Review of Christmas on the Home Front by Roland Moore.

Right from the beginning of this book I was gripped. The action wasn’t really fast paced, but it was gripping drama that had me wanting to find out more. I read this book in around five hours, mostly because I could not put it down.

The story is set around Christmas 1944, the last Christmas during World War 2, in the sleepy village of Helmstead. The story centres around Joyce Fisher, a land girl working at Pasture Farm, as well as two German airmen who have been shot down by allied forces during an air raid.

There are other characters in the book, namely Dr. Richard Channing, who play an important role in the story, and they all blend well together. Sometimes you can just guess what is going to happen next, other times you’ll be reading on, desperate to find out what happens.

The tone of the book isn’t too grim, despite the back drop of WWII and the events that are central to the story. This did surprise me a little, I felt sure I’d find it grim reading, but it really wasn’t.

I’ve read reviews where it was said the story was slow to develop, that wasn’t the case for me. I felt that the author had the pace of the story just right. Joyce thinks back quite a bit and I feel that the storyline flowed really well; sometimes when a character is thinking back the story can become slow and clunky, but that wasn’t the case here.

This book is part of a series – I didn’t know this when I started reading, but the book works as a stand alone story too.

I loved the gritty determination of Joyce and Connie. I think the spirit of the Land Girls was captured really well in this book, and the spirit of the people who lived through the war.

Highly recommended.

The Little Bakery of Hopes and Dreams by Kellie Hailes

Josie Donnelley hates Christmas because of painful memories connected to her Mum. She moves to the small village of Sunnycombe hoping to avoid any festivities. Getting a job in the local bakery she feels she’s safe enough from too much Christmas stuff.

What she. hadn’t banked on though was falling for her boss and his adorable daughter Mia. Callan, the bakery owner, is a widower and hates Christmas as much as Josie, but Mia is all excited by the festivities and her Dad and Josie find it hard not to get sucked into the excitement too.

A heartwarming seasonal read. Beautifully written. Lovely characters. A feel good read for the festive season and those long winter nights when you just want to curl up with a good book.

Recommended.

Review of Home Truths.

I was not prepared for how this book would hit me right in the feels. The book begins with Steve Watts furiously searching for his eldest son Liam. Liam has been led astray and now hangs out with dangerous people. When Steve arrives onto one of the area’s notorious estates he is met with a deathly silence. Furious that his younger son has found a syringe, Steve begins shouting in anger, calling out for his eldest son.

But then the unthinkable happens. Steve is attacked by a group of men and dies from his injuries.

Angie Watts is Steve’s widow and mother to Liam and two other children. She is struggling to make ends meet and her unscrupulous landlord is leaning on her to pay her rent arrears. She isn’t able to meet these payments and finds herself being evicted.

This book is hard-hitting with the accurate way it tells of county lines drug gangs, extreme poverty and hardship, as well as potential child abduction and human trafficking. The story is so realistic it could easily have been an article portrayed in the media.

The storyline is hard-hitting and shocking, but the determination of Angie Watts is what drives the story forward and keeps the reader engaged. I certainly couldn’t put this book down. My emotions were all over the place as I read through this book, I couldn’t figure out which way the story would finish and I eagerly read on, despite the gritty drama that was unfolding.

This book is a gripping account of what life can be like for people facing hardships so severe they will do whatever they have to do to keep their family safe.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A rollercoaster ride from start to finish.

Five star rated – *****

Review of The Wives by Lauren Weisberger.

This book is the third instalment in The Devil Wears Prada series. Although I’ve watched The Devil Wears Prada movie, I haven’t read any of the books prior to this one. I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to get into the story or keep up with what was going on with any of the characters.

My worry was unfounded, the story flowed beautifully and the characters weren’t complicated at all.

This particular book is set in Greenwich, Connecticut, and revolves around Emily, Miriam, and Karolina.

Emily turns up in Manhattan during the New Year festivities with the hope of saving the career of a celeb gone bad. This particular bad boy shuns her assistance, preferring the help of a rival of Emily.

Emily decides to spend some time with Miriam and it’s whilst at her house that she gets drawn into helping Karolina fight a DUI that she didn’t even commit, but her politician husband and his would-be new wife are stopping at nothing to get rid of Karolina.

This story is hilarious and full of scandal. It is told from the perspective of all three women and each different point of view reflects upon the issues these women are facing, showing us readers that even the rich and famous have issues and hang-ups just like the rest of us.

I absolutely loved Thais book and highly recommend it.

Review of The Seduction Expert.

I received this title for review from NetGalley.

I found this book really difficult to get into and because of that I chose to read reviews others had posted. It seemed that everyone else was loving this book, which left me wondering why wasn’t I?

I couldn’t warm to the Baroness at all, she comes across as shallow, nasty, and spiteful. With reference, again, to other reviewers they all claimed to be loving the bad “guy” of the story. I found her an awful character and definitely could not find any reason to “love” her.

The story is all over the place, the book appears to have been translated into English and it’s not a great translation. Don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t difficult to read, it’s just not great.

I want to stress that this review is based upon my personal experience of reading this book. I mention having read the reviews other reviewers left regarding this book and in no way am I mocking their responses to this book. Reading is a personal experience and if someone enjoys a book I did not, then there is nothing g wrong with that. I fully believe people should be allowed to share their own thoughts and feelings on whatever they have read, regardless of whether they enjoyed it or not.

Lastly, this story is to be continued, and whilst I haven’t given a glowing review of the first book and am interested in reading the next book to see where the story goes.

Review of Swallowtail Summer.

The first thing I want to say about this book is how enthralling it is. As cliched as this sounds, I really couldn’t put it down. The twists and turns of the story had me hooked, wanting to know if my theories were right or not.

Swallowtail Summer is a story about three families who are all friends and spend their summers at Linston End, the home of Alistair and his late wife Orla. But this summer is set to be their last at Linston End, Alistair has met a new woman and has plans to sell up.

Alistair’s life long friends, Simon and Danny, and their respective wives, Sorrel and Frankie, along with their children, Callum and Rachel, and Jenna, are all excited to see Alistair upon his return to Norfolk. Since Orla’s death he had been travelling, but he was returning home for the summer.

Little did any of them know just how much their lives were about to turned upside down once Alistair broke his news to them. The news that he had found love again with a woman named Valentina. The news that he was putting Linston End on the market, and once sold he was going to start a new life with Valentina.

The friends didn’t warm to Valentina, as Alistair had hoped. They found her sneaky and were very suspicious of her. Alistair could only see the woman he had fallen in love with, blinded by her underhanded behaviour towards his friends. But with the arrival of her step-children tragedy strikes and more than one life hangs in the balance.

I loved this story from start to finish. I had so many theories about how things would turn out for Alistair and his friends, some were way off the mark! The author has woven a tale of love and betrayal, secrets and lies, and the loyalty of long-standing friendship, it makes for a thrilling read.

Review of The Rumour by Lesley Kara.

This debut novel by Lesley Kara had me hooked from the start.

Someone has a secret, but it’s not who you think!

There’s a tense undercurrent right from the beginning of the book. As the story unfolds snippets of the secret come to the surface. I found myself second guessing every other character, thinking it was them with the secret.

The story starts off slowly, despite the tense undercurrent that was present right at the start of the book. The main character is introduced along with the secondary characters, many of them leaving their mark on the reader as the secret is revealed.

The secret is that a child killer is supposedly living alongside the residents of the seaside town of Flintstead. When Joanna, the main character, hears this she sets off on a quest to find out as much as she can about who the person is that harbours this awful secret; who is it that has been given a new identity and allowed to live among them?

Joanna becomes obsessed with the rumour that she helps to spread, as well as the story of the child killer who was given a new identity. Everywhere she goes in her daily life she wonders if the people she interacts with are the notorious child killer.

The book will have you hooked right from the start. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. I thought I knew who the child killer was, then the story took a twist down a different path and I was sure it was another person. I had no idea it was the person who is revealed to be the killer until much later in the book.

The book is very cleverly written, the writer interjects the real killer’s thoughts every now and then but you really don’t get a sense of who this person is for quite some time.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The fast paced rhythm of the story kept me invested right until the end.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a brilliant debut novel.

Review of The Not So Perfect Plan To Save Friendship House: An Uplifting Romantic Comedy.

This is a story of friendship. Of mistrust. Of coming together to celebrate friendship and work out differences.

Phoebe Stockton is the chef at the all female senior living home, her friend June is the manager, and they love their residents and cherish the friendships that they have with the ladies. But the owner, Max, drops a bombshell on them all; he is bringing his father Terence to the home. Technically speaking Terence owns the house, but his rude behaviour and appaling manner send Phoebe, June, and the female residents into a spin.

Then there’s Nick. Nick is “one of the girls” but when Terence comes to live with them he tries to smooth things over, which gets Phoebe’s back up. In her mind Nick can do no wrong, shes had a crush on him ever since he came to work at the home. He’s gorgeous, he’s charming, he’s funny, and he’s a hit with the ladies in the home.

Max then delivers another blow, he’s bringing his daughter into the fold. Tamsyn is brought in to replace one of the helpers who left suddenly after Terence pinched her bottom! Tamsyn is not at all interested in doing any work, instead she hangs around Nick, cosying up to him and getting on Phoebe’s nerves.

At the very beginning of the story we are introduced to Phoebe as she attends her mother’s funeral. Despite the sadness of the occasion the storyline is heart-warming and inviting.

This is a wonderfully uplifting story that immediately draws the reader in. Phoebe is a lovely character and very witty too. I felt for Nick because I had guessed what was really going on with him, but obvioulsy the reader doesn’t find this out until much later in the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I loved the characters, apart from Tamsyn, she irritated me but I expect that was the author’s intention. I would definnitely recommend this book.

Review of The Sapphire Widow.

 

Louisa Reeve appears to have the perfect life, the daughter of a successful British gem trader and the wife of Elliot, a charming businessman, who she has been married to for twelve years. Appearances can be deceptive though, and Louisa and Elliot’s life is not as perfect as it appears on the surface.

Despite having everything they could possibly want to make a comfortable life for themselves, there is one thing that they do not have, a child. There had been several miscarriages and then the tragic loss of their daughter, stillborn, eight years earlier. Louisa was often lonely.

Elliot was always on business, leaving Louisa to her own thoughts. She never doubted his loyalty to her. He’d had some trouble a year or so ago and this worried Louisa more than anything. Then one day her perfect world came crashing down around her. Elliot was late home, they were having guests for dinner and he had vowed he would be back before they arrived. But tragedy arrived at her door instead; the local police officer brought the news that Elliot had been killed in a driving accident earlier that day.

Elliot’s death opens up a huge can of worms that leaves Louisa desperate for answers but giving her only more questions. Beautifully written and with plenty of action this book will entertain from start to finish. As you read through you become engrossed in Louisa’s story, her emotions envelop you as the depth of Elliot’s betrayal is uncovered and the danger he has put his young widow in. This is a book I would definitely recommend.

 

Review of The Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan.

What an absolute joy this book was!

This book will hold you in thrall right from the first page.  Narrated from the point of view of Masha and also Alice, you sense really early that Alice plays a pivotal role in Masha’s life.

Masha lost her son many years ago. She believes he drowned. She is a wonderfully complex character who I loved instantly. She frequents her local cemetery and tends to the graves of many people. She encounters a wonderfully eccentric woman, whom she dubs Sally, and this character adds a lovely layer of depth to the unfolding story.

Masha life is shrouded in grief. The loss of her young son has left a void in her life and the lives of those closest to her. The love that Masha had for her son has been transferred to her beloved Wolfhound, Haizum. The dog’s character is every bit as lovable as Masha.

The book deals with grief and how it engulfs people. It also deals with cancer. We discover Alice has cancer and her life seems to unravel because of this illness. The secret that Alice has been keeping for many years spills out towards the end of the book. The author draws us into Alice’s world by writing about how cancer is sucking the life out of her and exposing her secrets.

The characters in this book are colourful and they invite you into the story. Kitty Muriel is adorable. Elvis comes alive, having first being presented as just another eccentric. Masha’s friendship with both Sally and Kitty Muriel feels so vibrant and exciting. These two ladies offer Masha so much love and hope and those feelings jump out of the book and envelope the reader with the warmth that is being evoked within the story.

I am not writing anything about the plot because I want you to go and read this book and allow yourself to be drawn into the story. Every aspect of the story has such a colourful depth to it and to disclose any details would distract from the enjoyment you will feel once you read this book for yourself.

I loved everything about this book, from start to finish. I highly recommend it and give it a resounding five plus stars!!!