The House Beneath the Cliffs by Sharon Gosling

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about this debut adult fiction novel by Sharon Gosling. Thanks to Sara-Jade at Books and The City for this gorgeous proof copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book is due to be published by Simon and Schuster in the UK on 29th April 2021.

Synopsis:

A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again.

Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?

Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking, and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.

Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs . . . ?

Beautiful, moving and utterly absorbing, The House Beneath the Cliffs is a novel of friendship and food, storms and secrets, and the beauty of second chances 

My thoughts:

Anna has finally left behind the dreadful Geoff, and has bought herself a ‘house’ in the village of Crovie, to escape from her previous life, where her dreams and ambitions were ignored by the person who should have helped her the most.

This book was a much needed escape from the start of 2021, as we were back in Lockdown again in the UK. Sharon brought the village of Crovie, on the coast of Scotland to life, the smells and sound of the sea and the taste of the food. This is not a book to reading whilst dieting, because the food that Anna prepares for her new friends and customers sounded delicious.

The story follows Anna in her first few months in Crovie, making good friends (so many great characters in this book) and the occasional enemy (Douglas McKean), as she decides what to do next with her life. Through a number of adventures/opportunities, Anna quickly becomes part of the local area, boosting tourist numbers and helping when the summer storm threatens to destroy everything. But will she stay or will she go?

This is a lovely book to read, a timely reminder of why friendship and community are important, especially in times of trouble or illness. Also it is a reminder that it is never too late to change a job or area if it means we can find (or reignite) a passion for something we enjoy. My favourite character was Young Robbie, who was determined to protect the local dolphin pod from danger. I look forward to reading more by Sharon in the future.

Author Bio:

Sharon Gosling began her career in entertainment journalism, writing for magazines in the science fiction and fantasy genre, before moving on to write tie-in books for TV shows such as Stargate and the ‘re-imagined’ Battlestar Galactica. She has also written, produced and directed audio dramas based in the same genre. 

She lives in London with her husband and a cantankerous cat, surrounded by books and daleks.

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:

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

Today I’m sharing my review for this new book being published by Hot Key Books today. I received my copy via Readers First after reading the opening chapters and requesting a copy.

Synopsis:

From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a fairytale retelling that’ll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of “happily ever after.”
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart. 

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength. 

My thoughts:

This is my first novel by Jennifer Donnelly and I have to say that I was very impressed. This is a modern version of Snow White and personally I believe that it is the best version I have read. I enjoyed watching Once Upon a Time on TV over the past decade and this would make a great film or TV show too.

Sophie has been bullied to believe that a Queen cannot be kind or to care about other people and finds herself facing death. However the kindness of strangers at her time of need, and the repayment for her own kindness from the past, mean that Sophie may be stronger than she thinks when facing her enemies.

A great retelling full of dark magic, a poisoned apple, a handsome prince, an archer and an evil stepmother with a reminder about how to seize your own happy ever after.

Poppy’s Recipe For Life by Heidi Swain

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain. Although this is book 2 in the Nightingale Square series, this was actually the third book I read, having read the new The Winer Garden book first. This was published in 2019 and has been sat on my Kindle for a few months.

Synopsis:

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for … 

My thoughts:

Readers of The Nightingale Square series met Poppy in the first book, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square, when Poppy served Kate and Luke in the shop. It was great to find out more about Poppy and the other shop keepers, and to see how life in Nightingale Square is treating the residents since Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square ended (my review is at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/09/25/sunshine-and-sweet-peas-in-nightingale-square-by-heidi-swain/)

Poppy has had a difficult time growing up with a non maternal mother, but has made a life for herself with good friends. Moving into Nightingale Square makes life even better, despite Mr Grumpy living next door.

I enjoyed how the new characters evolved and mixed with the original members of Nightingale Square. This book is set a few months later than book one, so there are some new additions to the Square as well as Poppy.

There is also a bookshop in need of refurbishment, with a dog in need of a new friend – this storyline alone was worth 5 stars. Poppy endures a number of challenges she wasn’t expecting including looking after her younger brother and helping friends, with a number of setbacks sent to try her.

This is a lovely feel good book, full of hope, a sprinkling of romance and an abundance of community spirit. I enjoyed the first book, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square, but I think I enjoyed this one even more. A 5 star read for me.

Tomorrow I will be sharing my review for the latest book in the series – The Winter Garden.