#Lockdown reading part 1

It’s three weeks since the UK went into Lockdown. For the first two weeks I worked from home – liasing with students, preparing reports, updating my CPD and attending online team meetings.

For the past 10 days, I’ve been on ‘holiday’ as I have a term time only contract. Normally we would be out, visiting friends and family but 2020 will be known as the year of ‘staying in saving lives’.

In addition to starting to clear out cupboards and cook numerous meals for my constantly hungry teenagers, I’ve been able to do more reading. 12 books in 3 weeks.

The start of Lockdown
Last week
This long weekend

My favourite books were The Authenticity Project, We Begin at the End and The Phone Box at the Edge of the World.

#BlogTour #BookReview How Not to Be A Loser by Beth Moran

Publisher comments:

Amy Piper is a loser. She’s lost her confidence, her mojo and her way.

But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…

What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.

Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…

My thoughts:

Thank you to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for a review copy – my thoughts are my own.

This is a unique story with mental health issues at the core. Amy was a world champion swimmer who now cannot leave the house. As the world is currently discovering, for the majority of us, the thought of not being able to pop out to the shop, to see friends etc when we want to is a challenge. However Amy is struggling to step outside her own door and is unable to accompany her 13 year old son Joel to social events or school events or even into the garden.

The story follows Amy’s battle against agrophobia, dealing with issues in her past, making new friends and looking after Joel. Amy is a great character, with lots of highs and lows along the way. Her new friends from the Larks running club are brought to life in a way that makes you want to join them, to become part of the team.

The book deals with some tough issues but there are many funny moments and I found the story uplifting and inspiring. Amy isn’t looking to go back in time, but to move forward in small steps to make a better life.

The author:

Beth Moran is the author of three previous romance novels, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019.

Own website: https://www.bethmoran.org/

Profile on our website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/beth-moran/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bethmoranauthor/

Amazon link to How Not To Be A Loser : https://amzn.to/37LzdOS

#BookReview The Forbidden Promise by Lorna Cook

Publisher comments:

Scotland, 1940:
War rages across Europe, but Invermoray House is at peace. Until the night of Constance’s twenty-first birthday, when she’s the only person to see a Spitfire crash into the loch. Constance has been longing for adventure – but when she promises to keep the pilot hidden, what will it cost her?

Kate arrives in the Highlands to turn Invermoray into a luxury bed-and-breakfast, only to find that the estate is more troubled than she’d imagined. But when Kate discovers the house has a murky history, with Constance McLay’s name struck from its records, she knows she can’t leave until the mystery is solved…

How will one promise change the fate of two women, decades apart?

My thoughts:

Thank you to Avon Books UK, Lorna Cook and NetGalley for a digital review copy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction book set in two very different periods of time in Invermoray. The lives 0f Constance in 1940 and Kate in 2020 are very different but become interlinked.

This was actually the first book I had read by Lorna Cook, I had purchased her debut novel The Forgotten Village last summer but hadn’t read it yet (an oversight I quickly rectified after reading this). Lorna won the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) prestigious Joan Hessayon Award for The Forgotten Village. I enjoyed The Forgotten Village but must admit that I prefer The Forbidden Promise.

Constance is a young woman wanting to break free of the restrictions of her parents and pre war society. Kate is escaping life in London and hopes to help a family save their home. Both face major life changes.

A great book to get lost in. This is one of my favourite books of 2020 and I will be recommending it to family and friends.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Publisher comments:-

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.
That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.
It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…
In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting.

My thoughts:-

Thank you to Quercus Books and Rebecca Serle for a digital ARC – my thoughts are my own.

This started as a book about a modern romantic relationship in New York, then changed to the importance of female friendships, and falling in love with a person rather than following a life plan.

I enjoyed reading the book but never really warmed to the character of Dannie. Bella was the real character for me, someone who lived life to the full not to a five year plan.

Published February 2020.

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Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Publisher comments:

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 191 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.

Dear Edward depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle’s garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward.

As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

My thoughts:

Thank you Penguin Books UK and Viking for a digital review copy on NetGalley – my thoughts are my own.

The book follows the recovery of Edward, both physically and mentally, during his teenage years whilst simultaneously telling the story of the final journey of the plane.

A beautifully written story, filled with sadness and happiness and an important message – to make the most of time and opportunities.

This should definitely not be read just before or during a plane journey but otherwise is a must read book of 2020.

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Grown Ups by Marian Keyes – 5* review – Publication day 6/2/20


Grown-Ups by Marian Keyes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb:

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

My thoughts:

Wow, just wow – this book was one of my favourite reads of 2019. It was meant to be read at the start of 2020 because I had other books to read and review first – however once I had read the opening chapters, I couldn’t put this down.

It is a long book, with lots of great characters from the Casey family, which goes backwards and forwards in time and it definitely isn’t a light and fluffy read, covering topics such as eating disorders, death of a spouse, teenage angst. However I found myself struggling to put this down, I was so eager to know what was going to happen next.

The main female characters, Jessie, Cara and Nell faced numerous challenges and I would like to thank Marian Keyes for such wonderful storytelling. I will be recommending this book to friends and family.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for my digital review copy – my thoughts are my own.

The author:

Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for WatermelonLucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

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If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane (Publication date 1/1/20)

If I Never Met You

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb:

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend… 

My thoughts:-

Enjoyable book set in a Manchester law firm. Laurie is a bright young woman treated badly by the love of her life, Dan. So when Jamie offers her an opportunity to show Dan what he is missing, she takes a risk, despite her best friend Emily counselling her against this plan.

A modern story including the perils of social media, office politics, parenting issues. I enjoyed the story, a real page turner for me. There is sadness and humour, and a great cast of characters.

My only quibble was that a magistrate will not use a gavel in court – they are not used in the UK.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for a digital ARC in return for my honest review.

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The Hardie Inheritance by Anne Melville. Being republished by Agora Books on 5 December 2019

The Hardie Inheritance by Anne Melville

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb :-

Grace Hardie leading a contented life as a sculptor, has chosen not to marry. But she is unable to maintain Greystones, the mansion she lives in to its former glory. Her life is transformed by the arrival of four uninvited visitors on the same day.

My thoughts:-

Thank you to NetGalley and Agora Books for a digital review copy in return for a honest review.

This is actually book 3 in a series being re released by Agora Books after almost 30 years. I haven’t read the previous two books but didn’t find that this was a problem.

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected – the characters and their lives were interesting – they were dealing with the changes in England after both the First World War and the Second World War. Anyone who enjoyed the recent BBC series “Back in Time” or Downton Abbey, would probably enjoy this novel.

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