Archives

A Dog Like Lloyd by Jacqueline Sheehan

index

Length: 304 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Happiness can be found in the most unexpected places…

Roxanne Pellegrino’s world collapses when her husband dies unexpectedly, and overwhelmed by her all-consuming grief, she runs away for a new start on Peaks Island.

But her new life of solitude is interrupted when she meets Lloyd – a stray black Labrador with an equally unhappy past. As both slowly begin to heal, a remarkable friendship blossoms, and Roxanne will soon discover she’s not so alone after all…

The Review: Considering half of the volume of books I used to read were stories about dogs and horses (other half were Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell and John Grisham- bet you’d never have guessed!) I don’t read enough stories with pets and dogs as the subject matter. I figured this out the other week when my son came home with a Michael Morpungo book and it got me thinking back to how I’d fall into stories of loveable, honest pets that would give up their life to get back to their master, would save humans at the drop of a hat no matter how they’d been treated, or who were strugging to find ‘the one’ in terms of an owner.

This is the story of Lloyd. Lloyd had found ‘the one,’ but has somehow been separated from them, and has landed in the hands of the new Animal Control warden of Peaks Island, Roxanne. Roxanne is struggling after the loss of her husband, the lovely vet, Bob, who she feels she could have saved. It is a beautiful, rich story, and I found myself immersed in it, but was sometimes disappointed that it wasn’t told just a little bit more simply, that it had to be on a bit of a grander, more spiritual level, but this is just personal preference (you know at this stage I like them kept simple!).

Although Roxanne is very familiar with the animal world from being with Bob, we get to study and experience the warmth and vividness of the descriptions of the animals as she meets them in text and in real life and we learn so much, both in relation to what they are and their care.

There is also the story of Melissa, a teenager, who is also finding life tough and we wonder where the lives of the three (Lloyd being one), will cross over. Melissa’s story is a tough one, she is hiding an eating disorder, and at times I found it a bit difficult to read.

I adored Lloyd, the big black Labrador, who even told us his story at one point in the book, a piece I had most definitely been looking forward to. The descriptiveness of the rugged, wild surroundings was fantastic, as were the nuggets of information on different, unusual animals that came to them, and I found Roxanne’s actual journey to be well done too, although very sad in places. All in all it was a lovely, thought provoking read that will get me looking out more doggy tales! Thanks so much to Ebury Publishing for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Blog Tour: Review: The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

Second Chance Cafe UK small (1)

Amazon UK

Amazon US

What they say:

Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realizes that getting back on track means traveling in a different direction.

She finds it in the closed-down pub on Carlton Square. Summoning every ounce of ingenuity, and with the help of her friends and family, she opens the Second Chance Café. The charity training business is meant to keep vulnerable kids off the streets and (hopefully) away from the Metropolitan Police, and her new employees are full of ideas, enthusiasm … and trouble. They’ll need as much TLC as the customers they’re serving.

This ragtag group of chancers have to make a go of a business they know nothing about, and they do get some expert help from an Italian who’s in love with the espresso machine and a professional sandwich whisperer who reads auras, but not everyone is happy to see the café open. Their milk keeps disappearing and someone is canceling the cake orders, but it’s when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realizes things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbors and the rival café owner join forces to close them down? Or will Emma’s dreams fall as flat as the cakes they’re serving?

The Review: Today is my stop on The Second Chance Café in Carlton Square, the second in the Carlton Square series. Here we meet Emma Billings, who is refurbishing an old pub, with a plan for it to become a café that will help the locality, in part by taking on employees who need a little bit of help. I always love stories where there’s a big job to be undertaken to start a new place, and so I was happy out! This is an interesting book, kind of mom lit where we see Emma with the kids meets cosy read, where we experience all the goings on in setting up and being in the café.

There were a myriad of characters, so so many and this was the reason I wish I’d read the first-so that I could have gotten to know them earlier, and in more detail. The characters range from her family, with a great group of older characters, in particular her lovely Dad, to her friends, a very varied group of mothers who I liked in places and perhaps found a little loud in others, and of course her employees and customers. In fact it is because of all these characters that I wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone.

So. Emma’s feeling overwhelmed with this big task because she also has very young twins and feels everything is left to her (I agreed with this in places but then also found Emma to be a tad ott on that front in others, just because I loved Daniel!) The book on the whole was very enjoyable, I couldn’t believe the sabotage when it came, hitting us hard and fast and I couldn’t wait to see  the end result. The whole book was like this, always something happening, which was great in places, and then in others I kind of wished we could slow down a little, in particular for the parts I really enjoyed.  All in all a very enjoyable read, not always my cup of coffee, but most definitely one that will appeal to so many! Thanks so much to Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Now follow the blog tour!

The Second Chance Cafe blog tour graphic (1)

About the author

Michele Gorman square (2015_02_13 17_34_58 UTC)

Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

Website: www.michelegorman.co.uk
Blog: http://michelegormanwriter.blogspot.com
Instagram: @michelegormanuk
Twitter: @MicheleGormanUK
Facebook

 

 

 

It’s Always The Husband by Michele Campbell

it'salwaysthehusband

Length: 320 pages

Please note the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge, and someone else is urging them to jump. How did things come to this? As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other – but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

The review: We start this story with a kicker:

‘She stumbled through the dark woods, the trees dripping raindrops onto her hair and party dress. Her shoes were covered in mud, and she trembled from the cold.’

This is the story of three housemates in a top college, Carlisle, all very different in personality, stature and popularity. Although inseparable, we are shown that at times they are not sure of each other and would otherwise most probably never have even met, let alone ended up being so close. There’s Aubrey, who doesn’t believe someone with her background will ever fit in somewhere as grand as Carlisle, Jenny, a down to earth local who seems to take it all in her stride, and Kate, who has never heard the word ‘no,’ and for whom popularity, wealth and stature are a given. The distinctions between these characters were perfection and I jumped between liking each of them and wondering were their agendas.

There’s a night when something happens and we are shot forward to twenty years later (loved this idea!), where some of the fortunes seem to have switched over somehow. Again I was not sure who I could trust or like. One of our trio suffers a tragic fate, and next thing we know we’re trying to solve a murder that might not be a murder. We’re led up, down and back up the garden path again, until inevitably, all becomes clear. The only thing was, it didn’t really become clear for me, as I found the ending to be like something of an afterthought, tacked on for effect. Saying that, this is subjective and many would have loved it. Aside from this I found this all to be one heck of a journey, although people who don’t like all the college years kind of stuff should be warned it takes up the first half of the book. Personally I loved the lightness of said years, that contrasted nicely with the drama and suspense that followed (also excellently done!). It was just the ending really, which was a pity, but it did disappoint me.

Thanks to St Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Review of opening chapters of The Last Piece Of My Heart by Paige Toon and an admission on my part!

thelastpiece

Please note that the cover image leads to an Amazon buy link for the book
My admission: Okay. So. When I saw this on Netgalley my heart just about jumped out of my chest. Paige Toon, queen of romantic comedy up for request! And so I leaped. Possibly, I can say now, without even wondering WHY this book, that I had read many an excited blogger lust after, that so many of the queens of chick lit had reviewed, that magazines had included in their spreads, threw up a ‘read now’ message as opposed to the normal ‘request’ instruction. Within seconds I realised I had actually been approved to read just an opening segment of the book. I sighed and for the first time ever, turned to the review section of Netgalley, purely to see if others had thought the same.

Either they hadn’t or they weren’t going to admit it. Perhaps there had been a huge caveat beside the cover and I’d missed it (it’s very likely, I was very excited!) There was, in general, a flurry of gushing, although most said it was a pity it was so short (perhaps their diplomatic manner of confirming what I was looking for). There were also a number of people saying they’d have loved to have had an actual ARC of the book. It’s a testament to both author and publisher that there’s so much demand and people are fine about only reading such a short extract, but it was just a little disheartening. Whatever way it happened, it happened, but I will say I’ll have to look before I jump in future, if only to save myself the disappointment of a) thinking the publisher had thought me worthy of being pre-approved (okay, yes, I did feel a little inferior as a result of this, it’s silly but there you go) and b) thinking I was about to sit down and enjoy Paige Toon’s new book. So there you go, a caveat. Perhaps people prefer this way to reviewing a whole book as they know whether they want to read on or not? I’d be interested to know! (If you want, you can read further down for my ‘review!’

What they say:When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture… Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole’s grieving husband, Charlie…
The ‘review’: So this is the story of Bridget, who has reached an impasse and decided it’s time to figure out what’s the REAL story with her love life. She had always blamed the first love of her life for mucking up potential perfect future relationships, but he sends her head into a spin with the idea that maybe the truth lies in the relationships since. And so she decides to delve further into this idea.

Ms Toon got me early on with some beautiful phrasing and the fact that this book would include bookish information on travelling that was laden with romance. The premise of the story, looking into TWELVE loves of her life, I’ll admit, had me siding with Bridget’s editor and thinking ‘twelve? Really?’, but that was quickly parked with the introduction of the story of Nicole Dupre, who Bridget is to ghostwrite on behalf of. This most definitely saved the book for me and I most definitely will read on in the future, although it might say something that I didn’t go straight to download from Amazon straight away. So there you go, I’m sorry if this was all a bit bitter and ranty, and the more seasoned among you will probably tell me this happens all the time, I just find it a bit of a pity, both for the bloggers who felt they missed  out, and the authors out there who have struggled to get their book noticed on Netgalley. Sorry!

The Singalong Society for Singletons by Katey Lovell

thesingalongsociety

Length: 235 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

A charming, feel good novel about the healing powers of friendship…and Frozen!

Monique and Issy are teachers, housemates and lovers of musicals! Their Friday night routine consists of snacks, wine and the Frozen DVD. So when Monique’s boyfriend moves to America for a year and her sister Hope moves in because of her own relationship woes, Friday nights get a new name… ‘The Singalong Society for Singletons’!

It’s a chance to get together, sing along to their favourite tracks from the best-loved West End shows, and forget the worries of work, relationships and love (or lack of it). But when Issy shares the details of their little group further afield, they get some unexpected new members who might just change their opinions on singledom for good….

The Review: You may remember by review of Three Men and A Maybe (review here) where I said that it was just a bit of a standy outy one for me (no it’s not an actual phrase and yes, I am still going to use it;)) and I’m happy to say that this pretty much matched it in terms of a book with that smile out loud factor. I really, really enjoyed this. As you can see it’s the story of Monique (I’d take her to be the main character in it anyhoo, although the blurb seems to say differently!), who opens the story with the planning of a proposal (beautifully and brilliantly done), that doesn’t quite go to plan.

Trying to figure out what to do, her and her housemate, Issy (who I love!) happen upon an excellent (and it really is!) idea, that instead of doing the whole pub/ night club thing, they’ll start up a Friday night get together where they watch their favourite musicals and sing along to them. I have to jump back a little actually, because the real start of the book is the list of musicals, which excited me so much (I’m not a theatre goer, I enjoy the film version more, I know, this is sacriligous to say, but I do!) as it had Singing In The Rain in there, Frozen (must be watched even if you don’t have kids!), Little shop of horrors and so much more. The cast listing told us the characters of the book and I was interested to see who had a leading role, and who was sidelined.

The characters were perfection (I adored issy AND Connie AND Hope!), each with very different personalities that matched and clashed in just the right places (I have to admit my least favourite was Monique as I found her to be a tad self absorbed, you’ll see that from the fact that she’s the only one I didn’t mention above and I feel guilty for that, I really do!), and all with something going on (I loved that each of the characters had their own issues, which were vivid and funny, dramatic and sad). I have to admit I did wonder how this would work out romance-wise, and I wasn’t disappointed when the male party was introduced (superbly done, in my humble opinion!)

I won’t lie, this is more of a book for later in the year, and I regret I didn’t review this earlier (damn rural internet!), possibly nearer to Christmas, but you can bookmark or buy at any time of the year so, in that respect, I’m setting you up for a good Winter read. This is one for the die hard musical fan, who will appreciate the nod to the musical that is named at the beginning of each chapter, or the person, like me, who isn’t totally, but just appreciates a bright, sparkly story that has just enough grit to hold it’s own joined with an excellent host of characters. Thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

Remember Me by @Lyndarenham

rememberme

Length: 292 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: A new neighbour becomes a new friend. She looks up to you. She admires you, but is it you she wants? You begin to wonder if she wants your husband, or even your child. But then you realise, she wants your life.

When Sharni and Tom move into 24 The Pines, it seems like Clare and Chris have the perfect neighbours. Sharni is always there to help, especially with childcare for Clare’s two-year-old, Ben. But Clare can’t shake off the feelings of anxiety that assail her whenever Sharni is near. Is Clare just being overprotective, or are her feelings justified? As Sharni‘s influence touches everyone around her, Clare finds herself fighting for her sanity as well her family.

The Review: First off, I must direct you to my past experiences with Lynda Renham books (hint, I enjoyed them all!). You will note that these are all of the romantic comedy variety so I was surprised, and excited of course, to see this jump into my inbox one day. 

Little Perran Book  2, A Village Romance here  and Book 3 A Summer Romance here

Phoebe Smith’s Private Blog review here

Rory’s Proposal review here

Perfect Weddings review here

Oh and there was an author interview too … (here!)

I must say I really enjoyed this book. As you can see it’s the story of Clare, a lady who with her husband Chris, and beautiful son Ben. When Sharni and Tom move in next door they quickly become friends although rather quickly it’s apparent that Sharni perhaps looks up to Clare too much, beginning to seemingly copy her appearance and interior design. It was nicely done that we had in Clare a character who was so nervous and on edge, and this, coupled with her being on prescription medication meant that we weren’t sure if what was real and what was paranoia. Add to this that you’re also getting Sharni’s point of view and it made for a real page turner!

The friendship of the two women, and the trust that was built up was great, with Clare’s questioning and self doubt very believable and I liked that anything time-line wise that people may have questioned was quickly put to bed. I also like how you questioned everything, in particular the husband’s part in the story. My only issue was that the ending seemed rather abrupt, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. I think this is another one for people who don’t read thrillers a lot and want to slip into the genre without having to read anything too tough. All in all I’m beginning to be a big fan of the big switch from rom com to psychological thriller with such a well done ‘debut’ and I look forward to more of same from Ms. Renham.

Thanks to the author and Raucous Publishing for the book in return for an honest review

Rating: 4.5/5

About the author

thumbnail_pKTCLgh8_400x400LyndaRenham

Lynda’s books on Amazon

Lynda’s website

Lynda on Facebook

Lynda on Twitter   (@Lyndarenham)

Perfect Mayhem: The Perfect Disaster Series by Aimee Horton

perfectmayhem

Length: 216 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Bridget Jones’s Diary meets The Nanny Diaries in this Amazon UK Best Seller!

The only thing Dottie Harris loves more than her gin & tonic is her family. Most of the time. From her hapless-but-well-meaning husband to her two energetic bundles of joy, Dottie certainly has her hands full. And she’s tired. So tired.

With quips like “How do sleeping babies know the minute you sit down?” this modern-day diary will have you laughing—when you’re not crying with empathy, that is!

Dottie tells it like it is: the good, the bad, and the eternal piles of dirty laundry.

Previously published as Survival of the Ginnest

The Review: So you’ll know already what a huge fan I am of Aimee Horton’s (Review of Survival of The Christmas Spirit is here ). I adore her straight cut tell it like it is humour about family life and generally finish her books wishing I had another of hers close to hand so I could keep going.

As you can see above it is Dottie Harris’ story and  is pretty much told through social media-so the way you’d see someone’s Facebook posts. I loved this idea but had to admit to being a little disappointed at the fact it was just her posts and not the resulting comments that came underneath. That being said it made it read like a series of one liners, and such a fast, enjoyable, easy read that it was more like finding a magazine that had something enjoyable on every page.

In terms of content it seemed like this book was tailor made, with references to The Apprentice,Dragons Den, Project Runway and One Born Every Minute and then Katy from I Can Cook and ‘hello puppy calling,’ making me almost jump around in excitement (what that makes me I don’t know!) The humour was spot on and the scenarios were such that I nodded along, in some cases experiencing similar occurances as I read! This is one for the parents whose kids sometimes drive them nuts, then minutes after making them wonder when bedtime is, want to hug them and tell them they love them. It’s for people who appreciate houses which are manic and crazy and messy and loud but always fun. Really really enjoyable and I can’t wait to get to Ms. Horton’s next book:)
Rating:5/5