The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my review on here and on my first Bookstagram Tour, for this gorgeous book. Thank you to Ellie Hudson at Viking Books for the invitation and a fabulous finished copy of the book. The end papers are stunning and my teenage daughter crocheted the lobster to match the book during her school holiday.

Synopsis:

Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s.

The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems…

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)

The Summer Job is a fresh, fun, feel-good romcom for fans of The Flatshare, Bridget Jones and Bridesmaids.

My thoughts:

This was the book I started my Easter holiday readathon with. After reading some ‘gruesome’ historical fiction, I needed something to read to make me smile. I’m happy to say that reading about Birdy made me smile, laugh and occasionally groan, as her summer job changed her life.

As I read the book, I found myself hoping that Birdy would make a success of her summer job, despite pretending to be her best friend. As we got to know Birdy, we discovered a deeper character than we may have initially imagined when she was getting drunk on free wine in London with her friend Tim.

I loved my virtual visit to Scotland with Birdy. Lizzy Dent has created a character with flaws but with a big heart. There are many comic moments for Birdy, involving clothes, food, customers, corks to name but a few. My family had to put up with me giggling along to this story. However we also find out more about her childhood and begin to understand why she hasn’t yet found the life she deserves.

In addition to Birdy, Lizzy Dent has created a wonderful set of characters, some with secret ambitions or ‘skeletons in their cupboards’. I’m not a regular wine drinker (the bottles in the photos were gifts to my husband), but I enjoyed learning about wine alongside Birdy. This is also a book for people who love food, with wonderful sounding menus.

The past 13 months in the UK have been strange with repeated lockdowns due to the global pandemic. As many of us will be staying in the UK again for our summer holidays, this book will be at the top of my list of books to enjoy during your holiday – no weight allowances for suitcases this year. I’ve seen lots of love for the book from other reviewers and I’m happy to confirm that this is one of my favourite books of 2021.

Extract:

To enjoy an extract for the book, visit https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2021/january/summer-job-lizzy-dent.html

Author Bio:

Lizzy Dent (mis)spent her early twenties working in Scotland in hospitality, in a hotel not unlike the one in this novel. She somehow ended up in a glamorous job travelling the world creating content for various TV companies, including MTV, Channel 4, Cartoon Network, the BBC and ITV. But she always knew that writing was the thing she wanted to do, if only she could find the confidence. After publishing three young adult novels, she decided to write a novel that reflected the real women she knew, who don’t always know where they’re going in life, but who always have fun doing it. The Summer Job is that novel.

The Girl from the Island by Lorna Cook

Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy of the third book by Lorna Cook via Netgalley. I have read and enjoyed The Forgotten Village and The Forbidden Promise (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/03/19/bookreview-the-forbidden-promise-by-lorna-cook/) .

Synopsis:

A world at war. 
One woman will risk everything. 
Another will uncover her story.

1940: When the island of Guernsey is invaded by the Nazis, two sisters are determined to rebel in any way they can. But when forced to take in a German soldier, they are shocked to find a familiar face on their doorstep – a childhood friend who has now become their enemy.

2016: Two generations later, Lucy returns to Guernsey after the death of a distant cousin. As she prepares the old family house for sale, Lucy discovers a box of handwritten notes, one word standing out: resistance. Lucy’s search for the author will uncover the story of a forgotten sister who vanished from the island one night, never to be seen again.

A timeless story of love and bravery, perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.

My thoughts:

I’m pleased to say that this is another enjoyable historical fiction novel from Lorna Cook. This novel is based in Guernsey, a place I would like to visit after the Covid 19 pandemic has finished. It is only in very recent years that I became aware of how the Channel Islands had been occupied by the Germans during the Second World War.

This book looks at one family, who had to deal with the occupation, where neighbours were deported to prison camps, the wireless was banned and neighbours would inform on each other. How would Persephone and Dido cope with the challenges?

In this time slip novel, Lucy is back in Guernsey in 2016, after the death of her distant cousin Dido. When clearing out the house, Lucy becomes interested in some of the old papers she finds and sets out to solve the mystery about what happened to the residents of the house.

I enjoyed how the characters developed, the secrets revealed, the parallel sister stories and the historical details. As you would expect from a novel set during the occupation, there are some heartbreaking stories. But we also have happy and humorous moments too, when Lucy spends time with her new neighbour.

Happy to recommend to readers who enjoy time slip historical fiction novels.

The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas

Thank you to Boldwood Books for a digital copy of The Scarlet Dress to read and review via NetGalley. The book was published in February 2021 and I’m sharing my mini review today.

Synopsis:

Alice Lang was wearing her favourite scarlet dress when she disappeared twenty-five years ago, and her memory still casts a long shadow.

In the long, hot summer of 1995, twenty-two-year-old Alice Lang rents a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the lively holiday resort of Severn Sands. She befriends Marnie, a shy, damaged little girl whose father is the park’s caretaker and whose mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar, falls in love with Alice, and is unbearably jealous of anyone else she sees. Tensions rise until one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She’s never seen again, and only her scarlet dress is found washed up on the shore.

A quarter of a century later, the town is run down and nobody comes there anymore. Mr and Mrs deVillars, former owners of the holiday park, have passed the failing business onto their son Guy, who promptly sells the land for development. Builders clearing the land to create an expanse of executive homes uncover human bones. It has to be Alice.

Will and Marnie’s lives were entirely shaped by what happened that summer, and now Alice has been found, they must struggle to pin down their memories, to escape the secrets of the past, the lies they told and the unbearable guilt they’re both carrying.

They need to find out what happened to Alice. Who killed her? And why?

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Louise Douglas and I look forward to reading more in the future (I have The House by the Sea on my Kindle ready to start).

As the synopsis tells us, Alice went missing 25 years ago and her body has finally been found buried at the holiday park. So why was her scarlet dress found by the estuary? Who could have wanted to harm Alice – a visitor to the area?

The story follows Will and Marnie, both of them were severely traumatised by the disappearance of Alice. Will has been trying to solve the mystery for 25 years, having fallen in love with Alice that summer when he was just 19 and Marnie is scared about what happened to Alice, who had been kind to her during an already difficult year.

The main characters have to deal with the press and police interest into the events of 25 years ago. Will had always blamed Guy, but was it Guy? Who was the mystery person that Alice was going to share a bottle of champagne with on the evening she disappeared?

The setting seems very dark and drab, as the holiday site park has become a muddy building site. As Will and Marnie start to think about what happened during the three weeks Alice stayed at the holiday park, they start to remember conversations and events. How many secrets could they uncover?

I enjoyed how the story evolved. Although I had worked out who Alice was and why she may have been murdered quite early in the story, I didn’t know who the killer was until near the end of the story. Happy to recommend this book and I look forward to reading more by Louise Douglas in the future.

Here and Now by Santa Montefiore

I’m pleased to share my review for the latest paperback book by Santa Montefiore on my book blog today. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and and not influenced by the gift. Today is the paperback publication day and I’m looking forward to buying a copy to add to my Books and the City collection.

Synopsis:

Marigold has spent her life taking care of those around her, juggling family life with the running of the local shop, and being an all-round leader in her quiet yet welcoming community. When she finds herself forgetting things, everyone quickly puts it down to her age. But something about Marigold isn’t quite right, and it’s becoming harder for people to ignore.

As Marigold’s condition worsens, for the first time in their lives her family must find ways to care for the woman who has always cared for them. Desperate to show their support, the local community come together to celebrate Marigold, and to show her that losing your memories doesn’t matter, when there are people who will remember them for you . . .

Evocative, emotional and full of life, Here and Now is the most moving book you’ll read this year – from Sunday Times bestselling author Santa Montefiore.

My thoughts:

Occasionally I become so involved in an emotional story that I find myself crying. The last book to do that was The Sight of You by Holly Miller (reviewed at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/08/the-sight-of-you-by-holly-miller/ ) until I read the last few pages of Here and Now and found myself properly crying – this was not just moist eyes, but proper tears. So my first suggestion is when you buy the book (because you should), is to stock up on tissues too.

This was the first book I had read by Santa Montefiore and before you ask, I’m not sure why either. I requested the review copy via NetGalley back in March 2020 as the UK headed into lockdown 1 and Simon and Schuster kindly approved it.

Marigold is a wonderful character, much loved by her family and neighbours and community. The way the story is written to show how her little episodes of forgetfulness become more serious is a heartbreaking tale uplifted by how her family and friends help her to stay happy. Marigold has been looking after her mum, her husband and daughters for many years, now they need to work together to help her.

The book is beautifully written, full of wonderful characters, some happy and some grumpy (Nan), humour (moles, christmas puddings etc), love (pink roses) and romance. At the time of reading this in July 2020, many of us were anxious about the global pandemic, a virus we cannot see whilst we also have an unseen condition which steals the memory of people that we currently cannot protect ourselves from. However, as the title suggests, we need to live in the here and now, to enjoy the small things – the birds singing, the food we eat, time with family and friends.

Thank you to Santa Montefiore for this wonderful story, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

Another Life by Jodie Chapman

Thank you to Michael Joseph and Penguin Random House for a proof copy of this emotional debut novel, published in the UK on Thursday 1st April 2020. This book is a BBC2 BETWEEN THE COVERS PICK. Here is my mini non spoiler review.

Synopsis:

She could be the girl dancing on tables one night, and the next she’d be hiding in the shadows.

Just when I thought I understood her, she would melt away and become a completely new person, and I’d have to start all over again.

That’s how it was with Anna.
_______

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She’s grown up preparing for the End of Days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

My thoughts:

This was an emotional read. Nick’s life was filled with loss, he lost his mum at an early age (we don’t find out what happened until part way through the book) and the book starts with his brother in the grip of severe depression.

The story moves backwards and forwards in time, through Nick’s childhood, the summer he spent working at his local cinema (and met Anna) and then to more recent times as he travels to New York to visit his brother.

Anna has had a very different childhood to Nick, but is drawn into a relationship with him whilst her on/off boyfriend is away. Will it be a summer fling or can it last forever?

A thought provoking read about love, family, loss and the future. I enjoyed Jodie Chapman’s storytelling and look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Author Bio:

Jodie Chapman has spent twelve years working as a photographer and lives in Kent. In 2016, she was accepted on the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course. Another Life is her first novel.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Today I’m pleased to share my thoughts about The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. Thank you to Picador, Viking Books and Pan MacMillan for a digital review copy via NetGalley.

Synopsis:

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

My thoughts:

Having seen great reviews for this debut book, I was pleased to be able to start reading it myself. Very quickly we start to discover more about the men who vanished and the thoughts of the women they left behind. As the secrets and stories are slowly revealed the reader starts to find out what happened over the last few weeks before the men disappeared.

The suspense in the book builds beautifully and the writing created a story that I didn’t want to put down. The book brings to life the lifestyle of the lighthouse keepers, the daily routines and the difficulties of coping with being back in the ‘real world’. There are many elements to the story and I was kept guessing until the end.

A fascinating story that I’m happy to recommend. I look forward to reading more by Emma Stonex in the future.

Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro. Thank you to Tinder Press for a copy of this novel, won in a prize draw on Twitter. Common Ground was published on Thursday 25th March in the UK.

Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of ESCAPE ROUTES, a bittersweet story of coming-of-age in a divided world, in the tradition of TIN MAN or BLACK SWAN GREEN.

It’s a lonely life for Stan, at a new school that feels more ordeal than fresh start, and at home where he and his mother struggle to break the silence after his father’s death. When he encounters fearless, clever Charlie on the local common, all of that begins to change. Charlie’s curiosity is infectious, and it is Charlie who teaches Stan, for the first time, to stand on his own two feet. But will their unit of two be strong enough to endure in a world that offers these boys such different prospects?

The pair part ways, until their paths cross once again, as adults in London. Now Stan is revelling in all that the city has to offer, while Charlie seems to have hit a brick wall. He needs Stan’s help, and above all his friendship, but is Stan really there for the man who once showed him the meaning of loyalty?

My thoughts:

I haven’t read Escape Routes yet, so this was my first introduction to the writing of Naomi Ishiguro. As the synopsis above states, this is a story about Stan and Charlie, two boys growing up in England, struggling to fit in with the ‘norm’. The boys have lived very different lives but find a common bond and become friends, but will their families be able to accept the friendship?

I enjoyed the story, both the teenage years and the ‘getting reacquainted’ in their early twenties. Naomi’s writing quickly made me care about both of them, hoping that they would find peace in a world that seemed to be stacked against them. I’m being deliberately vague in my review, because I don’t want to spoil the story for future readers, who also deserve to have the moment of clarity about the story that I did.

I work for a social mobility charity and this story could easily be about the young people that we work with. How many single parents leave their young teenagers home alone overnight so that they can work and earn the money needed to survive?

This is a thought provoking, well written debut novel, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Naomi Ishiguro in the future.

Author Bio (from Amazon):

Naomi Ishiguro was born in London, in 1992. Her first novel, ‘Common Ground,’ comes out with Tinder Press on 25th March 2021. Her first collection of stories, ‘Escape Routes,’ was published in February 2020. She’s a recent graduate of the University of East Anglia’s MFA Creative Writing Programme, and spent two years in her early 20s working as a bookseller at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.

The Dinner Guest by B P Walter

Thank you to One More Chapter and Harper Collins UK for the opportunity to read and review a digital copy via NetGalley. I’m taking part in the OMC Blogger Readalong this week and here is a mini non spoiler review.

Synopsis:

Four people walked into the dining room that night. One would never leave.

Matthew: the perfect husband.

Titus: the perfect son.

Charlie: the perfect illusion.

Rachel: the perfect stranger.

Charlie didn’t want her at the book club. Matthew wouldn’t listen.

And that’s how Charlie finds himself slumped beside his husband’s body, their son sitting silently at the dinner table, while Rachel calls 999, the bloody knife still gripped in her hand.

Classic crime meets Donna Tartt in this nerve-shredding domestic noir thriller that weaves a sprawling web of secrets around an opulent West London world and the dinner that ends in death.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read. Rachel is arrested for the murder of Matthew after confessing to the police, but was she the killer? The synopsis mentions the word perfect four times – but were any of the four perfect?

The story moves back and forwards in time, as we discover more about how Matthew and Charlie met, and how they met Rachel. This story features secrets and lies, revenge and betrayal.

Few of the characters in the story were likeable but I was keen to keep reading, to find out who killed Matthew, and why. I enjoyed the story and I’m happy to recommend it. It is currently 99p on the Kindle in the UK.

love songs for sceptics by christina pishiris

Late last year I attended a Books and The City book event run with Hillingdon Library and requested a copy of this book. When putting together a ‘sunshine stack’ for my Instagram account (@karenkisreading), I realised that I still hadn’t read the book and added it to my April reading list. Here is a mini review of the book.

Synopsis:

My brother’s getting married in a few weeks and asked for help picking a song for his first dance. I suggested Kiss’s ‘Love’s a Slap in the Face’.

It didn’t go down well.

When she was a teenager, Zoë Frixos fell in love with Simon Baxter, her best friend and the boy next door. But his family moved to America before she could tell him how she felt and, like a scratched record, she’s never quite moved on. Now, almost twenty years later, Simon is heading back to London, newly single and as charming as ever . . .

But as obstacles continue to get in her way – Simon’s perfect ex-girlfriend, her brother’s big(ish) fat(ish) Greek wedding, and an obnoxious publicist determined to ruin her career – Zoë begins to wonder whether, after all these years, she and Simon just aren’t meant to be.

What if, despite what all the songs and movies say, your first love isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be? What if, instead Zoë and Simon are forever destined to shuffle around their feelings for each other, never quite getting the steps right . . .

With a smart, relatable central character and razor-sharp wit, Love Songs for Sceptics is perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Lucy Vine and Lindsey Kelk. 

My thoughts:

This was the perfect book to start my Easter holiday readathon. Zoe is a wonderful character and the story flowed beautifully. Her best friend Simon is back in the same country, her brother is getting married and her work family are under threat of redundancy. Zoe now needs to resolve her feelings for Simon, bond with her new sister-in-law-to-be and find a solution to make her music magazine more profitable.

This book is full of relationships, food and music. Once I stopped shouting ‘social distancing’ at the characters, I enjoyed being in a virtual world where it was normal to work in an office, go out for a meal and attend large social gatherings.

A fabulous debut novel published by Books and The City. If you missed this last year as I did, then I recommend reading a copy in 2021. I look forward to reading more by Christina Pishiris in the future.

Author Bio (From Amazon):

Christina was born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, who used to bribe her to go to family weddings by promising that George Michael might be there. To deal with the inevitable disappointment, she began making up stories on napkins and has been writing ever since.

Her debut novel, Love Songs for Sceptics, a romcom set in the world of music journalism, is published by Simon & Schuster in the UK. You can find her on Twitter: @ChristinaPi Facebook: @ChristinaPishirisAuthor and Instagram: christinapishiris

For more info, visit: http://www.christinapishiris.com

#coverreveal His Other Woman by Louise Voss

It’s a busy day on my blog today. Now I’m pleased to be sharing a Bookouture cover reveal for the new Louise Voss book which is being published in July 2021.

Synopsis:

When my husband vanished, I could never have imagined that finding him again would be worse than losing him…

Not long before our daughter’s wedding, my husband plans a trip away. I encourage him to go: I know he needs a break. I drive him to the airport, wrap my arms around him and kiss him goodbye, telling him I’ll see him soon.

Then he vanishes. And no one believes me when I say he would never have left us, not so cruelly, leaving our messages unread and our calls ignored.

I spend weeks in our empty house, surrounded by pictures of our family, desperately searching for answers. I go shopping with my daughter for her wedding dress, hoping beyond hope that he will come home in time to walk her down the aisle.

But when we find him, he doesn’t remember us – and he has done something I may never be able to forgive. I just want my husband back… but is he still the man I married?

From the bestselling author Louise Voss comes an unputdownable story about family and forgiveness, that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. Perfect for fans of Nicole Trope, Kerry Fisher and The Silent Daughter.

Author Bio:


Over her twenty-year writing career, Louise Voss has published books via pretty much every publishing model there is, from deals with major traditional publishing houses (Transworld and HarperCollins), to digital (Thomas & Mercer and Bookouture) and self-publishing. In 2011, she and co-author Mark Edwards were the first UK indie-published authors to hit the No.1 spot on Amazon UK. Louise has written thirteen novels in total, seven solo and six co-written, across psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction. 

https://louise-voss.com/
https://www.facebook.com/louisevossauthor/
https://www.instagram.com/louisevoss/
https://twitter.com/LouiseVoss1

Pre order links:

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3fLguuk

Apple: https://apple.co/2ObiMaM

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3fzDWdR

Google: https://bit.ly/2PXjOHZ