The Girls From See Saw Lane by Sandy Taylor

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What they say:I loved this novel so much, even though it’s probably the most heart-breaking story I’ve read all year…it will totally absorb you and capture your heart.That Thing She Reads

Brighton 1963. Mary Pickles and I walked along the street with our arms linked, looking in shop windows. We were best friends and together we were invincible.

Dottie and Mary forged a friendship over a bag of penny sweets when they were eight years old. They’ve shared everything together since then – the highs and lows of school, family dramas, hopes and dreams and now, at seventeen, they’re both shop girls, working at Woolworths.

As they go out in the world in pursuit of love and happiness, the simplicity of their childhood dissolves as life becomes more complicated. The heady excitement of first love will consume them both, but the pain of unintentional betrayal will test their friendship in ways neither of them could ever imagine…

A charming, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting novel which brings a bygone era vividly to life. Fans of Nadine Dorries, Mary Gibson and Pam Weaver will love The Girls from See Saw Lane. Counting Chimneys coming soon.

‘I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. It has all the ingredients for a perfect read: fantastic, loveable and very real characters, an emotional and compelling storyline, and a brilliant setting in time and place.’ Louise Douglas

‘Sandy Taylor has proven herself to be a very talented and gifted storyteller with an immense insight into family, friendship, love, and forgiveness…This is one of the most endearing, yet heart-breaking, novels that I have encountered in quite some time and will certainly not soon forget…Witty and humorous dialogue written with such ease truly brought this story to life and swept me away between the pages. Filled with unexpected twists and turns, you’ll want to keep the box of tissues nearby!’ Kimberly’s Bookshelf

‘I have just started to read this one and am hooked! I love the vivid details of the time period and the closeness of the best friends.Weekend Reading

‘I would recommend it to anyone who loves stories about female friendships, books set in the past…and for anyone who wants an emotionally stirring read!’ My Bookish Ramblings

A beautiful tale of friendship, love, betrayal and forgiveness and one that will stay with me for a long time to comeThe Girls From See Saw Lane is a truly beautiful story that will touch your heart. Mary and Dottie will certainly live on in my head and my heart.’ By The Letter Book Reviews

‘I find it very hard to believe that this is Sandy’s first book. This book is so well written…The relationship between the girls is very heartwarming, but also extremely heartbreaking, there will be times when you will need tissues at hand.The Reading Head

‘I recommend this book to all who want to take a wonderful trip back to the 60’s. I would give it more than 5 stars if there were more to give.’ Library Thing

When you read this book, be prepared to laugh and to cry (it gets really sad)The Girls from See Saw Lane is a good book to settle in and read on a rainy afternoon.’ The Avid Reader

‘Wow this book had me laughing out loud one minute and bursting into tears the next..A massive page turner.Nat’s Reading Cloud

‘I absolutely adored it…so wonderful and so captivating.The Book Cafe

Will make you smile, laugh, reminisce and perhaps even cry a little…an absorbing and charming read.’ Portobello Book Blog

The Review: First off, such a mahoosive thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review. There’s books where you enjoy every single word, and this was one of them.  It was the story of Dottie and Mary, starting with them aged 8 and continuing into teenagedom and then adulthood. I adore books told from multiple points of views and this was told through Dottie, the character who saw herself as the lesser of the pair, although I thought of her as only slightly more innocent, with a tiny diary extract by Mary sealing everything. Both characters were as strong and as lovely as each other and you could see that both through story and diary extracts.  The story was great, Dotties family aiding in the comic moments and both Dottie and Mary’s ‘beaus, Ralph and Elton’ adding to drama, warmth and gorgeous romance.

The beauty is in the everyday, the ordinary, the many examples of what great friends the two were, two people who were always looking out for each other,

” ‘Well they won’t tease you any more, Dottie Perks … Not if I have anything to do with it.’ We smiled at each other, and in that moment it was as if we both knew that something wonderful and special had just happened.”

and how their friendship continues through. There was no waiting for the next Big Bang, or whatever was going to happen at the end (although the beginning of the story did continue to return to my mind), I just read and enjoyed each description, each daily event.

There’s betrayal, of course, a betrayal that packed a punch, with repercussions both heartbreaking and beautiful that I floated through, they were so vivid. The reviews I read all told of how one of the main characters obviously didn’t appreciate the other, but there are countless examples that tell otherwise. The ending had me in floods of tears, my heart truly broke and after I put the book away it still continued to enter my mind. I cannot recommend enough and I was shocked to see this was a debut, it was so beautifully crafted.

Rating: 5/5

 

4 in the Afternoon by Geralyn Corcillo

4intheafternoon

What they say: Bestselling and award-winning author of romantic comedy Geralyn Corcillo has just released this collection of 4 RomCom short stories. Dates, dogs, football, monsters in the attic, misunderstandings, and unexpected discoveries abound in these tales of modern love.

***All Summer on a Date: The gorgeous Kyle Hunter is taking reformed iconoclast Summer Hodiak to the party of the year. But when an unexpected dilemma slams into their exquisite evening, will Summer follow her date…or follow her heart?

***Random Acts of Violet: Cautious loner Violet Parker needs a new playbook when her quiet summer on campus collides with an unexpected eight year-old, a monster in the attic, and Noah…

***Miss Understanding in the Ballroom with the Wrench: Jesse and Peter meet at a party, but each is hiding the one thing that they think makes them un-dateable. Will their subterfuge and all the ensuing misunderstandings wreck everything, just as the spark between them is about to ignite?

***Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants: The NYT Bestselling true story of true love that kicked off Geralyn Corcillo’s writing career.

 

The Review: I have to admit I had a couple of things making me wary of this collection, I know Geralyn through social media and find her to be so bright, friendly and helpful since I’ve started writing. Obviously it was only a matter of time until I went looking for her work and I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to expectations and then what do you do? It didn’t matter, I was glad I did! This leads me into my other worry, that Geralyn is from the US and so I was afraid that there would be a disconnect in terms of language and content but you know what they say, that good writing transcends boundaries (Disclaimer: I may or may not have made that up myself!). It first came to my attention with talk of the NFL, which obviously we don’t have over here, then again with the description of the temperature, but to be honest, in general, I didn’t notice much of a difference.

Each of the stories were unique, and when I say unique I mean stand alone individuals as you’ll see from the descriptions above. They each had their own little bite to them that made them stand out and me sit up. The misunderstandings were textbook and yet not clichéd, I could see some coming and missed others, getting a nice surprise when I realized what was going on. The dialogue was very clever, and the romance was perfect, that brilliant kind of sparkling sweetness that some would ‘swoon’ for! I loved how each of the lead characters were so strong and independent, and at one stage I had the vision of a female Bruce Willis (he wears a vest all the time in Die Hard, the lead here was just in a vest and boxer shorts in her attic, so you have to kind of see where I’m going here? No, oh, okay, sorry then!)

Then to finish, the final story speaks of Jane Austen and then brings a modern day story about what happens when all that’s left in a relationship is the modern day humdrum all back around, so the modern day story is mirrored in the narrator’s thoughts on Jane Austen. It was so lovely! All in all a very satisfying read, plus the dip in dip out aspect that’s perfect as a weekend read! Very much recommended. Go get!

Rating 4.5/5

Jenny in Neverland: Blogger Interview

jennyinneverland

Firstly I am so excited to have one of my blogging idols, Jenny from the bookish lifestyle blog, Jenny In Neverland here to talk to about her reading habits (just look at the pretty banner above: gorgeous!). Jenny’s is a blog that, from the start of my own blogging journey, I’ve consistently followed, actively seeking her out (I especially love sitting down to devour it on a Sunday morning). She is in my Top 5 bloggers as well as being one of the most popular bloggers in the circle I follow (note to self: must let you all know about the  bloggers I never ever miss posts from) and also helped me when I began blogging so you can imagine how happy I am to have her here today! Anyhoo, lets get going!

Hi Jenny, great to have you here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi Bernadette! Thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I’m Jenny (obviously), book and lifestyle blogger from just outside of London. I love reading, writing, cooking, Formula 1, Disney and animals. I also own my own online book touring business for authors. Ummm, I hate this question, it always makes me sound really boring haha! I love cleaning…

Can I ask, how did you start blogging?

I was actually searching for reviews of the book I’d just finished reading at the time (I still remember which book it was too, The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson) and I came across a book blog (Bookboodle). I didn’t know much about blogging at the time – any type of blogging – but I was in a pretty shitty place; mental health wise and I’d just quit my college course and my placement because it wasn’t going the way I’d planned. So I contacted her and asked her for some information and advice and she helped me set my blog up and you know what they say, the rest is history. I really do owe everything to Lindsay from Bookboodle because I’m 100% certain I wouldn’t be blogging if it wasn’t for her.

Do you remember your first blog post?

I do indeed! It was a book review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, one of my all-time favorite books. Looking back now, in all honesty, it wasn’t too bad for a very first post. It’s a lot less embarrassing than some of my others haha!

You made the move from book blogger to lifestyle blogger (albeit with so many glorious bookish elements to your blog that I still call it a book blog!), can you tell us how it came about?

You know what, I don’t really know. It’s not that my love of books was disappearing (that will never happen) I think it was because of review copies. I was getting so stressed out with all these books being sent to me and having to review them by a certain date that I was falling out of love with book blogging a bit. I very nearly almost quit blogging about books altogether but I’m so glad I didn’t. I still accept review copies now but only ones I’ve specifically requested. I no longer have a review requests form on my blog either because there were just so many coming through that it was overwhelming. From the beginning, I always wrote “other” posts as well – mostly about book related topics but not specifically book reviews and really enjoyed the freedom in writing about whatever I wanted and these “other” posts just became more and more over time that one day I looked at my blog and realized, “Actually, I’m a lifestyle blogger now”. But I’m really glad you still see me as a book blogger – books will always be the reason I started blogging and I’m hoping to blog about them more in 2016! Go back to basics.

Some questions to answer without thinking about it at all … and go! (Ooooh, I love these kind of questions!)

* Genre of choice? Young Adult

* If you walked into a library would you know where you were heading to or would you have to think about it? I’d probably have to think about it

* First choice: e-book or paperback? Paperback

* Do you head for well-known books/authors or look at for example covers to guide you? Erm, bit of both. I’m a sucker for a good cover though.

* Do you prefer sequels or standalones? Oh no. Erm, both. Depends. Some books don’t need sequels – they’re perfect just as they are with no further explanation of the characters or events. It just is what it is. Standalones.

* Weepies or comedies? Weepies. I love a book that makes me cry!

* If you didn’t like a book would you cut it short or soldier on? If I was reviewing it then soldier on but if not, cut it short. Life’s too short to read books you don’t enjoy.

* If I was to ask you to name one book that jumps into your head what would it be? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

And to finish, if you had to choose a book that jumped out at you in 2015 (not necessarily your favourite) what would it be?

Every Day by David Levithan. Very rarely do I read a book in less than 2 days but this one took me about 24 hours. It was one of the most beautifully told and unique books I’ve ever read.

Well, thanks so much for being here today, Jenny, it’s been amazing having you over:)

Jenny can be found at (and I defy you not to stay over there for some time;)):

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

ThegirlonthetrainWhat they say:

THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER.
YOU DON’T KNOW HER. BUT SHE KNOWS YOU.
Rear Window meets Gone Girl, in this exceptional and startling psychological thriller

‘Gripping, enthralling – a top-notch thriller and a compulsive read’
S J WATSON, bestselling author of Before I Go To Sleep

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

 

The Review: Chances are, you’ve heard of this. Neatly coupled with ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn for every mention, it’s the book that everybody wants to know if you’ve read. So I read it. I had read ‘Gone Girl’ some time ago and I was firmly in the ‘loved it’ camp (yes, you have to take sides, apparently it’s not possible to just like it, it’s a black and white love or hate game).

As you can see above, it’s the story of Rachel, who is taking the train every morning. Up until now, Rachel had been stumbling through life, reeling from the break up of her marriage, and was dealing with alcohol issues. We start to get some of her back story, while seeing her struggling to keep it together. I loved her reasoning and justifications, and I felt for her, although there were times when you did wish she could get it together (I felt a bit guilty for thinking this.) Anyhoo, in first person, we experience Rachel imagining the stories of a couple she sees from afar when the train stops at a signal. She is obsessed with them, thinking of them as the perfect couple, no flaws, no secrets. One morning, she thinks she sees something, and this, coupled with a news story, brings her life new meaning. The alcohol was a great tool in the story as you weren’t quite sure what Rachel was remembering or whether she was credible at all, but then, there weren’t a lot of credible people in this story!

The story is given to us mostly from her point of view, and then we get the point of view of other people who are involved with what happens. I did wish we could have had one or two more points of view to even it out a little.

A psychological thriller, ‘The Girl on the Train’ is actually a light enough read, I didn’t get fully absorbed into it as I did ‘The Girl with no Past‘ (they coupled it with these two books so I’m going to go there too!) but I did enjoy it. I think, had this been the first thriller I’d read, I’d possibly have enjoyed it more, but ‘Gone Girl’ was in the back of my head and I was constantly making comparisons and clumping them together. Conversely, if I read ‘Gone Girl’ now I don’t know if I’d think it was so innovative or enjoyable. I’d say read it and enjoy. Either way, you’re probably going to read it anyway, aren’t you? I would say it’s more for those of us who don’t read a lot of thrillers, and who are on the lookout for something not too violent or gruesome.

Rathing: 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inconceivable by Tegan Wren

inconceivable

What they say: A popular, young royal couple can’t produce an heir? INCONCEIVABLE!

When Ozarks native Hatty goes “whole hog” during karaoke, she catches the eye of Prince John. He isn’t what she expects the heir to a small European nation to be: he’s affable, witty, and isn’t put off by her tell-it-like-it-is demeanor. Their flirtation should be short lived, but a force stronger than fate—Hatty’s newspaper editor—assigns her to cover the royals. After spending time together, she and John soon begin dating, and Hatty finds herself making headlines instead of writing them.

But challenges loom that are even more complicated than figuring out how to mesh Hatty’s journalism career with life at Belvoir Palace. Hatty and John soon find themselves embroiled in an unusual sex scandal: they can’t produce an heir. Tabloids dub Hatty a “Barren-ess,” and the royals become irate. Hatty politely tells them to shove it. But beneath her confident exterior, she struggles to cope with a heartbreak that invades her most intimate moments with John.

Pressured to choose between invasive medical procedures and abandoning John’s claim to the throne, the couple feels trapped until a trip to Ethiopia shows them happy endings sometimes arrive long after saying “I do.”

“As someone who has experienced infertility, I empathize with Hatty’s struggles. Wren beautifully illuminates the joy, grief, and adventure of creating a family against all odds in this heart warming and impactful story.” America Olivo Campbell, actress: DeGrassi: The Next Generation, Chicago PD, Mission Impossible 5.

“Not only was this a very well written and entertaining story (I flew through it), but I feel it’s also a very important story.” -Meredith Tate, author of Missing Pieces

“Tegan Wren’s debut novel is by turn funny, heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring.” JDC, author and journalist

“Inconceivable is not only an intelligent read, but a candid chronicle of a condition that can disrupt anyone’s longing to create a family.” -Pamela Hirsch, Founder, Baby Quest Foundation

 

The review: To start I have to gush about that beautiful cover. Doesn’t it just lure you in? Add to this the fact that the start of each chapter contains that very silhouette and you’re in heaven (Just as I’d reach the first page of each chapter, I’d smile, thinking of that beautiful picture. I know, I know!)

From the start of this book I was very much taken. Meeting Hatty, a journalism intern, I warmed to her immediately, her strength, her intelligence, her sense of fun. She was loud and bright and yet not irritating and I warmed to her, enjoyed her fun parts, and felt for her when the chips were down. I loved how she and Prince John Meinrad, Toulene’s most popular royal, were put together, and the chaos that followed. By the way I suppose I should throw in here that the banter between the two was lovely, and the chemistry great. I wasn’t always sure about John, but given his status that just made him all the more three dimensional to me.  The detail into the royal family’s customs, traditions and nuances were captivating, especially when taken with the descriptions of relevant royal locations and tales  of various family members.

If you look at the blurb and recommendations above, the hype is nearly fully devoted to the fertility issues that Hatty and John have, understandable, of course, given the title of the book, however I feel this is selling the rest of the book short. All of this happens later on, and the prequel to this, the story of John and Hatty, of a prince dating a journalist who wants to be recognised for the mark she wants to make on the world as opposed to who she’s with, the Royal family’s reaction to her; THESE are what makes the book for me. I know the fertility issue is so important, but I just don’t think that that needs to be the hook for ‘Inconceivable,’ which I found to be an intelligent, giggle out loud, satisfying read with good characters, lovely romance and some great sticky situations. Very enjoyable.
Rating4.5/5

Bout of Books 15 readathon (Come on, join in!)

the astonishingreturnofNorahWellsfriendslikethesethegreenhillsofhome

So to start off, where better to find out about the Bout of Books 15 than from the bout of books blog itself?!

They say: You were going to read that week anyway, right?  Read with us.

The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon was created by Amanda @ On a Book Bender on a complete whim in August 2011*. It took on a life of its own and was such a hit that Amanda decided to do it again and turn it into a somewhat regular occurrence.

  • Bout of Books is a week long read-a-thon, usually from 12:01am on a Monday through 11:59pm on a Sunday in whatever time zone you are in.
  • It is low pressure, meaning participants are only asked to push themselves to read more than they normally would during any given week. There is no competition between readers.
  • How much time a reader wants, and can commit, to read, tweet, or network with fellow bloggers is left to individual preference. All challenges and giveaways are optional.
  • Networking with fellow bloggers is actively encouraged, though never required.
  • Use Twitter to post updates throughout the read-a-thon. Everyone will be tweeting with the #boutofbooks hashtag.

So, anybody with me here?

They say as many or as little as you want, so I’m going to aim for three and if I get more read than that happy out and if I don’t I’ll just slink away in defeat(must get three read, must get three read!)!

It started up yesterday, Monday 4th Jan 2015, but entry is open until the end of Tues 5th Jan 2015.

Anyhoo, here’s my three and I’ll keep you updated daily to let you know how I’m doing.

My three books are The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor, (Available for preorder now, and thanks so much to the publisher for the advance copy, I cannot tell you how happy I was to get this after reading and adoring What Milo Saw) I started this last night and am hooked already!) Friends like these by Hannah Ellis, which looks like a nice, easygoing read and The Green Hills of Home (which is substantially shorter, a bit of a cheat you might say, especially given how much I adore Ms. Bennet’s writing, but as I said I’ll top up if I get the chance to!) Happy Reading!!

Berni:)

DAY 2!

Am nearly 50% into The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor, because it’s just that good. I was actually irritated with my husband last night that he wanted to spend quality time and watch a movie, I swear I would have finished it! So it’s about two mums ‘The Mum who left’ (Norah )and The Mum who stayed (Fay). The Mum who stayed kept everything together when the mum who left walked out six years ago but now the mum who left is back.  The story is told from the viewpoint of the two mums, the husband and the two children, one of who calls the mum who stayed ‘Mummy.’ By the way it sounds like I’m giving you spoilers but it’s pretty much all in the blurb. I have been on the edge of my seat numerous times, and can’t wait until tonight to get to the other half!!

 

DAY 3

It bothered me a little that I hadn’t mentioned yesterday that I had a bit of a lull before the 50% mark, the pacing was a bit up and down for me but am now up to 80% and the surprises have been brilliant, and excellently done. I’m really enjoying and still not sure as to how it’s going to end. The telling of the story from an overseeing voice at times is magnificently done, I’m sure other authors, had they seen that it could have been done this way, could have tried to do it for the whole book, but I don’t think it would have worked, the different characters points of views put with this voice work gorgeously.

DAY 4

Am finished and now cannot wait to write the review (and yes, I do realise this is a review of sorts!) This book had it all, the tension, the surprises, I cried, I laughed, and at one point I laughed through tears, which a book has never caused me to do before.

 

DAY 5

20% into ‘Friends like these’ and I’m really enjoying it. Is light and bubblegummy, perfect for the time of the week. It starts with Marie, in a pharmacy looking for a pregnancy test just weeks after she ‘caught her ex boyfriend in bed with some dumb blonde.’ There’s been few mix-ups and ‘oops’ moments so far and it’s flying along. The protagonist is a tad negative, but as you probably know by now I generally find it difficult to warm to a lead and instead empathize with their best friend, so at least I’m sticking to my normal reading pattern!;) Will keep you posted!

 

DAY 6

So in ‘Friends Like These’ Marie is losing her best friend who is moving to New York. She feels she has nobody else and as the story goes on we’re meeting more and more possible friends and boyfriends for her. There are some very funny scenarios, including Marie ending up in an Overeaters Anonymous type club which she actually thinks is speed dating and a ‘Hangover’ type morning after. I finished up at 58% (went to see the new Star Wars movie, which was AMAZING!)

DAY 7

Finished Friends Like These. It absolutely flew by. I beyond enjoyed it, though I found it hard to connect with Marie sometimes, and there were times I found that there was so many things happening, and this, coupled with the range of characters got a little bit confusing. A fun read, light, funny and fluffy. Review to come. I’d love to say I got into The Green Hills of Home then, but I actually started to write a new short story tonight so happy out:)

Conclusion: Obviously I didn’t even get to my quota of three books, but I enjoyed the week, in particular I liked that I had a definite plan in place, plus I loved reading reviews from other bloggers.

 

 

Top read of 2015: A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

 

A Memory Of Violets

What they say: The author of the USA Today and New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home has once again created an unforgettable historical novel. Step into the world of Victorian London, where the wealth and poverty exist side by side. This is the story of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.

 

The review: It is very unusual to adore a book where the hype surrounding it is so momentous. From the second I began to read this book I was hooked. Unfortunately to now I hadn’t read much historical fiction but this is very likely to change that. The book opened with a prologue; ‘Florrie’ speaking to us of her sister as a baby, how she decided how and why she loved her so much and the bond that connected them. Life was hard for Florrie

“my leg won’t grow proper, see, cause of the polio I had as a baby. I’ve an old stick for a crutch”

and her sister, Rosie, who

“lives her life in the dark, so she does. Poor little Rosie with her useless eyes.”

Together they go about selling their flowers in Covent Garden, barely surviving and yet happy to exist solely because of their love for each other.

“And then we wait for the morning to come and the flowers to arrive. Just me an’ Little Sister. Waiting in the dark. ‘Don’t let go, Rosie,’ I whisper. ‘Don’t let go.’”

The descriptions of their living conditions reeled me in and contrasted spectacularly with those of the flowers they sold, spectacular beauties of varying hues that illuminated the dark, gloomy streets of London.

We were soon introduced to Mr Shaw’s Training Home for Watercress and Flower Girls as Matilda Harper(Tilly) began her train journey to become assistant housemother. Throughout the book we were given snapshots of what Tilly was running from, and I felt for her. The characters she met here were wonderful, so alive that, again, I was right there with them, watching the bustling housekeeper and the girls, of varying disabilities, who had such a talent and dedication towards their work with flowers. I loved especially how Tilly had remembered them all in terms of what they were lacking, but she soon came to see and understand their personalities, teaching her a thing or two!

The drama in this book was flawless. My heart broke as I read the diary entries detailing ‘Flora’s journey’ and was nervous about what had happened to her beloved sister. The secrets that surrounded Florrie and Rosie Flynn, as well as that which Tilly was running from, were revealed perfectly, with surprises and shocks that hit you hard.

I read the paperback of this book and to be honest I couldn’t imagine an e-book version; the paperback was exquisite. It was everything the content was, beautiful, breathtaking, charming. On the bookshelf that displays our scant collection of adults books (we bring adults books to the charity to allow our childrens’ books collection to flourish) it was the one that screamed to be read, matching only Kate Morton’s gorgeous ‘The Secret Keeper.’ That being said, I think this could be perfect in audioformat, it reads the way I remember books such as ‘Under The Hawthorn Tree’ and ‘The Wildflower Girl’. At the end of the book, there are notes from the memoirs of Albert Shaw, and these were such a bonus, I absolutely devoured them and Ms. Gaynor shot up even more in my estimation that she could take notes such as these and yet do them justice in such a magnificent way. I’ve seen this as quite a few people’s top read for 2015 and I’ll join them. Cannot wait to read more of Ms. Gaynor. Top read of 2015.

Rating: 5/5

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Salad by Jennifer Joyce

beginnersguidetosalad

 

What they say: Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.

Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.

With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?

 

The Review: As a lot of you probably know, I only started blogging last year. On commencing, I looked at many book blogs, scouring for reads that different reviewers had in common, so I had a starting point in terms of what to read. ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Salad’ was the first book that jumped out at me and I downloaded straight away. The reviews also led me to Jennifer Joyce’s website (take a look at it here) and I was hooked, not only was it bright and inviting, with so many interactive posts, but there were reviews on books I’d read that I agreed with wholeheartedly, as well as stories by Ms. Joyce that were short but clever and satisfying.

Alas, then my Kindle began to fill up and it wasn’t until I did an author Q&A with Jennifer (I know, the first name thing seems too informal, especially when you’re talking about that kind of talent, but anyhoo!), that I jumped back to it, and quickly downloaded A Beginner’s Guide to Christmas, a (free) short story that, as far as I know, is the prequel to the Salad book, and The Mince Pie Mix up (both started and tragically abandoned, following the great Kindle break-down of 2015).

The book started with some scenes that tore my heart in terms of what Ruth faced daily

‘She wished she had a friend more than anything, even more than she wanted a boyfriend’

Now if I’d thought that was bad, what followed, the description of the heartless bullying that she went through actually stopped me in my tracks. It was disgusting. This theme continued throughout the book, with ignorant salespeople and the friend of an acquaintance belittling her because of her size. When Ruth decided to lose weight to attend her high school re-union I put my hand over my eyes (in my head of course, because otherwise how could I have continued reading?!) and then settled into reading some of the gut wrenching (literally) and hilarious diets she decided to undertake, as well as exercise routines, some of which were horrendous.

The book was told from several points of view and I loved the way there was some overlap between events happening, making it unfold easily before your eyes. It actually reminded me of a film called ‘This Year’s love’ (yes, it does Feature David Gray’s song, in fact he has a cameo), which also features various couples, all trying to find their way through life, with hilarious goings-on causing miscommunications and mix-ups along the way.

In particular, some of the scenes in Ruth’s office kept me very entertained. The different characters were brilliant, the lovely housemate Billy, her best friend, Erin, who was JUST what she needed, Theo, who reminded me of Spike from Notting Hill. The Beginner’s Guide to Salad was real. Ruth wasn’t perfect and neither were the other characters. They were vivid and loud and brilliant. Throw all of this together with love triangles, love venn diagrams, whatever they were and you had my type of book perfection. I have a post coming up on authors I’m following as a result of books I’ve read as a blogger and Jennifer Joyce is one of them. I am now firmly a Fan.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

Turning down the lights, just a little – The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft

thegirlwithnopast

 

What they say:

Twenty years running from your past. Today it catches up.

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.

Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.

But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?

Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly.

 

The review: To start let me just remind you that I predominantly read romantic comedies and so if you are looking for an assessment from someone who has experience with this genre you might want to look elsewhere! That being said, everyone wants to diversify what they read, and if, like me, you want to delve into the odd thriller without going too hardcore then this is one for you! Note: I will be reading ‘Girl on a Train’ soon but I loved Gone Girl (book only, not the film) so that might give you an indication whether this suits.

I had heard many great things about this book and I was not disappointed. We meet Leah Mills as she goes about her daily routine, a routine that is the same daily, that NEEDS to have absolutely no variation. Leah works in a library, which obviously sealed the deal for me straight off, it being my dream job, but tries her best not to get close to those around her. I was very quickly walking in Leah’s shoes,and in a similar way to ‘The Year I Met You’ by Cecilia Ahern (similar in the way I empathised with the lead), daily life, the brightness of it, became that little bit more of an irritation, as I hankered to get back to see what was happening and experience the darkness that surrounded Leah. We were not told what the anniversary that Leah’s existance led to was of, this being one of the many twists that were in the book. There were a few twists that kept the pacing flowing, but none of them, in my opinion, unnecessary. The big secret, what Leah felt herself to be so guilty of that she didn’t deserve to be recognised as a human being, was justifiable, so not one of those books where a build up led to nothing. I found it quite shocking, but again I’m not sure if it’s just the difference in genre. The characters served their purpose and the story was told through flashbacks that were well spaced out and very well done. The way the book dealt with the effect of events on family and friends was exemplery and by the end, my mind was well and truly taken over. I experienced my first book hangover as a result and it took a few days to find my next read. Loved it. Highly recommended.

My Christmas Wrap up (and an extra little something for Christmas…)

Well, all that’s left is to give an overview of all the Christmas books on my blog. I have to say I enjoyed the books of the festive season so much, they really brought forward all the excitement and cheer of Christmas so that I got into the mood in early October! They were so diverse that I have a few favourites. Not only that, but there’s a few I have no doubt I’ll be recommending a few years on, they dragged me in and wouldn’t let me out of their warm, beautifully festive clutches! You’ll guess what they are from the reviews.

So here it goes. Obviously the list isn’t complete due to the demise of my right hand, my Kindle, but I’ve covered those that I would have gotten a chance to read had my one year old not been curious about the device he sees in my hand most days (read all about it and take a look at the books I had to leave behind here!) The reviews are linked in with the name of the books to make it easier for you. Enjoy and merry Christmas!

If you like them a little bit dark,  geeky … and brilliant The Art Of Christmas (a short story) by Jane Lovering is for you

the art of christmas

If you like them warm, beautiful and magical, with lashings of fairy dust and charm, then Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington is for you

everytimea bell

If you like them charming, funny and gorgeously festive, with romance and a nice hint of suspense, then Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence (a novella) by Holly Hepburn is for you.

Snowdrops

If you love a bit of a dash to the altar, coupled with warmth, beauty, festiveness and all in between then Snowed in For Her Wedding (a short story) by Emma Bennet is for you.

Snowed In For Christmas

If you like short, hilarious, mad cap ‘mom lit’ that’ll make you laugh out loud and while away the hours after the kids are gone to bed, then Survival of The Christmas Spirit by Aimee Horton (short story) is for you.

SurvivalOfTheChristmasSpirit

If you like them spooky, kooky and yet warm, christmassy and funny then Make A Christmas Wish by Julia Williams is for you.

make a christmas wish

If you like books with  beautiful characters, stunning Christmas scenes and gorgeous romance with some comedy in there too, then Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan is for you.

ChristmasEverAfter

If you like a warm, magical, festive ‘dreams can come true’ romantic comedy, then Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale is for you.

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

If you like them to be all about family getting together at Christmas, with pandemonium and brightness and festiveness, tears and smiles, then An Endless Christmas (a novella) by Cynthia Ruachti is for you.

Anendlesschristmas

If you want to go on a Christmassy road trip, that’s bright, festive, and all about goodwill and cheer, with a reminder of the holy side of Christmas, then The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson is for you.

TheChristmasJoyRide

I’ll finish with All I Want for Christmas, a piece I’m very proud of as it was written by our Imagine, Write, Inspire writing group led by the amazing Carmel Harrington (I know, blatant self promotion here, but I honestly think you’ll enjoy!). So if you like one long festive, quirky romantic comedy, narrated by different people to give different parts of our lead character’s story, then All I Want for Christmas is for you!

alliwant