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.

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

Flappy Entertains by Santa Montefiore

Thank you to Rhiannon at Books and the City and Simon and Schuster UK for the opportunity to read and review this humorous book in advance of publication. I discovered Santa Montefiore’s books last year during lockdown one, when I read Here and Now (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/15/here-and-now-by-santa-montefiore/).

Synopsis:

From the beloved bestselling author Santa Montefiore comes a new novel filled with humour and heart about being in control – and losing it. For fans of The Temptation of Gracie, Flappy now takes centre stage, more charismatic and competitive than ever.

‘Fresh, fun and fabulous! Flappy certainly kept me entertained!’ Heidi Swain, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Winter Garden  

Underneath her graceful exterior lies a passion nobody knew about, least of all Flappy herself… 

Flappy Scott-Booth is the self-appointed queen bee of Badley Compton, a picturesque Devon village. While her husband Kenneth spends his days on the golf course, she is busy overseeing her beautiful house and gardens, and organising unforgettable events, surrounded by friends who hang on to her every word.

Her life is a reflection of herself – impossibly perfect.

Until the day that Hedda Harvey-Smith and her husband Charles move into the village. Into an even grander home than hers. Taking the front seat on the social scene, quite literally.

That simply will not do.

Flappy is determined to show Hedda how things are done here in Badley Compton. But then she looks into Charles’s beautiful green eyes. And suddenly, her focus is elsewhere. She is only human, after all…

Flappy Entertains is published by Simon and Schuster on 4th March 2021, and available to buy through Bookshop.org HERE

My thoughts:

When I read Here and Now last year, I needed tissues to wipe my eyes after an emotional read. I also needed them for Flappy Entertains but from tears of joy – this was a much needed fun read during a cold, dark lockdown winter.

I haven’t read The Temptation of Gracie yet, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book. Flappy starts the book as a woman very much in control of everything, her life timetabled and polished. We quickly discover she has little secrets (such as her real taste in newspapers, music and books) but when her new neighbour Charles arrives, suddenly she has a large secret to keep.

I loved how Flappy changed as she suddenly discovered her fun side, all the time insisting that her evening meditation sessions were behind her sudden glow and change in routines. But what would happen if Hedda or Kenneth found out? Would she have to give up her marriage and beautiful house? This is a no spoiler review, so I recommend reading a copy (available to buy through Bookshop.org HERE) whilst sipping a cocktail/mocktail and enjoy your virtual visit to Badley Compton in Devon.

Author Bio (from Amazon):

Hi, I’m Santa Montefiore and I’ve been writing a novel a year for nineteen years now, which is quite astonishing as I didn’t really think beyond the first book, which took me five years to write. I didn’t think I had another in me, but here I am, celebrating my eighteenth and polishing my nineteenth for publication next year! Most of my novels are set partly in England and partly in a beautiful location, like Argentina, Italy or France. I write primarily for myself so I figure, as I’m going to be living in my imagination for the best part of six months, I might as well choose somewhere lovely. I adore nature, so I tend to plant my characters in rural settlings – by the sea or in the countryside – and most of them are stand alone, except Last Voyage of the Valentina and The Italian Matchmaker, and my recent trilogy, The Deverill Chronicles, which is set in Ireland from 1910 to the sixties.

I love writing. I’ve always enjoyed stories, both reading them and writing them. I can’t imagine life without them. Not only are they entertaining, but they teach us so much about life – and enable us to live vicariously through characters who experience more drama than we do! I’m emotional. I love to be moved. There’s nothing better than sinking into a novel and empathising with the characters as they journey through the novel, experiencing both ups and downs…I love to laugh and cry and I want the book to stay with me after I’ve turned the last page. I don’t need a happy ending, but I need a satisfactory one. I hope I deliver satisfactory endings in my own novels.

I also write children’s books with my husband, Simon Sebag-Montefiore. The series is The Royal Rabbits of London, about a secret society of MI5 style rabbits who live beneath Buckingham Palace and protect the Royal Family from evil. Our son came up with the idea when he was six years old and it’s now being made into a movie by 20th Century Fox, which is beyond exciting. To see our characters in animation will be magical. I live in London but rent a cottage in Hampshire, which is where I bolt to when I can no longer take the pace of the city and need to spend time in nature to find peace. We have two children, our daughter Lily and our son Sasha. We also have a Labrador called Simba who is definitely the most spoiled member of the family. My husband Simon is a historian, novelist and broadcaster. We manage to live and work in the same house without killing each other. My favourite place to write is at the kitchen table because it’s near the kettle and the fridge. If I start a packet of biscuits I can’t stop so I try not to start… but marmite toast is another matter, and a very serious one; nothing can separate me from that.


Visit me at http://www.santamontefiore.co.uk and sign up for my newsletter which I try to write every month, but sometimes struggle, so please forgive me if I miss one or two!

Coming Home To Brightwater Bay by Holly Hepburn

Today I’m thrilled to be joining the blog tour for this gorgeous book set in the Orkney Islands. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the opportunity and to Books and The City/Simon and Schuster for a copy of the book to read and review. My thoughts about the book are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

On paper, Merina Wilde has it all: a successful career writing the kind of romantic novels that make even the hardest hearts swoon, a perfect carousel of book launches and parties to keep her social life buzzing, and a childhood sweetheart who thinks she’s a goddess. But Merry has a secret: the magic has stopped flowing from her fingers. Try as she might, she can’t summon up the sparkle that makes her stories shine. And as her deadline whooshes by, her personal life falls apart too. Alex tells her he wants something other than the future she’d always imagined for them and Merry finds herself single for the first time since – well, ever.

Desperate to get her life back on track, Merry leaves London and escapes to the windswept Orkney Islands, locking herself away in a secluded clifftop cottage to try to heal her heart and rediscover her passion for writing. But can the beauty of the islands and the kindness of strangers help Merry to fool herself into believing in love again, if only long enough to finish her book? Or is it time for her to give up the career she’s always adored and find something new to set her soul alight?

The brand new series from Holly Hepburn, first published as four ebook parts: BROKEN HEARTS AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, SEA BREEZES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, DANGEROUS TIDES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY and SUNSET OVER BRIGHTWATER BAY

My thoughts:

When my copy of the book arrived through my letterbox just before Christmas, the gorgeous cover design made me smile and I must admit to adding the book to my home office desk to brighten it up.

This is a fabulous uplifting book about authors, books, a library, avid book readers, author events, books and romance. Merry has been treated badly by Alex, and has escaped to Orkney to find inspiration for her writing. With a kind library manager, Niall, a friendly ‘Viking’, Magnus, and a persistent neighbour, Sheila encouraging her to rediscover herself and to enjoy her visit to Orkney, Merry begins to make changes to her life.

I loved discovering the history of the islands as Merry visited places and I found myself googling pictures of the island. Merry’s six months in Orkney flew by as the pages of the book turned and I found it difficult to put this book down.

Great characters (including Gordon the goat), a fabulous story, two attentive and attractive men, and a book about an author make for a uplifting romantic read. I have already been recommending this book via social media and I now need to read some of Holly’s earlier books – still not sure why I haven’t done so before! It was great to start 2021 discovering a new author to me.

Author Bio:

Holly Hepburn is the much-loved author of commercial women’s fiction. She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite. Follow Holly on Twitter @HollyH_Author.

~*~Praise for Holly Hepburn~*~
‘A fresh new voice, brings wit and warmth to this charming tale of two sisters’ Rowan Coleman

‘Warm, witty and laced with intriguing secrets! I want to pull up a bar stool, order a large G&T and soak up all the gossip at the Star and Sixpence!’ Cathy Bramley

‘The Star and Sixpence sparkles with fun, romance, mystery, and a hunky blacksmith. It’s a real delight’ Julie Cohen

‘Like the dream pub landlady who always knows exactly what you want, Holly Hepburn has created the most delightful welcome to what promises to be a brilliant series, in the first Star and Sixpence. The sisters are warm and intriguing, the neighbours are (mostly!) friendly and the gossip is utterly addictive. I was very sad when it was time for last orders, and am already looking forward to the next round. Especially if a certain blacksmith happens to be at the bar…’ Kate Harrison

‘Warm, witty and utterly charming, Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s day. It left me with the most wonderful happy glow’ Cally Taylor

‘A super sparkling star of a story and I can’t wait for part two’ Alexandra Brown

The minute I saw you by Paige Toon

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on ‘the minute I saw you‘ by Paige Toon. A huge thank you to Sara-Jade of Books and The City for this gorgeous book which popped through my letterbox just before Christmas 2020.

Synopsis:

When Hannah meets Sonny, she’s irresistibly drawn to him: he’s sexy and confident, but only in town on holiday. That’s fine with Hannah – she doesn’t do long-term relationships. And luckily for her, neither does Sonny. But before they can even so much as kiss, Sonny receives some shocking news and commits to making serious life changes – ones that can’t and won’t include romance.

With even a short fling now off the cards, Hannah and Sonny settle for being friends. But as summer hots up and their chemistry shows no signs of cooling, they start to question their reasons for shutting each other out.

Are they both too broken to find love? And if they tear down the walls between them, will they still like what’s on the other side?

My thoughts:

My initial thoughts are why has it taken me so long to read one of Paige’s books. I have five sat on my Kindle at the moment. I bought them during lockdown part 1 to read on holiday later in the year. The holiday didn’t happen and so they are still waiting to be read.

I picked this book up over the Christmas holidays when our local area was plunged into Tier 4 as rates of Covid had doubled in just a week, and my anxiety levels had also risen. Now was not the time to be reading something depressing.

I partly chose this book from the to-be-read shelves because it is set in Cambridge, where I should be this month with a group of students and work colleagues. It is a beautiful part of the world and I hope to head back there again one day soon.

The story revolves around Hannah and Sonny, who are both fighting demons from their past, which have made them act differently and could stop them finding the happiness they both deserve. The story flows well, as slowly we find out more about what has happened in the past and how they can help each other with friendship to move forward.

There are so many fabulous characters in this book, including Archie and Matilda, plus the four legged best friend Bertie, who spent more time visiting pubs and people than any of us did in 2020. This book tackles both fun and serious issues but in a sensitive and skilful way, so that the reader is left feeling uplifted by the experience.

Happy to recommend this fabulous book for anyone wanting an emotional read (the gorgeous dragonflies from the cover feature in the story too). I’m looking forward to reading more from Paige in the future too.

Author Bio (from Amazon):

Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America, following her racing driver father around the globe. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women’s magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two children and lives in Cambridge.

Visit Paige’s website at paigetoon.com to sign up to her free book club, ‘The Hidden Paige’, and say hi to her on Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor and Facebook.com/PaigeToonAuthor

There are more reviews this month on my book blog for other Books and the City Books, including these:

My One True North by Milly Johnson



I’m pleased to share another of my five star reviews from 2020 on my book review blog today. It is also appropriate to be sharing one of the fabulous Team Books and the City books today, when I will have the opportunity to see their 2021 showcase later today (I’m very excited!).

Synopsis:

Laurie and Pete should never have met. But life has a different idea.

Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Overwhelmed by their grief, they join the same counselling group…and change their lives forever.

From their profound sadness, Pete and Laurie begin to find happiness and healing. Except, the more they get to know one another, the more Laurie begins to spot the strange parallels in their stories. Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything—one which threatens to reverse everything they’ve worked towards.

But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.

My thoughts:

I’m pleased to say that the extra wait to read the latest book by Milly was worth it (my hint for Mother’s Day was ignored so I had to wait until June for my birthday). I had tears in my eyes at times and laughed out loud too, especially when reading the Daily Trumpet misprints. If you haven’t read a Milly Johnson book before (how? why?), then you won’t have seen the bloopers that they have made in many of Milly’s previous books.

In My One True North, Laurie is the solicitor visiting the offices of the Daily Trumpet on a weekly basis. She is also heart broken after the death of her boyfriend in a tragic multi car accident. She meets Pete, a firefighter, who lost his wife in the same accident, an accident he attended as part of his job.

As the story unfolds, we find out more about the relationships Pete and Laurie had with their partners. We also return to the The Teashop, from The TeaShop on the Corner, a Milly Johnson book I read and enjoyed back in 2016. It was lovely to catch up with some of the characters again, but if you haven’t read it, it won’t spoil this story. This book looks at new and old friendships and family relationships.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I won’t divulge any more of the story. I love the way Milly brings her characters to life so that we care about them and feel their emotions. As a Yorkshire born lass myself, I love visiting Yorkshire in Milly’s books, especially when I can’t travel there at the moment due to the global pandemic.

I loved this book, even if it did make sad in places. As some of the other reviews have said, Milly’s book should be available on the NHS to give joy to people.

I have a lovely hardback copy but the paperback version was released in July.


Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. She is the author of 18 published novels, 4 short story ebooks, a book of poetry and a Quick Reads Novella (‘The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe’) and was an erstwhile leading copywriter for the greetings card industry. She is also a poem and joke-writer, a newspaper columnist and a seasoned after dinner speaker.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016, the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015 and the Romantic Novelist Association Outstanding Achievement award in 2020. See her popular acceptance speech here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxzeFTvHXDo&fbclid=IwAR27aZML4er_dZLgD2e-URQdBoOK3L9hM8mauFpn3aFvAws7y3VVtXsYTvI

She writes about love, life, friendships and the importance of community spirit. Her books champion women, their strength and resilience and celebrate her beloved Yorkshire.

Her latest book – My One True North tackles the subject of moving on after grief with a light and joyous touch. The Daily Trumpet makes a large appearance and previous novels ‘The Teashop on the Corner’ and ‘Here Come the Girls’ are referenced.

Milly’s website is http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk. She is on Twitter as @millyjohnson, Instagram as @themillyjohnson and has a Facebook page @MillyJohnsonAuthor. She also has a monthly newsletter http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk/newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.


View all my reviews

My One True North by Milly Johnson



I’m pleased to finally be able to share my review for the fabulous new book by Milly Johnson on my book review blog today. I say finally because I had dropped subtle hints that I would like a copy of this for Mothers Day. Sadly my hints were too subtle (or perhaps the start of lockdown meant the family couldn’t get a copy…), but thankfully I had a copy given to me for my birthday in June instead.

As an additional birthday treat (their words), the husband and the teenage son went on a 24 hour fishing expedition a couple of days later (5 miles from home), so I could curl up with My One True North, our rescue dog Jake and my teenage daughter.

Synopsis:

Laurie and Pete should never have met. But life has a different idea.

Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Overwhelmed by their grief, they join the same counselling group…and change their lives forever.

From their profound sadness, Pete and Laurie begin to find happiness and healing. Except, the more they get to know one another, the more Laurie begins to spot the strange parallels in their stories. Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything—one which threatens to reverse everything they’ve worked towards.

But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.

My thoughts:

I’m pleased to say that the extra wait to read the latest book by Milly was worth it. I had tears in my eyes at times and laughed out loud too – especially when reading the Daily Trumpet misprints. If you haven’t read a Milly Johnson book before (how? why?), then you won’t have seen the bloopers that they have made in many of Milly’s previous books.

In My One True North, Laurie is the solicitor visiting the offices of the Daily Trumpet on a weekly basis. She is also heart broken after the death of her boyfriend in a tragic multi car accident. She meets Pete, a firefighter, who lost his wife in the same accident, an accident he attended as part of his job.

As the story unfolds, we find out more about the relationships Pete and Laurie had with their partners. We also return to the The Teashop, from The TeaShop on the Corner, a Milly Johnson book I read and enjoyed back in 2016. It was lovely to catch up with some of the characters again, but if you haven’t read it, it won’t spoil this story. This book looks at new and old friendships and family relationships.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I won’t divulge any more of the story. I love the way Milly brings her characters to life so that we care about them and feel their emotions. As a Yorkshire born lass myself, I love visiting Yorkshire in Milly’s books, especially when I can’t travel there at the moment due to the global pandemic.

I loved this book, even if it did make sad in places. As some of the other reviews have said, Milly’s book should be available on the NHS to give joy to people.

I have a lovely hardback copy but the paperback version is being released in July.


Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. She is the author of 17 published novels, 4 short story ebooks, a book of poetry and a Quick Reads Novella (‘The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe’) and was an erstwhile leading copywriter for the greetings card industry. She is also a poem and joke-writer, a newspaper columnist and a seasoned after dinner speaker.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016, the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015 and the Romantic Novelist Association Outstanding Achievement award in 2020. See her popular acceptance speech here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxzeFTvHXDo&fbclid=IwAR27aZML4er_dZLgD2e-URQdBoOK3L9hM8mauFpn3aFvAws7y3VVtXsYTvI

She writes about love, life, friendships and the importance of community spirit. Her books champion women, their strength and resilience and celebrate her beloved Yorkshire.

Her latest book – My One True North tackles the subject of moving on after grief with a light and joyous touch. The Daily Trumpet makes a large appearance and previous novels ‘The Teashop on the Corner’ and ‘Here Come the Girls’ are referenced.

Milly’s website is http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk. She is on Twitter as @millyjohnson, Instagram as @themillyjohnson and has a Facebook page @MillyJohnsonAuthor. She also has a monthly newsletter http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk/newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.


View all my reviews