Posted in Book Review

A Grand Old Time 4* Review Judy Leigh

Evie Gallagher is regretting her hasty move into a Dublin care home. She may be seventy-five and recently widowed, but she’s absolutely not dead yet.

And so, one morning, while the rest of Sheldon Lodge is asleep, Evelyn walks out the front door and never looks back. So begins a road trip that will take Evie first to Liverpool, then on to Brittany, where she buys a camper van and heads south on a Great Adventure.

But not everyone thinks Great Adventures are appropriate for women of Evie’s age, least of all her son Brendan and his wife Maura, who set off in pursuit, following a trail of puzzling text messages.

But when Brendan and Maura finally catch up with Evie, there are shocks in store for all of them … because while Brendan may have given up on life and love, Evie Gallagher certainly has not.

Amazon UK

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 My Thoughts…

It’s always good to find a story with an original premise. Starting a whole new life at 75 definitely qualifies.

Evie thinks moving to a care home is the right thing to do when her husband dies; she realises as the youngest there both in years and outlook it’s not for her. She needs to escape before it steals away her remaining years. Evie is feisty, good-hearted and independent and likeable. Evie’s adventure depends on a lucky break, but that’s the beauty of escapist fiction. Her experiences span three countries, countless unlikely friends and an iconic campervan.

Brendan, Evie’s only son, is her antithesis, he is dour, dependant and downtrodden. His life doesn’t live up to his expectations, but he seems helpless to change it. His relationship with Maura, his wife, is in a rut and he jumps at the chance to leave his life behind when his mother goes missing, and he is duty bound to find her.

This story has many comic moments mostly related to Evie, but there are there are also some slow passages, which make the story drag a little. A charming autumn romance, an excellent assortment of characters, vivid and easy to visualise and beautifully described settings make this a worthwhile read. This hopeful, humorous and poignant story explores life, love and relationships.

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Childrens Books

My First MOG 123 – Judith Kerr – 5* Review

Join everyone’s favourite pet, and learn to count with MOG!

Mog is the forgetful cat that everybody loves, and now you can learn to count with her in this brand new book for very young readers.
This delightful book is the perfect introduction to counting, and with its gorgeous illustrations and Mog’s unique humour, it’s sure to remain a favourite for years to come.

Perfect for very young readers from ages two and up.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

MOG is a timeless favourite character, I read MOG’s storybooks with my children, and now I’m reading with my grandson.

The illustrations are comical and colourful, and the numbers are clearly defined. Arranged with the number in large, clear font on the left-hand side and the MOG illustration and phrase, including the number on the right-hand side,  it is easy to use and reinforces the number using MOG’s comical antics. There is a summary of all the numbers  1 to 10 at the end, as MOG dreams of counting.

It is suitable for children of one year upwards because they can enjoy the pictures and become familiar with the number shapes. My grandson is two, and he named most of the numbers and counted the items in the MOG illustrations.

I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins Children’s via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Childrens Books

All Aboard the Toilet Train – Bing 5* Review

Join Bing on a toilet training adventure in this interactive sound book – perfect for encouraging young children to use the toilet with confidence.

Bing doesn’t use his potty anymore – he uses the big toilet, and you can too! It can be scary at first, but with a little practice, you’ll be catching the Toilet Train in no time.

Bingsters will love pressing the sound icon and joining in the fun. Choo! Choo!

Catching the toilet train. . . It’s a Bing thing!

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A lovely brightly coloured, easy to follow book featuring the toddler’s favourite Bing. I read the digital version which isn’t interactive.
The interactive board book will have even more toddler appeal as they love to press buttons and make noise. A fun, way to tackle toilet training. My two-year-old grandson loved it.
I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins UK Children’s via NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

Posted in Book Review, Memoir

everything I know about love – Dolly Alderton 3*Review

When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown-up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.

Glittering with wit and insight, heart and humour, Dolly Alderton’s powerful début weave together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age – while making you laugh until you fall over. Everything I Know About Love is about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty.

Amazon UK

Amazon

 My Thoughts…

‘Everything I Know About Love’, is a memoir written by a woman in her late twenties, while the writing quality is excellent, am I showing my age? (definitely a 20th-century woman). Aren’t memoirs usually written by people in the autumn of their years?

This book encompasses the central themes of the 21st-century: a fascination with all things celebrity and reality. Parties, drugs, sex, friendship are its mainstays, retold in a charmingly entertaining way. What I didn’t like is the casual reference to ‘Class A’ drugs as if they are nothing out of the ordinary, something everyone does. Drugs were a feature of life when I was in my teens and twenties, but they weren’t socially acceptable as they are now. 

The fast pacing holds the reader’s interest, and the life events recounted, read like a novel. If you are looking for a snapshot of life for young women of a particular social class in the 21st-century, this is a great example.

I received a copy of this book from Fig Tree Penguin Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

Posted in Book Review

The Cows 5*Review – ‘Don’t Follow the Herd’ Dawn O’Porter

Posted in Book Review

The One-Maria Realf – 4*Review

Lizzie Sparkes should be the happiest girl in the world – she’s three months away from marrying The One in the wedding of her dreams! But then The One before the One walks back into her life with a bombshell.

Alex’s unexpected return changes everything, and now Lizzie faces an impossible dilemma. Because how can you leave the past behind you, when it’s standing right in front of you…asking you for one more chance?

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My Thoughts…

‘The One’, is an emotionally intense story. From reading the blurb, I imagined a romantic comedy but there’s more angst than humour, and this increases as Lizzie’s wedding draws relentlessly closer.

In the beginning, Lizzie is happy finding the wedding dress of her dreams, but she cannot silence the echoes of her past life. The story counts down to her wedding day but chapters from her university life more than a decade ago are also explored, informing her current actions and state of mind.

Reading this story, Josh does not seem like the ideal partner for Lizzie, he has good qualities but doesn’t seem willing to let Lizzie be her true self, so even before Alex comes back, she has doubts. As the story progresses you discover her break-up with Alex is not straightforward.

Vividly written, the flawed characters compliment the realistic storyline perfectly. The believable ending is hopeful, if not happy and leaves you a little sad but satisfied.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

The Two Houses 4*Review – Fran Cooper

 

‘The Two Houses sit grey and brooding beneath a pale sky.
They cling to the hillside, cowering from the wind, because always, before everything up here, there is the wind.
The Two Houses were not always two. But if it is human to build – even up here, in this blasted northern hinterland – it is human to break, too.’

After an acclaimed career in ceramics, Jay herself has cracked. Recovering from a breakdown, she and her husband Simon move to the desolate edges of the north of England, where they find and fall in love with the Two Houses: a crumbling property whose central rooms were supposedly so haunted that a previous owner had them cut out from the building entirely.

But on uprooting their city life and moving to the sheltered grey village of Hestle, Jay and Simon discover it’s not only the Two Houses that seems to be haunted by an obscure past. It becomes increasingly clear that the villagers don’t want them there at all – and when building work to make the two houses whole again starts, a discovery is made that will unearth decades-old secrets…

But who in this village has been hiding them?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

At first glance, this appears to be a ghost story. While the writing style is atmospheric, creepy and gothic, the content is more grounded. The ghosts are emotional, bad memories and entrenched secrets kept by the living rather than the dead.

Escaping to the country seems like a rest cure for Jay and Simon, reeling from Jay’s emotional breakdown when she discovers she cannot have children. A ceramic artist Jay’s work suffers until she shies away from it and everyone attached to it. Simon loves her but doesn’t necessarily understand her. His constant presence is claustrophobic for his free-spirited wife. She doesn’t want to share her emotions just to make him feel worthwhile.

So when they find a quirky, broken down property, two houses severed in their past. Jay loves it, and Simon who wants his wife to recover agrees, although he is looking for a bolt hole and she is searching for a new life.

The villagers are suspicious of the interloper’s motives and the reasons for this gradually become clear as the story progresses. It’s not just because they want to protect the secrets of the old houses, their way of life has disintegrated with the closure of the mines and farms, young people want to leave, and only the old ones and those who cannot survive elsewhere are left. They want to protect their way of life even if it’s not what it once was.

The characters are realistic, as is their behaviour when confronted with newcomers. Jay becomes obsessed with the house’s secrets to the exclusion of all else, but maybe this is part of her healing process?

The plot reveals its clues and misinformation as it progresses, the pacing is slow because of the detailed descriptions and the internal conflict of the main characters.

Mysterious and suspenseful but not written in a commercial, contemporary style, it is all about the characters and their interaction with the setting. It resonates as you read and the two houses’ story is infinitely sadder than you first imagine.

I liked it and found the ending particularly poignant. It conveys the sense of stability and people becoming as one with the land well. It is slow and maybe too detailed in places, but it does fit with a gothic writing style and is a lovely example of this.

I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Conquering His Virgin Queen – Pippa Roscoe – 4*Review

Six months ago, their marriage ended…

He has twelve hours to claim her back!

Odir Farouk is about to become king—but to take his throne, he needs his errant wife by his side! Odir denied his hunger for Eloise, refusing to compromise power for passion. His rejection drove her away. Now Odir has until news of his succession breaks to win back his queen…and pleasure will be his most powerful weapon!

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

A little escapism is always lovely. Internationally themed, this contemporary romance allows the reader to see what life is like living with a prince and it’s not as romantic as it first appears.

Eloise accepts an arranged marriage because she likes Odir and believes they could grow to love the other. Odir, bound by duty ignores her after their marriage and finally sends her away when he thinks she has forsaken her marriage vows. She runs away, but now he finds her and wants her back, but she has other ideas.
Odir is afraid loving Eloise will weaken him and threaten his kingdom. Eloise will only be his wife again, without compromise and their rekindled passion seems doomed to fail.
I like the structure of this novel; each chapter covers an hour in their reunion, the sense of time slipping away from them increases the story’s dramatic tension and makes it fast-paced.
Character-driven, past tragedy and heartache are explored, making their actions more understandable. Loyalty and duty rule both their lives, everything they do is for others. To achieve the love they both desire, they must consider what they want as individuals, and at times this seems to be unlikely.
Sensual love scenes echo their poignant journey. Complex characters, both Eloise and Odir negotiate a problematic emotional path full of angst and pain before they realise what is truly important to them.
A fascinating snapshot of the professional and personal faces of a royal romance, which doesn’t stint on angst, drama and romantic sensuality.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Unmasked -4* Review Stefanie London

 

Lainey Kline has one goal before she leaves Melbourne forever: transform herself into a sexy siren, sneak into the season’s most glamorous masquerade ball and seduce Damian McKnight. Only there’s a teeny little problem — one deliciously hot night isn’t nearly enough. Now Lainey wants more. But while getting naked is one thing, taking off their masks is quite another…

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My Thoughts…

Masquerade balls evoke images of mystery, romance and secrets, ‘Unmasked’ encompasses all of these elements in a contemporary setting.

Lainey is leaving Melbourne and her friends for a fantastic career opportunity, but is she taking the next step in her future life or running? Her teenage crush on her best friend’s older brother grows into love, but he doesn’t see her that way? Damien has a failed marriage and hidden self-esteem issues, at odds with his successful career. Damien’s attraction for Lainey is inconvenient and something he is not going to explore despite her provocation.

The chance to act out her greatest fantasy before he leaves is something Lainey must do, and so she gatecrashes an ‘A’List, charity ball that the object of her desire is attending. The love scenes are sensual and explicit, but in keeping with the ‘Dare’genre and mirrored by the emotional intensity of the hidden feelings, Lainey and Damien have for the other.  There is a lovely ‘Cinderella’ like twist after Lainey’s night at the ball.  Passion, romance and steamy moments make this an enjoyable, fast-paced, sexy read.

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

A Wedding for the Scandalous Heiress – Elizabeth Beacon 4* Review

 

A stolen kiss from a dashing stranger… at her own betrothal ball!

When Isabella Alstone receives a shockingly passionate kiss from a handsome stranger at her betrothal ball, she scandalously ends her engagement. She is even more surprised when she discovers exactly who the stranger is! Ruggedly striking Wulf FitzDevelin is illegitimate, penniless and her ex-fiance’s half-brother–their match is wholly unsuitable. Yet Isabella cannot escape the burning longing to feel his touch again! 

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My Thoughts…

A forbidden kiss, a feisty heiress and a family divided by secrets, make this Regency romance and entertaining read.

With lots of plot twists, a heroine and hero who practically combust when they are in the same place and a scandalous family tragedy, this story is different from the usual Regency romances of debutantes and rakes but still retains a believable historical setting and a lovely conflicted love story.

Isabella’s cruel childhood makes her self-reliant and stubborn, she respects her older siblings advice but knows her mind. Wulf ‘s childhood memories are mostly bad. Shunned by polite society, he lives up to his rakish reputation until his serendipitous meeting with Isabella. Their romance is an enticing mix of innocence and sensuality, but Wulf won’t risk Isabella’s reputation despite her provocation, and their love seems doomed before it takes flight.

A gentle paced story with a few unusual plot twists, one of which remains unanswered, perhaps for another story? I liked the two main protagonists. The cast of family characters adds depth to the story without detracting from its romantic focus. Intertwined with historical detail, which sets the scene but doesn’t slow the pace, it’s perfect if you fancy a romantic Regency tale with a mysterious twist.

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.