Saturday, 30 July 2022

New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse by Christie Barlow


When Heartcross’ resident clairvoyant tells Molly McKendrick to expect a whole lot of scandal and upset to blow in with the approaching winter storm, Molly doesn’t know what to think.

With a baby on the way any week now, and Christmas not far off, the last thing Molly needs is drama, but when she crosses paths with Bree, a sixteen-year-old homeless girl, and takes her in from the cold, secrets from the past flood the present and Molly, her partner Cam, and their son George, are soon experiencing a holiday season filled with unexpected festive surprises...

I never tire of books based around a bakery and when I was coming to the end of my staycation I wanted to read something light hearted and uplifting to provide a last dose of escapism before heading back to work and that’s when I came across New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse by Christie Barlow. I did see that it was book 9 in the Love Heart Lane series which I haven’t read but the synopsis appealed to me so I took a chance on it as a standalone any way.

Molly is coming towards the end of her pregnancy and husband Cam wants to try and keep everything calm for her despite his own worries so when Molly then takes it upon herself to help Bree, a sixteen-year-old homeless girl he is not onboard with having this untrustworthy stranger in their home and shop.

This was such a heartwarming hopeful read that was easily read as a standalone and has just made me determined to work my way through the previous books in the series now. Molly has an absolute heart of gold determined to help those in need and to see the best in everyone. Cam was also a little sweetheart even if he wasn’t as trusting as his wife he still had good intentions in wanting to protect his family whilst struggling with his own problems.

I loved the baking element and the baking competition in the book it added charm and excitement to the storyline and yet again I am sat here desperate to open my own bakery…. If only I could bake!

Although there were parts of the storyline that were predictable I still enjoyed watching the events unfold.

The book does highlight the difficulties communities face when offering safe places and food for the homeless communities not just on typical day to day but also how much harder and more dangerous it can be when weather conditions take a drastic turn.

I loved every page of this book and raced through it in 24hours, it is certainly up there as my favourite by this author so definitely one I would recommend for an uplifting heartfelt novel.

Kindle                 Paperback

Friday, 29 July 2022

A Postcard from Capri by Alex Brown


In the Golden Age of Hollywood, Kelly Sinclair is on the cusp of becoming the next big movie star. Until then, she’s spending the summer of 1953 on the magical island of Capri…

Sixty years later, on a visit to her elderly grandmother’s cottage, photographer Maddie Williams unearths a box of old film memorabilia featuring a glamorous and beautiful young woman with platinum blonde hair. She also finds a postcard from the island of Capri, detailing the heart-breaking end of a passionate love affair.

Her grandmother now has trouble remembering anything from all those years ago. So when Maddie is commissioned for a photoshoot in Italy, she visits Capri to see if she can find out the truth. Can she unravel the mystery and discover what really happened in the summer of 1953, and will her magical island escape hold some surprises for Maddie, too?

It’s a good day when you are sitting down to start a new Alex Brown book this time with the third in the Postcard series, A Postcard from Capri.

Maddie’s new career in photography takes her off to Italy allowing her to take a trip to Capri where her Grandmother spent time in her younger years. With her Grandmother Rose’s memory fading and the name Audrey being mentioned she is keen to uncover the mystery of Audrey and find out more about her Grandmothers time in Capri all those years ago, but are somethings buried in the past for a reason?

I found myself completely captivated by this storyline with the perfect mix of chic glamour of the past and cosy familiarity of the present day in Tindledale. The glorious setting of Capri was screaming out to me and luring me into the Orchards and the crystal clear waters making the perfect backdrop to a storyline that trickled its secrets along the way.

I loved the unpredictability of this novel, discovering the hidden life that Rose has kept from all of her family and as the storyline moves back and forth in time this structure worked perfectly for this novel as we get to see first hand from Rose what life was like for her as well as following Maddie as she pieced the pieces of the puzzle together with her findings which made it more exciting.

There were certainly some emotive points but these just showed what a remarkable woman Rose was and gave a little insight to how things were different many years ago.

This was by far my favourite book in the Postcard series, with engaging characters a storyline that captured my attention the whole way through and had me googling holidays to Capri at the end! Alex Brown has delivered another beautifully descriptive novel that ticked all the boxes.

Kindle               Paperback

Thursday, 28 July 2022

The Wilderness by Sarah Duguid


Once it was a family home. Now they are all at sea . . .

When Anna and David receive a phone call late one evening, their lives are upturned. Within minutes, they are travelling to the west coast of Scotland, preparing to care for two young sisters, tragically and suddenly orphaned.

It's a beautiful place, the heather is in bloom, the birds wheel above the waves, the deer graze peacefully in the distance. But the large granite house is no longer a home for the girls, and Anna knows she can never take the place of their mother. Then David invites his friend to stay, to 'ease them through' and Anna finds herself increasingly isolated, with everything she - and the girls - once knew of life discarded and overruled by a man of whom she is deeply suspicious.

The Wilderness by Sarah Duguid is a relatively short quick read but that contains a somewhat dark sinister storyline. Following a family tragedy Anna and David travel to the wild and isolated home in Scotland of their nieces after their parents die, but the girls have led a very sheltered life and are going to take some nurturing to help them through their grief before there is any chance of them moving home but when their friend Brendan arrives to help his ways are not what Anna feels the girls need and increasingly Anna finds herself not being listened too and she yearns for her old life back.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book but I sure got a creepy haunting surprise! The whole tone of the novel had me on alert and felt eerie and sinister which is probably helped ny the secluded location and enhanced by the nature of Brendan who had alarm bells ringing from very early on in the book.

I appreciated Anna’s raw honesty in wanting to have her life return to normal even though it was her expected duty to be there for the girls. There was no strong connections between any of the characters which I think made making connections with the characters hard but that just gave an added isolated feel.

This was a well written atmospheric novel that gave me the creeps!

Kindle            Hardback

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Forever Yours by Debbie Johnson

 A love to last a lifetime...

Gemma knows perfectly well how one moment can change your life forever. That's why, for two decades, she's lived life by the rulebook.

But this year, everything is different. The beloved daughter she gave up for adoption all those years ago is about to turn eighteen - and that means, there's a chance of being found.

For the first time in her life, Gemma can no longer run from her secrets. And she begins to realise that when everything is falling apart, love can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

Debbie Johnson is back with a new novel titled Forever Yours and for me it is my favourite of hers.

I often find that from early on in a lot of women’s fiction novels that I typically get a little predictability to the storyline as much as I do enjoy them and this was how I felt in the first quarter of this book but then there is a gentle flip to change direction and this only made me more intrigued in the storyline.

The storyline focuses on our main character Gemma who has plenty of flaws and as such is quite hard to warm to in the beginning but as we learn more about her background we begin to see why there are barriers up and the constant need to not let those close to her or to put down roots and before long as her barriers began to crack I found myself begin to care for her and wanting her to feel comfortable and confident enough to start living life rather than doing her natural thing of running.

Adoption seems to be a popular topic in novels at present but this novel is told from the flip side not of searching for biological parents but living with the decision of giving up a child and the life changing effects it has on the mother.

My one negative for this book would be the ending as I felt like I had been built up to a big moment for it then to just finish and yet there was so much I was still hoping to see.

Although the topics covered in this book are very heart felt and the friendships that are built are very heart-warming there is also a great wave of uplifting humour too, with straight talking from neighbour Margie and some terrible dance therapy with her new friends Erin and Katie!

Kindle                Paperback

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell


LONDON. Early morning, June 2019: on the foreshore of the river Thames, a bag of bones is discovered. Human bones.

DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene and quickly sends the bag for forensic examination. The bones are those of a young woman, killed by a blow to the head many years ago.

Also inside the bag is a trail of clues, in particular the seeds of a rare tree which lead DCI Owusu back to a mansion in Chelsea where, nearly thirty years previously, three people lay dead in a kitchen, and a baby waited upstairs for someone to pick her up.

The clues point forward too to a brother and sister in Chicago searching for the only person who can make sense of their pasts.

Four deaths. An unsolved mystery. A family whose secrets can't stay buried for ever ..

The latest release by Lisa Jewell, The Family Remains is the sequel to The Family Upstairs. I have just finished this novel as a stand alone as I thought I had read all of Lisa Jewells books but either I read the first years ago and my brain is like a sieve and forgotten or I have in fact missed it but none the less I still managed to follow the storyline of this novel so don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first book.

When bones are found by a mudlark it threatens to expose a family’s dark past and reveal secrets that they each have tried to hide. There is a sinister and gripping feel to this pacey storyline with chapters toing and froing between numerous characters and time frames so you are always on high alert as the picture is being painted and it feels like a rush against time for the truth to come to light. It was a completely unpredictable read that was twisty and made me feel a little bamboozled at times but this just intrigued me all the more.

I was thankful for the Family list at the beginning of the book to be able to revert back to because with so many characters I did need to revert to it on occasions to remind myself of what relation they were to other characters.

I found Henry eerily fascinating, his character was extremely well developed with his obsessive and possessive traits and he always made me feel a little uncomfortable and on edge. I also loved Rachel who was a very strong hardworking woman but who faced such disturbing situations, I was routing for her to find her way and to get her revenge.

This was another gripping read by Lisa Jewell and I am certainly going to go and find the first book now.

Kindle           Hardback

Thursday, 7 July 2022

Not Exactly What I had in Mind by Kate Brook


Hazel and Alfie have just moved in together as flatmates. They've also just slept together, which was either a catastrophic mistake, or the best decision of their lives.

Before they can decide, Hazel's sister Emily and her wife Daria arrive for a visit, setting in motion a chain of events that will turn everything upside down.

What follows will bind the four of them together, bringing joy and heartache, hope and anxiety, and reshaping their relationships in ways that none of them quite predicted.

Not Exactly What I Had in Mind is certainly an apt title for this book as it was not what I was expecting from this book. This is Kate Brook’s first novel and she has written a romance with modern day issues weaved between it from fertility to revenge porn, genetic testing and even climate change.

What Kate Brook delivers at the start of this novel, other than sex ( so not one for the prudish out there!) is a will they, won’t they relationship between housemates Hazel and Alfie but the storyline then opens up and we not only get to follow them but also Hazel’s sister Emily and her wife Daria whose story is one of great representation for the LGBT community. Emily and Daria’s storyline shows the difficulties and strains they face when wanting to become parents, added to that an issue that Daria suffers with which I had never heard of so will raise awareness too.

I struggled with the whole Miles relationship, I felt like it showed a shallowness to Hazel just settling for a man because he was good looking and had money so although what she went through was appalling and inexcusable, I just couldn’t feel for her.

I have to be honest and say I was let down a little by the ending it felt like the author had run out of steam and just crammed something together clumsily.

 Alfie for me was the true star of this book, an absolute gem of a man who was so easy to love and after him putting himself forward to make other peoples dreams come true I was really hoping for him to have the happy ever after he deserved. The author got the right balance for me between the light romance and the deeper issue tackling to make this an enjoyable read.

I would definitely read more by this author as she does create engaging characters and isn’t afraid to tackle a wide range of issues with great care and enough detail.

Kindle           Paperback

Friday, 1 July 2022

The Summer of Secrets by Patricia Wilson


On the Greek island of Castellorizo young Sofía must put her big dreams on hold to support her older sister Maria with her large family. But World War II is looming and while the idyllic island may seem far from harm at first, there are unspeakable dangers on the horizon - perils that will change the sisters' lives forever . . .

Devastated by her divorce and the death of her dear mum, Olivia seeks solace on Castellorizo. Her Granny Sofía fled the beautiful Greek island during the war, but Olivia knows little else about her family's history. The only link to the Island she has left is her elderly great-uncle George. As his memory begins to fail, Olivia feels her one chance at uncovering the truth about her grandmother start to slip away.

As a mother's sacrifice echoes throughout the generations, will Olivia discover some things are best left in the past?

I am not a big one for historical romance fiction but each time I read a book by Patricia Wilson I am blown away. I have just finished reading her new release The Summer of Secrets and it is my absolute favourite of her novels by far and that is saying something because all of her novels have been faultless.

This author has such incredible descriptive writing not just in setting the idyllic scenes that transport you off to the Greek Island of Castellorizo but also in showing the emotions of all the engaging characters as they face devastation. I soon felt myself becoming absorbed with the Konstantinidis family as they grew and grew and grew! Following their traditions and observing their day to day lives as they all helped to run the family business as well as raising the large family. There were so many characters in this book but they were all so well developed that they were all easy to differentiate between. Sofia stole my heart she was such an intelligent and independent woman who knew what she wanted and she was determined and yet she still didn’t neglect her family’s needs.

There was only one thing that I wasn’t particularly a fan of which was the situation between Sofia and her Mustafa towards the end of the book, I don’t want to give anything away but it almost seemed so out of place in this book a little farfetched.

I love that whilst I am enjoying the storyline I was also learning too without it feeling too heavy as it still felt like escapism reading this novel.