28 February 2015

eBook Review: How To Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie by Gina Henning

"A warm pie. A tasty guy. Happy Thanksgiving indeed.

Lauren Hauser is home for the holidays, and she’s been given a challenge: preparing her grandmother’s pecan pie. The problem? Lauren’s not famed for her baking skills. In fact, while her sister would win Star Baker every week, and her mom at least knows a sieve from a spatula, Lauren’s bakes have always been more dangerous than delicious!

Still, no Thanksgiving would be complete without dessert…which is why Lauren finds herself searching for pecans on Thanksgiving Eve. Stumbling into a gorgeous stranger laden down with bags of pecans seems like a holiday miracle…but despite Jack’s kissable lips he’s frostier than a snow cone…and out of sight before she can say ‘Macy’s Parade’!

As the clock counts down to Thanksgiving dinner, Lauren is running out of time. And without her grandmother’s perfect pecan pie it won’t be a very Happy Thanksgiving! What Lauren needs is a knight in shining armour. And it might just be that the magic of Thanksgiving will find her one after all…"

Rating: 2.5/5

You can buy How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie as an eBook now.

Thanksgiving is obviously an American holiday, and not something we celebrate over here in the UK. However, thanks to the many American films and TV shows we all watch, we should all know that celebrating Thanksgiving is a big deal across the pond, so I wasn't completely in the dark about it all when I started this eBook which I got on Netgalley a few months ago. I hadn't read anything by author Gina Henning before, but was drawn to the gorgeous looking cover, and the story sounded good too.

Lauren has gone back home for the holidays to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family. She isn't a great cook, but looks forward to the meal that her sister always dishes up for her. However, this year there's something different. Lauren has been left a recipe by her grandmother, for her infamous Pecan Pie that she bakes every Thanksgiving. Lauren isn't known for her culinary skills, so she's understandably feeling nervous about the prospect of following in her grandmother's footsteps. Unprepared, she heads out of Thanksgiving Eve to find the pecans, but ends up bumping into someone else entirely. Will Lauren be able to make the pie in time for the big day?!

While I enjoyed the start of the book as I was reading, it did get a bit lacklustre for me as it went on, and I'll be honest and say my interest seriously started to wane as it went on. Unfortunately, I just didn't care much for Lauren, the main character, or the story around her, and I had to force myself some evenings to pick up my Kindle and carry on reading. Lauren wasn't an especially likeable person, preferring to stay away from her family if she can, although I did understand her nerves over baking the pie for her family, especially as they seem to have low expectations of her. However, once she met Jack at the pecan shop, it got a bit dull for me and I just couldn't care about their impending romance.

The family aren't especially likeable either, with a bit of a kooky sister in law, drippy brother and other characters who are quite frankly pretty forgettable. The entire story really does rest on these two, and whether or not Lauren can make the pie in time, but it just wasn't enough to keep me interested. It's a shame because as I say, it started out so well, but unfortunately just tailed off for about 1/3 of the way in. The romance story is good, but the whole pecan debacle just wasn't for me unfortunately. This is the first book in a series, with the second book 'How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake' being out now, and since I have it on my Kindle, I will give it a go and see if I prefer Lauren's story this time around. There will be a fourth book out this summer too. The book is well written, and I'm sure the story will appeal to others, but it just wasn't for me unfortunately.

Thank you to Carina for the Netgalley review copy.

22 February 2015

Book Review: The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond

"It's New Year's Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There's music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It's going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum's house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who's keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma's dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

But as the following months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home - all the things they've taken for granted - are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Year of Taking Chances as a paperback or an eBook now.

I love Lucy Diamond's books, so I was really excited when I received a proof copy of her latest book The Year of Taking Chances. Complete with a gorgeous turquoise cover, the story sounded very readable, and certainly the perfect sort of read for it's New Year's Day release date. I didn't get around to it until this month, but once I had started, I didn't want to put it down!

Gemma and Spencer seem to have the perfect marriage. They've moved into a gorgeous old house, have 2 beautiful children and don't have any worries. But when Spencer suffers a serious accident at work, their idyllic home life is thrown into disarray, and Gemma is the one left picking up the pieces. Saffron, a PR Executive living in London finds herself being pushed to her limits when she makes a shocking discovery. She escapes to a holiday cottage where she meets Gemma at her New Year's party. There, they also meet Caitlin, a childhood friend of Spencer going through her own tough time. The three women strike up a newfound friendship. and find themselves rethinking their lives when they are all dealt a tough hand...

One thing I love about Lucy's books is the multiple characters and their own stories within the one book. I also love how she brings them together, and this was definitely the case in this book too. The three women in this story were each very likeable, realistic and I thoroughly enjoyed following their stories until the end. Gemma was the character I felt I connected with most of all. She is a devoted wife, and struggles once Spencer has his accident. She tried her best, and really found the whole situation tough to manage, especially Spencer's mood swings. I felt incredibly sorry for her trying to balance everything and keep everyone, except herself, happy. Even when she found her own job as a talented dressmaker, she had no confidence in her own abilities, I was so pleased her friends encouraged her. Spencer's story was difficult to read, but something that could happen to any of us. I was pleased to see such a thing being highlighted in a book, and it shows how even the strongest and happiest person can be broken by something.

The stories of Saffron and Caitlin were also extremely readable. Saffron is a career girl, happy to date around, but when she's thrown a curveball, she's unsure of how to react and deal with the situation, especially as she's alone. She again flees to the holiday cottage in Larkmead where she relies on her new friends Gemma and Caitlin to help her make a brave decision. Caitlin is struggling with the loss of her beloved mother, this was quite an emotional storyline, especially when she discovers her mother was keeping secrets from her. Both women were likeable, you could imagine them being people you know, and I felt for their situations and what they were going through. The friendship between the women was sweet, they didn't judge each other and instead spurred each other on to make the best of themselves.

What I liked about this book was that it wasn't about making New Year's Resolutions, lose weight, eat healthily, all the sorts of things we do for a few weeks and then give up until the next New Year rolls around. Instead, it was about making brave life choices that would have positive implications on the rest of their lives going forward, and how it takes the courage to make such decisions, especially when it wasn't something you were ever planning for. It was very heart-warming and inspiring to read. It showed that while you may have bad things happen, you can always turn it around - let others help you, don't just rely on yourself and how important friendship can be, especially in the tough times. Lucy Diamond's writing was just brilliant, drawing me into the story more and more and it left me with a warm, happy feeling as I turned the final page. Thank goodness Lucy is back this summer with a brand new novel, I love her stories! This one was a brilliant read, definitely recommended.

Thank you to the publisher Pan Macmillan for sending me a review copy.

20 February 2015

eBook Review: Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey

"A self-confessed Christmas queen, Sue Montaigne prides herself on organising the annual nativity pageant in her small Cornish village of Poldore.

But this year, what with having to deal with the repairs on Castle House after it was wrecked by a terrible storm, training a new – and frankly flighty – Virgin Mary and managing a Joseph who is allergic to sheep, she is distinctly lacking a little bit of ‘me time’.

And then there are the auditions for the new Santa. But nothing prepares her for the beautiful man who turns up, a twinkle in his eye and a promise to make her Christmas dreams come true…"

Rating : 4/5

You can buy Secret Santa as an eBook now.

I was thrilled that Scarlett Bailey (pen-name of one of my favourite authors Rowan Coleman) was back this Christmas with a brand new short story, set once again in the fictional town of Poldore, the setting for 2 of her previous fantastic reads. We've previously met the residents of Poldore in the books 'Just for Christmas' and 'Two Weddings and a Baby', so I was excited to see which resident would take centre stage in this book.

'Secret Santa' is the story of Sue Montaigne, one of the people who is the heart of the community for the residents of Poldore. After helping out after the recent floods which ravaged the village, Sue is trying to get her own home (well, okay, castle) back together. But there's financial problems, marital problems and Sue is just struggling to cope. It's about to get worse this Christmas when her usual Santa retires before he can put on the red jacket once more, and Sue is at her wit's end in trying to find someone else to be the Santa. Sue decides to rope in local celebrity Blake to try and get a Santa, but to no avail. Just as she is ready to give up, a mysterious stranger called Nick arrived, volunteering to be her Santa. Will Sue accept, and start to get her life back together?!

There was something really touching about this story. Sue, in the previous books, has been quite loud and brash, sticking her nose in everyone's business, helping out the village when she can, but in this book we see a very different side to the character, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. Her marriage has broken down now that her husband has run off with his latest fancy-woman, the castle is falling down around their ears, and Sue feels like she has no-one to turn to. Of course, residents of Poldore including Tasmyn, Alex and Ruan are more than willing to help if Sue would only admit her problems to them and let them in! Sue is a proud woman, you can understand that, and I felt desperately sorry for her in her spiralling state, she seemed to lost and stuck.

I enjoyed catching up with the previous characters a lot. We met Alex and Ruan in the first book 'Just for Christmas', and Tasmyn was the main character in Scarlett's last book 'Two Weddings and a Baby'. It was fun to find out what they were up to now, and how their lives had fared since we left them last. I especially loved how they pulled together to help Sue in her time of need, they all acknowledged how much help she had given them, and so wanted to help her get back on her feet.

The Christmassy element of this book was perfect for me. It's fast approaching the time for Sue's annual Christmas do, and she hasn't got a Santa. I loved reading about the Christmas preparations, around the castle and the town, as well as for Sue's do, it really left me with a warm, festive feeling. The character of Nick was a bit of a strange one for me, I couldn't fathom him out at all throughout the book, although he certainly seemed to have something a tad magical about him! Blake, the local celebrity, was a breath of fresh air too, he seemed to normal considering his star status, and I liked how he was willing to help Sue out and make her feel special, even though she didn't necessarily feel it.

This was a great foray back into the world of Poldore and it's residents for fans of Scarlett Bailey, and I certainly hope that this won't be our last outing to the village, as I want to see what is up next for the residents! There were a few revelations in this book too, so I would love to see how they pan out! This was just the right length for a short story, enough for you to get your teeth and was the perfect thing to sit down with with a blanket and a hot chocolate for the evening. Scarlett Bailey's writing is, as usual, second to none, and I didn't want to stop reading this story until I'd reached the end! A fantastic read!"

19 February 2015

Book Review: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

"Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it.

She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen. Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes as a paperback or an eBook now.

For some reason, I haven't yet had a chance to read anything by Anna McPartlin. I requested a copy of her latest book The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes on Netgalley a few months ago now, and it got pushed back the influx of festive reads that flooded my Kindle in November and December. Finally, in early January I decided to give it a try. I had heard it was a very emotional book, but I thought I was prepared for that when I started reading. Well, I wasn't. It made me cry - not pretty tears either but wracking great sobs, tears pouring down my face. Yet through the sadness, it was an utterly brilliant read, and one I can't hesitate to recommend.

Rabbit Hayes is dying. She's got terminal cancer, and there really isn't long left for her on this planet. She knows it, her family knows it, but that doesn't make the fact any easier to deal with. Rabbit moves into a hospice, somewhere she can get the care she needs in her last few weeks, but her family are struggling to deal with this fact. Her father is in denial about her condition, her mother more accepting but still determined that a miracle can happen and that Rabbit won't die after all. Rabbit's young daughter Juliet doesn't want to contemplate reality without her mother, but is finding it hard to copy. Rabbit has had a life of love, fun and music, and in her last few days wants to relive as many memories and spend as much time with her loved ones as possible.

As you can probably tell from the blurb for this story, it is incredibly sad. It's no secret that Rabbit is dying, that much is made clear from the start of the book but it doesn't make it any easier to come to terms with. Even though Rabbit is a fictional character, so many stories like this are rooted in reality, and you cannot help but relate it to yourself and your own family as you're reading - how would you cope if you were in Rabbit's shoes, or her parents, or siblings?  It's a horrid, unbearable thought but as I was reading, I couldn't help think about these questions, and it does make it all the emotional and poignant to read. Someone out there is going through what Rabbit is, and it's a heart-breaking reality, one that you feel so badly for for Rabbit and her family.

I loved the character of Rabbit. She seems very accepting about her fate - perhaps it is the fact she is in immeasurable pain and sees her imminent demise as a release, but equally she is struggling with the reality of leaving her young child behind, without a father, and how Juliet will cope once she has gone. This, for me, was the hardest part of the story. I was in tears reading many parts of this book related to this mother/daughter relationship, and as a parent, you don't want to leave your kids behind without you to protect them. Rabbit was facing this very fate, and it was a heart-breaking one, it was so well written that you were feeling Rabbit and Juliet's emotions along with them, as well as thinking how I would cope were I in her situation, it's an unbearable thought.

The relationships between Rabbit and her parents were also well written. The pair love their daughter very much, and struggle to deal with her drifting away in front of their eyes. For me, I found Rabbit's father Jack's bit of the book the most emotional of all - he simply could not imagine his life without his youngest daughter in it. He's in an almost state of denial, and I was honestly moved to tears by McPartlin's writing of his grief and sorrow at losing his daughter, it was just heart-breaking. No parent should have to deal with losing their child yet that is what poor Jack and Molly (Rabbit's mother) have to deal with. I kept putting myself in Molly's shoes - how she had the strength to go on was beyond me, I think I would have crumbled long ago. Rabbit's sister Grace and her brother Davey are also present, dealing with the grief and shock in their own ways, each struggling with Rabbit's illness.

The modern day story of Rabbit in the hospital, and her family coming to terms with her terminal illness takes place over just 9 days. For a book, that is a very short amount of time, but it works because of the nature of the plot, and I almost didn't want to read about Rabbit's suffering for any longer than that. It was believable too, reading about the deterioration of Rabbit, and the progression of the cancer. As well as this story, we also get flashbacks of Rabbit's life, and more importantly her relationship with Johnny, the one love of her life. We see the relationship grow from children, to adulthood, through to when Johnny became ill as well. McPartlin handles this part of the story with such respect and tenderness, and also see Rabbit on the other side of the coin - as a carer and dealing with the potential loss of someone she loves, rather than as the patient and sufferer. Their story was heart-warming, touching and incredibly sad at the same time, a real eye-opener to see Rabbit before she got sick, and how full of life she really was.

This was a book that I know will stay with me long after I have read it. I've seen it likened to Jojo Moyes 'Me Before You', and I would say that is somewhat true. Obviously Rabbit isn't choosing to die, unlike the main story in Me Before You but still, her death is imminent and a burden her family must bear. Heart-breaking and incredibly sad, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a triumph - a beautifully written and considerate novel about one of the cruellest diseases and how it can break a loving family, leaving those left behind devastated and broken in it's wake. McPartlin's writing is simply brilliant, drawing you into the world of Rabbit and the Hayes family, each dealing with Rabbit's dying in their own way, showing there is no right or wrong way to deal with and grieve for those we have lost. Thought-provoking, insightful and full of love, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a stunning read.

16 February 2015

eBook Review: What Happens in Tuscany by T. A. Williams

"Katie never imagined her life was perfect. But when she finds herself on a rainy street, soaked to the bone and with only a cheating boyfriend and a dead-end job keeping her in town, she knows something has to change. Which is what leads her to Iddlescombe Manor, to be companion to Lady Victoria Chalker-Pyne – the only 25 year old Katie’s ever met who hasn’t heard of Twitter, thinks camisoles are de rigueur, and desperately needs an education in the 21st century!

…to the Tuscan sun!

But it wouldn’t be an education without a summer holiday – and where better than Tuscany? Decamping to Victoria’s family villa, it’s soon clear that the valley really does have it all: sun, sea…and some seriously gorgeous neighbours. The only question is: when the weather’s this hot, the wine is this smooth and the local men are this irresistible…will Katie ever want to make the journey home?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy What Happens in Tuscany as an eBook now.

I first came across T. A. Williams last year when I was invited to be part of the blog tour for his last book When Alice Met Danny. I enjoyed that book but had a few issues with the writing and the dialogue. However, I was keen to read T. A.'s next book, which came out earlier this month called What Happens in Tuscany. I haven't read many books set in Tuscany before, so I was looking forward to having my eyes opened and to escape to a sunny climate for just a while! This book was a massive improvement on his last book, I thoroughly enjoyed this one from start to finish, and really didn't want the story to end!

Katie is at a loose end when she applies for a rather unusual job - to go and work at a stately home helping a young aristocrat come to terms with the modern world, and open her eyes up for her new life. Her own relationship is in the gutter, she's fed up with her job and she desperately needs a change, and this job sounds like just the ticket. Lady Victoria Chalker-Pyne has spent her 25 years on this planet locked up at Iddlescombe Hall thanks to her over-protective father. Now he has died, she is ready to start finally living, and needs Katie's help to navigate the scary modern world - phones, TV's, Twitter, Facebook and modern day language! The pair strike up an unlikely friendship, and begin changing Victoria's life, and set off on a summer holiday to Victoria's family villa in Tuscany. Life for both ladies is about to get a whole lot more exciting...

Something about this book just worked for me right from the beginning. I really liked the idea of the story, of someone having their eyes opened to the modern world that we live in and take for granted, so that was very eye-opening as a reader too! You can't help but feel incredibly sorry for Victoria having lived such a sheltered life, through no fault of her own, and I really detested her father for what he has done to her. Yes, he did it for what he felt were the right reasons, but ultimately no-one has the right to hold another person captive which is essentially what Victoria's father was doing. However, Victoria was so sweet, loving her new life with Katie, and you can't help but love seeing her open as a person as she explores her new world.

Katie really opened up once the book got going too, and helping Victoria open her eyes was also good for Katie too, showing her some new opportunities that she badly needed in her life too. She is really kind and patient with Victoria, and the friendship between the pair is fun to read as it progresses. There are several male characters in the book, and although I got them muddled a little bit in my head, I soon straightened it out and was able to easily follow who was who. There's olive tree man Paul Taylor,  Victoria's old school chum Tom (who lives near her home in England), Martin, Katie's friend from the UK and Marco, an exuberant Italian who left a big smile on my face. But my favourite had to be Dante the labrador, what a gorgeous dog! You can see why Katie loved going on long walks through the Tuscan hills with him by her side.

I really loved the descriptions in the book of Tuscany. I have never been to this part of Italy myself, but T. A. Williams writes it so vividly that you can picture it in your mind as you are reading! Victoria's villa was sensational, I could imagine every nook and cranny, but also I could imagine the town, where Katie goes exploring, the other villas they visit, the hills, the olive trees, everything was evocative of Tuscany, it was just wonderful to read. T. A. Williams has certainly improved his dialogue writing for this book too - it flowed much more realistically and felt like I was reading a conversation, as opposed to the stilted dialogue I had encountered before. Yes, there are a few different romantic interests going on in the book, and it was fun trying to guess who the characters would end up with by the end, if anyone! The story was incredibly fun to read, and it was a truly escapist tale, I felt like I could be in the gorgeous kitchen of Victoria's Tuscan villa eating bread with them! I'd highly recommend this book, I loved it and I'm looking forward to more from T.A. Williams!

Thanks to Carina UK for the Netgalley review copy.

15 February 2015

eBook Review: Driving Home for Christmas by A. L. Michael

"Megan McAllister is home for Christmas…whether she likes it or not!

Christmas is about family…and for Megan family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn’t mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn’t include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright.

So ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ has never been top of Megan’s festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she’s left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she’s drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all…"

Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy Driving Home for Christmas as an eBook now.

This was another festive eBook I was really excited to read. It was the first book I had read by A. L. Michael, but I have to admit I was drawn to reading it by the absolutely gorgeous cover, and of course the fact it was a festive read too. This book is about a woman, Megan McAllister, returning to the town where she grew up for the first time in a long time, and finally reuniting with her estranged family too. However, she doesn't count of bumping into her ex-boyfriend Lucas. Her young daughter Skye is immediately smitten with Lucas, and is sure that her mother and he belong together, but Megan definitely has other ideas about getting back together with her past...

The book is mainly told from Megan's point of view, and so we mostly get her feelings on things as the book progresses. It's clear straight from the start that the reason Megan left was that she got pregnant young, and her parents were very disapproving, instead hoping their daughter would be a high-flier and manage a super career to make them proud. Megan left while she was pregnant, and they've never met her daughter Skye. Teenage pregnancy is far more common and acceptable these days, so it was a surprise to read about characters that were disapproving of such a topic, although it definitely made a change to read this. I felt incredibly sorry for Megan, being pushed away from her family when she so desperately needed their love and encouragement, but luckily she had her aunt there to look after her once Skye was born.

I loved the character of her aunt Anna. She was full of life, and you could tell how devoted she was to both Megan and Skye, allowing them to live with her, no questions asked when they needed to. She loved glamour, and together with her lodger Jeremy, both of them helped Megan to raise Skye. There are many different relationships in this book, but the one Anna and Megan share was the sweetest for me. I do want to mention the character of Skye as well. So many writers struggle with writing children into their novels, and I always find they come across far too old for the age they are meant to be in the book. However, this certainly wasn't the case for Skye - she was written perfectly. A feisty, independent and clever young girl who is fiercely protective of her mother but also just craving a life with the family she never had. I loved Skye, and she was certainly my favourite character in the book.

The story of this book revolved mainly around the developing relationship between Megan and her former flame Lucas. The book kept delving back in time to their past, showing us what happened between them, why Megan left Lucas behind all those years ago, and how he coped once she had left. It was a sweet love story, I was willing for Megan to give Lucas the chance to prove he isn't the cad that she assumes him to be, and as the book progresses, we certainly see what a sweet and kind-hearted person he is, as well as a talented musician! I very much enjoyed how the book was written, filling in the gaps of Megan's past as it went on, so by the end we had a full understanding of what happened, and it felt complete which was fantastic. The writing was incredibly easy to read and get absorbed into, and I enjoyed the book from start to finish. I look forward to reading more from A. L. Michael, this was a great book!

1 February 2015

Book Review: Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

"Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out...

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more.

Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she's about to be given new lungs. But whose?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Three Amazing Things About You as a hardback or an eBook right now.

Jill Mansell's books are certainly one of the highlights of my reading year, there is something so brilliant about her stories that I just want to dive in and devour it all in one sitting, even though I know must try to make it last at least a few days! The same can certainly be said for her latest book, Three Amazing Things About You. I was thrilled to receive a review, and as usual, couldn't stop myself from reading it straight away, staying up rather late for a few nights to carry on with the story. It is definitely one of those books which stays with you long after finishing it, and it's one of the most touching and rewarding stories I have ever read, and was a privilege to read.

Hallie has Cystic Fibrosis, something she has learnt to live with but is still holding out hope that one she will be the chosen one on the Organ Donor register and finally receive a new set of lungs that will transform her entire life. Until that day, she's resigned to her oxygen canisters, and living each day as much as she can as she doesn't know how long she has left. Flo rather likes Zander, but there's no love lost between herself and Zander's awful sister, who is determined to keep Zander to herself. Can Flo make their relationship work or is the family tie just too much to compete with? Then there's Tasha and her thrill-seeking boyfriend Rory. Tasha can't bear the thought of any of Rory's extreme sports, but knows it is part and parcel of loving him, even though the threat of danger hangs over him at every turn. When Hallie suddenly gets the call that she is getting new lungs, she can't help but wonder who those lungs once belonged to...

You can probably tell that this is a very emotive story, but one that had me absolutely hooked from the beginning. I have heard of cystic fibrosis, and had a bit of an idea about the disease, but not the extent to which it ravages the body and lungs of the sufferer, and how badly their life is affected, even their day to day activities. Hallie is very poorly, always catching infections and illnesses, and relies on her oxygen tanks to allow her to breathe. Her life is quite insular, although she does have friends she likes to go out with when she can. She is also quite close to her doctor, Luke, and the pair have a sweet friendship despite the medical link between them. I really liked Hallie, you can tell she doesn't want to be a burden to those around her, especially her mother and her best friend Bea, and is determined to live her life to the full as much as she can. She runs an anonymous agony aunt column, Dear Rose, and enjoys reading about other people's problems and trying to help them solve them. You can sense her desperate need for new lungs, and right at the very beginning of the book she finds out she is going to get exactly what she wants, before it turns back to life before the amazing phone call to talk about the other characters.

Every character in this pivotal to the story, and I loved them all, and their differing relationships and obstacles that they had to overcome. I enjoyed Rory and Tasha's heart-warming romance, and how Tasha was extremely fearful for Rory as he carried on doing the things that would give Tasha nightmares. As the story progresses and things start to happen in terms of the main plot, I felt desperately sad for Tasha, you can sense her pain in the book, I just don't know how I could have coped receiving the news that she and Rory did. Then there was the story of Flo and Zander, born out of something rather odd but destined to be a very sweet love story, despite facing the wrath of Zander's awful sister. Again, they are dealt a massive blow for the plot, and I'm not afraid to say I was in tears regularly throughout this book. Even the bittersweet discover for Flo was extremely emotional, I couldn't help but be moved as I was reading.

There's a lot of medical things going on throughout this book, and you do have to pay attention as you're reading to follow it properly. I won't spoil the story by detailing what happens any further, but it's very emotional and I was left on the edge of my seat as I was reading, desperate to find out the varying outcomes of the stories in the book as they start coming together. When all this was done, I thought the drama was out of the way but the ending part of the book was so very special too, again this had me welling up with tears. Mansell's writing is just perfection throughout this book, tapping it on the emotional part of the story, as well as the factual part which was incredibly interesting to read. The dialogue she writes is beautiful, telling us easily of love, sorrow, grief and happiness. I honestly felt I was going on the journey with these characters, and it was ultimately an incredibly touching 'feel-good' story. This is by far Jill Mansell's best and most-touching story to date (no mean feat, let me tell you), and one that won't be forgotten once read.