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Thursday, 21 January 2021

Coming Home to Brightwater Bay by Holly Hepburn

 



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 best thing about reading is that even when we are in lockdown we can discover so many new places we never even knew existed and that is exactly what happened when I got swept away in Holly Hepburn’s new release Coming Home to Brightwater Bay.

What makes this book even better is that our main character Merry is an author and Merry is struggling with writers block along with a breakdown of her relationship. An opportunity to escape everything and to attempt to find her love of writing and some inspiration arises with a Writer in Residence retreat to the Orkney Islands, but will the words flow and will she find more than she hoped in Brightwater Bay?

As much as I love reading I am also interested in the author journey, how they find inspiration for their novels, the research they take to make their stories come to life and the pressures of deadlines and writers block that the majority of authors face at some point and so this book was an absolute dream to read because we follow Merry through each of these points and I found it really insightful.

I was blown away by the animals and places the author introduces us to in this novel and I was completely shocked that I had never even heard of Skara Brae, I instantly found myself Googling the place just to check that it was real and it is now somewhere I am desperate to explore myself after lockdown. The way Holly Hepburn describes each place she visits made them so alluring, they were easy to visualise.

There is a love triangle (at one point a square!) that added to this already wonderful storyline and I never quite knew if Merry’s heart was going to be stolen by the steamy Magnus or the dependable sexy librarian Niall or if indeed romance would truly blossom at all and the suspense of this only added to my enjoyment of the storyline.

There is a wonderful community spirit bringing so many friendly characters together and they all helped Merry in one way or another during her stay.  Although the book was released in four parts I am pleased I waited to read the whole book as one as I don’t think I could have waited for each part to be released!


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Thursday, 7 January 2021

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

 



When Saffyre Maddox was ten, something terrible happened, and she's carried the pain of it ever since. The man who she thought was going to heal her didn't, and now she hides, learning his secrets, invisible in the shadows.

Owen Pick is invisible too. He's never had a girlfriend; he's never even had a friend.
Nobody sees him. Nobody cares.

But when Saffyre goes missing from opposite his house on Valentine's night, suddenly the whole world is looking at Owen.

Accusing him. Holding him responsible for Saffyre's disappearance.


It has been such a long time since I have read a Lisa Jewell novel so Invisible Girl was a real treat and it wasn’t long before I was wrapped up in the storyline, head pulsing whilst I was trying to collect every nugget of information to try and work out who the villain of the storyline.

The author introduces us to a number of key characters in this book which creates more intrigue and adds more suspects and pieces to the puzzle. The storyline is told from Saffyre, Owen and Cate’s points of view which paints a rounded picture of the events that took place leading up to Saffyre’s disappearance and also builds an insight into the characters who we believe are potential suspects.

The storyline is a slow burner at first but the intrigue and tension soon starts to build and my mind was toing and throwing between three potential characters who I believed could have been responsible and each time I felt I had finally cracked it a spanner would be put in the works to lead me down another path which just kept me gripped and desperate to find out who was to blame.

Owen was a rather complex character, on the one hand I felt really sorry for him but on the other I was a little wary and troubled by him however a little later in the book we get some reasoning behind the way he is. At the heart of the storyline we have Saffyre who has had such a tough, troubled and emotional start to life and my heart really went out to her and when her disappearance was announced I couldn’t believe this poor girl that has already been through so much has now endured more torment. We also have Cate and her family who’s story weaves around the disappearance, with Cate’s husband Roan once being the therapist who used to treat Saffyre. The family have been through domestic issues over the past year which has put a strain on them but I took an instant disliking to Roan as soon as we met him, I found him arrogant and shady with all these random long night runs, he never seemed to be around for his family.

I certainly enjoyed this novel and it has made me question why I have left it so long fall into another Lisa Jewell novel and she always manages to create intrigue and uses day to day struggles and issues in her novels to make them all the more believable and chilling. Invisible Girl gets a thumbs up from me and I will definitely look at picking up another of her books over Christmas.


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Thursday, 31 December 2020

Happy New Year!

 



I think it is safe to say we are all ready to wrap the year up and 2020 will always be a year to remember. One thing I have been so thankful for this year are all the wonderful new books that were released because I sure know without them I wouldn’t have coped as well as I did getting through the endless long hours isolated indoors!

I have loved seeing the books everyone have put on their top books of the year lists some of which I hadn’t picked up yet such as The Binding, The Midnight Library and Thursday Murder Club  so I can’t wait to read these now on other people’s high recommendations.

So it is time to share my top books of the year with you ......





As always my list could be as long as my arm as there were so many wonderful releases this year but each of these books have left a lasting impression on me. 

I always look back on the year when I am doing my yearly wrap up to see what I have achieved and am usually quite critical of myself but this year was my toughest blogging year yet where at a couple of points I was ready to say Goodbye but a couple of friends I have made through my years of blogging really helped to push me to keep going so  I would especially like to thank those of you ( you know who you are).

I was overwhelmed later this year when Rea Book Reviews hit the 9000 followers mark and once again I would like to thank you all for sharing my reviews with all of your friends and family, you are what help to make the blog continue.

Looking forward to next year I am not going to put any pressure on myself I am going to just take a more relaxed approach to the blog and just enjoy sharing my love of books with you. One thing I am looking forward to is celebrating the blogs 10th! yes 10th blogversary with you and we all need some cheering up so I need to get some ideas of a special giveaway to mark the occasion, so if there is any suggestions you want to throw at me then they are more than welcome!

I have already been checking out the new releases we have coming out in 2021 and this is set to be an incredible year ahead, I have already read a few but two really do stand out for me and these need to be on your pre-order list because these I can already see making my 2021 end of year to reads. 
 





I would just like to also thank the publishers who have still despite lockdown managed to send a few books my way to review, I know this year has been difficult for you all and I hope that us bloggers have helped you in some way to keep the books we love in the limelight. 

Bookshops have all suffered so much this year which is why I will continue to provide the links on my reviews for you to have the option to try and support our independent bookshops.


Thank you all for your continued support for Rea's Book Reviews and I would like to wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2021.


Thursday, 17 December 2020

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

 



First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she's not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.


I have actually managed to read all of my 2020 Christmas book releases already this year for the first time ever! With the most wonderful day of the year still a week away I wasn’t ready to leave the festive books aside so I decided because I loved One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan this year I would go back and read A Wedding in December which was her Christmas release last year which I ran out of time to read.

 

The White Family always come back together for a cosy traditional Christmas every year in their family home and Maggie was so excited about having her daughters’ home and had begun preparations when her youngest Rosie calls and announces she is getting married at Christmas to a man the family have never met.

Katie is determined to stop her sister’s wedding to protect her from future heartbreak but should she be worrying more about herself than her sister?

Sarah Morgan always creates such stunning and idyllic backdrops to her novels, I don’t think there is a more suited place to escape for Christmas than Snowfall lodge with the snowy treetops and dogsledding to enjoy.

In true Sarah Morgan style we have three main female leads, Maggie and her daughters Rosie and Katie. I loved all three ladies and they are all very family orientated which is lovely to see but we do see the troubles that sometimes comes when you care so much for those close to us and all we want to do is protect them which means keeping secrets which the characters felt would prevent each other from worrying about them and also shows that sometimes we need to let others make their own way in life even if they will make mistakes.

I loved the humour that Maggie and her husband Nick both to the storyline, what were rather awkward moments for them and embarrassing moments for those around them it was pure entertainment for me!

As well as romance and humour there was also a little intrigue and mystery too surrounding Katie, we know early on she has been through something devastating and with each little nugget of information that is dropped through each chapter my mind started trying to piece together what little information we had to try and work out what she had faced.

There is a festive feel to this novel with it being set at Christmas time and the characters spending but I would say it was more a wintery treat that can be read even after Christmas has passed.





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Sunday, 6 December 2020

The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin

 


Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.
They’re are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.
When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?


My most anticipated Christmas novel of 2020 was The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin, her Cream Tea series of novels are up there with my favourite series of books and with each release I am eager to get back to Gertie the Tea Bus to be teased with the delicious delights and to catch up with the loving community of Porthgolow at the most wonderful time of the year.

Eco-Consultant Hannah Swan heads to Porthgolow to assess the green credentials of Crystal Waters Hotel. Paired with a local Cornish freelancer on the project called Noah, Hannah is keen to make a success of her first case to impress her boss. After a less than welcoming first meeting with Noah, Hannah wonders how the pair will get along but she is determined to enjoy her time in Porthgolow and hopefully find some answers as to why she feels like she has been here before.

This was another wonderful novel in the series and I am so please I waited to read this novel in one greedy swoop rather than in the serialised parts it is first releases in as I know I would have been too impatient waiting for each part to be released!

Hannah is a new character to the series and she fit in with the original characters perfectly and it was easy to see the magic of Porthgolow creeping into her heart. Her relationship with Noah was a rollercoaster of emotions never quite knowing where she stood. I loved being reunited with Charlie and Daniel to see how their relationship and businesses are progressing, I hate leaving them at the end of each book as they feel like firm friends now.

I have to admit I was a little concerned with this novel as I got about half way as part of the storyline followed a ghost topic which is not something I enjoy reading and I did worry that my attention would waver but luckily the storyline surrounding Hannah and Noah still held my attention. This is not something the author done wrong it is just a subject matter that doesn’t appeal to me.

Yest again Charlie had my tummy rumbling and taste buds tingling with her treats she had to offer on the Cream Tea Bus and I really feel like we still have so much more to come from this series and I think I can even guess the title of the next book and I will definitely be putting it as one of my most anticipated novels of 2020!

There was a festive feel flowing through the latter part of the novel but wasn’t overly done so this novel can easily be read all year around and although I adore the first two books and urge everyone who hasn’t yet read them to do so, this can still be read as a stand-alone novel.




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Friday, 4 December 2020

Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan

 



Flora Mackenzie is worried about her brother. Fintan hasn't got over the death of his partner, Coltan, and Flora thinks he needs a project.

The Rock - the rambling, disused hotel on the tip of the island - was Coltan's passion project before he died. With Flora's help, Fintan is going to get the hotel up and running in time for Christmas, transforming it into a festive haven of crackling log fires and delicious food. But running a hotel, they are about to discover, is not that easy. Especially when their motley staff includes a temperamental French chef, a spoilt Norwegian kitchen boy who can't peel a potato without mutilating his own hand and a painfully shy kitchen assistant who blushes when anyone speaks to her.

Can they pull it together in time for the big opening?


In Jenny Colgan’s latest release Christmas at the Island Hotel we are heading back to our friendly community on Mure as Fintan is still coming to terms with the loss of Coltan. Coltan’s dream of having The Rock hotel a thriving success still needs to get off the ground and Flora is ready to step in and help Fintan to get things running and hopefully give him a distraction and a purpose. We welcome two new characters in the form of a temperamental French chef and useless, spoilt Norwegian guy!

Jenny Colgan never fails to provide us with a gripping storyline in a cosy setting, and even if you haven’t read the previous books in the Mure series I still believe you could read this one as a standalone although you would feel more connected to the characters and the goings on if you do treat yourself to the rest of the books.

I do love reuniting with old characters to see how things are progressing in their lives and it gives a feeling of familiarity and comfort which is perfect in winter novels but having the vibrancy of fresh new characters too bring an exciting bubble to the storyline too. Konstantin was an out and out spoilt rich man who really needed the push his dad gave him to actually do something with his life to make him grow up and start taking some responsibility and also to learn some basic life skills and what better place than Mure to learn. His character actually provided a few comedic moments and I had a little soft spot for him and was looking forward to watching him grow into skin.

There are a couple of delicate subject matters that are touched on in this book but wasn’t heavily featured so there was still an uplifting feel to the storyline but with an added depth with these matters gently weaved in.

There is a touch of festivity sprinkled into this book but it isn’t overly Christmassy so this book can still be read all year around. I loved my return visit to Mure and I am still not ready to leave yet so I do hope that Jenny Colgan has another return trip up her sleeve for us yet.


If you would like to try and help local bookshops after the effects this year has had on them then you can also order from the link below.


Thursday, 19 November 2020

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

 



Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she's feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie's residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market - with the promise she'll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her...

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich's rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.


This years festive reads have been amazing, in previous years more often than not our teasing seasonal book jackets and our fabulously festive titles lure us in only to find barely a whiff of festivity inside but not this year, they are all oozing the festivity feels including my latest read Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas.

Jo Thomas has really blown me away with her last two novels and has crept up there with my favourite authors. This book is fast paced and packed full of love, friendship, hope and cheer. The descriptive writing style was bad for my waistline, I felt as though I was walking through the market and into the Bakery with our characters inhaling all the sweet heady rich smells from delicious warm gingerbread to the rich sweet hot chocolate all making my mouth water.

The traditional Bakery and the wooden cabins for all the stalls to hold their festive offerings at the market were so enchanting and I am so desperate to visit my first Christmas market now so Covid could you kindly do one now please!

Connie was a wonderful main character with a heart of gold who deserved a real chance at love and to find someone who will cherish her and have the same interests to live a wonderful life together and I enjoyed watching her journey to happiness.

The love and passion Connie and WiIliam both have for baking is infectious and I would have loved to see the masterpiece that they made. 

This book ticked all the boxes for me and will definitely be a book I will be gifting to friends this Christmas. I absolutely loved this book and I am excited to see what this author has lined up for us next.


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