoxious artists she manages to open and then Dan suddenly reappears…….just when she thought her emotions were more stable.

Like the previous two novels I was immediately transported to these little Isles and could see myself calling in at the Starfish Studio to purchase a piece of unique artwork to remind me of the journey I had taken. Of course I can’t, I have been reading a book and that is the skill of the author I was drawn right in. I wanted to know why Jake is distracted by his past, why Leo is flitting from one to another and how can I possible wipe the smug look of Minty’s face?

This and all the other prvious novels will take you away to a wonderful place and give you a great story at the same time.

I wait with anticipation to see what Phillipa is going to write next and where she is going to take us.

 

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

Summer on the Little Cornish Isles: The Starfish Studio is out now.

 

Books

The Cottage on Sunshine Beach – Holly Martin

It is only a few months since I was in Sandcastle Bay catching up with Tori who had arrived to see her friends Melody and Isla and nurse a broken heart. Little did she know she would be staying and as we obviously catch up with all that is happening to her this story is very much focused on Melody.

Melody is a jewellery maker with her own little shop. She loves being in Sandcastle Bay near her friend Tori and of course her sister Isla but it also has lovely but sad memories of their brother Matthew who was killed.

Opposite Melody’s shop is that of Jamie Jackson, a local artist and sculptor. Everyday he meets Melody and the both walk to their respective shops with their new bouncing puppies in tow.

As their friendship deepens, they start to date – well try. Trouble is Melody is a bit clumsy and accident prone, so knocking drinks over, ruining sand castles and giving your potential new beau food poisoning. Perhaps not the auspicious start that either of them wanted.

Carrying demons from the past means they seem to be treading on eggshells round each other. Whilst the dates are a bit of a disaster when the romance hots up Melody knows she has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. But has Jamie found that in Melody?

Of course being in a small town and a close-knit community means that everyone wants to know what is going on and has an opinion which doesn’t always help. After a few misunderstandings…..

Well if you want to know you are going to have to read the book of course!

I loved Melody and her endearing clumsiness and I could relate to that feeling of not being good enough because you were not what everyone expected. Jamie’s tenderness was lovely and left you with a warm fuzzy feeling that there is hope.

It was of course lovely to catch up with Isla and Tori and they played in some cases starring roles within the plot! I hope there will be a book three because Isla needs to settle down and realise what she has is not going anywhere. If she doesn’t then I am off to pack my bags to Sandcastle Bay and will happily step into her shoes – in fact Melody better watch out too!

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

The Cottage on Sunshine Beach is out now.  

Books

The Cottingley Secret – Hazel Gaynor

Do you know the story of the Cottingley Fairies? I did, but actually knew very little – my knowledge almost being summed up in a couple of sentences and nothing more.

This book takes me deep into the story, but put all your prior knowledge and assumption aside, this is a tale of two girls.

Frances Griffiths comes to stay with her Aunt and Uncle and cousin Elise Wright in Cottingley, whilst her father is at war – the year is 1917.

There are myths, local stories of some sort of presence that has been seen at the beck, at the bottom of Elise’s garden mean that Frances is drawn there.

When the fairies are captured by photograph – it astounds some and for others they are nonplussed by the event. When a leading author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle takes up the story Elsie and Frances are drawn into a world which is no longer in their control.

100 years later, it is 2017 and Olivia finds an old manuscript when she is left her grandfather’s book shop. It takes her on a journey to heal her heart, find her place in the world and also to Cottingley where the events of the past seem to have something to do with Olivia and the present.

THis is a wonderful dual narrative novel which has mystical qualities in both storylines which interweave. I was entranced by the present day story and of course Olivia’s world of working in a bookshop is any avid readers dream. I was surprised at the story of Frances and Elise and learnt a lot – but one of the overriding things this story has left me with – is why it was taken to the nations hearts so much, why did people claim quite clearly that this was no hoax in any way. War does many things to many people. The loss that was felt and the belief that perhaps there is something out there.

A skilful fairy story weaved by a skilful storyteller.

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

The Cottingley Secret is out now. 

By Elsie Wright (1901–1988)