After The Fall by Julie Cohen

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Length: 390 pages

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

What they say: From the author who brought you Dear Thing, Julie Cohen, comes After the Fall–a poignant, beautifully heartbreaking novel about what it means to be family, the ties that bind us, and the secrets that threaten to tear us apart.

When an unfortunate accident forces Honor back into the lives of her widowed daughter-in-law, Jo, and her only granddaughter, Lydia, she cannot wait to be well enough to get back to her own home. However, the longer she stays with Jo and Lydia, the more they start to feel like a real family. But each of the three women is keeping secrets from the others that threaten to destroy the lives they’ve come to know.

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could destroy the “normal” family life she’s fought so hard to build and maintain.

Lydia’s secret could bring her love–or the loss of everything that matters most to her.

One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and daughter’s secrets will be forced out in the open in a single dramatic moment that leaves them all asking: is there such a thing as second chances?

The Review: Funnily enough I had actually seen the opening line for this book on a weekly meme where the blogger in question (I’m so sure I know who posted, but I’ve been searching and searching and I honestly cannot find the post. It’s driving me loco so if anyone can help I’d beyond appreciate it and will update this post) puts the opening line of a book out there to see if people would find it enough of a hook to reel them in and make them read. My answer was a resounding ‘yes!’ (exclamation mark very much necessary)

‘The last stage of Honor Levinson’s life began at the top of the stairs in her home in North London.’

Honor, or ‘Doctor Levinson,’ as she prefers to be known, is a strong, feisty, independent eighty year old, who detests shows of emotion or weakness of any kind and so does not take kindly to playing the part of elderly patient after a fall from the top of the stairs (brilliantly done) in her home. Honor was an excellent character, who had me from the start, pointing out the realities of getting old, where you feel exactly how you did when you were younger, but those around you treat you as they would a child, or worse than. This was skillfully backed up by a trip back in time, and some old letters, where we found out Honor’s tragic backstory.

We were treated to numerous point of views, all in third person, always a plus for me; that of Honor of course, then Jo, her daughter in law, who’s putting a brave face on the absence of two father’s for her children, one passed (we are put on tenter hooks to find out how), one who has run off with the twenty one year old au pair. Jo learned from her mother, who had MS, that one should always grasp onto the silver linings for dear life, and the result is a positivity of magnanimous proportions, and some ‘mom-lit’ type incidences which provided respite in a book that erred on the slightly greyer side at times. Jo has two young children from her second marriage, and also the lovely Lydia, who tells her story with the accompaniment of a diary that shares how difficult a time she is having as a teenager having not yet come out. Her thoughts, insights and actions really made me feel for her, they were beautiful and heartbreaking and I worried.

After The Fall is the story of a family that was collapsing in on itself, where each woman (or girl), was an island, struggling to find their place, not realizing who they need to help them. I enjoyed it and looked forward to seeing what would happen when secrets were revealed and everyone had to face up to their issues. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book, where things evened out for me, not even in terms of becoming more positive, but just where there seemed to be a little more action, although I have no doubt some people will disagree. I know this is probably an odd review, but it’s a difficult book in that respect, as I enjoyed it as I read, and looked forward to what was going to happen, but found it difficult to place, possibly as I read so many out and out romantic comedies. As well as this it didn’t leave a lasting impression after I finished, which surprised me. It will, however, be a real treat for some out there, with excellent characters, tangible descriptiveness and a storyline that carries you with it. Thanks to St Martin’s press and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

 Rating: 4/5

 

Remember Me by @Lyndarenham

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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

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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

 

Blog Tour: Review and Extract: My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan

I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan, with the brilliant Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus (Thanks to all for the book in return for an honest review) . Below is the review and an extract, and don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour, there’s some amazing blogs in there!

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Length: 260 pages

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

What they say: Better to have loved and lost, than never loved.

Paul Starr, Irelands leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young women by his side.

United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.

The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other forever.

As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul’s death proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.

The Review: So this is the story of the aftermath of the death of Paul Starr, the perfect-on paper, dream doctor who seems almost too good to be true. And it turns out he is. It’s been some time where I’ve read a book where there were so many lives intertwined and I’d forgotten how great it was when you were invested in each and every character, as I was here. The characters were unusual in their range in terms of age and roles in the book, you had stoic, mothering, bright and energetic and finally the innocent, tell it like it is shoulder to lean on. The differences between each of their lives gave us so many issues and experiences, with a few different genres thrown in there too and it made it all the more enjoyable. Each and every female character had me, and the more I read the more I felt for them. Of course in the blurb there is the mention of ‘unlikely friendships,’ and this was most definitely the highlight- the friendship between the four was excellent, heart-warming and beautiful and timely, which is so important to me-it’s a bit of a bug-bear where a friendship or relationship doesn’t evolve, you’re just suddenly hit with it. That didn’t happen here and I was thrilled. I did say ‘female characters’-the only character I didn’t warm to was Paul, or the memories of him anyway, I found him selfish and sly to be honest and I couldn’t understand that for the most part they continued to speak of him in such a fond manner, where I was livid on their behalf, but then Ms. Hogan had a surprise in store in terms of his character …

As you can tell I really liked this book. There were some issues, I don’t know if it was me, but there were times where I felt like parts had been cut out, maybe to make the story more snappy, but I did get confused from time to time. I found myself to be editing in my head a little as I read where it seemed like some sentences that I would have expected to be in a certain place to explain things were later in the page. Saying that, there weren’t many of these issues, and as this was a review copy it’s more likely they’re fixed since (or else, as I said, it’s just me!)

My Husband’s Wives had ups and downs and mini mysteries, peppered with clichéd (and sometimes cheesy!) occurrences that were predictable in a good way and yet not always fully predictable, ensuring it was always vivid and easy to picture in your mind’s eye. It was a book I’d have read in a day (although it says on Amazon this is 260 pages it felt like more, because it’s such a saga, and yet it flew!) had I had the chance (the kids know when I’m enjoying a book and decide to jump in and do their thing) and yet, conversely, one that, had I known I’d enjoyed it so much, I’d have waited until I could ingest it over a few nights, possibly in front of a big fire.

Rating: 4/5

The Extract

Some moments stay with you forever. The day Evie Considine knocked on her door would be one of those that would not fade from Grace’s memory easily, or ever. It was a warm day. They had planned a picnic the evening before, just Delilah and herself.

Delilah left Evie standing in the doorway, as unsure where to put her as Grace was about how to welcome this familiar stranger to their home.

‘Hello,’ Grace said. Her voice held a little trepidation. Why do you always have a fair idea when you are about to hear bad news?

‘Hello – we’ve never actually met, Grace, but my name is Evie. Evie Considine-Starr.’ She was an icy grey-blonde, coiffed and immaculately tailored. Her navy blue eyes were large and childlike beneath lids that hooded with age more than shrewdness. Her voice was porcelain, but softened by nerves. She held herself straight and might be formidable, but there was a little girl quality to her that picked out her vulnerability so she couldn’t hide it, even if she tried. She was absurdly overdressed for the weather and younger-looking than the sixty-five years she must surely be at this stage.

Grace held out her hand. ‘It’s nice to meet you.’ They shared a handshake with no warmth. ‘What can I do for you?’ She reversed backwards into her hallway, feeling as if this perfectly prepared woman who had slipped silently about in her imagination for so long had caught her in the act of some sordid activity. She moved into the nearby dining room that they never used. She could feel Evie inspecting the place as they entered the room. ‘Have a seat.’ But she did not sit. This was not a social visit.

‘I’m here about Paul.’ Her voice was even, unemotional, but Grace knew it couldn’t be good news; she was a million miles off just how bad though. ‘He’s dead.’ Evie said the words with a finality that took all the air from the room between them.

Grace could not speak, she tried to take in the words, but they weren’t hitting home, her lungs had cut off breathing and after a moment she had to remind herself to suck and blow. It was as though someone had bubbled-wrapped the world and insulated her from those two words.

‘I thought you should be first to hear, and of course to tell Delilah.’

‘He can’t be; he can’t be dead – how?’ Grace’s voice didn’t sound as if it belonged to her. She dropped to the nearest chair. Paul, dead? There had to be a mistake. This was all some awful mix up. ‘How…’ Her mind raced. ‘I mean, when…’

‘Look dear, you’re in shock, we’re both in shock, probably. You’ll have to decide how best to break it to Delilah. She’s, what…’ Evie leaned her head to the side. It was strange to hear this woman speak of her daughter as though she knew her well, as though there were some connection there far beyond what Grace felt there was any right to be. ‘She’s sixteen this year, isn’t she?’ Evie nodded sagely, twisted the emerald and diamond band on her wedding finger. ‘A difficult age to lose her father,’ she shook her head, as though it was all a question of timing. Shock, even Grace could see it, she was in shock. ‘All she needs to hear is that it was painless, as far as the doctors are saying. He was driving at the time, so…’

‘Can we see him?’ Grace had to let the fact that Evie knew anything about their lives slip past her. In this moment, she had to concentrate on taking in the news. ‘What about…’

‘It would be better for Delilah to wait; at least until we see what she has to be prepared for.’ Evie picked an imaginary hair from the lapel of her soft expensive jacket. ‘They want us to identify him. Well, they want me to identify him.’ She sniffed. Perhaps it was as close as she came to crying.

‘Oh?’ Grace felt the room spin about her. Her hands were sweating against her bare legs. She’d put on a denim skirt for a day at the beach. It felt sticky and clingy and as though it might have grown a couple of sizes too small. The whole house suddenly moved in closer about her for a moment. She felt she might faint. She took a deep breath, raised her eyes to see Evie regarding her reservedly.

‘It’s shock. Better to be in the boat you’re in than where Annalise Connolly is.’ The words were cold, but maybe Evie too was still in shock. ‘She was in the car with him. They were travelling from the hospital early in the morning, and swerved to avoid a dog.’ Her voice quivered, only slightly, and then she straightened herself, cleared her throat. ‘He careered into one of those big trucks, from what the traffic police could tell me.’ She nodded towards the front of the house. ‘He was trying to avoid a dog. A blasted dog.’

‘Is she… is she going to be okay?’

‘I didn’t ask.’ Evie stared blankly at Grace; perhaps it was just dawning on her that she should have. ‘I suppose she must be or they’d have said, wouldn’t they?’

‘And the boys?’ It was strange talking about Annalise Connolly’s children like this. They never talked about them; Paul talked about everything but his life with Annalise and the two sons they had together.

‘No, it was just Paul and Annalise, from what the guards can make out.’ Evie shook her head. ‘You’d have to wonder…’ She didn’t finish the sentence, but Grace had a fair idea of the sentiment. Maybe before Delilah was born she’d have felt the same.

‘So, do you want to come?’ She was looking at her watch, a simple Cartier gold snake slid about her papery wrist.

‘Pardon?’ Grace had lost track of Evie’s words, as though she’d missed a step somewhere between the kitchen and the front door; the universe had taken a sidestep on her.

‘The guards, they’re waiting outside to take us to see him. It’s only right that you’re there too. After all, you had a child together.’

‘He was my husband,’ Grace said. He’d never divorced her. She still wore her ring most days. He was still a big part of their lives, even if he had fathered the two boys with Annalise Connolly.

‘No, Grace.’ Evie gazed with the fervour of a zealot. ‘No, Grace. He was still my husband. We never got divorced.’

About The Author

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Faith Hogan was born in Ireland.  She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.  She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, children and a very fat cat called Norris.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

Author links

Books on Amazon

Twitter @gerhogan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faithhoganauthor/

Website  http://faithhogan.com/

 

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Cover Reveal! Excess Baggage by Laura Barnard

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Please note the cover image leads to a pre-order link for the book

💙LAURA BARNARD COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY!💜

How beautiful is this cover of Laura’s latest romantic comedy, Excess Baggage?  It’s out on the 23rd and you can pre-order now here

Details of giveaway below.

What they say:

Stuck in a dead-end relationship, Erica Bennett finds herself daydreaming of her first holiday romance. She was fifteen, it was exciting, new and full of possibilities…and Jack Lawson was hot as hell. That kind of thing leaves a mark.

So when her friends suggest a girls holiday to Luna Island, it’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off things. What she doesn’t expect is to spot Jack – a much older, hotter version of him – across the hotel lobby.

Their attraction is still there and it isn’t long before sparks fly, but fifteen years is a long time. They aren’t the same people they were back then and besides, it’s only a week, right?

Is it a second chance at something real or will their excess baggage ruin their shot at love after they leave Luna Island?

Buy here

Add it to your Goodreads here

 

GIVEAWAY!

thumbnail_Cover Reveal Giveaway!!

Head on over to Laura’s facebook page to enter her cover reveal giveaway to be in with a chance of winning an ARC of EXCESS BAGGAGE and a £5/$5 Amazon gift card.

Connect with Laura

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3490836.Laura_Barnard

Beneath these Stars by Hannah Ellis

beneaththesestarsLength: 385 pages

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

What they say: Perfect couple Lucy and Adam have it all: a home in the picturesque village of Havendon, budding careers and a sparkling future. Life is exactly as it should be.
But when tragedy strikes and Adam becomes the guardian to his two young nieces, their idyllic life is turned upside down. Suddenly, they face an entirely different future.
Grief-stricken and disoriented, the four of them battle to build a new life together.
Can Adam and Lucy’s relationship survive being pushed to the limit? And can a devastated family find a way to get through such testing times?

Although this is the second book in the Lucy Mitchell series, it can also be read as a standalone.

The Review: You’ll know by now that I’m a big fan of Hannah Ellis’, that her books generally make me smile, swoon and nod along, and within a few pages I’m hooked, and loathe to put the book down until its gorgeous conclusion. I could leave it at that, but, well that’d definitely be short changing you, because this book has aspects that are a little bit different.
The book starts out by telling us that Lucy who we met in Beyond The Lens, book 1 of The Lucy Mitchell Series, review here), has only recently moved in with her boyfriend Adam in the little village of Havendon. The prologue sets up the current day with a nice reminder of the backstory, which I would have read in but is by no means required and then leaving us with a sense of intrigue
“We had no idea that our relaxed day in the sun would be the last time we were all together as a family.”

We’re thrown straight in at the deep end in chapter 1 on finding out that Lucy has taken on the role of substitute mother to Emily, Adam’s niece, whose parents have died. There’s a lovely mom lit feel to this as we see the role of a mother where irrational irritations get in on you and begin to drive you nuts and boy could I relate. It was a tribute to the author that although she had these issues to deal with, I still didn’t find her to be a negative character. Actually as always I jumped at so many characters in the book, there were a number I remembered and others I warmed to straight away. I got chills at part of the book when I began to realise why our lead was disappearing at night and my eyes misted up at other parts. It was quite the book for stirring emotions actually, as at times both Adam and his mum made me angry on her behalf as they reminded her that although she was charged with looking after Emily and Hayley, she had no rights in terms of decision making for them. All in all a light and innocent yet tough read (emotionally) with the trademark Ms. Ellis warmth, fun and romance, peppered with suspense and sadness. Thanks so much to the author for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

Previously on this blog:

Friends Like These (Friends Like These Series book 1 review here)

My Kind of Perfect (Friends Like These Series book 3 review here and extract here)

About the author

Hannahellis

Hannah Ellis is originally from Sheffield, England, and spent time living in America, Australia and Ireland before finally settling in Munich, Germany, where she now lives with her husband and two little boys. She self published her first novel ‘Friends Like These’ in 2015 and then went on to write two more books in the series: ‘Christmas with Friends’ and ‘My Kind of Perfect’. Hannah can often be found tapping away on her laptop, trying to ignore the two small children swinging on her hair as she attempts to write more books!

Facebook

Twitter @BooksEllis

Goodreads

Author page on Amazon

The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza

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Length: 310 pages

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

What they say: Coco Pinchard always dreamed of being a successful writer, but then life got in the way. She married young, had a son, and put her dreams on hold… But now she’s forty, and her first novel is about to be published! Her husband Daniel has greyed nicely into a silver fox, and her son Rosencrantz is all grown up. Shouldn’t it be time to enjoy life?

That is, until the annual family Christmas when her hideous in-laws come to stay, and Coco opens her gift from Daniel. It’s not the jewellery she chose, but an iPhone. This marks the start of Daniel’s mid-life crisis and Coco catches him in bed with a younger woman.

The iPhone becomes a confessional, and as Coco’s life unravels, she documents her seemingly endless (and often entertaining) run of bad luck through emails to loyal friends Christopher, an ageing trustafarian, and Marika, a slightly alcoholic schoolteacher.

Then Coco meets the hunky Adam and she’s back in the world of dating as a single forty-something. Read the emails that tell the heart warming and often hilarious tale of Coco picking up the pieces, in this fun, feel-good Romantic Comedy.

The Review: I had heard so much about this series of books from Robert Bryndza, in the first instance from  Facebook posts Bookaholic Holly from Bookaholic Confessions (excellent blog-check it out) and, always being in search for chick lit I was very tempted but then I Read The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker and Mr Bryndza was somehow cemented in my brain as a thriller writer and so that was it. Then one day I began to see different parts of the series on special offer and started to buy them up. One of the first books that jumped out at me when I signed up to Kindle Unlimited was this book and  I saw it as a sign that I had to cop on and get moving (yes I do put this much thought into books!).

So, I’ve always loved reading books where you find out what’s happening through emails or a diary and this was no exception. We begin with a description of Coco’s  christmas that had me ready for a great book from the get go-“Rosencrantz” ( that’s Coco’s son) “picked up his nan, Ethel, from her nursing home, and she began with the usual, ‘This might be my last Christmas’ before inviting herself for Christmas next year, and Easter, and Mother’s Day … ”

The book sees Coco, author (yay!) of Chasing Diana Spencer, an, um, alternative look at the royals, who is doing some book promo and hoping her book will hit it big. After a perceived too frank interview, Coco is shunned from the book world and has to try to figure things out. Throw into the mix some issues with her husband Daniel and her son, a struggling actor and you get pacing and a story that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. The characters were exellent, I’m not going to mention  too many but Ethel was epic (and I don’t use that word lightly), in particular there was a gorgeous  letter that she wrote to Rosencrantz (who I also really enjoyed) that I re-read after,  and Chris was so lovely, and of course Coco was such a legend, strong and inspiring. The most excellent thing about this book was how brave it was, it didn’t just make you smile, it made you giggle, titter, and snigger too! It was very much in the ‘Carry On’ style in places, and yet the perfect balance of seriously over the top inappropriateness was equaled with good old fashioned ‘it’s the way you tell em’ humour. I loved it all and can’t wait to get to number 2.
Rating:5/5