31 July 2015

Book News: The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson

One book I am really excited about reading this year is the new book from author Jessica Thompson. The Waiting Game has possibly my favourite cover of 2015 so far, and the story sounds absolutely stunning too - I've read and loved everything Jessica has written to date so I know this one won't disappoint, and I can't wait to read it. It's out on 13th August 2015.

Available to pre-order now.

"‘The moon was speckled like a bird’s egg. It hung reliably in the blackness above Will Turnbull and Nessa Grier who sat side by side on a bench as the leaves fell around them, landing softly on the thick, wet grass. Their knees were just touching, hearts pounding hard.’

Nessa Bruce waits for her husband to come through the double doors. She’d waited for him to return home from Afghanistan for what felt like forever, and now the moment was finally here. But Jake isn’t… Jake Bruce hasn’t come home, and it looks like he never will.

Nessa’s life – and that of her daughter Poppy – is turned upside down in an instant. What has happened to the elusive man at the centre of their world? They hold onto the hope that he is still out there somewhere, alive… but as time passes by, Nessa is forced to look at her life, at the decisions she has made and the secrets she has kept. For maybe somewhere within it all lies the answer to the question she’s desperate to answer – where is the man she loves?"

30 July 2015

Book Review: One Small Act of Kindness by Lucy Dillon

"What can you do to make the world a better place?

Libby helps a stranger, and transforms her life in the process.

Libby and her husband Jason have moved back to his hometown to turn the family B&B into a boutique hotel. They have left London behind and all the memories - good and bad - that went with it.

The injured woman Libby finds lying in the remote country road has lost her memory. She doesn't know why she came to be there, and no one seems to be looking for her.

When Libby offers to take her in, this one small act of kindness sets in motion a chain of events that will change many people's lives . . ."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy One Small Act of Kindness as a paperback on an eBook now.

One of the highlights of my reading year is a new book from Lucy Dillon. I absolutely love her heart-warming stories, always stuffed full of memorable characters with stories that you really care about, and look forward to picking up each evening! Her latest book One Small Act of Kindness was another superb read from Lucy Dillon - it follows the story of Libby and Jason, a couple who have recently bought into the family B&B, and how they are trying to make it the new must-see hotel for the area. Things aren't exactly going to plan, especially when Jason's mother, the original B&B owner starts putting her foot down over Libby's plans. When Libby finds a badly injured woman in the middle of the road, she feels somewhat responsible for her well-being, and takes her in until the woman can remember who she is - but what repurcussions will Libby's one small act of kindness on those around her?

As you can see, the story is a very interesting one, and I loved the idea of a mystery surrounding the woman who Libby finds injured in the middle of the road. It certainly made the read even more interesting, and I was desperate to find out who she really was, and how she ended up injured in the road, and why! Libby is the main focus of the book - she's the one we hear from most of all, and the main part of the story is focussed on her helping her new mystery friend to recuperate as well as revamping the B&B. Her marriage isn't exactly in a great place either, so I did feel sorry for Libby - she was shouldering a lot of burden on her own, and I did want to give her husband Jason a bit of a kick up the backside and tell him to stand up to his mother, and help his wife out!

However, I felt their marriage, both the good and bad bits, was a very realistic storyline, and certainly the tension between Libby and her mother-in-law felt real enough too. Although I felt sorry for Jason's mother, you couldn't help but want her to move with the times a bit and allow Libby to take the reins a bit more. Dillon writes these parts of the story well - I could really picture the lovely B&B in my mind, and could also see what Libby wanted to do it, with her good intentions. As the book progresses, more secrets and scandals are revealed, to do with Jason's brother, why Libby and Jason had to leave London and move to take over the B&B - and it just added yet another element to what was an already brilliant story, I just loved reading on waiting to be stunned further. Make sure you look out for a few familiar faces from A Hundred Pieces of Me (Lucy's previous book) popping up too, it was lovely to see them again!

Whilst the revamping of the B&B is a big part of the book, there is of course the story which relates to the mysterious woman who Libby finds after being hit by a car. Curiously, she wakes up in hospital, unable to remember anything about herself - her name, where she's from or what she was doing when she was hit. Pippa, as Libby and the woman decide to call herself for the time being, bonds with Libby over being new to the area, and soon strike up a friendship that I really enjoyed reading about - it was genuine, real and based on the fact the women genuinely liked each other, especially as Pippa really didn't know anything about herself - I couldn't imagine how hard that must be. Dillon does a great job in conveying Pippa's despair over her situation, you can't help but feel sorry for her and hope that her memory does come back. As the story progresses, I became even more hooked on what I was reading, and flew through it until the last page, completely blown away!

The title of the book is absolutely perfect for this story - it really is just a small act of kindness from Libby to Pippa, but it makes such a difference to both women's lives - in particular Pippa's. It goes to show that it doesn't always need to be a big, expensive gesture to make someone happy or wanted, it's the littlest things that can mean the most. I loved the chain reaction of the act of kindness, how it changed people's lives and started them all on new paths. There's quite a few of these kindness acts running through the book, and it is just a life-affirming, kind-hearted, uplifting novel that will leave you with a big smile on your face and wondering what small act of kindness you can bestow on the people around you. A beautifully written story that will have you reading late into the night, I loved it - and now I can't wait for Lucy's next book!

29 July 2015

Book Review: Girls On Tour by Nicola Doherty

"Longing for that well-deserved getaway? Desperate for a mini-break? Breathe a sigh of relief because you are cordially invited to join The Girls on Tour - the ultimate reading remedy to banish your blues. This fun, globe-trotting series unleashes unadulterated escapism and entertainment in perfect bite-size episodes. If you enjoy Lindsey Kelk and Mhairi McFarlane, you'll love Nicola Doherty so let her whisk you away with the girls. 

Join Poppy in Paris, on a work trip with more than a few surprises in store. Find Lily in LA, where her dream role is ambushed by an all-American dreamboat. Take to the slopes with Maggie in Meribel, where a romantic skiing holiday turns topsy-turvy. Ride a Vespa with Rachel in Rome, where a girls' holiday is gate-crashed by a blast from the past. And jet with the girls to Manhattan where they take the city by storm and are shocked by a big secret in the big apple."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Girls on Tour as a paperback or an eBook now!

This book was initially released as 5 individual novellas, with each of the stories following each of the girl's taking the lead. I hadn't read any of them so I was really excited when they were all published together in 1 book, called Girls on Tour. The idea of following individual stories coming together by the end was great, and I was really excited to read it, especially because the previous few books I have read by Nicola have been great reads!

The stories follow 5 girls as they go off on their holidays around the world, all for different reasons. The first up is Poppy, heading to Paris on a work trip with her colleague Charlie. She has to woo a famous author in order to get him to sign for their publishing house, but it isn't going to be the straight forward trip she thought it would be. After that, her friend Lily jets off to L.A. to help her cousin plan her big American wedding. She decides to go on an audition when she's there but thinks she may have met her new leading man elsewhere. Then there is Maggie, who goes to Meribel with her boyfriend his friends on a skiing trip, but as the trip goes on, she isn't sure her relationship is going to last the distance. Finally, there is Rachel, who goes to Rome on a girl's holiday, determined to do different things with her life. She's determined to follow her guide book and cram all of the sights into her trip, but the girls have other plans. After their individual trips, the women reunite once more for a final trip to Manhattan for Lily, but she's keeping the reason under wraps...

As you can see, there's lots going on in this book, and I enjoyed how the stories all linked together, albeit some less than others, but then the final gathering of all 4 women in the end at Manhattan was fantastic and a fitting end to the girls adventures. I love travel books, especially ones that go to places that I have never been to, and I was pleased to therefore read about L.A., Rome and Meribel in this book. Nicola Doherty does a wonderful job of bringing the places to life, from the streets of L.A. in the sunshine with Lily to the snowy slopes of Meribel with Maggie over New Year's. I think my favourite setting for a story had to be Meribel, it sounded so picturesque and I felt that I would be just like Maggie - hopeless on the slopes but good at enjoying a warming hot chocolate in the snowy surroundings! The other settings were, of course, brilliant too but it was Meribel that stood out to me, although I did enjoy seeing different parts of Paris with Poppy too.

Each of the women are very different, so it was easy to tell them apart, especially when they made appearances in each others stories. They are all linked, some moreso than others, so it was fun to work out how they all knew each other. My favourite probably had to be Poppy or Lily, they were the most relatable for me, and I felt that their stories were believable and I enjoyed reading them. Poppy had a dream job in publishing, and I liked that Lily eventually took a risk on something and was successful in what she chose to do. The other two women, Maggie and Rachel, were good too, but I just felt Poppy and Lily were stronger characters for me. You do get to know the women well though, because each of their stories is told from a first person perspective, so it allows you to really know them well, before the final story is narrated by Poppy again.

This is a really fun read, and it was nice to read something that was written a bit differently! Each of the stories were really good to read, and were a great length too - enough that there was plenty going on, and you could connect with and care about the characters, but not too long that it dragged on a bit! I liked the women all being interlinked too, and having to support each other through the differing things going on in their lives. They each go through that many women reading this will be able to relate to, and I really liked that they were believable characters. Nicola Doherty's writing was really easy to read, allowed me to get really into the stories, and I loved her descriptions of the places in each of their stories. A fantastic, fun summer read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

24 July 2015

eBook Review: The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi Swain

"Cupcakes, crafting and love at The Cherry Tree Cafe...

Lizzie Dixon's life feels as though it's fallen apart. Instead of the marriage proposal she was hoping for from her boyfriend, she is unceremoniously dumped, and her job is about to go the same way. So, there's only one option: to go back home to the village she grew up in and to try to start again.

Her best friend Jemma is delighted Lizzie has come back home. She has just bought a little cafe and needs help in getting it ready for the grand opening. And Lizzie's sewing skills are just what she needs.

With a new venture and a new home, things are looking much brighter for Lizzie. But can she get over her broken heart, and will an old flame reignite a love from long ago...?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The Cherry Tree Café as an eBook now.

I was browsing Netgalley one evening looking to see if there was anything new on there that would catch my eye, and I came across this brand new eBook only story from Simon and Schuster. I didn't realise they published eBook stories, so was definitely interested. I then went onto Twitter and found a few other bloggers chatting about the book, saying they had enjoyed it a lot. I decided to give it a go, and I am really pleased that I did because Heidi Swain's debut novel was a fun story to read, and I thoroughly enjoyed every word of it!

Lizzie feels like life is just going wrong. She's moved away from home to live with her boyfriend, someone she definitely thinks is a catch. However, he's decided to dump her and go back to his old girlfriend and make their relationship work, and now Lizzie feels she just wants to upsticks and go back home. Her best friend Jemma is more than happy to let her stay in the small flat above her new café, but Lizzie feels like going home is like taking a big step backwards. She decides she doesn't have a choice, and returns, deciding to help out her friends while she's there. Lizzie starts running a sewing club from a small corner of the café but doesn't expect it to take off quite as much as it does...

I found the character of Lizzie to be one that I warmed to straight away. She was treated so badly by her ex-boyfriend, allowing him to change everything that fundamentally made her Lizzie, that she almost didn't recognise herself anymore. I was pleased when she made the decision to go home, and hoped it meant we would see some more of the real Lizzie. Her friendship with Jemma was lovely to read about, the pair clearly had a lot of love for each other, but Lizzie did seem quite fickle at times, seeming to think the worst of her friend rather than looking for a rational explanation, or even a reason as to why Jemma would act in a certain way. Lizzie's passion for her sewing and craft was great, she was very skilled, and Swain describes her projects so well, it was almost enough to make me want to take up the hobby!

In terms of romance, there's the possibility of it bubbling below the surface of the book, and I didn't know who Lizzie was going to end up with, if anybody of course! There was Ben, an old schoolfriend who was also staying with Jemma and her husband, helping them out to get the cafe ready for it's grand opening. Lizzie is keen to keep her past feelings towards him a secret, but when she finds out he is hiding something himself, she's determined to find out what it is. I liked the twists and turns of the story between this pair, and was surprised by a revelation towards the end of the book, I hadn't seen it coming at all!

Of course, the Cherry Tree Café plays a big part in the book, and it sounds like such an idyllic place to go and spend a few hours in the morning with your friends! It's cosy, comforting and the people who work there are described wonderfully too, you can imagine everything so clearly in your mind. The addition of Lizzie's sewing group was fantastic, I enjoyed reading about their projects, and how the café and sewing group thrived in the small town. I was pleased Lizzie decided to take a chance on the sewing group, and indeed moving back home, showing that sometimes you just need familiar people and surroundings around you to  make everything right again. Swain's debut novel is a heart-warming, romantic tale, and I enjoyed the entire thing. Her writing was brilliant, bringing to life the cosy café and Lizzie and her friends too. This was a really good story to enjoy over a few evenings, and I'm definitely looking forward to more from Heidi Swain.

22 July 2015

eBook Review: Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin

"Love is an open door…except when it keeps slamming in your face.

Hopeless romantic Milly Rose has had her fair share of heartbreak. Obsessed with all things Disney, she refuses to give up on finding her Prince Charming – he’s out there somewhere, isn’t he?

When Milly is given a job to investigate the origins of an historical building in the village of Clovers Rest, she’s not sure what to expect. What she discovers takes her breath away - a beautiful real life Cinderella castle, complete with turrets, a magnificent drawbridge AND a very handsome owner…Cameron Heartstone.

As Milly and Cameron begin to unearth the secrets of Clover Castle, they can’t ignore the intense chemistry building between them. But they’ve both been hurt badly before. Can they take a big leap of faith and find their own happily-ever-after?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Fairytale Beginnings as an eBook now.

I was really excited to read Holly Martin's latest book, which also happened to be her first book with her new publishers Bookouture. Fairytale Beginnings has an utterly beautiful cover, really eye-catching as most of Bookouture covers are, and certainly made me look forward to starting the book. Before I had begun reading, I didn't realise that the book would definitely have fairytale elements to it, something which did surprise me somewhat, but as I carried on reading, I got more into the story, and let my mind escape a bit and enjoy what I was reading, which I definitely did!

Milly loves a good fairytale, Disney princesses and everything romantic, so her job surveying castles is just perfect for her - she loves to find out all the history and admire the old buildings, wondering what went on inside the walls. The latest castle she is sent to, Clover Castle, belongs to its latest owner Cameron Heartstone. The castle is picturesque, and perfect to Milly - it has beautiful turrets, a drawbridge and perhaps even its own ghost - but Milly isn't sure she will be able to get her company to back it financially as Cameron so badly needs. The pair soon realise they have a good chemistry between them, and find it harder and harder to ignore. Will Clover Castle be able to stay in the Heartstone family, and will be able to say goodbye to both the castle and Cameron when the time comes?

I'll be honest and say that at first, I did struggle with the book, and suspending my beliefs for a little bit. As I said previously, it really does read like a fairytale, and some of the parts just weren't my cup of tea. However, I had heard such good things about the whole story from other bloggers who I trust the opinion of, so I vowed to persevere with it and get to the end. Luckily for me, it got much better, and I just learnt to read past the bits which weren't my cup of tea, mainly the ghostly bits if I am honest. I could have happily read the book without them, but I understand that other people might really enjoy that sort of thing, which is fair enough! Perhaps it was just that this was so different from the other books by Holly that I've read, it maybe what I wasn't expecting.

The characters in the book were well written as they always are in Holly's books. Milly is fabulous as the main character who we follow throughout the book. She's a bit unusual - dressing in lots of pink, sparkly things despite her job and qualifications, and is in love with the whole Disney love story idea. She was fun, a very sweet person and you can see why she loves her job going around castles, and finding out the story behind them. I really enjoyed reading about her job, and there's quite a lot of good explanation about it all, so it's clear Holly Martin has really done her research for this book. You can see why Milly fell for Cameron too, the chemistry between the pair is brilliantly written, and I enjoyed reading their banter, and their exploration of Clover Castle!

Cameron was a wonderful character too, and you can see how Milly thought her very own fairytale might come true when she met him! I liked how he liked her for who she was, regardless of her love of Disney and all pink, sparkly things, and how passionate he was about looking after the castle. The pair are really the main characters of the book - we do meet some of the villagers who pop up occasionally - eccentric yet kind-hearted, and we also see Cameron's PA Olivia who I couldn't stand from the beginning. I guessed what she was up to quite quickly, but still enjoyed reading the story unfold before my eyes.

The book was really enjoyable to read, and once I had got past the elements of it that I couldn't quite warm to, there was a beautifully written romantic story within, and I certainly did enjoy it a lot. The setting of Clover Castle and all of the secrets within were intriguing, I wanted to keep reading and find out how much of the legends were true, and whether or not the elderly villagers and their wild predictions would come true! It was really an escapist read, something to enjoy and lose yourself in, knowing you were probably going to get a happy ending ! Holly's writing is, as always, a joy to read and describes everything in such a clear way, you feel like you're outside staring at Clover Castle with Milly! A wonderful, fun summer read.

18 July 2015

Book Review: Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk

"Maddie Fraser has never been anything other than the girl in the background: golden boy Dan’s little sister, crazy Shona’s minion, workaholic Sebastian’s ex and now she’s also the girl in the middle of her warring best friends.

Lauren has announced she’s getting married – just as Sarah’s husband asks her for a divorce. Nothing in Maddie’s career in event organising has prepared her for this particular combo of planning and real pain. The news that her ex is also tying the knot is the final straw. While the magazines say she should be leaning in, all she wants to do is sleep in. But whether she likes it or not, everything is about to change for Maddie. For better or worse, this grown-up bridesmaid is taking centre stage…"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Always the Bridesmaid as a paperback now.

A new from Lindsey Kelk is always something to look forward to for me! Whilst her fab 'I Heart' series has ended for now, Lindsey has brought us some exciting new characters to love, and her new book is another new standalone book starring new characters Maddie, Sarah and Lauren, and is of course centred around weddings. I had expected to enjoy the book very much, but it was full of laughs and fun, and I didn't want to stop reading once I started, the story was very addictive!

As the blurb is at the top of the page, I won't repeat it all here. The main character is Maddie, and she is the bridesmaid in question. She is quite happy to be a bridesmaid for one of her best friends Sarah, but isn't quite prepared for what a bridezilla Sarah would become as her big day gets ever closer. Whilst she is dealing with the wedding prep, Maddie also has to help her other best friend Sarah, who has just announced she is getting divorced. Maddie is really stuck in the middle, unsure of how best to help both of her friends, but I loved her! She is the perfect main character for the book - funny, feisty and gets the job in hand done, but she's still juggling her own job as well as the jobs of helping out her friends!

Maddie's job is in event planning, and I loved the storyline around her trying to get a promotion too, against her bosses wishes. The couple involved in the promotion event were simply hilarious, I was laughing so much as I was reading along, it was so well written, you could well imagine the characters asking for these things! How Maddie kept a straight face I will never know. Maddie does love her job and is very good at it, so I hated her boss for making her feel like she wasn't worthy of a promotion, but at the same time their dynamic was funny to read!

One of the highlights of the book for me was the bridesmaid diary that Maddie filled in at the start of every chapter. She starts it seemingly to try and do it properly, but as things become more stressed for her, the answers become more erratic and funny, they did make me laugh. The other two female characters in the book were brilliantly written too, and I loved the friendship between the three of them - it felt very realistic and believable. I felt incredibly sorry for Sarah, going through a divorce but having to be part of her best friends wedding - she was clearly very upset over the end of her marriage, and I did feel Lauren was a bit insensitive at times, although again I could understand her excitement too! Poor Maddie really did have a lot of juggling to do, and I could see why at times tempers were very fraught!

The writing in this book is, as always with Lindsey Kelk, on point, and was a really enjoyable read from beginning to end. I was thrown right into the story, allowing me to become absorbed by the story very quickly, and found myself wanting to read just one more chapter every night to see what else Maddie was getting up to! There were a few male characters in the story to balance in out, Will and Tom, but the main focus was definitely on the women in the story. This was just as brilliant as the rest of Lindsey's novels, so if you are a fan, you'll definitely want to be reading this one. If you haven't yet discovered Lindsey's books - where have you been?! You wouldn't go far wrong with reading this one - I can't wait for the next book now, roll on November when we get the third book in the 'About A Girl' series starring Tess, called A Girl's Best Friend!

13 July 2015

Book Review: It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

"Thea's parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea. even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single - her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea's boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can't decide whether or not she minds.

There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements.

As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy It Must Have Been the Mistletoe as a hardback or an eBook now.

I love Judy Astley's books, so I was really excited to see that her latest book is a festive release! I love Christmas books, as you probably know, so I was really excited to read this. The last few books from Judy that I have read were really enjoyable stories, so I had really high hopes for this one too! Luckily, I wasn't let down by this brilliant book, and I totally devoured it from start to finish, I couldn't put it down. It's the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas, and here's why I think It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is a must-read Christmas story!

After telling their children that they have decided to get a divorce, Thea's parents want one last Christmas together before they go their separate ways. Thea is newly single herself, and isn't exactly keen on the idea of having a big family get-together, still unsure whether her break-up was a good thing or not. Her brother and sister are happily settled with their own marriages and children, and it makes Thea feel a bit like she's getting left behind. But as snow begins to rapidly fall on their Christmas get-together, Thea and her family have to cope with the arrival of new partners, arguments and a few strangers as well...

I really liked the idea of this story - it was really original, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from the beginning! Anna and Mike, Thea's parents, were very interesting characters and I liked them both right from the start. They're very open from the start of the book about the end of their marriage, although as the book goes on and new partners are introduced, you can really they are beginning to feel somewhat unsure about their decisions - it is after all the end of an era and a big decision to have come to! I liked that they wanted one last Christmas as a family with their children Thea, Jimi and Emily, and this is of course what the story is based around.

Thea was the main character of the book, and I enjoyed reading about her and her story. She's recently ended her relationship, and if you ask me, it's a good thing she is away from her ex-boyfriend - he's keener of dogs than he was Thea! She is also hiding a bit of a secret that is heart-breaking, but is determined to not let it ruin her Christmas with her family. I liked the relationships Thea has in the book - in particular that which she has with her sister Emily - she is determined to help her sister who seems unusually stressed and upset throughout the book, and as it becomes clear why, it's a very emotional part of the story. As well as the family, there is the appearance of new partners - Charlotte in particular was very amusing to read about! There's also a local surfer Sean who pops up a lot, and I was hopeful of something between he and Thea!

The family element of this book is what made it so readable. Yes, there's a fair amount of conflict in the book, family arguments, upset and tears too, but it felt incredibly realistic - you could believe this could happen to your own family, or to someone you know. I liked how realistic the characters were when I was reading, Astley's writing is just brilliant and really does bring these characters to life on the page. The setting of Cornwall was perfect too, very cosy and festive feeling, and the snowstorm adds a little drama into the mix - I adore the idea of a snowy Christmas so this book was perfect for me! As well as the drama, there was a lot of festive feeling about this book, and it was a fantastic read for this festive season. Astley's writing was fantastic, creating a wonderful setting with realistic and brilliant characters, and I do hope we will see more of Thea and her family in the future! A brilliant festive read.

12 July 2015

Book Review: Tremarnock by Emma Burstall

"Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses cluster around the fishing harbour. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant. It is here that Liz has found sanctuary for herself and her young daughter, Rosie - far away from Rosie's cheating father.

Liz works all the hours God sends. First thing in the morning she's out, cleaning offices. At night she is waitressing in the village restaurant, while friends and neighbours rally round and mind Rosie. But trouble is waiting just round the corner.

As with all villages, there are tensions, secrets - and ambitions. Emma Burstall's wonderfully engaging first novel about Tremarnock is the story of what happens when one shocking turn of events sweeps a small community."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Tremarnock as an eBook now, and pre-order as a paperback.

A few years ago, I read a book called The Darling Girls. I read it whilst on holiday in Majorca, and remember so obsessed with the book that I didn't want to put it down, even when we had the chance to go swimming and other lovely things in the sunshine! I loved that book, and so was absolutely thrilled when I heard Emma had a new book coming out with publishers Head of Zeus. Tremarnock is the first in a trilogy about a small Cornish seaside village, and I absolutely loved it. Here's why I think Tremarnock is a must-read this summer!

Once again this summer I've found myself back in Cornwall - it's almost like I don't need to go there now because I have read so much about it! Tremarnock is a fictional village there, where Liz lives with her young daughter Rosie, and they live alone since they've got away from Rosie's cheating father. Liz works hard to provide for the pair of them, and they enjoy the real community spirit that living in a small village brings. But when tragedy strikes for Liz and Rosie, the pair wonder how they're going to be able to make it through the tough times - but little do they know, the villagers who live in Tremarnock are about to support them through thick and thin...

This is going to be a tough one to review because it's really important that you don't know much about the book before you go into it, as so much of the joy is reading about the story unfolding as you progress through it. Rosie and Liz's relationship was a complete joy to read about though - it was the shining light throughout the whole book, and I admired Liz so much. She takes on the burden of being a single mother to Rosie on the chin, putting up with everything that comes with it, and she was so strong and a real character to be admired. They were a real little unit, together through everything and I really did enjoy reading about them so much.

Rosie, though, was just brilliant - Burstall has written the young girl so perfectly. She comes to life as you're reading - you can imagine her little face lighting up, enjoying the time with her mother, and I was so desperate for the pair of them to come through their tough times and find some happiness. Much of this book with Rosie was tough to read, very emotional and I found myself in tears some of the time because of the unfairness of it all. As well as Rosie and Liz, there's a lot of other characters in the book that bring it to life too. There's Liz's boss Robert, who owns the restaurant where she works part-time to make ends meet; Irene and Jim from the newsagents in town near Liz's other job, and many of Liz's elderly neighbours who often pop up to help with childcare. Together, they all make up an unforgettable cast of characters that you soon fall in love with, and don't want to leave behind.

Tremarnock was an utterly brilliant novel, and I honestly didn't want to stop reading once I had begun. I felt like I was living in Tremarnock along with the characters, eager to help out with the care for Rosie if I could! I really did love the relationship between Liz and Rosie, it was my favourite part of the book, but I loved how the whole community pulled together to rally behind Rosie and Liz in their tough time. There were a few shocking twists and turns in the book, one of which made me incredibly angry and frustrated - and who it involved made it even worse in my eyes! But I loved that the book was able to draw these differing emotions out of me, drawing me in to the story and leaving me sad when it was finished! I'm so pleased this is the first in a trilogy, as that means there is much more of Tremarnock to come! A super read with a fantastic cast, and a story you simply can't forget.

11 July 2015

eBook Review: Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot

"Sun, sea and a sexy stranger - a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated. 

Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart… 

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy. 

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist. 

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?"

Rating: 3/5

You can buy Truly, Madly, Greekly as an eBook now.

I love when I heard things on Twitter and other blog's about how great a book is - it makes me really excited to read it and find out what all the fuss is about! This was definitely the case with Mandy Baggot's first book with publishers Bookouture - Truly, Madly, Greekly. I was thrilled to get a copy from Netgalley, and started to read it straight away. After about a third of the novel, however, I wondered what I was missing because it wasn't quite what I had expected, and I wasn't enjoying it as much as I had hoped, and annoyingly this carried on throughout the book. It was a good read, but just didn't have that something to make it a brilliant read sadly.

The book follows 2 sisters, Ellen and Lacey, as they travel to Greece for a holiday to scout a wedding venue for Lacey's impending nuptials. They end up on Corfu, staying in a beautiful hotel, and they really couldn't ask for more. However, Ellen is hiding a secret from Lacey and their family, and she's using this holiday as a good excuse to get away from the horrible reality of what she has done. She starts to grow close to one of the staff at the hotel, Yan, who has secrets of his own. But Ellen is sure she isn't looking for any kind of romance.... but maybe it's looking for her...

As I said above, although this was a good story, I struggled to find it better than that, and just didn't seem to connect with it in quite a few ways. Firstly, I had problems with the main characters. While Ellen and Yan are nice people, they were a bit, well, boring. Ellen didn't have anything about her that made me like her, or want to read about her story. Her sister was pretty awful, very selfish and I was willing Ellen to grow a bit of a backbone and tell her what she really thought. But Ellen just didn't seem strong enough as a character to hold the whole book together, and this was a real problem for me. I just didn't care about her friendship with Yan, it all felt a bit cliched and rushed to me, and they didn't strike me a good fit together.

Yan was lovely - a nice person, a hard worker and sounded gorgeous, but that was it. Again, he was a little dull and didn't stand out to me at all. He was very moral, determined not to let anything happen with Ellen because she is a guest, and he could lose his job which is all well and good, but it is a bit boring! I was desperate for him to throw caution to the wind and do something a bit naughty, just to give the book a bit of action! Perhaps this was my other issue with the book - that nothing really happened in it. I was sat reading, waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever really did - it just sort of plodded along, and I found the pace of it quite slow.

The setting of Corfu in Greece was a good one - Mandy Baggot describes it well and brings it to life nicely on the page. I enjoyed reading about the gorgeous beaches, the sunshine and the lovely hotel, it was a nice bit of escapism, but it wasn't quite enough to make me desperate to pick the book up each night and find out what was going to happen next. This just wasn't the light-hearted, fun summer story I felt I had been promised, and perhaps that is why I was let-down by the book. I went into it expecting something that just didn't deliver for me. It was a pleasant enough read, with sun, good characters and a bit of a romance, but it just didn't go that extra mile for me unfortunately.

8 July 2015

Blog Tour Author Post: Karen Swan

Today is my stop on Karen Swan's blog tour for her new book Summer at Tiffany's, and Karen has been kind enough to write me a post to feature today! I have also been able to review the book itself, and it certainly is a brilliant summer read that I can recommend.

Please enjoy Karen's article below! You can buy Summer at Tiffany's as a paperback or an eBook now.

Why a happy ending and Happy Ever After aren’t necessarily one and the same.

If I had a penny for every time I’d been asked to write a sequel to Christmas at Tiffanys, well…I probably wouldn’t have had to write the sequel! It’s fair to say those characters really struck a chord, not just in the UK but internationally as well, with readers from Italy and Canada and Germany making regular contact to ask for more about Cassie and Henry, Suzy and Arch, Kelly and Anouk. And I’ll be honest, I was reticent to even think about it for a long time. As far as I was concerned, I had squared the circle, rounding off their mutual adventures with a highly satisfactory, happy ending.

Only… it wasn’t an ending, not in the real life sense. Though it was the end of that book, it wasn’t the end of their story, it was really just the end of their beginning (are you still with me?) I began to get the feeling that even though I had closed the cover on a perfect moment in time where everything had converged to a singular point of happiness, embodied in the engagement ring - it was still only a moment in time. Several years on, where would they all be now? After all, no-one moves on after a decade of marriage and the most terrible betrayal that Cassie suffered, without a backwards glance, even if they do have someone like Henry helping them through it. The heart is a complicated thing – it doesn’t necessarily love in chronological order, sometimes there is overlap; people feel vulnerable or confused, the timing might be off. So I began to wonder, the ‘what ifs’ started up in my mind again: Cassie and Henry had found each other, she had found herself, they were perfectly in synch with one another. But what if in the passing of time they found they wanted different things? Or the same thing but at different times? There’s no doubt their love is true but can they make it endure? It was only when I understood this difference between a happy ending and Happy Ever After that I knew I’d found my sequel.

Blog Tour Book Review: Summer at Tiffany's by Karen Swan

"A wedding to plan. A wedding to stop. What could go wrong?

Cassie loves Henry. Henry loves Cassie. With a Tiffany ring on her finger, all that Cassie has left to do is plan the wedding. It should be so simple but when Henry pushes for a date, Cassie pulls back.

Henry's wild, young cousin, Gem, has no such hesitations and is racing to the aisle at a sprint, determined to marry in the Cornish church where her parents were wed. But the family is set against it, and Cassie resolves to stop the wedding from going ahead.

When Henry lands an expedition sailing the Pacific for the summer, Cassie decamps to Cornwall, hoping to find the peace of mind she needs to move forwards. But in the dunes and coves of the northern Cornish coast, she soon discovers the past isn't finished with her yet?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Summer at Tiffany's as a hardback or an eBook now.

Karen Swan's latest book Summer at Tiffany's is the second book in her 'Tiffany's' series, and while I did read the first book Christmas At Tiffany's when it was released a few years ago, I will admit that I had mainly forgotten that book and had to go back and reread my review in order to remind me a bit more of the book! However, it is definitely a book that can most certainly be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel as there's nothing major that will be missed if you don't read the first that isn't covered in this book. The cover for this book is very eye-catching, a gorgeous summery sunset, and this is definitely a book to curl up with on a warm summer's evening.

The book follows on from before, following Henry and Cassie and their relationship. Cassie is still getting over her divorce from her ex-husband Gil, but Henry is still determined to get his woman to marry him, even though she is less than keen on the idea. When their best friend Archie suffers a medical emergency, the two couples decide to flee London to Cornwall where he can convalesce, and hopefully have some down time. What they don't count on is the rather loud arrival of Suze and Henry's cousin Gem, who is planning her own quick wedding to her Aussie beau Laird... is their peaceful getaway set to be ruined before it's even begun?

As I said, I honestly didn't remember much about these characters at all, but that didn't matter once I got into the book. I quickly became totally absorbed by the story, especially the shocking beginning involving Archie's sudden illness - that was quite the opener! But I found it easy to follow the relationships of the couples within the book, and liked them all, even annoying Gem - she was just a damaged child desperately trying to find some security in her life.

The main part of the book obviously focuses on the relationship between Cassie and her fiancé Henry. She's still deeply damaged by her former marriage, and Henry is getting frustrated she still seems to be unkeen on pinning down a date for their wedding. This story was interesting because it wasn't your usual girl-meets-boy, fall in love and marry. You can see they are both adults wanting what is right for them, but each has a reason to feel the way they do. Henry obviously wants to marry the woman he loves, but Cassie's reasons for being reluctant are more than valid - she's been there and has the t-shirt - and she doesn't want another to add to her collection thank you very much. I liked both Cassie and Henry and found it hard to take sides in this book, both were equally likeable and I felt a lot of sympathy for both of their plights!

The other characters in the book were very realistic too, and again I enjoyed reading about them. Archie and Suze were a great couple, in love and supportive of each other through the ups and downs, and I felt horrible for Suze when Archie becomes so ill, it was lovely to read how close they became as he got better. Gem and Laird, the younger couple of the book (and the gatecrashers!), were very sweet, and I felt they got a bit of a hard time from Suze and Cassie - they are just young and in love! Yes, I can see they were interfering for the right reasons, but I did feel a tad sorry for Gem. There is also the reappearance of Cassie's friends Anouk and Kelly from the previous novel.

I really enjoyed Karen Swan's writing in this book, and found it to be a really enjoyable read from beginning to end. The characters were fun, and I actually cared about what happened to them - I wanted Cassie and Henry to get on the same page about a wedding, and I wanted Archie to get better - it was nice to be able to invest some emotion in the characters I was reading about. Swan describes the Cornish setting beautifully, from the lovely house they stay in, to the walks Cassie goes on, even to the surfing on the beach! I'm determined that one day I will visit Cornwall after reading about it in so many books! I have to confess I still don't really get the title of the book - it doesn't seem to fit at all as there's barely anything about Tiffany's in the book, but there you go, a minor niggle from me! Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed this summer read, and it's recommended from me.

7 July 2015

Book Review: The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

"The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss. "

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Silent Hours as a paperback or an eBook now.

I know I don't review a lot of historical fiction on my blog, but that's because I honestly don't like books set a long, long time ago. My preferred period of history is the First and Second World Wars, something I studied for my degree, and I can credit that to my amazing history teacher at high school - no one brought it all to life for us better than Mrs T. When I was offered the opportunity to read and review Cesca Major's first novel The Silent Hours, I jumped at the chance. The story sounded utterly beautiful, set in the Second World War it was exactly what I wanted to read, and I was keen to see what the fuss online I had read was about. The book was utterly consuming, I was gripped from start to finish, and think Cesca Major is a real talent that I can't wait to read more from.

It is the time of the second world war, and in unoccupied France, the residents are trying to continue life as normal. Tristin, a nine year old boy has left his home in Paris and come to live in a small French village. He doesn't really understand fully what is happening, but knows that the changes in his life aren't good. Sebastian, a young Jewish banker, has fallen deeply in love with Isabelle, but as the war progresses, Sebastian experiences awful hatred because of his religion, and has to make a devastating decision to save not only himself, but Isabella too. Then, we have the narrative of Adeline. She currently lives in a convent in France, but is mute, too traumatised by her experiences of war to speak, despite the encouragement of the many nuns and doctors who want to help her.

Of course, you can't go into this book expecting everything to be lovely, and for it to be an easy read, because of course it isn't. We all know what happened in the war, what the Nazi's did to so many innocent people, and how the Jewish people were persecuted by them. It is still horrifying to this day that these attrocities were allowed to happen, but to read about them in this book, knowing it is based on a true story makes it all the more horrifying, that people really had to experience this. You can't imagine their terror, their horror and their suffering at the hands of absolute cruelty, but despite this, I couldn't stop reading. Major's narrative is utterly compulsive and I was so drawn into the story, I truly didn't want it to end.

There's a lot of first person narratives going on throughout the book. The narrator changes constantly through the book - sometimes we hear from Sebastian, Isabelle - often through her letters to her brother Paul who is at war himself -, Tristin, and of course Adeline too. While they are all of course different, they are all told from a first person perspective which makes reading interesting. There's quite a few names and characters to get your heard around, but once you do, reading is much more enjoyable. It does jump around quite a bit too due to the changing narrators, but again I soon got used to this and enjoyed the quick pace of the story-telling.

Perhaps the crux of the novel was the love story between Sebastian and Isabelle, forbidden love between a Jewish boy and his French lover, although Sebastian often didn't understand he and his family were being persecuted simply for being Jewish. I loved the pure love between them - religion didn't matter at all, yet it was ultimately what divided them. devastatingly so. It is such an innocent relationship, and it's heart-breaking that such love was divided by such incomprehensible hatred. It took a while for me to understand  how Sebastien fitted into the whole story, but as it became clear, I could enjoy his story more, even if it was heart-breaking to read how he comes to understand the hatred of his religion by some.

Isabelle's story, too, is very touching, and I enjoyed reading her letters to her brother Paul. She tried to remain upbeat and optimistic, and his replies were often hard to read, hiding the horror of the war from his sister, protecting her from what was really going on out there. Tristin's story was perhaps my least favourite of them all, feeling slightly stilted, perhaps due to the fact it is meant to be the narration of a 9 year old child. He, of course, does not understand why he had to flee his home in Paris and come to the countryside to the middle of nowhere, although he seems to adapt well, with his parents and siblings around him. He, however, seems to make assumptions about the situation based on what he hears from those around him, acts selfishly at times and his actions certainly made me want to cringe - he did not at all understand what was happening and the consequences his actions could have - this really is a coming-of-age story, that he had to cope with horrors beyond his years.

As the book progressed like a juggernaut towards an inevitably horrible ending, I was consumed  by their story, hopeful for a reprieve, but knowing what I did about the war, was sure that none would come. The last section of the book is truly horrifying, Major's writing brings to life the awful atrocities that occured, and you cannot comprehend what Isabelle, Tristin and their families went through at this time. It is simply awful, and I had tears streaming down my face several times, it was so emotional and difficult to read. Adeline's story was one I was trying to place, trying to understand what had rendered her mute, and as it all comes together, it is entirely heart-breaking and you can't help but weep for what she has suffered. The book is a stunning read, and it's hard to believe this is Cesca Major's debut novel - it is written so well, so vividly and I know I won't ever forget this book. Major has written with certainty, weaving facts with her fictional characters with ease, and her narrative is simply beautiful. I loved this book, it is simply unforgettable and I know my review won't have done it any justice. A stunning read.

6 July 2015

Book Review: A Mother's Story by Amanda Prowse

"Jessica has just had the wedding of her dreams, and now she's setting up a new home with her lawyer husband Matthew. Even better - they are expecting a child.

As they paint the nursery and shop for babygros, she plans for the joy that motherhood will bring. But Jessica's experience is far from joyous. Why isn't she transformed by maternal feelings? Where is the all-consuming love she's supposed to feel for her child?

No-one told her that being a mum was so lonely and terrifying. No-one told her you don't always love your baby. Perhaps it’s best if Jessica keeps that dark secret to herself for now..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy A Mother's Story as a paperback or an eBook now.

This book is utterly heart-breaking, yet you can't stop reading it. I know that's a pretty powerful thing to start off my review with, but it is entirely true of this book. I didn't really know a lot about it going into the book, but I knew once I was a few pages in, I wouldn't be able to put it down, no matter how hard it got. I didn't bank on it making me sit there in floods of tears, almost unable to read on because I just didn't want to know what was coming next, or how simply heartbroken I would be left at the end of the story. But, despite all this, it is an utterly brilliantly written novel exploring an issue that is by far too taboo in our society, and I commend Amanda Prowse for tackling this within her book.

The book is the story of Jessica. She's recently gotten married to Matthew, and feels like she is living the dream. They have the perfect home, the perfect marriage and Jessica wants everything to stay how it is. When she falls unexpectedly pregnant, the pair excitedly prepare for their new arrival - painting the nursery, buying baby clothes, and enjoying their last few months as just a married couple. When their daughter arrives, Jessica isn't exactly feeling how she thought a new mother should feel. A traumatic delivery has left her doubting everything, and she continues these feelings as she leaves hospital and is left home along with her new baby. But Jessica is terrified - she can't cope alone with her daughter but doesn't know where to turn. She perhaps wishes that her and Matthew had never had their daughter... but she knows this is something she has to keep to herself...

You can probably tell where the theme of this book is going from the blurb of the book, which is of course the subject of post-natal depression. Sadly, it is something that isn't widely talked about in our society, and too many mothers are afraid to admit that there is a problem which is how things are allowed to escalate as they do for poor Jessica. I felt so sorry for her, hiding away her feelings because she knows that what she is feeling isn't "right" or "normal" for a new mum, but doesn't know where to turn. Even when her family confronts her, she's keen to put on a brave face and act tired, not allowing any in to help with her problems. It's actually quite frightening how quickly things turn back for Jessica, and I was almost fearful to read one, scared of how she would act next, knowing that no one was coming to help her because they simply couldn't see what was happening. 

The marriage between Jessica and Matthew is explored in the book too, and it's interesting to read the rapid changes that occur between them from when they are newly weds to when they become new parents. You can see how Jessica feels pushed out, resentful of how her daughter is now taking her husband's attention, but feels awful that she feels that way.  Matthew almost seems blinded to his wife's struggles, but again, is perhaps blinded by his love for his new daughter, and assumes Jessica will soon fall into motherhood. I was desperate for him to notice her struggle, to not push her away because of it, and parts of the book were utterly heart-breaking to read. Jessica wasn't at all to blame for her feelings, but I still felt shocked that she could feel this way.

The narrative of the book is very interesting to read. The story of Jessica's marriage and new motherhood are interspersed with a separate narrative from the present day, of Jessica's time in a psychiatric hospital following the incidents that happen later in the book. You can tell her despair and anguish from these parts, they are incredibly hard to read at times, and you have to wonder how desperate someone can be to act as Jessica did, and not be able to cope with the reality of what she did. As the book goes on, and we get closer to the crux of the novel, knowing something terrible is going to happen, I was fearful of what was coming, but Prowse does it such justice, it is fantastically written, and I was left emotionally bereft as everything came to a massive, emotional climax.

While it was an incredibly draining experience to read this book, it was also a complete privilege because it highlights something we need to understand more, and the fact that we need to be able to talk to women suffering PND and not make them feel wrong for their feelings. Jessica couldn't help how she felt, and couldn't rationalise it either - nor should she have to. It is a terribly misunderstood illness, and if reading this book helps just one woman with PND recognise her symptoms, or even that a friend or family member is struggling with a new baby, then it is worth it.  It is incredibly emotional, very tough to read at times, but entirely gripping, and I was hooked by these characters, wondering exactly how these catastrophic events would turn out by the end. An outstanding, courageous book that I can heartily recommend, but please be aware of the subject matter before you begin, as it is at times an incredibly tough read. 

5 July 2015

eBook Review: Runaway Summer by Ruth Saberton

"Running Away…

Since leaving Polwenna Bay for the bright lights of London, actress Summer Trelawne has tried her hardest to never look back; Jake, her childhood sweetheart, let her down terribly and the beautiful Cornish village holds nothing but painful memories. It’s only when a volatile relationship threatens to destroy all she holds dear that Summer finds herself returning to the place she knows so well.

Jake Tremaine has travelled the world but reluctantly finds himself drawn back to Polwenna Bay to run the family marina and take care of his unruly siblings. While Jake knows his attention should be on the rescuing the business, determined Ella, daughter of a wealthy hotelier, is set on working her way into his affections and beneath his sheets. The last thing Ella will tolerate is the reappearance of a rival…

As the holiday season approaches and seaside life gathers pace, Jake suspects that Summer is keeping a huge secret from him. But Summer is not the only person in the village with something to hide. Is she just an echo of Jake’s past or are there far more important matters at stake?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Runaway Summer as an eBook now.

Ruth Saberton is fast becoming one of my go-to authors for a fabulous read, and she definitely hasn't let me down with this brand new book, Runaway Summer! It's the first in the Polwenna Bay series, and I want to start this review by saying what a gorgeously summery cover it is! It screams summer at you, and definitely made me want to dive right in and devour the story. There is something about Ruth's books, especially those set in Cornwall, that are just perfect stories for the summer, and I can't recommend Runaway Summer highly enough.

Summer left Polwenna Bay years ago for the bright, glittering lights of London, and she hasn't looked back since then, keen to leave everything behind and invent herself anew. But when her relationship collapses and she has to flee her home, she finds herself running back to Polwenna Bay, the one place her ex-boyfriend would never think to look for her. But when there, she is forced to face up to her past - namely, her first love Jake Tremaine. She ran out on Jake years ago, and it seems neither of them have really gotten over their break-up. With Summer in hiding, and Jake struggling to get over the reappearance of his ex-girlfriend, it seems that Polwenna Bay is far more interesting than Summer had ever realised...

Once again, Ruth has completely nailed it with this book, and I was totally in love with the story right from the beginning. Sometimes, it takes me a good few chapters to settle into a book and really care about the story, but I was hooked on this one right from the start. While Summer wasn't immediately likeable, I did find myself sympathising with her story, especially once we find out the true reason she has had to flee London. Yes, she ran away and left her family behind, but she was a confused teenager making wrong decisions - who hasn't been there before?! As the book progressed, I liked her more and hoped that she would have the confidence to come out of herself and confide in her family once more, despite their tumultuous past.

Jake Tremaine, however, was definitely my favourite character of the whole book! He's a very responsible family man, intent on keeping the family business running against the odds, and is very family-orientated. So when Summer, his first love, makes a shock reappearance, he is a bit thrown. Mainly because he seems to have a thing going on with Ella, the daughter of a very wealthy hotelier, and he doesn't quite know how to get out of her grasp. You can see how conflicted he is by Summer's return, how hurt he was at her disappearance, and I really did feel for him. I admired how kind he was to her considering what she had done to him, and he certainly sounded like a dream man in many ways.

Although the main story is of course about Summer's return to Polwenna Bay, there were lots of other story threads running through this book that were equally readable and that I enjoyed just as much as the main story. I loved the story involving Jake's brother Danny, a war veteran who is struggling to come to terms with his horrific injuries, and how he must get past them before he loses everything dear to him - most importantly his young son, and his friendship with the new vicar Jules. Then there's Jake's sister Morwenna, or Mo as she is known throughout the book, battling to save her horse business which is in financial dire straits, as well as battling the local developer to not plough down her beloved woods. Yes, there is a lot of characters going on, from the Tremaine's to the Penhalligon's and more, but once you've got them all down, reading the book is a breeze.

The setting of Polwenna Bay is idyllic, and it certianly makes me eager to visit Cornwall, somewhere I haven't been lucky enough to discover for myself just yet. Ruth's writing brings it alive in my mind, whether the sun is beaming down on the beaches or it is teeming with rain in the middle of nowhere. I was drawn into the story by these fabulous characters, all larger than life but ones you certainly won't forget after you've turned the final page. Come the ending, there is a hint to what is coming in the second Polwenna Bay novel, and I am so excited to read that one, it can't come soon enough! This is an utterly perfect summer read - stuffed to the brim with lively characters, lots of love, laughs and tears along the way make for an unputdownable read that I have to say is a MUST for this summer's reading list!

4 July 2015

eBook Review: Green Beans and Summer Dreams by Catherine Ferguson

"You can bury a lot of troubles by digging in a garden…

When Izzy Fraser’s long-term boyfriend walks out on her, she finds herself in a bit of a pickle. Whilst she may have the house of her dreams, she’s now left with a crippling mortgage that she has to pay on her own.

It’s time for her to take matters into her own hands and, having always been a keen gardener, she realises she can put her skills to use. She decides to set up Izzy’s Organics, delivering crates of fresh fruit and vegetables to the local villagers.

Along the way she meets all sorts of characters, including the very handsome Erik and the very Grumpy Dan. But can Izzy sort the wheat from the chaff? And will her new business be the change to her life that she needs?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Green Beans and Summer Dreams as an eBook now.

Another eBook which has caught my eye this summer is the new release from author Catherine Ferguson. I first came across Catherine's writing when I read her first novel, a festive release called Humbugs and Heartstrings. I did enjoy it, and therefore was looking forward to reading more from the author. The cover for this new eBook is certainly very eye-catching, with its bright yellow and green cover, and although I'm not a big fan of gardening myself, I was looking forward to getting stuck into reading this one.

Straight away, I want to say this is a fun, light-hearted read that is perfect for sitting in the garden with it on your Kindle, and a nice cool drink by your side for your reading time. I'll be honest and say that when I began reading it, it seemed very similar to another book I've read recently, which was 'Ivy Lane' by Cathy Bramley. However, as I read further, the two stories became more different, although of course the shared theme of gardening was present throughout. It actually seems to be a very popular theme this summer in fiction, so Catherine Ferguson is right on point with this one.

The leading lady of this book was Izzy. She's heart-broken at the moment, having been unceremoniously dumped by her awful boyfriend, and is determined to keep the cottage that the pair shared now that he has moved out. The only trouble is affording to pay the mortgage. She decides that she can start a business of her own, delivering fresh fruit and veg to her neighbours and charging them for the privilege. As things pick up, and she starts to form new friendships with the villagers, Izzy starts to feel somewhat calmer and more at home. But between her new male friends Erik and Dan, will Izzy be able to keep her business on track, and keep matters of the heart out of it?!

I really liked reading about Izzy getting her life back on track. While she was of course upset and in despair for part of the book, the rest of it was dedicated to her getting back on her feet, and making a success of her new business, albeit with a little help from her friends. While the friendships with Erik and Dan were a major part of the book, the main focus was definitely on Izzy's love of gardening and her new business, and I enjoyed reading about the growth of the business, how she worked hard for her success and the events she did to promote her business too. I liked Izzy a lot, she was fun to read about, and I really did root for her, wanting everything to be a success.

The men in the book were very different. There was Erik, good-looking but boy did he know it. I didn't warm to him at all, sure there was something he was hiding, and of course I was right. I was willing Izzy to see through his smarmy charm and not get hurt, but it felt inevitable at times that she would be hurt by him! On the other hand, I loved Grumpy Dan, from the company who supply Izzy with her vegetables. Yes, he seemed bad-tempered, but I felt he had a kind heart, and wanted to help her with her business a lot, and wished Izzy would see past his grumpy face! The two men make the book a bit more interesting, throwing in potential relationships, and allowing Izzy to find some happiness in her life.

The book was a fun read, and certainly perfect as a summer read too. It'll leave you with a big smile on your face having enjoyed a really good story, and it's enjoyable even if you're not a fan of gardening and plants like me! Catherine Ferguson's writing was really easy to read, I quickly got lost in the story, and looked forward to picking up my Kindle each night and reading a bit more of Izzy's tale. A fabulously sunny summer read, and one I would definitely recommend!