Posted in Book Review, Novella, Serial, Romance

Wildflower Park -Part 3 – Oopsy Daisy- Bella Osborne – 5* #Review @AvonBooksUK @osborne_bella #romance #serial

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves into her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Part three of ‘Wildflower Park‘, aptly called ‘Oopsy Daisy’, follows on from the cliffhanger at the end of part two, Heavily pregnant Sophie, Anna’s best friend has left her husband. The early chapters are emotional, but there are plenty of funny moments too, as Sophie and Anna discuss the state of her marriage.
There are some touching scenes with Bill, humour with Maurice(the cat) and Anna wonders if she really is cut out for the single life.

Anna undergoes significant character development in this story. Illustrated by scenes with her ex Liam, Hudson, her attractive work colleague, and Connor, the man she met by mistake. She’s in a quandary, should she hold out for her soulmate, settle for what’s available, or go it alone?

A new opportunity forces her to face her past fears and this part of the story ends with something unexpected. I’m off to read part four, I can’t wait.

Part three ‘Oopsy Daisy is out on 18 March 2019

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Posted in Book Review, Holiday Romance, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Dreaming of Tuscany – #BlogTour -5*#Review T.A. Williams @canelo_Co @TAWilliamsBooks

The glamour of Hollywood. The magic of the Tuscan countryside. One big decision…

Beatrice Kingdom (Bee to her friends) wakes up in hospital in Tuscany. After an accident on a film set leaves her burned and scarred, she feels her whole life has been turned upside down.

Bee is offered the chance of recuperating in a stunning Tuscan villa in the company of a world-famous film star, the irascible Mimi Robertson. Here amid the vines and olive groves, Bee quickly finds there’s more to the place than meets the eye, not least a certain Luca(and Romeo the dog).

As she comes to terms with her injuries and her new life takes shape, Bee will have to travel a road of self-discovery… and make a huge decision.

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

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

My Thoughts…

Bee’s life will never be the same again. After a near-fatal accident on a film set in Siena, she takes the chance to recuperate and rediscover who she is. Her film star companion, is diva-like, and she’s never lived in the country, but she never been physically scarred before and she needs time to come to terms with the new her. A remote Tuscan villa is a perfect place for this.

The characters in this story are complex and authentic and the well-paced plot is full of romance, self-realisation, mystery and humour. Culture, cuisine and celebrity give the story its vivacity and Romeo, the Labrador is perfectly described, and so lovable. The Tuscan setting comes to life in this story and you can imagine the vineyards, hills and history that epitomises it.

A lovely story of food, glamour, history and love with a memorable Italian flavour and setting.

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing. Twitter @TAWilliamsBooks

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

4* #Reviews -Julie Houston – Goodness Grace and Me – The One Saving Grace @Aria_Fiction @JulieHouston2

When Harriet’s husband, Nick, throws in his safe, but boring job in order to set up a new business during a recession, Harriet is distraught. More so when she realises Amanda, her old enemy from school is back.

Amanda, it turns out, is Nick’s new boss’s wife and will be accompanying Nick on his business trips to Italy. How will Nick not succumb to the ruthless charms of the utterly gorgeous Amanda once he’s away in glamorous Milan?

Knowing Nick is at risk of being seduced is bad enough, but when Harriet’s best friend Grace falls madly in love with Sebastian, Amanda’s much younger son, it can only mean trouble ahead.

Determined to fight for her man, Harriet’s seduction techniques go into overdrive. Unfortunately, she is hampered in her attempts by two bolshy teenagers, an increasingly eccentric mother and a job teaching cantankerous children. Not to mention there seems to be something very strange going on at the bottom of her garden! Can Harriet save her marriage, as well as her friendship with Grace? And what will happen if Nick’s new venture fails, especially now that the one thing Harriet has not even considered in all this mess appears to be staring her right in the face…?

Amazon UK

When Harriet Westmoreland goes into labour with twins in Harvey Nichol’s men’s underwear department at exactly the moment she sets eyes on Alex Hamilton, it marks the start of a year of madness – for her, her family and, at times, it seems most of the West Yorkshire village of Midhope.

Giving birth only two months after Harriet, her lifelong best friend Grace has her own craziness to contend with. As both women hurtle down unexpected and very different paths, they flounder in a maelstrom of passion and confusion, perilously clinging on as the chain of events threatens not only their comfortable, ordinary lives but also their very existence.

Amazon UK

I received copies of these books from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I decided to read and review these two novels together as they are a series and feature the same main characters. If you are a fan of laughter when you read, you will enjoy these stories, which have great characters, and even greater insight into family life and relationships.

The plot is varied and peppered with funny, poignant and romantic moments. It’s written in a visual style, so it’s like watching a film as the plot unfolds.

A lovely romantic comedy series which highlights with charm and humour family life, relationships and the problems women face in society.

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Impulse Book Club, Literary Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Don’t You Forget About Me – 4* #Review -Mhairi McFarlane – @MhairiMcF @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK

It began with four words.

‘I love your laugh. x’

But that was twelve years ago. It really began the day Georgina was fired from The Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (© Tripadvisor) and found The Worst Boyfriend in the World (© Georgina’s best friends) in bed with someone else.

So when her new boss, Lucas McCarthy, turns out to be the boy who wrote those words to her all that time ago, it feels like the start of something.

The only problem? He doesn’t seem to remember Georgina – at all…

I received an electronic advanced reader copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Believable characters, realistic humour and poignant moments are all to be found in this likeable story set in Sheffield. Georgina’s life has not followed her teenage plan, but then whose does?

However, there’s more to her story than is first apparent, and although I did find this book, dragged a little in parts, I enjoyed it and appreciated the important issues it raises. Particularly, how a young person’s life can be irreparably damaged, by a single action or event.

The story is romantic and humorous, but it goes deeper than a romcom usually does. The humour is often dark or double-edged, and the romance is there, but not in the voluminous quantities the reader would expect from romantic comedy fiction.

Georgina’s family seem to treat her as the ‘joke’, the one who never grew up, but this is her perception and not necessarily their intention. Families are made up of individuals, drawn together by birth and blood, there is always likely to be a generational difference of opinion, which comes across well in this story, as does Georgina’s reactions and thoughts about their opinions on her life choices.

The romance of the story hinges on whether Lucas remembers Georgina, I think he does. His actions are not blameless, but they are understandable, given what he believes, how he feels about her, and what has subsequently occurred in his life.

The sibling relationship in this story is one of its strengths; competitiveness, bossiness and a hierarchy are evident, but the sister bond is unbreakable when threatened by outside forces.

The last quarter of this story has the most impact. Especially, when Georgina finally faces up to and shares what changed her young life. It is heartbreaking to read, but there will probably be parts of it that you can relate to, from your teenage life.  The difficulty Georgina has in verbalising her painful experience is relatable and makes her character memorable.

Well- written, topical and varied this is worth reading, but it’s not a quick, easy read.

Posted in Book Review, Novella, Romance, Serial

5*#Review-Bella Osborne -Wildflower Park Part1- Build Me Up Buttercup – @AvonBooksUK @osborne_bella

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves into her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

It’s always fun to start the New Year with a new series and Wildflower Park promises to be the perfect Winter to Spring read.

Anna’s engagement is over, and she decides life without men is the way forward. Moving into a new flat with its own private park is a step in the right direction. There she plans and schemes with her best friend Sophie, mother of two and pregnant with a third, whose life is not what she imagined.

A difficult male colleague who threatens her career provides the conflict and humour in the first part of this serial. There’s also a mystery texter who makes her wonder if she’s really sworn off men and her ex refusing to stay out of her life. The wildflower park is a source of solace as Anna faces her past and tries to forge a future she can live with.

Ambition, angst, conflict, humour and romance all appear in this short story, in a series which promises to be addictive.

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

 

Posted in Book Review

‘Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’ On Where Eagles Dare – Geoff Dyer- 3* Review

 

A thrilling Alpine adventure starring a magnificent, bleary-eyed Richard Burton and a coolly anachronistic Clint Eastwood, Where Eagles Dare is the apex of 1960s war movies, by turns enjoyable and preposterous. ‘Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’ is Geoff Dyer’s tribute to the film he has loved since childhood: an analysis taking us from its snowy, Teutonic opening credits to its vertigo-inducing climax. For those who have not even seen Where Eagles Dare, this book is a comic tour-de-force of criticism. But for the film’s legions of fans, whose hearts will always belong to Ron Goodwin’s theme tune, it will be the fulfilment of a dream.

My Thoughts…

If you love ‘Where Eagles Dare’, this in-depth study of the film, with many amusing observations will appeal.

For other readers who are not devotees of the film, you will learn a lot about it from the author’s observations, but it’s like an ‘in’ joke you have to be there to find it funny.

The quality of the writing is evident, but I lost interest at times with the content, and I have seen the film more than once.

Conclusions, am I glad I read this book? Yes. Would I have read it if I’d realised how detailed the content is? No.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Shari Low – Because Mummy Said So – Extract and 4*Review

The era of the yummy mummy has finally gone.

To celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because Mummy Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory.

This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreze. For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life.

Because Mummy Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause…

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Extract- Ready, Aim, Fire…

If reincarnation does in fact exist, can I please make a special request to come back as Julia Roberts? The lovely Julia was pictured last week leaving a Pilates class with her six-week-old twins. It was a sweet, precious and intimate snapshot of domestication: just Julia, her husband, her babies, and an army of helpers so large it could have invaded a small country.

Ladies, how many things are wrong with that scenario? Well, for a start, when my babies were six weeks old I couldn’t find my way out of my dressing gown, never mind into a wee Juicy Couture tracky for a jaunt up the leisure centre.

Secondly, the gilded A-lister was partaking in the practice of evil: an exercise class. Doesn’t she know that there’s an unwritten rule among the sisterhood (or should that be motherhood)? For at least two months – or in my case, years – after childbirth, we’re supposed to milk the memory of the physical trauma we’ve inflicted on our bodies by endeavouring at all times to have our feet in an elevated position and our mouths in close proximity to a chocolate snack. It’s the law.

And thirdly – and this is the real killer – Team Julia was carrying everything for her. She didn’t have a bulk-size box of Huggies strapped to her back. There were no bottles of milk dribbling up the arm of her jumper as she attempted to juggle baby, bag and feeding equipment. And she wasn’t within projectile-vomit range of either of her newborns.

That’s not motherhood, it’s a holiday.

While Miss Roberts gets the five-star, deluxe version of motherhood, this week I’ve been subjected to the self-catering, dodgy plumbing and offensive odours version. In the latest episode of my oh-so-glamorous life, I decided it was time for almost-three-year-old Brad to lose the nappies.

For those of you who are just tucking into a wee cup of tea and a bacon roll, I’ll spare you the details. But let’s just say that disinfectant spray became my very best friend. On the first day of Brad’s nappy liberation, I spent the whole time on my hands and knees contemplating puddles. Who knew children that small could store that much water? My second-born son is the toddler equivalent of a Saharan camel.

By lunchtime, I was soaked, exhausted and could feel the thud of my will to live tunnelling to freedom.

Worse, Brad was getting thoroughly sceptical about my promise that ‘Big Boys Pants’ would give him supernatural powers. Hopefully, one of which would be the ability to control his bladder.

Never has my familiar prima-donna war cry, ‘I bet Jackie Collins doesn’t have to put up with this pish!’ had a more literal meaning.

At four o’clock, wet, smelling of Eau de Sewer and covered in stains that I didn’t even want to think about, I speed-dialled the husband for moral support. It didn’t go well.

‘Hi, honey, having a good day?’ he had the absolute temerity to ask.

A GOOD DAY? Aaargh!

Yes, I know the poor man was only being polite but in my pee-soaked brain that somehow became a patronising comment from a smug bloke sitting in a comfy chair, in a civilised office, having conversations with other adults that consisted of words of more than one syllable, all the while partaking of hot and cold running bloody cappuccinos.

How dare he!

I slammed the phone down in disgust. I didn’t say I was rational. I’m a mother of two toddlers – that’s not in the job description.

Next day, over breakfast I was mulling over my dilemmas for the day: whether donning waterproof clothing was an overreaction, whether Dettox was available in gallon-size tubs and how to convince my husband that we didn’t, in fact, require a marriage guidance counsellor. So absorbed was I in my woes that I didn’t notice that Brad had left the table for a far comfier seat – one atop the porcelain throne. Yes, my wee angel had finally mastered the concept of waste management.

Overjoyed, I had an irresistible compulsion to call the One O’Clock News team to announce the thrilling news: Brad was toilet-trained. There’s only one downside – his aim isn’t brilliant. But then, I’ve never met a grown man who doesn’t share that problem, so I’m guessing it’s a gender thing.

There’s obviously a limit to the supernatural powers of Big Boy Pants.

My Thoughts…

Candid snapshots of life with children are popular at the moment, what makes this one different is that it is retrospective. A collection of thoughts that featured in the author’s column at the time ranging from 2004 -2017. Some of the people and events mentioned will bring back memories and add entertainment value to these amusing anecdotes about parenting and being a working mum.

This book is a fun-filled read for all parents, and its innate honesty is part of its charm. Being the perfect mummy, while holding down a full-time job was a mantra in the nineties, and the first decade of the twenty-first century, thankfully this stereotype has been ousted in recent years by a more realistic view of parenting which this book certainly showcases.

It’s worth reading because its funny, realistic, thought-provoking and poignant and given that many of the stories started in the early noughties a true original that has sparked the honest parenting blogs and books that currently are an important part of our culture.

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

Shari Low has published eighteen books under her own name and pseudonyms Millie Conway and Ronni Cooper. She is also one half of the writing duo, Shari King. She lives near Glasgow with her husband, two teenagers and a labradoodle. 

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Posted in Book Review

Jane Wenham- Jones – Mum in the Middle-5*Review

Tess has downsized to a lively new town and is ready for “me” time. But her Zen-like calm is tested by her boomerang offspring, who keep fluttering back to the nest (usually with a full bag of dirty washing) and by her elderly mother’s struggle to hold on to her independence.
Tess is also surprised to discover that there are dark resentments simmering beneath the vintage charm of her new hometown and a spate of vandalism has exposed the rift between the townsfolk and new arrivals like Tess.
Tess enlists the help of gruff newspaper editor Malcolm to get to the bottom of the mystery, but when her ex-husband pays an unexpected visit, and her mother stages a disappearance, Tess starts to feel her new-found freedom wearing just a little thin…

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I loved this story. It’s well-written with just the right amount of humour, romance and family drama and I can empathise with the main protagonist.

Tess’s move from London isn’t working out well. She misses her family and friends and wonders whether she’s made a mistake. Very soon, she is inundated with family including a very irritating ex and has more friends and admirers than she can cope with.

This contemporary comment on motherhood when the children are grown up and supposed to have left home is topical; with many young adults remaining in the family home until their late twenties because of financial constraints.

Tess is the hub of family life and her new friends’ dramas, so much so that she struggles to find any ‘me’ time. The resultant chaos is often hilarious and thankfully involves copious amounts of champagne. There is also a lovely sprinkling of mature romance, and every character is complex and adds to the story.

If you’re looking for a book to make you smile, this is the one.

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

Posted in Book Review

If Cats Disappeared from the World-Genki Kawamura Eric Selland(Translator)- 4* Review

My Thoughts…

‘If Cats Disappeared from the World’ makes the reader think, what would I do in these circumstances. If death is imminent would I make a deal with the devil? What would I give up so I could live longer? Do I believe in the devil?

The main protagonist is a postman in Japan, only thirty with a diagnosis that makes death Imminent, Does he see’the devil?’ Or is this perhaps a delusional state caused by his illness. You decide, but the protagonist believes what he sees is real and that by giving up something important to him up he can cheat death of another day.

The saying is ‘you only regret the things you don’t do’. The postman’s consideration of what to banish from the world makes him look at his past life choices. He revisits his first love, his relationship with his dead mother and his estrangement from his still living father. The postman realises bartering his life for another living creature’s life is not as easy as losing things he considers essential.

A poignant, quirky tale, which on the surface is humorous and self-depreciating but dig a little deeper and you find out what our postman truly values in life. The author questions whether all the material things we consider vital are making us forget that it is other humans and living creature that enrich our lives and need protecting.

I received a copy of this book from Pan McMillan – Picador via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp -Sarra Manning- 5* Review