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.

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes


Today I’m sharing my review from February 2020 again, to celebrate the paperback publication of Grown Ups by Michael Joseph Books. Looking forward to seeing these in bookshops once Lockdown 3 ends in England, Which colour should I treat myself too?

The synopsis:

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 so many 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 have recommended 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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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.

Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley. Apologies for the delay in reading and reviewing. Here is my mini review of this festive read.

Synopsis:

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart… 

When Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after. When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

A heartwarming story of love, friendship, and Christmas magic, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Jill Mansell.

My thoughts:

This is the third book I’ve read by Sue Moorcroft in the past year and is now my new favourite. Hannah and Nico both face a number of challenges, with work and relationships, but cross paths again when Hannah’s brother gets married. Can they help each other?

My favourite part of the book was the visit to Nico’s family in Sweden. In a year of hardly travelling anywhere, I loved the sound of visiting Sweden to try new foods, make snowmen and visit new places. My favourite character was Hannah’s Nan who wants the best for her granddaughter.

An enjoyable read that is currently 99p on the Kindle in the UK. Happy to recommend this as a book to curl up with over the Christmas holiday.

Christmas Island by Natalie Normann

Today I’m sharing a mini review. Thank you to One More Chapter for a digital review copy on NetGalley to read and review. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

In the bleak midwinter… 
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.

My thoughts:

Thank you to One More Chapter for inviting me to read the book. I didn’t realise until I started the book, that this follows on from Summer Island, but the main characters are new and I was able to read this without having read Summer Island.

Holly has escaped London and travelled to Norway to rest and reflect on what happened at work. Tor has escaped Oslo and is enjoying the solitude, until he saves a weary Holly, with assistance from a cute cat. Can Holly help Tor escape his self imposed exile and can Tor help Holly learn about Norwegian food and customs?

The story is set over the Christmas period, as Holly looks forward to spending Christmas with her older brother Jack, the main character in Summer Island and features food, friendship, romance and furry four legged friends.

I enjoyed my virtual visit to Norway and must admit that I’m now tempted to visit Norway once the global pandemic is over, to try all the fabulous sweet treats. Thanks to Natalie Normann for a festive treat of a story.

One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Today I’m sharing a mini review for my weekend read. Thank you HQ for a digital review copy via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

Synopsis:

Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.

And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…

As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?

My thoughts:

As usual, Sarah Morgan has produced a fabulous festive read for readers. There is plenty of family drama for the two families, as the mothers and their adult children learn to communicate their feelings. The story is full of festive treats, including reindeer, sleigh rides, tree decorating and a very excited young child desperate to see Santa.

I enjoyed how the story developed, as the main characters came together to rekindle and improve old relationships or to start new ones. The story covers loss so isn’t all light and fluffy, but is written in a way that you are rooting for the characters and feel uplifted at the end of the book. I would love to spend time in Scotland baking with Mary and meeting the reindeer. A lovely book to escape into.

Author bio:

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 18 million copies of her books and her work has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist.

Sarah lives near London, England with her family and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.  

Join Sarah’s mailing list at http://www.sarahmorgan.com for all book news. For more insight into her writing life follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Instagram at @sarahmorganwrites Contact Sarah at sarah@sarahmorgan.com

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

As we approach the end of 2020, I’m sharing some of my five star reviews for my favourite books of 2020. Thanks to Transworld / Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review this fabulous debut novel. This book helped me find my reading mojo during lockdown one.

Publisher comments:

Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.

My thoughts:

After seeing great reviews for this book, I finally started reading my review copy and didn’t want to put it down. I was desperate to find out what happened but also didn’t want the story to finish.

I loved the story telling in this book, the way the lives of the strangers become entwined as they each embark on their journeys of self discovery, how they face up to what happened in their past and how they move forward, all aided by The Authenticity Project book.

I would love to be able to go a visit Monica’s cafe, to sit with a hot chocolate in the Library area, even more so now that we are in lockdown two, as I write.

As other reviewers have commented, this would make a good film or TV series. One of my favourite books of 2020, so uplifting and enjoyable. I will be adding a copy of the paperback to my bookshelf when it is published in February 2021.

Author info (from Amazon):

Clare Pooley graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge and spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time mum. 

Clare lives in Fulham, London with her long-suffering husband, three children, dog and a cupboard filled with alcohol-free beer. 

Clare is the author of the hugely popular blog, Mummy was a Secret Drinker, under the pseudonym Sober Mummy.

You can also find Clare on Facebook.com/SoberMummy





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Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Today, I’m sharing another of my reviews from February 2020, for another 5 star read. Saving Missy by Beth Morrey is now available to pre-order in paperback, out in March 2021

Publisher comments:-

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

My thoughts:-


Thank you to HarperCollins and Beth Morrey for a digital copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

This was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I have been busy recommending it. The story starts slowly as we meet Missy and find out how small her world has become. Beth Morrey has created a wonderful ensemble cast (human and canine), who work together to help Missy find friendship, family and hope.

As a dog rescuer (we adopted Jake 2 years ago), I loved the relationship developing between Missy and Bobby, and the interaction with the other dog walkers.

In a world where we spend more time with our online ‘friends’ than our real friends, this is a reminder that humans need social interaction and to belong to a community, and that loneliness is a big issue. My father-in-law always had a dog and they kept him going, giving him a reason to get up and to go out.

A stunning debut novel which should be enjoyed with a dog curled up in your lap.



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The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Today I’m revisiting one of my first 5 star reads of 2020, back before lockdown and furlough were words used on a daily basis, and when cafes were allowed to open. Currently available in hardback and ebook formats, this will be published in paperback in February 2021 and can be pre-ordered now.

Synopsis:

Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.

Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed…

My thoughts:


After reading and enjoying The Lido, I was thrilled to be given a digital review copy of The 24-Hour Cafe by Orion and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

It did take me some time to get into the story of Hannah and Mona’s friendship, however once I got going, I didn’t want to stop reading – thank goodness it was the weekend.

I loved how Libby Page brought the characters to life – I felt as if I was in the cafe myself being busy people watching. The development of the story of the friendship of Hannah and Mona was the main part of the story, but with so many other stories interwoven, the depressed new mum, the homeless student, the newly weds, the other cafe staff.

This is not Lido 2 (some other reviewers seemed disappointed) but is another beautifully written book by Libby Page which explores friendships.

The author:

Libby Page previously worked in marketing, moonlighting as a writer. She graduated from The London College of Fashion with a BA in Fashion Journalism before going on to work as a journalist at the Guardian. THE LIDO is her first novel. It was pre-empted within 24 hours of submission for six figures in the UK, pre-empted for six figures in the US, and will be published in 2018 by Orion UK and Simon & Schuster US, followed by eleven other territories around the world. 

Libby has been a leading campaigner for fairer internships and has spoken on TV and in parliament in support of fair pay for interns. Libby has been writing from an early age and when she was 16 she wrote an illustrated book called Love Pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Care.

After writing, her second passion is outdoor swimming. Libby lives in London where she enjoys finding new swimming spots and pockets of community within the city. 



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The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for this feel good festive read on my book review blog today. Thank you to Zaffre Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book is being published in the UK on 29th October 2020.

Synopsis:

Recently divorced, the family home sold and her son all grown-up, Clare is at a crossroads. She’s dedicated her whole adult life to her family, and now it’s time she did something for herself. 

In the lead up to Christmas, Clare decides that a bit of time in the countryside might be just what she needs, so she moves back to Little Bramble, the village she grew up in. But living with her mum for the first time in years – and not to mention Goliath the Great Dane – can be challenging. 

When Clare finds herself running the village Christmas show, it feels like she has purpose in her life again. Bringing together people from all sides of the community, and all walks of life, will Clare manage to pull off a festive feat like no other? And will she find the new start in life – and possibly love – that she’s been looking for?

The Country Village Christmas Show is the perfect romantic read to get cosy with this winter.

My thoughts:

This is the first book published by Cathy Lake (aka Rachel Griffiths). The blurb and the gorgeous cover drew my attention to this book, plus the feature on Readers First.

I felt sorry for the main character, Clare, at the start of the story – her happy life had vanished in a relatively short space of time as her marriage faltered, her job was made redundant and she ended up moving back in with her mum and a very large dog called Goliath.

However Clare soon starts to rekindle old friendships and make new acquaintances on her voyage of self discovery, although the path to romance is a tricky one to negotiate.

A great mixture of characters, a canine friend, Christmas preparations and three generations of a family working together provided a cosy autumnal read. I look forward to reading more by Cathy Lake.