Being Someone is a life story, a
love story, a human story.
James has fallen through life, plotting a course of least resistance, taking
each day as it comes and waiting for that indefinable something to turn up, to
give his story meaning. His journey lacks one vital element a fellow traveller.
Then he meets Lainey. Confident. Beautiful. Captivating. And James rewrites
himself to win her heart. Lainey gives James a reason to grow, paints a bright
future, promises the happy ending he has sought so keenly. But when we discover
we can live the greatest story of all, are we able to share the pages with
Being Someone is an emotive tale of love, of self-discovery and adventure a
story of the eternal search for happiness in another, without ultimately losing
I received a copy of this book from Urbane Books in return for an honest review.
A thought-provoking contemporary story, about life choices, and the mystery that is love.
The story begins with a story told to James, one of the protagonists, about an elephant and his mahout. The story is one of love, respect and trust, which is shattered by one careless, almost unconscious action. Leaving the elephant guilty and lonely, seeking solace by honouring his dead mahout, until his own demise. Whilst this is a beautiful, poignant tale, you, like James, question what relevance it may have to his life story until it does.
James is a twenty-first-century man, entitled, and content to let life come to him until he meets the one, Lainey, who unsettles him and makes him want more. She is a vital, passionate woman, and their love story is epic, but then life happens, and the cracks appear.
The story explores their love, the conflicts they face, both internal and external, and the consequences of the life choices they make, for their forever happiness. It is brutal in parts, and honest, and James’ often appears cold and unfeeling, but it is interesting to explore his emotions and motivations.
The settings add to the story by echoing their relationship status, The first story’s relevancebecomes clear as the story progresses.
An engaging contemporary love story, and insight into relationships in the twenty-first-century.
When someone mentions the City of Cambridge you probably think
of an iconic building, its four corners stretching out of the once medieval mud
and into the arms of everlasting heaven, its white limestone yearning into
eternity… and without even knowing exactly what ephemeral joys or permanent
wonders the vision brings to mind, it’s a safe bet that the one thought which
does not occur to you is that the Chapel might not be there by Christmas.
Theo (Theophilus Ambrose Fitzwilliam Wedderburn to his friends) is a Junior Research Fellow in Number Theory. Prompted by a supervisee to demonstrate how to trace the provenance of bitcoins, Theo happens across a shocking revelation, with embarrassing ramifications for the whole University. Meanwhile, he is being stalked unseen by someone from his childhood. To his annoyance, Theo falls for a cheap con… and discovers a horror set not only to rock the very seat of power itself but to change the face of Cambridge and its beautifully iconic image forever.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This book is on one level, like its title, elegant, the setting in Cambridge draws you into the iconic place, where, in some ways, nothing has changed. The criminal threat and technological mystery, impose the contemporary world on the academic establishment, causing ripples and threatening the people and ancient buildings.
The characters are what makes this story stand out. I did find it difficult to get into initially, but Theo and Charlotte have an intriguing relationship, that faces both internal and external conflict. Theo’s character is significant and gives an honest portrayal of autism and how it affects the individual’s perception of the world, and those around him.
The detailed theory will not be for everyone, but even if that is not for you, there is still a lovely character-driven drama to enjoy.
Anne Atkins is a well-known English broadcaster and journalist, and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. She took an involuntary, and long, break from writing fiction when her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, their daughter repeatedly hospitalized with a severe illness, and finally, the family was made homeless. Thankfully those dark days are now behind her and she and her husband Shaun along with some of her children now live happily in Bedford, England.
Two women from two very different generations are brought together through dramatic circumstances and help each other to forge new paths.
Twenty-six-year-old Erin has everything she’s ever wanted – a good job, a gorgeous fiancé and a best friend who’s always there for her. But suddenly her life comes crashing down around her. Unable to return home to her parents, she takes a room in a house nearby and her life starts over in the most unexpected of ways…
Seventy-six-year old Lydia, who, shocked by the sudden death of her husband, is devastated to discover that he has left her in crippling debt. With no choice but to take in a lodger, Erin comes into her life. When they find a letter hidden in the attic old secrets come to light and, with Erin by her side, Lydia finds herself going on a trip of a lifetime.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A delightful multi-generational story of love, loss, friendship and new beginnings.
Erin’s life implodes, when she is betrayed by those she loves, she needs to escape, to rebuild her life. Lydia still in shock from her sudden bereavement, finds that loss isn’t the only emotion she has to contend with. Her financial security is compromised, and taking in lodger seems the only way to make ends meet. The unlikely pair, find that material security isn’t the only benefit of living together, and they forge a friendship that opens up a new lease of life for both.
A chance discovery, reveals more family secrets, and a chance to experience something special for both women.
This is a story full of emotion and poignancy, but there are plenty of humorous moments too. Lydia is a witty woman, and Erin soon realises that age is no barrier to a true friend.
A lighthearted, emotional read, with characters who you can empathise and a heartwarming ethos.
Naked Saunas – The Inspiration behind The Time Of Our Lives– Abby Williams
I’ve always enjoyed running. Not only is it a great
stress reliever, it’s great for allowing you to eat lots of cake, and also
great for me, as I usually find all my best novel ideas come to me when I’m
pounding the pavement.
The idea for The Time Of Our Lives was no different.
One summer’s evening, I was out with my running club, when Nella, my lovely
Finnish friend started telling us all about the naked saunas she and her fellow
Finns all enjoyed back home! Cue much hilarity amongst us British girls who
were positively squeamish at the thought of showing off our bits and pieces to all
and sundry. Not so for Nella. She said she thought it was a good thing – young
and old came together to enjoy simple pleasures. Inhibitions and modesty were left
at the door she said, and real, lasting connections were formed, regardless of
She was right. It was us Brits that were repressed. After that conversation, I couldn’t get the idea of these generations coming together and although I didn’t really want to write about naked saunas, (Sorry Nella, it was a step too far), what did strike a chord was the idea of age being no barrier to friendship. It was then I knew that what I wanted to write about next was the power of friendship.
And so I found millennial Erin and
almost-octogenarian, Lydia. Two women who come to need each other more than
they can ever realise after their lives implode in very unexpected ways.
The moment I hit upon the idea I found I couldn’t wait to spend time with my characters. Lydia and Erin became as real to me as any of my friends and family, and I found their friendship as charming and inviting as any relationship I’ve experienced in real life. It was funny because even though I never wrote about naked saunas the image Nella created for me that day was so strong, I only had to shut my eyes and I could see young and old coming together, laughing, sharing, joking and confiding about all manner of things to bond Lydia and Erin.
And so no, there are no naked saunas in this book, but
there’s still lots of running for me. The last time I ran with the girls we
started talking about the best places to go to the loo on a long run…someone
mentioned the bushes and Paula Radcliffe. Safe to say, that hasn’t inspired
anything in me quite yet.
Abby Williams is the pseudonym for Fiona Ford,
writer of romantic up-lit and historical fiction. Fiona started out as a
freelance journalist for titles such as Grazia, Sunday Mirror and Stylist
before realising her passion lay in novels. Now she spends her days immersed in
made-up worlds and reckons she has the very best job in the world. When she’s
not writing, Fiona is a gym nut, but only so it means she can eat lots of cake
and drink lots of wine – not necessarily in that order. She lives in Berkshire with
her husband and two cats who she sometimes thinks she might love just a little
bit more than all the humans she knows. The
Time of Our Lives is her first romantic novel and she is now busy
scribbling away her second.
Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start. Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel. Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley
I love this story.
I read it as a four-part serial, and it’s something special. Full of cakes, courage, fun and romance, with laugh out loud moments, and a few tears, it captures the good and bad in the Cornish coastal village of Porthgolow.
Charlie had a special connection with her uncle when he dies and leaves her, his bus, she knows she has to keep it, but can she do something with it? Her first attempt is gutsy but fraught with difficulty, but with the help of some positive comments from her mysterious stranger, she tries again in Cornwall.
The characters are warm and real, and even though baking, tea shops and coastal Cornish settings are well used in literature, the bus adds a different dimension that gives the story, the promise of originality. There is a conflict with the upmarket spa and a delicate balancing act to win the approval of the locals. This has humour, romance and a lovely holiday setting.
Charlie soon settles into her Cornish life, The cream tea bus proves to be a popular attraction, and Charlie wants the village to realise its full potential Her latest foody idea is received with mixed emotions, but does introduce the prospect of romance into her life, but is she ready for it?
The characters are complex and realistic, the possibility of a love triangle is suggested, and Charlie meets another of Porthgolow’s residents, who has a surprising if reticent insight into Daniel’s motivations. There is also the hint of someone messing with Charlie’s plans, but who, and the motivation behind this, are still a mystery.
Halfway through and this story is addictive. Charlie is embroiled in a tentative love triangle with her two admirers, one seems open and honest, just what she needs, but the chemistry is lacking. Her other admirer is not so easy to read, but the air crackles between them, whenever they are together. Can she take a chance, or will he let her down, and destroy her fledgeling business?
Charlie’s is still recovering from her boyfriend’s duplicity and has trust issues. Her head says one thing, her heart something different, who if either of them will she choose?
The Cornish Cream Tea Bus venture expands and seems to be going from strength to strength, as the community finally seems to accept her and her bus.
The final part of this lovely, coastal series, ties up all the loose ends, and just when you think everything is going to work out for Charlie, because of her hard work and willingness to learn to trust again, there is a final breathtaking twist.
Will ‘The Cornish Cream Tea Bus’, survive, and who wants it to fail? At the start of the story, there are lots of people who might want Charlie to fail, but at this point, the perpetrators are much fewer in number, thanks to Charlie’s kindness and tenacity. When the guilty party is revealed it isn’t a surprise, but it’s good to have your suspicions confirmed.
Charlie’ s romantic future seems brighter, but what happens after the Summer? The final twist is heartstopping and the resolution is perfect.
I enjoyed my time in Porthgolow and I hope the author may take us back there again? A lovely coastal romantic story, with some good unique elements, and complex, relatable characters, the perfect beach read.
The sequel to the bestselling phenomenon The Note – based on the true story of one girl and her ‘Train Man’…
year after the kiss that brought them together in a snowy train-station
doorway, Maya and James are embarking on another journey – this time around the
The trip starts promisingly, with an opulent and romantic Indian wedding. But as their travels continue, Maya fears that ‘love at first sight’ might not survive trains, planes and tuk-tuks, especially when she realises that what she really wants is a baby, and James doesn’t feel the same.
Can Maya and James navigate their different hopes and dreams to stay together? Or is love at first sight just a myth after all…
I received a copy of this book from Aria – Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.
I must be the only person in the UK who didn’t read ‘The Note’, but fortunately ‘The Postcard’ whilst being a sequel, is also a separate adventure for Maya and James and reads well as a standalone.
There is a curious diversion from Maya’s story as she prepares to go on around the world trip with #TheTrainMan. A different character, confused, lost and vulnerable, is introduced, the menace and mystery of this encounter are on your mind as Maya and James start their journey, and then the person’s identity and the situation is revealed, and you wonder if, where and when, Maya will meet her?
The characters and relationships you explore in this story are complex and realistic, whether they be from Maya’s past, present or on the trip of a lifetime. Her best friend’s story is so far removed from Maya’s at this time, and yet both think they want what the other is experiencing.
There is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy in this, the romance is still there, but tempered with reality and therefore authentic.Maya and Jamesfind out who they are as a couple as a series of conflicts, try to break them.
The final conflict is adrenaline-fueled, suspenseful and unexpectedly poignant. These scenes are full of vivid imagery that really lets you experience the tension, terror and tumultuousness of the events. Romance and love prevail, and the final scenes provide a heartwarming and believable ending.
Guest Post – Zoe Folbigg – The Postcard
Welcome back, Maya and James! –
If you enjoyed my debut book The Note then I hope you love the sequel, The Postcard, even more. At first, I was nervy about revisiting Maya and James and writing about what happens after the happy ever after. The Note was based on my own story of how I fell for a stranger on a train on my daily commute and then married him. It was a story I had told a thousand times even before I’d fictionalised it; before Aria offered me a book deal; before it became a bestseller.
When I wrote my second novel, The Distance, a story about long-distance love, based (almost) entirely on characters plucked from my imagination and nothing to do with me or my husband, I enjoyed the liberating feeling of writing about something totally different, telling a new story.
So when Aria suggested a sequel, I was worried. How could I move Maya and James’ story on? In reality, Train Man and I got married and had kids. We settled down to school runs, sports clubs and Friday-night fajitas. Nowadays the most drama in our lives tends to be Sainsbury’s selling out of coriander (those fajitas matter), or me falling over in the mums’ race on Sports Day. Embarrassing, yes, but none of my current life felt like novel material.
Then I remembered the “in-between”. Those years in a relationship when you’re out of the early throes of glorious newness, when you’re still self-conscious about morning breath and think each other’s bad outfit choices are adorable, but you’re not quite ready for his ‘n’ hers Mahabis or actually saying, “This is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with!”, even if you think it. A period when family and friends ask about marriage and babies in hushed tones and want to move your relationship on to the next stage, even if you haven’t discussed it yet.
Our “in-between” coincided with some amazing travels: a holiday to Argentina with friends, Costa Rica for my 30th (double income no kids = nice holidays) and then a year-long round-the-world trip (redundancy = a “sod-it, it’s now or never” attitude).
Before these trips, friends would gush about the proposal opportunities, how we would definitely come back engaged, that surely Train Man had something up his sleeve, and I felt a mixture of hope and pressure, excitement and resentment.
So while pondering a sequel I remembered that phase. The round-the-world trip was chock full of vibrant places, crazy characters, beautiful scenery, and weirdly that in-between issue that I realised would be as pertinent to Maya and James as it is to many people.
Once I started writing The Postcard and I took Maya and James on their own travels, I fell in love with their new chapter: I could almost smell the coriander and coconut of dinner on the Mekong; hear the beat of a drum at a Hindu wedding; see the mossy limestone karsts looking down on them at a beach in Thailand. And I could hear the ring of that lingering question: “Do you think he’ll ask you to marry him?!” “Do you think you’d ask him?” All from my kitchen table.
So welcome back Maya and James! It’s been an honour to pick up their story and revisit all these amazing places for The Postcard – and I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. Twitter FacebookInstagram Website
Sarah has had enough of men. It’s time to rekindle her first true love – travel – so she books a sailing trip around the Greek islands with a group of strangers.
The very last thing Sarah wants is to meet someone new… But then a gorgeous American man boards her yacht and she knows she’s in trouble. And when she also encounters a handsome silver fox who promises her the world, she realises that trouble really does come in twos.
Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan – steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta, and find her own way after all?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK – One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What I enjoyed most about this story is its uniqueness. I expected a holiday romance, but whilst there is romance, this more about self-discovery, living life to the full, friendships and exploring the Greek Islands. The setting is well described focusing on the people, animals, scenery and food, which is described in a mouthwatering way.
Sarah is a character that grows on you, initially, I found her a little brash, but she has a sharp sense of humour and an innate honesty, which is endearing. The other element I like is that, even though she meets two possible lovers, the final chapters pose more questions than answers, which are both believable and intriguing.
The story engages on many levels; emotionally, humorously and visually. The characters are relatable. This isn’t a story that requires in-depth characterisation, Sarah only spends ten days with her sailing family, and even less with the ‘silver fox’, so she doesn’t know everything about them.
Her emotional journey is deep and eventful, and you finish the story believing she understands herself better, and her future will be more rewarding, which is a more than satisfying ending.
This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood…
Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.
Fern and her best friends call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).
As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.
In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.
Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?
This is a story about kindness and letting go of
the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day
feel like Christmas.
Samantha Tonge lives in
Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at
university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She
has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee.
Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed
a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins
and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the
Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game
of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best
Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into
darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for
the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.