Friday, 9 March 2018

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.

Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.

But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

It was too good to be true my diet was going well and then came the release of The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson and I fell into cheesecake heaven!
Marnie didn’t have the upbringing to look back on with fond memories and throughout her life trouble had a way of finding her. When a chance meeting on a cheesecake forum introduces Marnie to a dear old lady Lilian little does she know that her life is about to change.
What a breath of fresh air this book was, it has been a long time since I have read a book that had me laughing out loud. The author had a wicked sense of humour that she poured into this storyline and made her main character Marnie react to things in believable ways. I loved the plan that this feisty young lady came up with for another use for her cheesecakes!
I loved Marnie and she is a character that will stay with me for a long time. She has been through hell and back and it did get to the point where I thought how much more can you throw at this poor lass but give her her due she dusts herself off and comes back fighting.
I loved the village community, some of the residents I warmed to immediately and others I could see were going to be trouble and had me on my guard. Lilian was a trooper who had a kind spirit and showed Marnie the care and warmth she has never truly known. Herv was one of my favourite characters he was almost as delicious as the cheesecakes!
I was thrilled that I was kept guessing write up until the last chapter about the mysteries surrounding Marnie, Lilian and Wychwell it held my interest right up to the very end and I was pleasantly surprised with what was revealed
I must admit I did find the storyline had a slow start but then found myself flying through the pages and was soon immersed in Marnie’s journey. I loved the foodie element in this book it had me dribbling and craving cheesecake from start to finish, who knew there were so many different flavours of cheesecake now I need to try them all.
I loved the setting of this book, Wychwell seemed like such an idyllic village to live in and thanks to Milly’s detailed descriptions it was quite easy to visualise. Although there is a great sense of humour weaved through the storyline, Milly Johnson also touches on various topics that will tug at the heart strings too.
This was a wickedly humorous read that I wish I could go back and read for the first time again. Milly Johnson fans will not be disappointed.

Kindle                         Hardback

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Random Acts of Kindness Part 2 by Victoria Walters

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. Abbie's ex-boyfriend and colleague, Jack, has arrived back on the scene... Will she be lured back to London or has her heart taken root at Huntley Manor? 
Louise has promised to be kinder to herself, but after suffering one heartbreak too many, she isn't keen to try her luck again.... Can the handsome local vet convince her otherwise?
Eszter, who is over from Hungary with her daughter for the summer, has been met with nothing but kindness since she arrived in Littlewood, and now she and her daughter Zoe are all set to return the favour as Eszter's mother-in-law Anne finds herself with nowhere to stay... Eszter is determined to help Anne get back involved in the community after being alone for so long, but do they belong in Littlewood or will the three of them remain outsiders? 

As soon as I finished reading Part 1 of Random Acts of Kindness by Victoria Walters I instantly downloaded Part 2 eager to continue the ladies journey. If you haven’t read part 1 there is a little summery dropped into the storyline to get you on track with what happened to the women in the first part but you really must read part one as this was where you really warm to the characters and form that bond with them.
Eszter is becoming part of the community and is finally cracking her mother in-laws hard shell as we begin to find out more about her history. Louise still has her heart well protected and she is not about to drop the barriers any time soon. Abbie has enjoyed working away on plans to rescue Huntley Manor from financial ruin but after an unexpected phone call and visit opens another door for her will she see her plans through or will she be heading back to London?
I loved this part just as much as part 1. For me I felt like part one focused more on Abbie whereas part 2 we learn more about Eszter and her mother in-law so I am hoping that in part 3 we will see more of Louise’s journey. I can feel that we are approaching some big decision-making times for all three ladies and I know how I hope they are all going to pan out.
My only problem now is trying to find the patience to wait for the release of part 3, I for one will be counting down the days for the next instalment to ping onto my Kindle


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Random Acts of Kindness by Victoria Walters

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart... 
Abbie has fled London and the humiliation of not being able to make rent after being made redundant. Louise, unlucky in love, has thrown herself into her career at the local hospital. And Eszter, who has travelled from Hungary with her daughter Zoe, hopes to fulfill her husband's dying wish... to reunite his family

I am so excited that Victoria Walters is back to bring us another book as I absolutely loved her debut The Second Love of My Life which in my opinion didn’t get the attention it deserved. Now she is back with Random Acts of Kindness which is being released as 4 parts which you all know I am not a fan of purely because of the fact I am greedy and impatient! However I wasn’t going to miss out on the chance to enjoy more of Victoria Walters writing so I was willing to put my greed to one side and download part one ( it helped knowing part two had already been released shh!)

The first part of this series is called Promises and we meet three characters who right from the get go I knew I was going to love. Abbie has just been made redundant, with no job and no money she can no longer afford to stay in London so she makes her way to a little town called Littlewood to stay with her sister Louise. Louise is looking forward to having her sister around for company as she has just found out some news that is breaking her heart all over again.

We then meet Eszter and her sweet little daughter Zoe who has made the journey to England after losing her husband and is now trying to fulfil his last wishes. Things are daunting arriving in a new country with a young girl in tow with no where to live and no job but it soon becomes apparent that this lovely little community will do all they can to help each other out and Eszter has already shown she will fit in after kindly finding Louise’s lost bag and returning it to her.

I could go on talking about the storyline but I don’t want to give too much away with it only being a small part of the storyline. Once again the author has created such a loveable group of character who all have their own personal struggles but she shows that just by trying to help others you can not only make their lives easier you also feel good for being able to help and sometimes that act can be repaid. 

I loved this opening part to this story and I can not wait to start part 2 which I am going to do as soon as I finish this review! I am looking forward to see how the women progress and what they achieve in the next part.

Get in QUICK as Part one is currently FREE on kindle! ( at time of review )

Thursday, 22 February 2018

A Country Escape by Katie Fforde

Fran has always wanted to be a farmer. And now it looks as if her childhood dream is about to come true.
She has just moved in to a beautiful but very run-down farm in the Cotswolds, currently owned by an old aunt who has told Fran that if she manages to turn the place around in a year, the farm will be hers.
But Fran knows nothing about farming. She might even be afraid of cows.
She's going to need a lot of help from her best friend Issi, and also from her wealthy and very eligible neighbour - who might just have his own reasons for being so supportive.
Is it the farm he is interested in? Or Fran herself?

I am a big fan of Katie Fforde, her books never disappoint and they always leave you feeling pleasantly uplifted and her latest book A Country Escape is no exception.
When Fran is contacted out of the blue by a distant relative Amy with news that she maybe inline to inherit the family farm in the Cotswolds she makes a big and brave decision to leave everything she knows and up stick to move to the farm to take on the challenge of looking after the farm for a year. What Fran didn’t realise was quite what a challenge she was taking in as the farm is run down and is not making a profit.
Desperate to prove to Amy that she could not just cope but turn the farm around Fran gets stuck in to making some changes to the farm with the help of her best friend Issi and the herdsman Tig. Having been warned off the help of Antony from next door because of his interest in the farm Fran is cautious to accept any help from him.
Just when Fran feels that things for the farm had turned a corner a surprise is around the corner that will put everything in jeopardy due to someone elses intentions for the farm.

I haven’t found myself so immersed by a book in so long. From the moment I picked this book up I couldn’t put it down and so I ended up absorbing it in one sitting and now I am said to leave the characters behind.
Fran was such a determined, hardworking and creative character who was so honest and caring, I warmed to her instantly. I really enjoyed her tackling each task head on desperate to come up with a way to save the farm and to show Amy that she was worthy of inheriting the farm and to prove that she had the best intentions of keeping the farm and its heritage in tack. The friendship between Issi and Fran was such a strong one their support for one and other was so believable and they bounced off each other perfectly.
I was wary of Antony and I found my opinion of him gradually changing through out the storyline but was still on my guard waiting for something to come crashing around the corner and for his true colours to be shown.
I really enjoy books that centre around building or saving small businesses so I knew this book was going to appeal to me but I love how much detail Katie Fforde went into in regards to the hurdles that need to be faced and the ideas that you bounce around to try and find that special something that just makes something work. It shows that nothing comes easy it is through pure determination and hard work that something becomes successful. To soften the business side of the book we also enjoy blossoming romances, friendships and gorgeous little puppies too! I think I should give the hardworking cows a mention too or I will not be in Tig’s good books!
This was another wonderful read by Katie Fforde and it is definitely up there with my favourite of hers so fans will not be disappointed by thus book and anyone who is yet to discover Katie Fforde’s books this would be a great one to start with.

Kindle                     Hardback

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.
She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.
What Lou doesn't know is she's about to meet someone who's going to turn her whole life upside down.
Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it'll hurt.
Lou won't know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.

Me Before You is one of my all time favourite books and one of the rare books I have reread over again so I was look forward to the release of Still Me to see what Jojo Moyes had in store for Louisa Clark this time so I snapped up my copy from my local bookshop and headed home to jump straight in.
Louisa has an opportunity of a life time to really do what Will wanted her to do and push her boundaries and see the world when an opportunity for her to up sticks and move to New York and become a professional friend to the very wealthy Agnes. 
As Louisa is challenged in her role in keeping secrets and to partake in exercise that almost kills her she is also finding it difficult leaving Sam behind can a long-distance relationship really survive especially when a face from her past takes her breath away?
I really enjoyed this book and found myself taking my time reading this as I really didn’t want to leave Louisa again as with each book she is taken on a further exciting journey that is allowing her to find herself and I love being with her on her journey and watching her blossom. You can still rely on Lou to give us a good laugh but you can also really see the honest and genuinely caring character she is deep within always putting herself before others even when it leaves her in a vulnerable situation.
I loved having Nathan around again in this book as well as meeting some new characters like the difficult yet delightful Mrs De Witt and the ever so friendly and welcoming Ashok, I have to say I had my reservations surrounding Josh and Agnes from the get go, they didn’t warm my heart but they were great characters in this storyline.
Jojo Moyes really gets the balance right in this book with the emotional moments and her humorous antics which we had in Me Before You but that for me was missing in After You she has pulled it back again with Still Me and this is what kept me hooked and purely entertained and absorbed in the storyline from start to finish.
I have a feeling this may be the last in the series which I will be devastated about as I still feel we could have one more Lou adventure to tie everything up beautifully so I will still keep my hopes up that Jojo will grace us with one more little Lou book! If you are one of the extremely small population who still have not read Me Before You stop wasting time and go and grab a copy you will not regret it and then you will be eager to meet up with Lou again on her New York adventure in Still Me.

Kindle                      Hardback

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Coming Home to Island House by Erica James

It's the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux.
But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together.
With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

My favouite thing about being a book reviewer is having books sent to you by authors you haven’t come across before and even books that you wouldn’t have necessarily picked up whilst browsing the bookshelves in our local store and this is exactly how I discovered the talented author Erica James when her generous publishers sent a copy of her book to me a year or so ago and now I cannot get enough of her books and look forward to her new release each year.
Her latest release is Coming Home to Island House and what a wonderful read this book is. I was captured by not only the authors beautiful storyline but the wide range of loveable and also loathable characters that entertain us and touch our hearts right from the very first page.
Our central character is author Romily Temple. The storyline opens with Romily returning home from her book tour to find her husband Jack Devereux in a life-threatening state. In the days that follow Jack shares his wishes with Romily that he has made mistakes with his estranged family and wants to reunite them with her help.
The family all arrive to see Jack after receiving a message from Romily but their arrival was too late, but always one for difficult surprises Jacks will dictates that they all need to spend a week together in order to receive their inheritance. With so much history and turmoil running between the family members will they be able to fulfil his wishes especially with the brink of war fast approaching.
The storyline is set around the time of World War II and I hold my hands up and say I have never been one who loves books set heavily around the war but with this storyline I found it insightful seeing how the war effected the day to day lives and relationships of each of our characters.
Romily was such an admirable character, to have lost someone she so desperately loved and to then be lumbered with his family was enough to deal with but then to top it off and help with the adorable evacuee Stanley and still have that sense of wanting to fulfil her duty and do her bit for her country makes her a character impossible not to like.
There are such a vast amount of characters in this book and they all have a detailed and important role in the book not just making brief appearances here and there and yet at no point did I lose track of who was who because they were so well developed. We even have the dreadful Arthur who was such a vile excuse for a human and I really wanted him to get his just deserts!
There really is something for everyone in this book as it follows friendships and relationships, grief and love, hope and desperation. I felt so involved with the characters and with each bit of good or heart-breaking news I felt I was sharing it with the characters and was on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout.
This was a heart-warming, insightful and captivating read with a wonderful group of admirable characters, definitely a book that I would recommend.

Hardback               Kindle

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Lemon Tree Cafe by Cathy Bramley

When Rosie Featherstone finds herself unexpectedly jobless, the offer to help her beloved Italian grandmother out at the Lemon Tree Café a little slice of Italy nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire – feels like the perfect way to keep busy.
Surrounded by the rich scent of espresso, delicious biscotti and juicy village gossip, Rosie soon finds herself falling for her new way of life. But she is haunted by a terrible secret, one that even the appearance of a handsome new face can't quite help her move on from.
Then disaster looms and the café fortunes are threatened . . . and Rosie discovers that her nonna has been hiding a dark past of her own. With surprises, betrayal and more than one secret brewing, can she find a way to save the Lemon Tree Café and help both herself and Nonna achieve the happy endings they deserve?
When it came to spending my Christmas book vouchers the first book that jumped out at me was The lemon Tree Café by Cathy Bramley, although I hadn’t heard much about this book I have previously enjoyed a number of this authors books so I was looking forward to reading this one.
Rosie finds herself jobless after sticking to her morals which is something that had me backing her character from the first chapter. Not wanting a gap on her C.V she decides to help out in her Nonna’s café whilst she looks for another job but before long she soon learns that the café is in trouble and she is desperate to help her Nonna but her help is not wanted. How will Rosie save the café when her Nonna is so reluctant to let anyone help?
Another book by Cathy Bramley that captures your heart and keeps you engrossed from start to finish. Rosie was a very strong and determined young woman who was hiding a secret that is holding her back from finding love even when it was staring her in the face in form of the delightful Gabe. I saw many similarities between Rosie and her Nonna Marie and I think this was why the two were so close and why they were both so fiercely independent.
Like Cathy Bramley’s previous books there is a strong sense of community spirit flowing through the book which I love along with the book being based around the café an independent family business which are always favourites of mine. The storyline is an enjoyable light read but it does have a number of difficult topics such as abuse and grief but as devastating as these topics are it didn’t dampen the spirit of the storyline it just made us warm to the characters even more and give the storyline more depth.
This was a wonderful read, it doesn’t quite hit the Ivy Lane spot but it is a close second for me.

Kindle                       Paperback