Review of A Year Of New Adventures by Maddy Please.

A Year Of New Adventures is a light-hearted read and thoroughly enjoyable. Billie Summers, the main character, runs writing retreats with her best friend. On their latest retreat a grouchy writer called Oliver Forest, who tests Billie’s patience to the limit. He tells her that she hasn’t had much adventure in her life and this hits a raw nerve. Once the retreat is over Billie returns home determined to experience adventure. She starts a writer’s retreat at her home, which proves to be popular. But Oliver seems to be everywhere; he recommended her to her first client and soon he’s offering her a job. She accepts the job, mostly because she has an attraction to him. The job involves a stint in the USA, where she learns more about Oliver. Throughout the book Billie wrestles with her growing attraction to Oliver and this results in them sleeping together. Oliver seems to regret this immediately and Billie is mortified.

This book is cleverly written and a good read. The storyline was a little slow in the beginning but soon gathers pace and allows the reader to engage with the characters. Billie is funny and endearing, whereas Oliver is quite infuriating. Overall I think this book is worth a read and would recommend it.

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Review of Coming Home by Fern Britton.

Coming Home follows the story of three generations of women from the Cornish town of Pendruggan. Ella – who returns to Cornwall following the death of her beloved Grandmother, Adela.  Sennen – who ran away from Cornwall twenty years earlier, leaving her mother Adela and her father, Bill, to care for her two young children  – Henry and Ella.  And Adela – the mother and grandmother who must deal with the emotional fallout that her daughter’s disappearance has on her husband and their grandchildren.

As the story unfolded I felt a mixture of emotions, anger towards Sennen for leaving her children behind, sympathy for Adela and Bill, who have to deal with their own emotions that their daughter running away has evoked, all the while caring for the two children Senna left behind. Dislike for the grown-up Henry, how different he is to his sister! Ella is instantly likeable, she is such an easy character to root for.

We met Ella in Fern Britton’s earlier novel, The Postcard, where she had just arrived in Pendruggan.  Coming Home delves much deeper into Ella’s early life and the reason behind her return to Cornwall. It explores her relationship with Henry, who really comes across as a spoilt brat, and her relationship with Kit goes from strength to strength.

In the book, we are introduced to Sennen, the mother of Ella and Henry.  We learn about her reasons for running away and discover where she has been for the past twenty years. As much as she angered me with her selfish actions, I did feel for her when she discovers that both of her parents are dead.

The book is quite thought-provoking, exploring teenage pregnancy and the gamut of emotions that many young mothers face. It is beautifully written and the characters and story are captivating. It’s very easy to get involved with the storyline and you find yourself rooting for at least one character.

With regards to Sennen, I felt that there are many loose ends with her character, which makes me wonder if Fern is planning to write Sennen’s story. Henry wasn’t as developed a character as I had thought he would be, but again, I wonder if we will get to read his story at a later date. I was particularly happy with the happy-ever-after that Ella and Kit got. Ella is such a lovely character and I really had hoped she would get everything that she had wished for.

Overall I found Coming Home to be a pleasant read with a strong storyline and believable characters. The book is very well written and grabs your attention right from the off.

Definitely recommended.

Review of Fools And Mortals by Bernard Cornwell.

This story is set in the heart of Elizabethan London and centres around Richard Shakespeare, the brother of William Shakespeare. Both Richard and his older brother, William, are players – performers in the playhouses of London. The tale is told from the narrative of Richard, who has had a fairly bleak life up until he meets Silvia.

As the brother of William, who is a sharer in a playhouse in London, and a good play writer, you would be forgiven for thinking Richard leads a charmed life, getting all of the best parts in the plays his brother writes. That’s not the case, William treats Richard very shoddily and the parts that he offers him in his plays are menial.

The portrait that the author paints for us is one of a very bleak existence indeed. As I was reading this book I could feel the despair that Richard often felt, and hoped he would leave his brother’s playhouse for the new one being built across the river.

William is asked to,write a play for a wedding being held in the home of a Lord, who is rumoured to be the secret half-brother of Queen Elizabeth. The play that William writes is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard has begged William for a man’s part in the play. To his surprise William gives him such a part, but when they begin rehearsals Richard soon realises he has been cast as a man who plays a woman.

It is at this grand home that he discovers Silvia lives, the lovely young woman he noticed at an earlier date when she had accompanied the bride-to-be when she had called in at the playhouse with her mother and her ladies-in-waiting. This helps to cheer Richard up and he decides to stick around.

The play is stolen by one of the other young men, who has been lured away to the rival playhouse by the promise of more money. William believes all is lost, it Richard assures him he will return with the stolen script. Richard figures out where Simon Willoughby would have taken the script to and devises a plan to get it back. Much to his surprise his plan pays off, but as he is escaping one of the villains who masterminded the theft catches up with him. In a blind panic Richard fires a gun and manages to wound de Valle. He makes his escape and upon his return to the grand house he presents his brother with the stolen script. William is extremely grateful, but this still does not get Richard a coveted part in the play. Deciding he is happy anyway because of his blossoming friendship and budding romance with Silvia, he decides to stick it out with his part.

But Richard is captured by de Valle’s contacts a day or so later and is forced to say he will set his own brother up, declaring that he is a practising catholic. But he devises a plan and upon his escape and the conclusion is the performance of the play at the wedding.

The book is very well written, but the story is quite bleak. I guess this was how life was during the reign of Elizabeth I. The characters are either rascals and people we can root for, or evil doers who are not very pleasant at all. This is probably true of the time, so it makes for fairly grim reading at times.

Definitely not a hearts and flowers type of book, despite the happy ending. The author has clearly researched this era well and this is evident in the book. I think this book would appeal to those who enjoy reading books from this era, or the gritty and realistic story this book tells.

Review of The Postcard by Fern Britton.

Set in the Cornish Village of Pendruggan this story follows the life of Penny Leighton who is struggling to be what she perceives as the perfect wife, mother, and TV producer. Her career has hit a rough patch and she’s feeling the pressure.

Penny is a forty-something married mother of one, who is used to a glamorous life as a television producer. Whilst on location in Pendruggan, where the Mr Tibbs Mysteries were filmed Penny met her husband, the local vicar. Penny had been shocked to find herself falling in love and getting married, followed closely by her getting pregnant. We meet Penny when her daughter Jenna is around a year old, and Penny is struggling with motherhood’s demands. She also finds herself plunged into a crisis in her career when the author of the Mr. Tibbs Mysteries refuses to write another volume of the highly acclaimed stories. Penny’s boss, Jack Bradbury, is putting pressure onto her to get Mavis Crewe to agree to produce another book so that the television company can produce another series of the show. It is at this time that Penny receives the news that her mother has died, and despite being estranged from her mum and sister, the news rocks Penny to the core. With all of this going on in her life Penny crumbles under the pressure and the new GP, also Penny’s new neighbour, diagnoses her with Post-Natal Depression.

This book was a wonderful escapist read, a book to while away the hours whenever you pick it up. The characters were lovable, mostly, and the pace of the story was just right for the genre. Having never read anything by Fern Britton before I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the book quite as much as I did.

Penny’s struggles were relatable, the new neighbours, Kit and Adam, and their two dogs, were a lovely addition to the story, and even Simon the vicar, Penny’s husband, was a likeable character. I particularly loved Queenie who runs the Village shop, although she wasn’t in the book as often as I’d hoped. However, Penny’s sister Suzie, I found an awful,character and didn’t like her at all, although she is crucial to the storyline. She was spoiled, vindictive and manipulative, and I secretly hoped Penny would send her packing.

There are a couple of other characters whose narrative we follow in this book, and the author has threaded them together in a clever way. The ending didn’t, for me, tie up as many loose ends as I would have hoped, but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Review Of House At The End Of Hope Street.

 

 

 


This book was awesome. I loved it.

 

The book centres on Alba who we meet right at the very beginning of the book. Alba is in a dark place and is wandering aimlessly around Cambridge one night when she suddenly finds herself outside of number eleven Hope Street. She is very puzzled as she has never encountered the house before, although she is certain she has been this way countless times. There is something about the house that draws her to it, draws her up the garden path and up to the front door where she finds herself knocking on the door. She is let in without hesitation by a woman named Peggy. It soon becomes apparent to Alba that this is no ordinary House. There is something uniquely special about it. Alba, along with the other women who are staying at Hope Street, is nudged in the right direction when it comes to finding out the truth about her life and the choices she needs to make.

The book is a delight to read. It has a fantastic array of famous characters in it all more than willing to give advice to the women who stay at Hope Street. I found that the book was well written and easy to enjoy. It had all of my favourite ingredients – hope, love, joy and a happy ending.

 

I would highly recommend this book and am happy to give it a five star plus rating.

 

*****+

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READ.

Review Of The Book Of Celtic Magic

I began reading this book determined not to just put it down, never to come back to it again.  The thing about Celtic Magic, for me, is that I find it a hard subject to get into.  I love esoteric subjects, find them so fascinating, especially witchcraft and magic, but Celtic Magic has always left me cold.

This book, however, was different right from the beginning.  What I usually find when reading anything on Celtic Magic is how long winded it is.  I find it takes me so long to take in what the author is trying to impart, this often puts me off wanting to read the book.  I found this book to be very easy to understand – the language is clear and very informative.  I have learnt more from this book about Celtic Magic than any other book I have ever tried to read.

The book is full of rituals and meditations.  At the very start the reader is invited to start a journal so that they can record their thoughts and feelings upon performing the rituals and meditations.  I found this a very useful tool whilst reading this book and I actually think it helped me to connect with the book a lot more.  The book came across as a teaching tool, but there was nothing stuffy or boring about it.  I felt like I was sitting down with a trusted mentor each time I came to read, and that made reading the book a joy.

As you work through the book the author recommends other books that you might find useful.  Although this is not a new concept, some authors will have listed books that can seem unnecessary to readers.  The author seemed to only recommend what he thought would be of use to his readers, of course it is entirely up to the individual reader if they choose to act upon those recommendations, but I felt inspired to look up some of the recommended books with the intention of obtaining them.

Having read many books on the subject of witchcraft and magic I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was not your usual Alexandrian, Gardnerian, neo-pagan offering.  Those sorts of books leave me cold, this book, however, was full of useful information; lists of Celtic Gods and Goddesses that the author had worked with, detailing their areas of usefulness.  The book has covered areas such as trees and plants, such as how to use them in magical rituals and how to feel more connected to nature.  There was a section on animals and totems, which was quite impressive.

I particularly loved how there is a meditation for more or less every area that the author covers in the book.  This not only helps the reader to connect to this particular practice, but it also helps you to absorb the information you are learning and helps absorb the material.

I also loved the glossary at the end, the words are listed and in brackets the author has included the correct pronunciation of each word.  This is particularly useful as there an awful lot of Welsh words included.

 

On the whole this book was a joy to read, in an area I have struggled to get to grips with in the past.  I would recommend this book to novices and those who are already walking a spiritual path, no matter how far down it you have got.  There is plenty to learn from the book and I think it will be a useful accompaniment for novices and those who are more established in their practices.

Highly Recommended 5 stars *****