The Village of Lost and Found by Alison Sherlock

Thank you to Rachel of Rachels Random Resources for the invitation to read and review the second book set in Cranbridge, after I enjoyed the first book, The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts last year (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/17/the-village-shop-for-lonely-hearts-by-alison-sherlock-blogtour/).

Synopsis:

Scandal hit party girl Lucy Conway needs to leave London fast, so she packs her bags and escapes to the sleepy village of Cranbridge to take care of her beloved Uncle Frank.

But the country village isn’t quite as idyllic as she remembers. To make matters worse, her Uncle’s pride and joy, The Cranbridge Times, is close to going out of business.

Editor-at-Large Tom Addison is having a crisis of confidence and needs help if the newspaper is going to survive. 

With time on her hands, can Lucy work some magic and together save the family newspaper?
Over a long, hot summer, friendships are made and hearts begin to heal. And, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps Lucy and Tom can find their very own new beginning…

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2MC47nP

My Thoughts:

It was great to spend a winter evening back in sunny Cranbridge in this second book. Having enjoyed my visit to Cranbridge last year, I’m pleased to say I enjoyed this return visit too.

Lucy may have been a city girl but her heart appears to belong to Cranbridge, where she spent many happy summers with her aunt and uncle, when her parents were too busy for her.

Tom is struggling to keep the local newspaper going, and to deal with the heartbreak in his life. When Lucy arrives to help and organise the office, its not just the newspaper that starts to feel the benefit.

This is a no spoiler review so you will need to read the book to see if Lucy can help the paper and Tom. It was lovely to meet the characters from the previous books, to see that the village shop is doing well and that the food at the pub is still as inedible as before.

Happy to recommend this book to readers looking for a virtual visit to the English countryside for an uplifting read, especially if you love books with dogs included in the story. Family, friendship, romance and a four legged friend made for an enjoyable read.

Author Bio:

Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title was published in July 2020.

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlisonSherlock

Newsletter Sign Up Link: http://bit.ly/AlisonSherlockSignup

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alison-sherlock

The Other Daughter by Caroline Bishop

Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour for this fascinating debut novel. Thank you to Harriett Collins at Simon and Schuster for the beautiful proof copy with yellow edges to read to prepare for the tour.

Synopsis:

When it finally arrived I was shocked to see it; to read the words Mum wrote about these women fighting for rights I know I take for granted. Mum was here. And while she was, something happened that changed the entire course of my life. Perhaps, if I can summon the courage, the next eight weeks will help me finally figure out what that was . . .’

When Jessica, a young British woman, discovers a shocking secret about her birth she travels to Switzerland in search of answers. She knows her mother spent time in the country writing an article on the Swiss women’s rights movement, but what she doesn’t know is what happened to her while she was there. Can Jess summon the courage to face the truth about her family, or will her search only hurt herself and those around her even more?

A breathtaking, richly historical commercial women’s fiction debut, set against a stunning Swiss backdrop in the 1970s women’s rights movement. The Other Daughter follows one woman in her search for the truth about her birth, and another desperately trying to succeed in a man’s world.

My thoughts:

This was a fascinating book to read and an impressive debut novel. In the background, we have the story about how Switzerland was starting to change, to allow more rights to women, many years after the changes in the UK. Jess is on a voyage of discovery, to find out more about what happened when her mother, a journalist, was covering the story at Swiss women’s rights and gave birth to her in Switzerland.

Jess is also coming to terms with a huge number of changes in her personal life, and is spending the summer teaching English to the children of a successful Swiss couple, which will hopefully help her process the changes – or will it make things worse?

The story covers history, the changes in women’s rights, dealing with the loss of loved ones and the loss of future hopes and dreams. I enjoyed curling up with this book and watching the story unfold, as we moved backwards and forwards in time. The writing brought the characters and the beautiful scenery of Switzerland to life as Jess tried to work out the events that happened when she was born. This is a non spoiler review so I’m having to be very careful not to give any clues to the various mysteries involved in this story.

I found this well written book to be thought provoking about how women’s rights have changed, and also how “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side”. How often are people jealous about other peoples lives without realising that they may not be as happy or fulfilled as you might imagine? Happy to recommend this book – I’ve added a 5 star review to online bookstores and communities. I look forward to reading more from Caroline Bishop in the future.

Author Bio:

Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian,IndependentDaily Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co- wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site, and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women’s rights.

Women’s Rights in Switzerland

1971 Switzerland finally granted women the right to vote at national level

1981 Gender equality and equal pay for equal work were written into the Swiss constitution

1985 Women were granted equal rights within marriage. Until then men had legal authority over their wives and could prevent them from working and even opening a bank account

1990 After being forced by the federal Supreme Court, the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden became the last canton in Switzerland to grant women the right to vote at cantonal level

2002 Abortion was legalised
2005 Statutory paid maternity leave was introduced, having been rejected in four previous referendums

2018 The Swiss federal parliament passed a salary equality law, but only within companies with over 100 employees

A Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore

Thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour today. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for the stunning proof copy to read. Last year I read and enjoyed the Love Child by Rachel Hore (my review can be found at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/05/13/the-love-child-by-rachel-hore-bookreview/)

Synopsis:

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Last Letter Home, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, comes a thrilling novel about a woman with an extraordinary life, based on a true story.

Minnie Gray is an ordinary young woman. She is also a spy for the British government.

It all began in the summer of 1928… Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.

Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

She soon gains the trust of important leaders. But as she grows more and more entangled in the workings of the movement, her job becomes increasingly dangerous. Leading a double life is starting to take its toll on her relationships and, feeling more isolated than ever, she starts to wonder how this is all going to end. The Russians are notorious for ruthlessly disposing of people given the slightest suspicion. What if they find out? Full of suspense, courage and love, A Beautiful Spy is a stunningly written story about resisting the norm and following your dreams, even if they come with sacrifices.

My thoughts:

Minnie Gray is going to be one of my favourite book characters. In 1928, she knows her own mind and it doesn’t involve settling down just because everyone expects it. Minnie is looking to make a difference to the world, and through a chance encounter, she finds herself in a very different world.

When we think of a spy, of course, we tend to think of James Bond. We never see him wrestling with trying to keep the very different elements of his life apart or find out how emotionally draining it is to keep so many secrets, or to miss out on having proper friendships with work colleagues and neighbours.

I enjoyed the way this story was written, so that we could understand the emotions Minnie felt during the various stages of her journey from living in Edgbaston, travelling to India and appearing in court. She had to deal with a large number of changes and secrets with very little help. I also loved the ending of the book, which reminded me how spirited Minnie is. A fascinating book that I will be awarding 5 star reviews to.

Author Bio:

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a full-time writer. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons. Her last novel, The Love Child, was a Sunday Times bestseller.

http://www.rachelhore.com │Twitter: @RachelHore │Instagram: @Rachel.Hore

A Wedding in the Country by Katie Fforde

Today I’m pleased to be sharing a mini review for the brand new book by Katie Fforde, published in the UK yesterday. Thank you to Random House for the opportunity to read and review a digital copy via NetGalley.

Synopsis:

Lizzy has just arrived in London and is determined to make the best of her new life.

Her mother may be keen that she should meet a Suitable Man and have a nice wedding in the country, but Lizzy is determined to have some fun first. 

It is 1963 and London is beginning to swing as Lizzie cuts her hair, buys a new dress with a fashionably short hemline, and moves to a grand but rundown house in Belgravia with two of her best friends.

Soon Lizzie’s life is so exciting that she has forgotten all about her mother’s marriage plans for her.

All she can think about is that the young man she is falling in love with appears to be engaged to someone else…

My thoughts:

I discovered Katie’s books a few years ago on holiday, and I have enjoyed reading her uplifting books. This one is slightly different, as we headed back in time, to the Sixties to meet Lizzie, Meg and Alexandria.

I enjoyed reading about how Lizzie evolved from a very shy young girl into a wonderful friend and started to stand up for herself. The story is set in the era of when my mum was a teenager and makes me realise how different life was for teenagers then. I enjoyed my trip back in time and I’m happy to recommend this book.

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Thanks to Jess Barrett at Simon and Schuster for a proof copy and thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book was published in the UK on 4th February 2021.

Synopsis:

They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.

I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight. And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.

Right now, you probably think I’m going mad. Let me explain…

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

For fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife comes an original and
heartwarming story about bittersweet memories, how the past shapes
the future, and a love so strong it makes you do things that are slightly bonkers.

My thoughts

I’m pleased to say that this is another stunning debut novel that I’m reviewing on my book blog today. I first heard about Space Hopper last year, and the title both intrigued and delighted me as a child of the 1970’s.

Having read the opening chapters, I decided to pick a time to finish the book without interruption (not easy in lockdown part 3 in a house with two teenagers, one husband and two dogs. However the rugby six nations came to my rescue and I was able to curl up and engross myself in the story.

I’m on the last day of the blog tour, and hopefully you may have read some of the reviews by my fellow book bloggers and bookstagrammers (see above poster for more information), but I still don’t want to leave any spoilers. However as the synopsis gives some clues, what would you do if you suddenly found yourself back in time and could meet a missing loved one? Especially when you’ve lost most of your clothes during the journey? And would you keep going back and risk getting stuck there, leaving your own children without a mother?

I loved this original story, both as an avid reader and also a closet Sci-fi fan (I love watching Doctor Who). The idea of travelling back in time has interested people for hundreds of years and I enjoyed the way the idea was used here. I also loved the fact that one of Helen’s main characters is blind, just as my cousin was.

A delightful debut novel, featuring the bond between mothers and daughters. I look forward to reading more by Helen Fisher in the future.

Author Bio

Helen Fisher spent her early life in America, but grew up mainly in Suffolk where she now lives with her two children. She studied Psychology at Westminster University and Ergonomics at UCL and worked as a senior evaluator in research at RNIB. Space Hopper is her first novel.

The World at my Feet by Catherine Isaac

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about the latest book by Catherine Isaac (aka Jane Costello). Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK / Books and the City for the digital proof via NetGalley. Last year I enjoyed reading her previous novels, You, Me, Everything and Messy Wonderful Us (see my reviews at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/05/27/you-me-everything-by-catherine-isaac/ and https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/03/29/bookreview-messy-wonderful-us-by-catherine-isaac/) so I was thrilled to be given an early opportunity to read a digital proof last month. The book will be published in March 2021.

Synopsis:

The dazzling new novel from Richard & Judy book club author Catherine Isaac, The World at my Feet is a story about the transforming power of love, as one woman journeys to uncover the past and reshape her future.

The secrets that bind us can also tear us apart…

1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule. 

2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears.

From post-revolution Romania to the idyllic English countryside, The World at My Feet is the story of two women, two worlds, and a journey of self-discovery that spans a lifetime.

My thoughts:

When I started University in 1989, the world was changing quickly. The Berlin Wall fell and many of the former Communist countries finally allowed Western journalists to visit. I remember seeing the stories about the Romanian orphanages and feeling profoundly sad that children were abandoned in this way. So I was intrigued to see how this story would unfold.

I am a fan of Catherine’s writing and I’m pleased to see that the lockdown/ global pandemic hasn’t changed her storytelling style. I quickly became invested in the stories of Harriet and Ellie, two women who had their lives changed after a chance encounter in Romania.

I enjoyed both threads of the story, the trips back in time with Harriet and the more recent time with Ellie. Ellie has become trapped in her home/garden by agrophobia, but has stayed in touch with the outside world by becoming a gardening Instagrammer, passing on hints and tips, and sharing her passion for gardening. She knows she needs to get out, to live her life more fully but needs help to conquer her fears.

I quickly became hooked by the story, desperate to see if Ellie could make some changes and how the story about Harriet would link to Ellie’s. The well written characters came to life and on a cold January day, it was lovely to imagine being in Ellie’s beautiful garden.

I’m trying hard to not give away any spoilers, so I’m sorry if this sounds rather vague but I don’t want to spoil the storytelling. My advice is to order a copy and enjoyed watching the story unfold. Thank you Catherine Isaac for another lovely book.

The Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin

Thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to read and review the latest book by Julie Caplin. Thanks to One More Chapter for the digital review copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

It’s time to pack your bags and head to the breathtaking, snow-covered peaks of the Swiss Alps for velvety hot chocolates, delicious cheeses and a gorgeous love story…

Food technician Mina has always believed that chocolate will solve everything – and it’s just what she needs when her latest relationship mishap goes viral!

So with her bags packed and a new determination to sort her life out, Mina decides to drown her sorrows with the best hot chocolate in the world at her godmother’s cosy Swiss chalet. Chocolate: yes. Romance: no. Until she has a run in on an Alpine train with a mysterious but oh-so-gorgeous stranger…

Purchase Links 

http://amzn.to/3jU2lKy 🌎 

http://mybook.to/SwissSkiChalet

My thoughts:

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I read and reviewed The Little Teashop in Tokyo in 2020 (visit https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/03/the-little-teashop-in-tokyo-by-julie-caplin/ for my review). After enjoying that book, I treated myself to a couple of Julie’s books on my Kindle and I’m thrilled to be sharing my no spoiler thoughts about her new book here today.

I had been trying to say no to blog tours after returning to work after my furlough ended, but when I saw the gorgeous cover and the synopsis, which mentions chocolate four times, I had to send an email to Rachel to ask/beg to take part.

I’m pleased to say that it was the right decision. From the starting chapter with the Mexican themed anniversary dinner ending differently to how Mina had planned it, I was hooked. In a year of hardly travelling more than 2 miles to our local supermarket, I loved my virtual visit to Switzerland. I wouldn’t have wanted to go downhill skiing but I fancied the cross country skiing, the train journeys and the food. There is a lot of delicious sounding food in this book (and I wanted to try it all).

This is another uplifting romantic novel by Julie Caplin, full of humour, some heartbreak and a fabulous set of characters. Mina’s godmother Amelie is the perfect hostess and I’m now craving a holiday in Switzerland. A perfect escape for the anxiety inducing world we are currently living in. Treat yourself to a copy today is my humble suggestion.

Author Bio:

Julie Caplin, formerly a PR director, swanned around Europe for many years taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. 

These trips have provided the inspiration and settings for her Romantic Escapes series which have been translated into fifteen different languages.

The first book in the seven strong series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Social Media Links – @JulieCaplin Twitter 

https://www.facebook.com/JulieCaplinAuthor/

Instagram @juliecaplinauthor

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about another book set in a hospital (yesterday I reviewed Before I Saw You). Thanks to Random House Transworld Publishers for the opportunity to read and review a digital proof copy of the book via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis

Life is short – no one knows that better than 17 year-old Lenni Petterssen. On the Terminal ward, the nurses are offering their condolences already, but Lenni still has plenty of living to do.

For a start, she has questions about her fate she needs answers to, and stories yet to uncover.

When she meets 83-year-old Margot, a fellow patient in purple pyjamas offering new friendship and enviable artistic skills, Lenni’s life begins to soar in ways she’d never imagined.

As their bond deepens, a world of stories opens up: of wartime love and loss, of misunderstanding and reconciliation, of courage, kindness and joy.

Stories that have led them to the end of their days.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny, and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need it most.

My thoughts:

I did wonder if a book about two terminally ill people was going to be too depressing to read in the middle of another Covid lockdown, but I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed meeting Lenni and Margot. I’ve seen a lot of love for this book from other reviewers on social media, and it was well deserved.

Lenni is an amazing 17 year old, who know that she won’t be leaving the hospital Glasgow. After a difficult relationship with her mother and now terminally ill, she makes friends with Margot in the Rose Room and they decide to create 100 pictures to celebrate their combined ages.

I loved the way the characters interacted in the book, the meetings with poor Father Arthur in the church chapel made me laugh out loud. As the story develops, we find out why Lenni doesn’t have visits from her family and what has happened to Margot in the past, stopping her from using her talent for art. A book about the importance of kindness and friendship, with help from New Nurse, Pippa the art teacher, Paul the porter and Sunny the security guard.

This is a book that made me laugh and cry, full of stories within stories. I raced through the book and didn’t want to put my Kindle down, and was totally lost in the story of Lenni and Margot (sorry to my family!). I look forward to reading more by Marianne Cronin in the future.

A five star read for me.

The Promise by Lucy Diamond

Thank you to Pan MacMillan for a digital review copy via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Life isn’t a spreadsheet, Dan! You can’t fit people into boxes and charts.’

But Dan had never before come across a spreadsheet that had let him down. At the top of the page he’d listed all the best things about his brother that he wanted to emulate, then, in neat, typed columns below, he had thought up a number of ways in which he could try to fill in the gaps Patrick had left.

When faced with a sudden family tragedy, Dan’s mission is clear. He puts together a project to help pick up the pieces and support his grieving sister-in-law Zoe, plus her young children. This is Dan’s promise – to ensure his family’s happiness, and to try and live up to the man his brother was. 

But tying up loose ends brings a shocking secret to light, and calls into question everything Dan knew about his older brother. With more than just his promise on the line, Dan is faced with an ultimatum: Should he tell the truth and risk his family’s fragile happiness, or will his brother’s secrets end up becoming his own?

My thoughts:

As a regular reader of books by Lucy Diamond, I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review the latest book before publication.

This is the first book I remember by Lucy Diamond with a male main character. Dan has just lost his brother Patrick, who has left behind a widow, three children and their parents. Dan, we discover, has been a workaholic since his own marriage ended, and taking a break from work enables him to discover what he has been missing out with his family.

Still in work mode, Dan creates himself a spreadsheet to ensure that he can help Zoe and the children with family life and looking after Patrick’s business affairs. However, this idea becomes more complicated when he makes a shock discovery when querying a regular payment from Patrick’s business account.

The story shows how Dan realises that there is more to life than just work and that the ‘perfect family man’ brother he thought he had, wasn’t so perfect. I enjoyed this book, full of relatable characters and a mixture of sadness and humour. Hopefully the many other Lucy Diamond fans will also agree with me that this is another excellent story.

No Place Like Home by Heidi Swain

Thanks to Books and The City/Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and read a digital proof copy of the new Heidi Swain book after hearing about this at the Showcase 2021 event. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book is due to be published in the UK on April 29th 2021.

Synopsis:

Fliss Brown has grown up living with her mother on the Rossi family’s Italian fruit farm. But when her mother dies, Fliss finds out she has a family of her own, and heads back to England with Nonna Rossi’s recipe for cherry and almond tart and a piece of advice: connect with your family before it is too late…

Fliss discovers that her estranged grandfather owns a fruit farm himself, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, and she arrives to find a farm that has fallen into disrepair. Using her knowledge gleaned from working on the Rossi farm and her desire to find out more about her past, Fliss rolls her sleeves up and gets stuck in. But what will she discover, and can she resurrect the farm’s glory days and find a taste of home…? 

My thoughts:

As regular readers of my book review blog will be aware, I discovered Heidi’s books in 2020 and have been busy playing catch up on the Nightingale Square and Wynbridge books. A Taste of Home is part of the Wynbridge series and it was lovely to meet some of the characters from the previous books again. However, the main characters are all new to this story, so it is possible to read this without having read the earlier books.

After a sad start to the book, for the funeral of the mother of Fliss, we travel to Wynbridge to meet the grandfather she didn’t know existed. The story follows Fliss as she adjusts to life in the UK and wonders if she can help her grandfather save the family farm with help from her new friends and neighbours.

I’m pleased to say that Heidi’s story is as usual, full of great characters, delicious food and new friendships. A lovely uplifting book, which made me crave cake and fruit. This was a fabulous story to escape into on a cold winter evening. Thank you Heidi for another wonderful Wynbridge visit.

Author Bio:

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she finally plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes contemporary fiction and enjoys the company of a whole host of feisty female characters. 

Heidi can be found at the keyboard at all hours of the day and night and quite often scribbling longhand in her car during her lunch break. She lives in stunning south Norfolk with her wonderful son and daughter