Sunday, 18 February 2018

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.
She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.
What Lou doesn't know is she's about to meet someone who's going to turn her whole life upside down.
Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it'll hurt.
Lou won't know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.

Me Before You is one of my all time favourite books and one of the rare books I have reread over again so I was look forward to the release of Still Me to see what Jojo Moyes had in store for Louisa Clark this time so I snapped up my copy from my local bookshop and headed home to jump straight in.
Louisa has an opportunity of a life time to really do what Will wanted her to do and push her boundaries and see the world when an opportunity for her to up sticks and move to New York and become a professional friend to the very wealthy Agnes. 
As Louisa is challenged in her role in keeping secrets and to partake in exercise that almost kills her she is also finding it difficult leaving Sam behind can a long-distance relationship really survive especially when a face from her past takes her breath away?
I really enjoyed this book and found myself taking my time reading this as I really didn’t want to leave Louisa again as with each book she is taken on a further exciting journey that is allowing her to find herself and I love being with her on her journey and watching her blossom. You can still rely on Lou to give us a good laugh but you can also really see the honest and genuinely caring character she is deep within always putting herself before others even when it leaves her in a vulnerable situation.
I loved having Nathan around again in this book as well as meeting some new characters like the difficult yet delightful Mrs De Witt and the ever so friendly and welcoming Ashok, I have to say I had my reservations surrounding Josh and Agnes from the get go, they didn’t warm my heart but they were great characters in this storyline.
Jojo Moyes really gets the balance right in this book with the emotional moments and her humorous antics which we had in Me Before You but that for me was missing in After You she has pulled it back again with Still Me and this is what kept me hooked and purely entertained and absorbed in the storyline from start to finish.
I have a feeling this may be the last in the series which I will be devastated about as I still feel we could have one more Lou adventure to tie everything up beautifully so I will still keep my hopes up that Jojo will grace us with one more little Lou book! If you are one of the extremely small population who still have not read Me Before You stop wasting time and go and grab a copy you will not regret it and then you will be eager to meet up with Lou again on her New York adventure in Still Me.

Kindle                      Hardback

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Coming Home to Island House by Erica James

It's the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux.
But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together.
With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

My favouite thing about being a book reviewer is having books sent to you by authors you haven’t come across before and even books that you wouldn’t have necessarily picked up whilst browsing the bookshelves in our local store and this is exactly how I discovered the talented author Erica James when her generous publishers sent a copy of her book to me a year or so ago and now I cannot get enough of her books and look forward to her new release each year.
Her latest release is Coming Home to Island House and what a wonderful read this book is. I was captured by not only the authors beautiful storyline but the wide range of loveable and also loathable characters that entertain us and touch our hearts right from the very first page.
Our central character is author Romily Temple. The storyline opens with Romily returning home from her book tour to find her husband Jack Devereux in a life-threatening state. In the days that follow Jack shares his wishes with Romily that he has made mistakes with his estranged family and wants to reunite them with her help.
The family all arrive to see Jack after receiving a message from Romily but their arrival was too late, but always one for difficult surprises Jacks will dictates that they all need to spend a week together in order to receive their inheritance. With so much history and turmoil running between the family members will they be able to fulfil his wishes especially with the brink of war fast approaching.
The storyline is set around the time of World War II and I hold my hands up and say I have never been one who loves books set heavily around the war but with this storyline I found it insightful seeing how the war effected the day to day lives and relationships of each of our characters.
Romily was such an admirable character, to have lost someone she so desperately loved and to then be lumbered with his family was enough to deal with but then to top it off and help with the adorable evacuee Stanley and still have that sense of wanting to fulfil her duty and do her bit for her country makes her a character impossible not to like.
There are such a vast amount of characters in this book and they all have a detailed and important role in the book not just making brief appearances here and there and yet at no point did I lose track of who was who because they were so well developed. We even have the dreadful Arthur who was such a vile excuse for a human and I really wanted him to get his just deserts!
There really is something for everyone in this book as it follows friendships and relationships, grief and love, hope and desperation. I felt so involved with the characters and with each bit of good or heart-breaking news I felt I was sharing it with the characters and was on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout.
This was a heart-warming, insightful and captivating read with a wonderful group of admirable characters, definitely a book that I would recommend.

Hardback               Kindle

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Lemon Tree Cafe by Cathy Bramley

When Rosie Featherstone finds herself unexpectedly jobless, the offer to help her beloved Italian grandmother out at the Lemon Tree Café a little slice of Italy nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire – feels like the perfect way to keep busy.
Surrounded by the rich scent of espresso, delicious biscotti and juicy village gossip, Rosie soon finds herself falling for her new way of life. But she is haunted by a terrible secret, one that even the appearance of a handsome new face can't quite help her move on from.
Then disaster looms and the café fortunes are threatened . . . and Rosie discovers that her nonna has been hiding a dark past of her own. With surprises, betrayal and more than one secret brewing, can she find a way to save the Lemon Tree Café and help both herself and Nonna achieve the happy endings they deserve?
When it came to spending my Christmas book vouchers the first book that jumped out at me was The lemon Tree Café by Cathy Bramley, although I hadn’t heard much about this book I have previously enjoyed a number of this authors books so I was looking forward to reading this one.
Rosie finds herself jobless after sticking to her morals which is something that had me backing her character from the first chapter. Not wanting a gap on her C.V she decides to help out in her Nonna’s café whilst she looks for another job but before long she soon learns that the café is in trouble and she is desperate to help her Nonna but her help is not wanted. How will Rosie save the café when her Nonna is so reluctant to let anyone help?
Another book by Cathy Bramley that captures your heart and keeps you engrossed from start to finish. Rosie was a very strong and determined young woman who was hiding a secret that is holding her back from finding love even when it was staring her in the face in form of the delightful Gabe. I saw many similarities between Rosie and her Nonna Marie and I think this was why the two were so close and why they were both so fiercely independent.
Like Cathy Bramley’s previous books there is a strong sense of community spirit flowing through the book which I love along with the book being based around the café an independent family business which are always favourites of mine. The storyline is an enjoyable light read but it does have a number of difficult topics such as abuse and grief but as devastating as these topics are it didn’t dampen the spirit of the storyline it just made us warm to the characters even more and give the storyline more depth.
This was a wonderful read, it doesn’t quite hit the Ivy Lane spot but it is a close second for me.

Kindle                       Paperback

Thursday, 28 December 2017

The Place We Met by Isabelle Broom

Lucy may have suffered her fair share of bad men, but now she has Pete. Finally, a man worth sharing her favourite place with, Lake Como. That's if she can put mysterious phone calls and glamorous ex-girlfriends out of her mind.
Taggie is rushed off her feet, but distraction is exactly what she needs to forget why she fled England and the sadness she left behind. She certainly doesn't have time for infuriating stranger Marco. A man is the last thing she needs right now.
Lucy and Taggie might not know it, but their lives are about to collide. The New Year might begin with fireworks - but how will it end?

I was given a copy of The Place We Met by Isabelle Broom by my Husband for Christmas this year and he couldn't have picked a better book for me. I have adored each of this authors previous books even if they have resulted in a pure determination for me to visit each location that her books have been set in and now having finished this book I have Lake Como to add to my list too!

The storyline is told by alternating chapters focusing on our two main characters Tiggie and Lucy. Both ladies are very vulnerable characters who are carrying emotional baggage but it isn't until the storyline progresses that we begin to see what has caused such emotional turmoil for them.

Tiggie has upsticks and moved to Lake Como a place of comfort to her where she hoped to rebuild herself away from all who know her. 

Lucy is heading off on holiday with her boyfriend Pete but after seeing a phone call from a name she doesn't know come through on his phone her insecurities come to the surface but she hopes the time together on holiday will bring them closer.

One thing I come to expect now from a book written by Isabelle Broom is that she will whisk me away to an idyllic location that will have me mesmerised by its natural beauty and hidden gems found off of the tourist track and once again this is what I found in this book so I was not disappointed other than that my bank balance will not let me venture their currently! Isabelle Broom has such a wonderful atmospheric writing style that brings everything to life so vividly that it is impossible not to get swept away in her books.

I liked how I was kept in the dark for the first half of the book as to what was going to join the two ladies together and when it all was revealed I then began to connect the pieces as to what was going to happen next but I still enjoyed reading the events unfold.

I loved the handsome Marco, whenever he seemed to be around there soon followed some unintentional humour too. I read the book at the perfect time with it being set between Christmas and New Year which was great but don't let this put you off reading it throughout the year as it isn't heavily festive so can still easily be enjoyed on the beach too.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it doesn't quite beat her previous books but I still enjoyed each and every chapter.

Kindle                      Paperback

Friday, 22 December 2017

Artemis by Andy Weir

WELCOME TO ARTEMIS. The first city on the moon.
Population 2,000. Mostly tourists.
Some criminals.
Jazz Bashara is a criminal. She lives in a poor area of Artemis and subsidises her work as a porter with smuggling contraband onto the moon. But it’s not enough.

So when she’s offered the chance to make a lot of money she jumps at it. But though planning a crime in 1/6th gravity may be more fun, it’s a lot more dangerous…

I was blown away by The Martian so I have been eagerly awaiting the next release by Andy Weir. Artemis is his latest release and having just finished reading this book I am going to start this review with a warning do not buy this book ready to compare to The Martian as you will be disappointed if you are expecting to experience the same adventure that book took you on having said that I was so captivated by Artemis but in a completely different way than I was with The Martian.

Artemis is the first city on the moon and even with a small population there is those who are intent on breaking the law. Jazz Bashara is a criminal who is involved with smuggling and she is determined to get rich and so when an offer that promises an obscene amount of money arises she accepts without realising that her life is about to be put in jeopardy.
This just HAS to be made into a film, even just a few chapters in I found I could visualise the whole setting and this is just going to be a visually noteworthy film. It was such an action packed fast paced read that had me hooked from the start to the finish. We see a determination in the main character Jazz Bashera, her character is unlike one I had read before and do you know what I loved her! She is such a flawed character who is so pig headed and has made extremely bad decisions in the past but you can’t fault her determination. She is fowl mouthed and rough around the edges but is also a very intelligent individual underneath it all.
I am not sure who this book is aimed at because I absolutely loved it and found it so entertaining and addictive but it also had a YA feel to it so I think a broad range of readers will enjoy this book. There is a lot of scientific references which I thought would just go straight over my head but I actually found quite interesting. The author describes everything in such great detail that you don't need to use your imagination as he brings everything to life even the disgusting gunk! 
This book isn't the type of book that I usually read but I haven't read a book in so long that has had me so excited and entertained I was captivated from start to finish and was actually disappointed to have finished and I haven't manage to settle into another book since.
I would definitely recommend this book and it is one of those books that I wish I could go back and read again for the first time. This is one of my top 5 books of 2017.

Kindle                     Hardback

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites.
From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.
With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.
The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart?

I was looking for a light festive read and with a title that not only involves Christmas but also chocolate too, The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts caught my eye.

Our main character is the lovely Emma and she will warm your heart from the get go. When Emma is left heartbroken she decides to make a new start in a new town and pour her heart into a new business venture by opening up her own chocolate shop. With the help from her assistant Holly her business is beginning to thrive. With things looking up for Emma is there a chance that she could let another man in to repair her broken heart?

This was such an addictive read. The characters were all so likeable in this book, I loved the relationship between Emma and her assistant Holly. Emma was very passionate about her trade and I enjoyed finding out which concoctions she was going to come up with next I was drooling at each new flavour she created.

I love how the storyline weaves a slow burning romance around an ambitious business venture. I enjoyed watching Emma transform her business and work so hard to make her own way. It touches on how small businesses need local support to survive and that there are always hefty financial worries around every corner. The author also shows how heartbreak can come in more ways than one and that this can effect everyone differently some taking years to repair that broken heart. Emma was such a hard working and caring character that I was just so desperate for her to put herself first and not worry about everyone else, I just wanted her to find her happy ending. 

My only slight negative was I found the storyline was slightly drawn out and could have been around 50 pages shorter as I was beginning to find my interest wavering in the last few chapters compared to how desperate I was to turn the page throughout the rest of the book.

I found this such a light and uplifting read that will make a perfect addition in someone's Christmas stocking this year. I look forward to discovering more cosy books by this author.

Kindle                      Paperback

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all...?

I love this time of year when all my favourite authors start releasing their festive novels and one that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this year was Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain (wow that was a mouthful! ).
I have fallen in love with the characters in Wynbridge so I look forward to catching up with them in each book that Heidi Swain produces just to get a snippet of how their lives are changing so I was thrilled to be returning in this latest festive read.
We are introduced to a new character Anna who is making her way to Wynbridge for her first time, desperate to escape Christmas she has taken a job at the grand Wynthorpe Hall looking after Catherine over the season.
Angus and Catherine who are owners of Wynthorpe soon take Anna under their wing and she is welcomed by all the other helpers at the Hall too but before long things turn upside down with the arrival of their son Jamie who is none too pleased to find another mouth to feed when money is tight.
Unexpectedly Jamie and Anna soon strike up a bond and set on a mission to try and help each other but can they succeed?
This is yet another marvellous read by Heid Swain and she really captures the magic of Christmas too. She has created such a warm bunch of welcoming characters and a cosy grand home I just wanted to be a part of this close-knit family. Angus was such a joyful character who had a heart of gold and brought a great sense of humour too.
In some ways the storyline was a little predictable but this didn’t matter at all as I was looking forward to watching the characters on their journey to the conclusion I had already guessed! There is an emotional undertone to the storyline because of the reason for Anna’s dislike of Christmas but this just brought a little bit of depth to the storyline.
I would definitely recommend this book and you don’t need to have read Heidi Swain’s previous books to read this one but they are all such wonderful reads you would be missing out if you didn’t read her back list. I really hope that Heidi Swain carries on setting her books in the wonderful idyllic town of Wynebridge. There is a sprinkling of romance, a dash of festivity and twinkling of friendship so all in all this was a perfect read.


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