The Middle of Somewhere by Sonja Yoerg

 The Middle of Somewhere

What they say: A troubled, young widow hikes from Yosemite Valley deep into the wilderness on the John Muir Trail to elude her shameful past in this emotionally gripping story from the author of House Broken.

With her thirtieth birthday looming, Liz Kroft is heading for the hills—literally. Her emotional baggage weighs her down more than her backpack, but a three-week trek promises the solitude she craves—at least until her boyfriend, Dante, decides to tag along. His broad moral streak makes the prospect of confessing her sins more difficult, but as much as she fears his judgment, she fears losing him more. Maybe.
They set off together alone under blue skies, but it’s not long before storms threaten and two strange brothers appear along the trail. Amid the jagged, towering peaks, Liz must decide whether to admit her mistakes and confront her fears, or face the trail, the brothers and her future alone.

The review: First off thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review. Where to start? The beautiful cover is one place, and I did think it very beautiful, it jumped off the page for me. As an aside, for some reason the blurb doesn’t do it for me, but I suppose it is a difficult feat, because for me this book is so hard to categorize that I feel like the blurb is trying to catch a multitude of readers, where it needn’t, the book is THAT good.

I loved this book. The more I think about it now, the higher in my esteem it climbs, and I only wish I had the paperback, because I think a paperback version would suit this. First the main characters, Liz and Dante. Both strong characters that fulfilled their duties brilliantly, she as the strong independent trekker who is on a mission to trek this grueling journey, he as the understanding boyfriend, who is there solely as her partner. From the start the banter between the two of them was perfect. Her sporadic irritation was seamlessly integrated with guilt that she had caused him to do something he had no interest in. This simmered nicely as she tried to guide him, smacking against his shock at the grueling nature of their journey, and the absence of beer or tv at their stopping points. Their dialogue was vibrant , smart and funny and I felt both of their pain. The story took us daily through the trail and I was there, the starkness of some of the scenery, coupled with the beauty of more of it, making it come alive. Added to all of this was the author’s obvious knowledge of climbing, as the minute details added to the experience and taught me so much about the area they were traversing, the equipment required, and endless facts on the what to do/ what not to do in excursions of this nature.

The story was punctuated by Liz’s back story, that of her and her dead husband, Gabriel. This was dealt with in flashbacks aided by the build-up of stress brought on by a monumental secret she was keeping from Dante. The introduction of other characters was well done, as we climbed, hiked and stumbled along with the pair. We encountered some helpful climbers, an actor there solely for research and the very odd Root brothers, a pair that added to tension I started to feel as it hit home that where they were there was nowhere to run. I had only two problems with the book. One was that at times Liz could seem a little over dramatic, not in her problems, which were substantial, more her way of expressing them. The other were said Root brothers, who I found to be slightly cartoon-like at times, this took away slightly from the tone of the book, though not much.

To finish I will add simply that the bookclub questions at the end of the book were a lovely addition and served only to validate my opinion on the book. Brilliant.

Rating: 5/5

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti



What they say: On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.


The review: Thanks to Netgalley and Worthy Publishing for an advance copy in return for an honest review.

We start this novella with a front row seat of the spectacle of Katie, saying no to a proposal from her boyfriend of ten months, Micah. As well as us, there are numerous members of Micah’s family, as Katie is at their home for Christmas. Awkward? Not really. Katie is surprised that the reaction of the family is to continue to welcome her as if nothing has happened!

This book reminded me of the rom coms that surface on television at Christmas, with a female lead that everyone knows, where there is constant pandemonium and brightness and festiveness, except this was done so much better! I will admit there are a LOT of characters in this, which will be a no-no for some (I’ve no problem with it at all), and even after reading all of this book (in one day), I would not be able to name them all, but for some reason, it didn’t matter. The story flew by with so many lovely, touching moments, told better than any Christmas story I can remember.

There were so many scenes in this book that were so heartwarming, the moments between the grandparents, the introduction of unexpected members of the family, and a little different to the ones you’d expect. There was very little comedy in it which was surprising given the opening scene, but I soon forgot about that. I cried four times in the book which was something, and I smiled a lot too. So beautifully written in parts (I actually highlighted some short phrases which I particularly enjoyed), I flew through it from start to finish.

Bad points … Well, although Katie was great, we did get hit over the face a little bit too much with the lead up to the mysterious reason she had said no. I liked all of the characters, though the other points of views that were brought in were brought in so late that it was a bit of a shock after only seeing things through Katie. Also this was quite a holy book, which mightn’t suit some people (I have to warn just in case people have a problem with it but given that it was a Christmas book, I enjoyed the references).

One last aside, there were some formatting issues, which might have been my Kindle, but they did mean that at times the dialogue was difficult to decipher, as two people speaking might be featured on the same line, or gaps would appear making it look like a scene had changed. Just something I have to note but it could have been my Kindle and anyway it was a great read. I look forward to looking out more from Ms. Ruchti.

“Christmas week with the Binders … Is as good a place as they come to figure out where your heart is. ” Says it all.

Rating: 4.75/5

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson



What they say: Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that’s exactly what she’s getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix–in the dead of winter, no less–the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride–and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an exciting ride!

The review: This book tells the story of Joy Jorgenson, an eighty-five year old lady who is moving to an assisted living facility to be near her sons. Joy has a blog named ‘Christmas Joy,’ which she works on with the help of her neighbour, Miranda. After running a competition on the blog, she chooses six winners and decides to have one big final adventure before she is moved to the home. Miranda has been down on her luck, putting it mildly, she has lost her job, her husband has left her and admits to Joy that her house is about to be taken away from her. Joy convinces her to accompany her and Miranda begrudgingly agrees and soon they’re off in a decorated camper van (see cover of book!) to see Route 66 and stop in on each of their winners, with a Christmas surprise for each that will change all of their lives.

First to the cover. I really loved the cover, it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go! I also loved the idea of this Santa Clause type lady and her sidekick heading off into the unknown to help those less fortunate. I appreciated the way Miranda changed and became more positive as the trip went on, thinking on her feet when problems arose. I did, however, find Miranda to be slightly pious at times, and a little preachy. I also found Joy to be too positive, I didn’t dislike her, and I found her idea, planning and determination to see it through brilliant, but she was a little too bright (it could say something about me, though!)

In terms of the writing I was nervous as I had decided from the start that this would no doubt be a tear jerker, but unfortunately it didn’t totally move me, which sounds slightly harsh, especially given the fact that it was made clear at the start that Joy was not in the best of health. The ending was quite sudden and only succeeded in making me feel like a cynic. I think perhaps the problem was that the short length of the book, and the fact that there was so much for them to do, did not allow for enough description. I would have loved to have enjoyed this more, but as they say, there’s a book out there for everyone, and unfortunately we didn’t click.

All in all, a lovely book for people who like them very warm and fuzzy, that will no doubt get people in the Christmas mood.

Thanks to NetGalley and Revell division of the Baker Publishing group for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5 (Not for me but definitely for others!)

Life or Something Like It by Annie Lyons


What they say: Step into someone else’s shoes for a day…

And it will change you for a lifetime.

Cat is very good at her job. She runs a PR company with her best friend (and secret crush) Jesse, and is never happier than when her high-profile celebrities are glittering in the spotlight.

But when her footballer client gets in the press for all the wrong reasons, Cat’s career takes a sudden nosedive. So when her brother Andrew unexpectedly needs her to look after his kids for a few weeks, she can hardly say no. She’s happily single, hasn’t exactly been the ‘World’s Best Auntie’ over the years, and what she knows about looking after children would fit on the back of a postage stamp. But it’s only temporary until she gets her real life back on track – isn’t it?

From the bestselling author of Not Quite Perfect comes a hilarious story that will have you wondering just how perfect your life is!

The Review: The book begins with Cat Nightingale, who works hard and, while she lets her work define her, has no qualms about it doing so. She is a strong character who grabbed me from the start, I found her really refreshing. We are told how much she lives for her job, but then suddenly: bang! Cat is told that maybe she should stay away for a little while as part of the fall-out of a publicist’s nightmare, the faux pas of a bad boy footballer. Suddenly Cat has time on her hands which works to her brother, Andrew’s advantage. He enlists Cat to help mind his son, Charlie and daughter, Ellie. Cat is very much not a children person and she battles to befriend the two who aren’t very open to the idea of Cat being there. She is also left to deal with problems that Charlie has, issues that broke my heart and put it firmly in my stomach for a portion of the book. This all take place whilst dealing with Finn, a constant presence who is uncle to their friend and who seems to find Cat’s trials amusing. I adored the interactions between the two of them, their personalities matched the other in terms of smartness and speed and added to an already ever present wit and humour.

Then there’s the small issue of someone in Cat’s job trying to make things different for her. This was dealt with brilliantly, and I was on edge to find out what exactly was happening, and who she could really trust.

The characters in this were gold and performed their duties to perfection. I adored Cat, loved her best friend Ava, Finn, the kids … the only character I couldn’t warm to was her brother, Andrew. I loved where the book went in terms of showing the issues Cat was keeping inside, it was dealt with beautifully and also brought about showing us just how nicely Ms. Lyons does romance. The pages flew by and the comic moments put a smile on my face, as did the story.

This book is interesting in that it brings up the age old question of how people assume that females of a certain age are pre-disposed to want children. I cannot recommend this book enough for something light, yet thought provoking, definitely one to get the conversations going, though also one to make you smile. All in all, some very sweet, sad, melancholic moments, that gave me a jolt as it reminded me of times gone by. Highly recommended and I look forward to looking up ‘Not Quite Perfect’ by the same author.

Rating: 5/5

Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh

Return to Bluebell Hill

What they say: As sweet and satisfying as strawberries and cream! This British summertime, get out in the garden with Rebecca Pugh’s sparkling debut novel.

Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?

An emotional tale of self-discovery, taking chances and romance! Rebecca’s unique British voice feels like coming home again and again.

The Review: I have to admit I read the reviews of this before I started to write, as curiosity got the better of me. They were as expected, this book seems to be the most anticipated in the bloggers’ circle of this year and nobody seemed disappointed! Nor was I. Rebecca Pugh is possibly the one of the friendliest, most helpful people I’ve ever come across in the book world. Her blog has a huge following and its pretty pastel exterior and intricately woven threads of review easily belay how talented she is.

And so I started with some excitement, launching myself into this beautiful book, a book of vivid descriptions that gave it so much life, wonder and enchantment. We meet Jessica McAdams as she returns to the house she grew up in, Bluebell House. On the train journey she is pensive, trying to make sense of her emotions, and lack thereof, and meets the lovely Reuben. The meeting and its repercussions, were gold! Good-looking, outgoing, funny – Reuben had it all from the get-go. He was nice, warm, he was charming, but not smug … I loved him! In fact, it was very fitting that he was the gardener as the romantic parts of the story were so lovely and melded nicely with the beautiful gardens of Bluebell house, gardens maintained by Reuben himself.

This leads me to the descriptions in this book, the scenic ones which were simply breath-taking ‘The traditional bluebells of the village worked their magic and transformed the hill from a dusky green to an enchanting blue,’ coupled with those of the characters, for example Reuben who we were introduced to as a ‘handsome man’ who had a ‘smattering of dark stubble that swept across both sides of his very masculine, very appealing jaw.’ In general, the characters were done very well, I loved her best friend, Sarah, as well as her ex-nanny, Esme, who fussed over her so much and was so lovely. I’m afraid although I liked Jessica from the start I found her bitterness on her parents a little bit over the top and this took away from the story just a smidgen (I wasn’t sure the reason that she had left home and never come back warranted what was essentially her whole adult life absent from her homestead). That being said the secret she subsequently unearthed was definitely big enough to deserve the build up and really shocked.

All in all a great book, that just goes to show a book blogger with Rebecca Pugh’s experience in reading and reviewing is the best person for the job. From gorgeous romance to real characters, beautifully wondrous backdrops to drama; to keeping the everyday parts of the story making you want you keep reading, Ms. Pugh is definitely one who is going to gain some notoriety from writing, and I, for one, cannot wait to see what comes in the future.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Eight Mistakes of Amy Maxwell by Heather Balog


What they say: Amy Maxwell’s got four kids, a useless husband and crusted applesauce on her yoga pants that haven’t seen the inside of a gym in over a decade. She’s convinced her teenage daughter is up to no good, her ten year old can’t stop chattering in her ear and her oldest son has befriended a teenaged boy twice his age who is a tad bit strange. And don’t even get her started on having a toddler when you’re in your late thirties. She just can’t keep up. Forget tired; she’s exhausted and feeling unfulfilled, dissatisfied and like a disappointment to everyone; her kids, her parents and most of all, herself.

To relieve her stress, Amy finds herself fantasizing about everything from the pool boy next door to finding out that her daughter was switched at birth. She can’t help her thoughts, but she figures, if they’re in her head, they can’t hurt anyone else, right? When Jason, a very sexy forty something year old single father moves in across the street, Amy finds her fantasy world has gone into overdrive. When Amy and her 13 year old daughter, Allie, stumble upon the body of their neighbor, shot to death in her living room, Amy finds herself thrown together with Jason in the most unpredictable way. Amy finds herself bumbling around Jason, trying desperately to stop her fantasies and her underlying attraction towards him as this who done it mystery slowly unfolds. And Amy soon realizes, nobody is who she thinks they are…even Amy herself.

The Review: First off, thanks so much to the author for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book, however I’ll start with the reason I found it tough, and wouldn’t recommend for anyone who hasn’t kids (for those who do, there will actually be a lot you can relate to). I was at a talk recently where the author said that there was a common idea that all books should be set on an atypical day, that is a day that repels the norm. I’d actually never heard that, though of course it’s common sense, if we want anything interesting to happen at all! This sprang to mind when I started this book, I thought it showed a bit too much of the everyday struggles. Let me explain. We meet Amy, who’s starting to feel like she’s on a merry-go-round of Groundhog day syndrome, consisting of the everyday trials of being a parent to four children. Things are also lukewarm with her husband in terms of how they interact. I didn’t warm to Amy until near the end, I just found her so negative, I know we all have days where we find things so hard and irritating, but she was so non stop, there was no light and shade with her, she rolled her eyes and cursed at everything, and I couldn’t believe that anyone would wish their husband dead (I have four boys and an, em, interesting husband and I don’t think I’ve ever even come close!;))

The second half of the book, though, changed everything. On one occasion where Amy was having one of her daydreams, things shifted in real life and she found her and her daughter embroiled in one hell of an adventure. Cue woodlands, a chase, guns, the works!! It came out of nowhere and hit me over the eyes and I loved it!
I enjoyed this book, and with tweaking, it could be 5 star gold! The ending was so different to anything I’ve read, it was really kooky and the pages flew by to reveal some of the most heartwarming moments I’d ever come across that made me happy I’d started to read.

Rating: 3.75/5

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor


What they say: A BIG story about a small boy who sees the world a little differently

Milo curled his thumb and forefinger together to make a small hole and held his fingers up to Al’s eyes. ‘Look through here. That’s what I see. Kind of, only worse.’
‘Wow, that must be amazing.’
Milo shrugged. ‘Not really.’
‘I mean, it makes you focus, doesn’t it? I bet you see all kinds of stuff that other people miss.’

Nine-year-old Milo Moon has retinitis pigmentosa: his eyes are slowly failing and he will eventually go blind. But for now he sees the world through a pin hole and notices things other people don’t. When Milo’s beloved gran succumbs to dementia and moves into a nursing home, Milo soon realises there’s something wrong at the home. So with just Tripi, the nursing home’s cook, and Hamlet, his pet pig, to help, Milo sets out on a mission to expose the nursing home and the sinister Nurse Thornhill.

Insightful, wise and surprising, What Milo Saw is filled with big ideas and simple truths. Milo sees the world in a very special way and it will be impossible for you not to fall in love with him and then share his story with everyone you know.

The Review: Our story begins with Milo, who sees it as his duty to look after his Gran, who has not spoken in years, and whose health is failing, and is mother to Milo’s father, who is not around. The relationship between Milo and his Gran is perfect, their bond maintained by the little pen and pad his Gran uses to communicate with. Milo’s mother, however, is struggling with her husband’s absense, and there is a great deal of tension in the house. Following a fire, Gran leaves to go to a retirement home, Forget me not homes, while Milo pines for her and awaits the day she will return.

Retirement homes are a huge source of fear, the fact the most vulnerable in society could possibly be in places where they are not seen as human beings any more, they are a way to make money. The things that Milo ‘sees’ etch little holes in your heart. It’s the way you’re told, the things that aren’t said. The book is heavy with the realisation that children see so much more than adults do.

We see early on that Nurse Thornhill from Forget Me Not homes sees the occupants purely as a source of income. From the start she is a vivid character, almost like someone from a Roald Dahl book, who looks ‘like a skeleton: tall and sharp and bony’ and who ‘didn’t look at all like she sounded on the phone.’

In terms of characters, there’s many, the inhabitants of the home are all very different, and quite memorable, driving home the fact that they are not machines, they are people. Milo’s friend, Tripi, a Syrian chef who was working in the home under difficult conditions, both in the home and outside of it. Their friendship is gold and again drives home difficult circumstances that force people into choices that they would not normally make. Milo’s mother is further proof of this. A special mention to Milo’s uncle who turns up unexpectedly and helps Milo in his quest to show the home for what it really is.

But it’s Milo’s gran who steals the show for me, a wonderful, warm, selfless, beautiful woman who carries on despite the blows dealt to her.

There are some books that really touch you, this is one of those. At present I am thinking of moments that could easily make me cry and other moments that would just as easily make me smile. The story telling is second to none, brilliantly narrated, allowing each main character a turn of their point of view.

A lot of the reviews on this started by coupling this story with The Curious Incident of The Dog at Night Time by Mark Haddon and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamus by John Boyne. It was an obvious comparison, all revolve around a boy, the most important part of the story is dictated (thought not necessarily narrated) by said boy, all are vulnerable in ways that they either don’t realise or else don’t allow to get in the way of their ultimate mission, and all could be read by nearly any age group, they are easy to read yet genius enough that any adult can learn buckets from them. I will finish by telling you that this book will hopefully continue to be spoken of in the same sentence as the above two books, and will become as well known and widely read as them too. I also hope this author continues to bring out gems such as this and becomes very well known for doing so. Thanks to Virginia Macgregor, Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5 Dare I say it? One for the Christmas list;)

Note: Please excuse shoddy picture, this computer is not my friend at the moment.

The Year I Met You by Cecilia Ahern

What they say: A thoughtful, captivating and ultimately uplifting novel from this uniquely talented author

Jasmine know two things: one, she loves her vulnerable sister unconditionally, and will fight to the death to protect her from anyone who upsets her. Two, she’s only ever been good at one thing – her job helping business start-ups.

So when she’s sacked and put on gardening leave, Jasmine realises that she has nothing else to fill her life. Insomnia keeps her staring out of her bedroom window, and she finds herself watching the antics of her neighbour, shock jock Matt, with more than a casual eye. Matt is also taking a forced leave of absence from work, after one of his controversial chat shows went too far…

Jasmine has every reason to dislike Matt, and the feeling appears to be mutual. But not everything is as it seems, and soon Jasmine and Matt are forced to think again…


The Review:

To start, I’d like to draw your attention to is the cover. I read the paperback version and, on seeing the other lighter, brighter cover, was thrilled that I had this one. I can see why there were two possible covers as I suppose you could look on this book as a sombre book or an uplifting one. It could be telling that this was the one for me. (Note, coming into the time of year that’s in it, this particular cover and of course the book itself, will tick every box in terms of setting a cosy, autumnal/ wintery mood.)

The book, from the start, was atmospheric, the mood dark. The story of Jasmine, sacked from her job and not being able to take another for a year, trundled along slowly, pulling you along with it, until it was you that this was happening to, being driven by the fact that the light in your life had been muted, the driving force halted. Had this been a movie, I would assume that there would be some form of an odd noise in the background thoughout, had it been written differently, I have no doubt that noise would have given me a headache, thankfully it wasn’t. I loved this book. I don’t think any amount of gushing will do it justice, it was just the perfect mix of dark and brightness.

I read the book over a few nights, purely due to bad timing (it could easily be devoured in the space of twenty-four hours), but I’ll be honest, I looked forward to each night when I could pick it up and savoured every second. The street Jasmine gazed into every night reminded me of the street I was living on and so I became a curtain twitcher, which made me want to pull the book out again.

A central part of the book was how Jasmine watched Matt, a radio personality neighbor of hers who would arrive home late every night, drunk, loud and unapologetic for what he was putting his family and the street through.

I adored her relationship with Matt, probably one of the most unexpected things of the story, as Ms Ahern decided not to go the obvious way. Matt was a character very important on turning all of her pre-conceived notions on their head. I found him to be vivid and loud and honest and blunt and brilliant.

As for the other characters, the introduction of them in terms of her memories, were perfectly done, her cousin, her father, her mother. Her sister was so vibrant and beautiful and I loved how she surprised Jasmine. Jasmine’s neighbours appeared before my very eyes from the start and made me see the street properly. As for Jasmine herself, I loved her way of thinking and her smart sense of humour. The only thing was, the description I had in my head didn’t match up with the author’s, I think I had the image formed from page one. I possibly missed something, so I’m afraid I had a different girl peering through her windows at night to that dreamt up by other people, but I suppose that’s what books are for, we all have our own way of seeing things (I think the bloggers out there who can match an actor to a character in books have God given talents for this, it’s something I’d love to be able to do.)

The title of the book is perfections. As the pages turn we go through the seasons with some lovely descriptions on gardening (a nice touch considering the lead, Jasmine, is on gardening leave) with each one mirroring a change in both Jasmine and the people around her. Even just writing this I am still in awe that a single sentence on one of her neighbours, dropped casually into an aside made me cry so much.

I’ll be honest, I read a few of the reviews before I wrote this, not something I usually do, and a few were disappointed at where the build in tension took them. I wasn’t (all I can say without giving anything away).

A beautiful, captivating book that I have been recommending all around me since I read, there is no doubt in my mind as to why Ms. Ahern is where she is in terms of sales and popularity. Adored this. So much. My advice? Read it, preferably the way I did, in paperback, by lamplight, and at night time.

Rating: 5/5


Little Acts of Love by Tilly Tennant

little acts of love


What they say: Mishaps in Millrise – a four-(novella)-part romantic spin-off from Mishaps and Mistletoe

‘Tilly Tennant has obvious talent for turning the every day into a fairy tale… a sweet touch and light humour’

If you’re new to the town of Millrise, then come and meet the residents. But if you fell in love with Phoebe and Jack last Christmas in Mishaps and Mistletoe, then you’ve just been invited to the best reunion ever…

Almost five months have passed since Phoebe and Jack first met in the grotto of a drunken Santa at Hendry’s toy store in Millrise. Since then, Jack and his adorable daughter, Maria, have turned Phoebe’s life around. As she and Jack get closer, Phoebe decides it’s time to put her stagnating career back on track too, which means going for a big promotion at work.

But nothing is ever simple in the strange little world of Hendry’s, and Phoebe is soon wishing she’d stayed on the tills. At home, things aren’t much better as the couple brace themselves to meet their respective in-laws. It’s clear from the start that making friends and influencing people has never been harder. And to make it worse, Phoebe must compete for the affection of Jack’s parents with the perfect partner and mother – who’s been dead for five years…

The Review: First off thanks to Netgalley for providing me with this book in return for an honest review.

Let me start by saying how much I loved this cover, such a pretty, intricate little cover, that, coupled with the blurb, made me think that this would be a nice easygoing read. This it was, and being part of a serial collection of books, and a novella at that, it flew by.

I had not read the book that this was a spin off from and so did not know Phoebe, Jack or indeed his daughter, Maria. We were told that they had been together four months but from the start it didn’t really feel like that. I might have missed Jack’s age, but it seemed he was older than Phoebe, and so their relationship seemed odd, as I would have expected a parent who had lost their spouse to not become so serious within a four month time-frame. This was one of the big problems of the book, I felt it needed a bit more of an introduction to the characters, maybe a smart few lines that would describe both them and their relationship more. If I’d read the first book and gotten to know Jack more I might have seen his behavior here out of character- I found him cranky and standoffish with Phoebe, with a bit of a temper, snapping at her a little too much and too loudly when she did not deserve it.

Another reason the book before would have made things easier was that I couldn’t tally the fact that a few months ago Phoebe hadn’t liked children at all and now her dream job was to be higher up in a toy company.

This all sounds like I didn’t like the book, but I loved the scenes with her mother and father, and found the descriptions of a father’s partaking in a war reenactment hilarious. I have to admit that this was the homely aspect to the book I wanted when I first saw the cover. The book was very nicely written and, I’ll be honest, if I’d read this a few years ago I’d probably have been giving this a 5/5, I think from Phoebe and Jack’s behavior it is aimed at a younger reader (I’m thirty five years old). The other thing that didn’t sell it to me was it being divided into four segments when I think one book would have sewn this all together a little more tightly ( I think the hook of this was introduced a little suddenly and late into this novella, but would have worked as part of one book.) I’m sure others will think differently, bringing me back to my constant thought that no two people will get the same out of any given book, everyone has different thoughts and ideas, things that work for them and things that don’t.

All in all, not for me, but a lovely light read that will appeal to so many so try not to take this pernickety old reviewer’s word for it.

Rating: 3/5

I Need A Hero by Emma Bennett

I Need A Hero

First off thanks so much to Net Galley for supplying me with this book in return for an honest review.

From page one I knew I was in for a treat. The setting was so vivid I could imagine the little twin cottages, one unused and slightly unkempt, the other so loved and tended to. The writing style was warm and inviting and I adored that she was a writer and an avid reader. There were some truly brilliant moments where Ms Bennett had events occurring and Bronte would give the nod to various books. Later, her own work began to echo what was happening. I ADORED these intricacies.

I also really enjoyed that we got to meet her writing group and writing friends, including Camille, who I found to be a breath of fresh air. Although beautiful, she wasn’t aware of it and was always quick to point out the good points of people and help out where she could.

A friend often turns a mirror to the main character, and I’m afraid this is where I was slightly put off. I found myself comparing Camille and Bronte. It was funny that Camille was a writer of darker material, while Bronte authored romantic novels, as Camille was without a doubt the positive one, and I found Bronte to be slightly difficult to read. I tried to warm to her, but, even taking into account that there is nothing wrong with being a little closed in terms of what a person puts out to the world, I just couldn’t. I found her negative and opinionated, a trait again amplified by the arrival of an easier character, the lovely Ryan Murphy. (I will admit the name grated on me just a little, as yes, I am Irish, and found it and him stereotypical, although his character, luckily, was bigger than the stereotype.)

In terms of story-line, I found Bronte’s reasoning and rationale for her actions not really strong enough to warrant her attitude towards the gent of the manor, Sebastian, who I don’t have a particular opinion on, except to say that it was genius how and when he turned up, and Bronte’s thoughts on him being around initially.

All in all, I loved this book. I know from some of my ravings above it doesn’t seem like it, but I devoured it, and looked forward to reading on. One thing, though, is it came up on my Kindle as a ‘fun Summer read’ and I have to disagree, I found it to be lovely, warm, homely, quaint … not characteristics I’d put with ‘fun’ or ‘Summer’. There were some funny bits (I would read it just for her cat, Mr Darcy, and his reaction to both her and others in the story) but all in all, it wasn’t that sort of book and was more suited to a cold evening in with a warm drink (in fact it was set in the latter half of the year and the weather matched this).

I would have no hesitation in recommending, especially coming into Autumn, and also for fans of the classics, those who enjoy, for example, Jane Austen’s books will LOVE this, due to the comparisons and references used. Anyhoo, to summarise, I will most definitely be jumping into Ms Bennet’s back catalog. Simply lovely.

Rating 4.5/5