Escape to Oakbrook Farm: A wonderfully uplifting romantic comedy (Hope Cove Book 2) by Hannah Ellis

escapetoakbrook

Length: 322 pages

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

What they say: Village life is supposed to be quiet…

Josie Beaumont is a free spirit. She changes jobs about as often as she changes her relationship status. Frequently! The only constants in her life are the comfy old shoes that she refuses to part with.

When unemployment looms again, she’s intrigued by a job opportunity at a dog kennels in rural Devon. As someone who thrives on change, a move to the sticks doesn’t faze her at all. She’s expecting life in the country to be quiet and uneventful.

What she’s not expecting is Sam.

The charming, sensitive neighbour makes life much more interesting. In fact, when she gets involved in the local community, things really aren’t as dull as she anticipated. But just when she finally feels settled, she’s offered the job of her dreams back in London. It’s time to move on.

Or is it?

Being part of a small community has stirred something in Josie and she begins to question what she really wants. Can she turn her back on her new life and say goodbye to Sam? Or is she ready to hang up her running shoes and stay put? Maybe she’s finally found something worth sticking around for…

The Review: There are a multitude of ways you can see an author’s writing spring to life that isn’t just from the book itself, in fact, this is the reason that I buy more books on the basis of guest posts or interviews or a writer’s review of a book. Here, the dedication itself was enough to make me swoon and settle down, glad I was reading another one of Hannah Ellis’ gorgeous books (Note: the dedication was “To Dua, You deserve the world … here’s a book instead.” Isn’t that so lovely!)

And indeed we are back to another gorgeous book, amazing given that Hannah ( I know her well from being an all round helpful and motivational writerly person on social media and in a writer group we both inhabit) has been probably one of my most reviewed authors on this blog. (You would assume at some stage I wouldn’t connect with a book, as what are the chances I feel so smiley and excited after all her books, but there you go!!)

Here is the story of Josie who we meet at a wedding at the start of her book, dressed in her bridesmaid’s dress and a pair of Converse, speaking to the best man, Sam. Josie has just broken up with her boyfriend and is shocked that she feels a sort of pull towards Sam, given that she’s assuming the break up is just another glitch and they’ll be back together very soon. I have to admit the banter, and Sam in particular, drew me in and I was keen to see where this would go.

Josie was a lovely character too, only changing when we see her with her on/off boyfriend, which reminded me a little of the film ‘The Break Up’ (it always gets me thinking about balancing being naggy and not having to do everything yourself), but soon her and her boyfriend are back together even though she’s agreeing to move to Devon during the week to work in Annette’s dog kennels.

This was another lovely touch. Happy as I was to move to the countryside and enjoy the quirks of country life (in particular the creepy laneways when walking home from the pub and indeed the pub itself with a whole new range of friends for Josie), I was THRILLED that she was going to be working with dogs. The book moved nicely for me and I enjoyed the new friends, the banter, the settings,the drama and the many, many smile along moments. I will admit that just after middle I felt a lull and was afraid nothing would happen but then we went to the one place I’d forgotten we could go and one of the character’s reactions smarted and shocked me! In terms of comedy there were a few very well done, nicely timed moments that had me nodding along. All in all a great book but I’d advise you to move back to the start of the series, to book 1  just to savour it all and meet some other characters that pop up here (here’s my gush about  The Cottage At Hope Cove which seems to be FREE at the moment-get it here on Amazon!). Thanks so much to the author for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the author

Hannahellis

Hannah Ellis lives in Munich with her husband and two little boys. She’s originally from England and has also lived in America, Australia and Ireland. As well as writing, she also teaches English to kindergarten kids. In her spare time she likes to read books, drink tea and eat chocolate. She goes jogging regularly but hasn’t decided if she really enjoys it or not. She’s a huge fan of sunshine and the many Munich beer gardens.

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The Cottage at Hope Cove by Hannah Ellis #chicklitmay #bookreview

thecottageathope

Length: 337 pages

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

What they say:

Lizzie Beaumont has it all: a great career, a wealthy fiancé, and the wedding of her dreams just months away. But when her fiancé puts work before her again, she sets off for a week in the picturesque town of Hope Cove. She’s hoping for time away from the chaos to find herself.

Instead, she finds Max.

When the gorgeous guy next door asks her for decorating help, Lizzie finds herself all too eager to please. The week she expected to drag suddenly flies by, and before she knows it, she has to return to her other life. The life with the impending marriage and the fiancé she loves.

Or does she?

One week with Max has left her questioning her life choices. Is her fiancé the man of her dreams, or just the man who asked? Now Lizzie must decide what her life will be. Will she go for the safe and predictable route, or take a chance on a man she hardly knows? No matter what she does, someone’s heart is going to break. She just doesn’t want it to be hers.

Review: And now, as they say, for something, well not completely different, but still! We start off seeing Elizabeth Beaumont and her boyfriend Max discussing their wedding in passing as they try to find time to spend with each other in the midst of busy careers. I loved seeing Eliazabeth’s work in a magazine and could understand her passion for a job. They’re supposed to finally take a holiday together but then, again, work stops Max but he convinces her to head off on her own to the lovely Hope Cove. And it was lovely:

“The village streets were narrow and dotted with bright white cottages with neatly thatched roofs. When she reached the bay she stopped the car and gazed out. A full moon hung over the water, and the sea sparkled beautifully in its reflected glow.”

I fell in love with Hope Cove in the same way I’d enjoyed hearing of her time at the magazine, and gobbled up the fantastic setting. And then we met Max. I have to admit I wasn’t so sure about him at the start but then, on saying that it’s been some time since my stomach has leapt around solely from the mesmerizing romance in a book. I was so torn. Both of them were due to marry and yet the pull of the chemistry and connection between the two of them was so strong that I still wanted them to get together.

I loved Elizabeth becoming Lizzie and that the book didn’t always succumb to cliches and that everything was so realistic in terms of what life had in store for them and how they had to get back to ‘real life’. There were twists that were unexpected, and mix-ups and misunderstandings that were welcome and realistic. I’ll admit when we went along to Hope Cove I was afraid we’d be trading comedy for beauty, but there were still sudden out of the blue smiles, albeit more understated than Ms. Ellis’ previous books. I hearted this book so much, every single second of it and read it in one night with my eyes searching out the next words while still relishing those before. I have always been a fan of the author’s before now and know her online, but this book has moved me into Superfan mode. One of my top books this year! Cannot recommend enough.

Rating: 5/5

Note: Read previous reviews of this author’s books here

 

Stacking The Shelves

staackingtheshelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, where you share the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks, audio and paperback books, including books you’ve bought, borrowed or received an ARC of.

So given #ChickLitMay I’ve gone a bit chick lit nutty this week, and am looking forward to all of them (there’s one outlier;))!

singlewoman

To start with Tracy Bloom because, to be honest, she’s romantic comedy/ chick lit royalty in my book at this stage! Can’t WAIT to read!!

What they say: What do you do when you find your love-life in ruins? Get revenge on every man who ever broke your heart of course….

Suzie Miller, a disillusioned agony aunt, can’t believe she’s been dumped from a great height yet again (this time by text, straight after they’ve had sex… twice!). So she decides the time is right to make every one of her exes feel the pain she felt when they carelessly cast her aside.

Her methods are unusual but humiliation on a grand scale is no less than they deserve.

Euphoric that she’s finally stood up for herself she starts suggesting outrageous ways for her readers to deal with their relationship nightmares too. Suddenly everyone wants Suzie’s advice. Finally content with being single and enjoying her blossoming career it seems as though happiness is within her grasp. That is until a man gets in the way.

Single Woman Seeks Revenge is a romantic comedy with a kick: a kick up the backside to any man who believes he got away with treating a woman badly and to any woman who doesn’t fight back.

 

ottercombe bay

If I was ever to visit anywhere it’d be Devon. It seems to be the setting of so many gorgeous descriptive chick lit books! Looking forward to this!

What they say: Escape to the Devon coast, with Part One of a brand-new four-part serial from the author of Willow Cottage.

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

 

thecottageathope

I ‘met’ Hannah Ellis some time ago now when I got a review copy for her first book, and have stayed in contact and continued to read her warm, feel good rom coms since!

What they say: Lizzie Beaumont has it all: a great career, a wealthy fiancé, and the wedding of her dreams just months away. But when her fiancé puts work before her again, she sets off for a week in the picturesque town of Hope Cove. She’s hoping for time away from the chaos to find herself.

Instead, she finds Max.

When the gorgeous guy next door asks her for decorating help, Lizzie finds herself all too eager to please. The week she expected to drag suddenly flies by, and before she knows it, she has to return to her other life. The life with the impending marriage and the fiancé she loves.

Or does she?

One week with Max has left her questioning her life choices. Is her fiancé the man of her dreams, or just the man who asked? Now Lizzie must decide what her life will be. Will she go for the safe and predictable route, or take a chance on a man she hardly knows? No matter what she does, someone’s heart is going to break. She just doesn’t want it to be hers.

 

thewindmill

Have heard so many good things about this!

What they say: As Rosie Barnes serves glasses of tangy lemonade and ice-cold prosecco at her summer garden party, she couldn’t be happier. The Windmill Café, with its peppermint green sails is a roaring success and has given Rosie a chance to escape the heartbreak of her busy life in London.

But then disaster strikes when popstar Suki Richards is taken unexpectedly ill at the party. Now all eyes are on Rosie…have her famous raspberry cupcakes poisoned her most high-profile guest? Or is someone else trying to damage Suki’s chance of stardom?

If Rosie wants to save her picture-perfect life, and the reputation of her beloved Windmill Café, she’s going to have to get to the bottom of the mystery…and fast!

 

sunshine at the

(whispers) I’ve never ACTUALLY read a Debbie Johnson book, despite having a number on my Kindle (shuffles away shiftily … )

What they say: Come to the Comfort Food Café this spring for sunshine, smiles and plenty of truly scrumptious lemon drizzle cake.

‘As cosy as a buttered crumpet’ Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson

‘Summer wouldn’t be Summer without Debbie Johnson!’ Jenny Oliver

My name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the
menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm
spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country
life will be changed forever.

Curl up with this gorgeous novel and make yourself
at home at the Comfort Food Café.

 

appleby

 

This next one is one of those books I’ve been hearing about forever! It was originally published as a four-part serial but this is the full thing.

What they say: Sometimes the life you want isn’t the one you need…

Freya has skirted through life, drifting from place to place and job to job. Always restless, it seems she’s finally found a place to settle down (with a sexy boyfriend to match) in a small and cosy town. But she still finds herself thinking of the rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm. They’re only dreams though… there’s a life right here ready to be lived.

But a phone call rocks the new life she has built. Tragedy has threatened Appleby Farm and Freya makes the choice to return home, leaving her lovely boyfriend and safe job behind. But maybe the grass at Appleby Farm will be a shade greener this time…

Now, ever-restless Freya must finally make a choice about what she’d like her life to be. With two lives, two men and two futures to choose from… who does she really want to be?

Appleby Farm is a charming, funny and romantic story for anyone looking for a feel-good, light-hearted read, from the author of bestselling Ivy Lane.

 

plotting

I’ll admit I actually thought this one was a book on plotting but then the actual plot got me and so I bought anyway!

What they say: A Novel for New Beginnings….. set in the Derbyshire Peak District

“Women reach fifty and think they’re on the verge of liberation and excitement, and their broken-down men just want to stay home and fart. Or in my case, go and live in a cabin in the Rockies and fart.”

Sally Howe plans to spend her husband-free year trying her hand at becoming a wildly successful author. But she’s beset by distractions – the first being a queue of local lotharios, led by young Billy Bathgate, the village postmaster with a tartan trouser habit and an obsession with drain rods. Then her delightfully empty nest fills up again – her younger son boomerangs home with a new-found vegan-activist agenda, and her DIY-crazy brother comes to stay.

Warm, wise and funny, Plotting for Beginners offers a wry evaluation of long-haul marriages, plus a lesson on how to hit the menopause running and seize your freedom when the family has gone.

And the outlier- very excited to have this land into my Kindle- One Click by the brilliant Andrea Mara …

oneclick

What they say: When Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, she has no idea what will come of that single click.

Her daughters are surprised that she posted a photo without consent, but it’s only when she starts to get anonymous messages about the woman on the beach that she deletes the photo. It’s too little too late, and the messages escalate, prompting Lauren to confess to the woman. The woman has her own dark story, one that might explain the messages, but Lauren isn’t convinced. Then her ex-husband begins to harass her, telling her she shares too much online and brought this on herself.

She’s also dealing with other problems. A difficult client at work starts to show up in places he shouldn’t be. Her younger daughter is behaving out of character and Lauren can’t work out what’s wrong. And the cracks are literally beginning to show in her old South Dublin house, mirroring the cracks in her carefully curated life.

Meanwhile, the messages from the internet troll become more personal and more vindictive. Her friends feel she should stand up to her stalker, but Lauren isn’t so sure. And then she makes one small mistake that brings everything tumbling down.

Stacking the Shelves (16th December 2017)

stacking

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews & Reading Reality, and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. So in my case it’s all the e-books I’ve received from NetGalley, as a request from an author, from Amazon, or as a physical copy from the library or bookshop. Thanks again to Tynga’s Reviews & Reading Reality, and also to Hayley at Rather Too Fond Of Books, as this is where I’d originally become a fan of the stacking the shelves meme:)

Now. So to start off just to let you know that all cover images leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book, and the ones that I bought all have the price at time of putting up this post, but obviously they’re subject to change. Some of the others, the ones from Netgalley, are pricier, so make sure to check the price before you ‘one-click!’

shame

You think you know her . . .

Beyond The Lens (Lucy Mitchell book 1) by Hannah Ellis

beyond

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

What they say:

Who says the camera never lies?

When twenty-six-year-old Lucy Mitchell loses her job, she
momentarily loses her mind too and agrees to take part in
a reality TV show. Before she knows it she’s jetting off to a
piece of paradise on a beautiful Spanish island.
Much to her surprise, Lucy makes new friends and has
the time of her life, even indulging in a behind-the-scenes
romance with a hunky cameraman.
Convinced the production will never make it to the screen,
Lucy is on cloud nine, but she soon finds that things are not always as they seem

 

The Review: You’ll remember I reviewed Friends Like These by Hannah Ellis (read review here  ) and My Kind Of Perfect (review here and extract here) and was thrilled with how warm and relatable her characters were, and how easy it was to fall into the story lines and accompany said characters on their journeys. This book, I’m happy to say, also ticked the box in this regard, plus so many more.

We meet Lucy Mitchell, shocked by the fact that she’s just lost her job, and in the mood to rebel just a little:

‘I’d never stolen anything before in my life. I couldn’t even bring myself to take a mint from the bowl beside the till at the hairdresser, so I was quite proud of the stapler in my handbag. At first, I’d considered returning it. I’d actually retraced my steps, sure I couldn’t live with the knowledge that I was basically a common thief.’

And that’s Lucy. Someone who has the hint of a rebel inside her that has tried to conform as much as possible. I warmed to Lucy straight away, as I did with most of the characters and smiled very early on in the book as Lucy realised that she was going to take her Mum’s, who’s motto surely is ‘seize the day,’ advice and do just that. I accompanied Lucy on holidays, again, as with Ms. Ellis’ other books, walking alongside her, grinning as events unfolded, and wondering where this journey would take her personally. I enjoyed the pacing, which ambled along in a book full of warm, light hearted banter, with friendships and romances blooming all around. There was everyday, easygoing action, as the contestants completed trials to get prizes, with comedy interspersed.

I must admit I then wondered what we were catching a glimpse of when hints of mystery were flashed at us. I knew that there was something coming, and was not prepared for the twist that arose. When I saw ‘part 2’ and things began to speed up, I was beyond surprised. The twist was great, and I began to question everyone ‘we’ had met, including Adam, which came as a surprise to me. This gave me my only issue, because although I had enjoyed the first part and was taken along with it, when the pacing picked up in part 2, I did wish that part 1 had been that bit more snappy and part 2 had been prolonged, just a little.

The characters were great, ones I look forward to meeting again, the romance was every gorgeous shade of perfect, and the comedy, warmth and mystery definitely satisfied.

Rating: 4/5

About the author

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Extract: My Kind Of Perfect (Book 3 in the Friends Like These series) by Hannah Ellis

MyKindOfPerfect ebook cover1

Hi everyone! Just wanted to share an extract from My Kind of Perfect,’ the third book in the ‘Friends Like These’ series by Hannah Ellis, which I reviewed yesterday (see review here.)

Please note, as always, that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for Amazon.

The Extract:

“Well, I won’t be dancing at work.” I managed to keep a straight face as I watched Jason shimmy up to Anne with some dirty dancing moves. “It’s very unprofessional if you ask me.”

“Told you!” Anne said to Jason.

“Told him what?” I asked with the distinct feeling that I was walking into a trap.

“I said there’s no way you’d dance. I know you so well. It’s okay! Some people aren’t as good at letting go as others.”

“I said I bet you had some moves,” Jason winked at me.

“I do, as it happens!”

“Prove it,” he challenged. The song ended, and as the next song kicked in, I reluctantly rose from my chair and began an awkward dance toward the middle of the room. Anne gave a little cheer and moved towards me, shaking her shoulders so that her sizeable bosom bounced in front of her. I did a little twirl in order to move away from her, and laughed at how ridiculous my morning was. I relaxed and found myself getting lost in the music, suddenly not caring that I looked like an absolute lunatic. I let myself go and it could easily have been a Saturday night on a sticky dance floor somewhere.

I laughed out loud as I stepped up onto the chair and then my desk. Technically, Anne and I shared a desk. It was one long table, which curved down the length of the room like a wave. Anne and Jason cheered me on and I danced my heart out, strutting my stuff along the entire length of the desk. I was flinging my arms around wildly when I noticed Greg standing in his office doorway, watching me. His arms were folded against his chest and one eyebrow was slightly raised. Greg was a serious sort of guy but he was also a big softie. I knew I wouldn’t be in any trouble with him but he could definitely put an end to the fun with just a look.

Jason moved to stop the music as Greg’s presence killed the atmosphere, and I was left feeling slightly awkward as I stood on the desk looking down. Greg’s stern expression didn’t change as he held out his hand and passed a five pound note to Jason who then turned to high-five Anne.

“He didn’t think I could get you to dance,” Jason beamed at me.

“I argued that you were far too professional to dance at work.” Greg remained unsmiling as he looked up at me. 

“It’s because I’m so dedicated that I did it!” I protested. “I was totally against the idea but Jason told me about the article about increased productivity…” I glared at Jason as I stepped down from the desk. “You made all that up didn’t you?”

I went back to my chair as he and Anne collapsed into fits of giggles.  

“I only did it to improve productivity,” I repeated to Greg who was still hovering.

“So you think you could be more productive?” he looked at me seriously.

“No! Of course not… but…” I realised I was digging myself a hole so I stopped talking and turned on my computer. “See, I’ve got work to do. I’m not standing around giggling like some people.” I glared at Anne and then looked up to see the corners of Greg’s mouth twitching before he disappeared into his office at the back of the shop.

“You were right,” Jason grinned at me. “You do have some moves!” He snorted as he re-enacted some of my dance moves, making Anne even more hysterical.

Hannah online:

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My Kind Of Perfect (Book 3 in the Friends Like These series) by Hannah Ellis

MyKindOfPerfect ebook cover1.jpg

What they say:People-pleaser Marie has a lot to contend with:

• Her fiancé Brian is a workaholic who mysteriously snubs his family
• Her best friend Grace is being demanding and unreasonable
• Her wedding plans are non-existent
• She’s accidentally acquired a personal trainer

Despite all this, Marie manages to stay upbeat. Thankfully she has her Fat Club friends to keep her entertained with things like wedding crashing and piggyback races.

Can Marie fix her friendship with Grace, solve everyone’s problems and have a perfect wedding? What is the perfect wedding anyway?

Please note that although My Kind of Perfect is the third book in the Friends Like These series, it can also be read as a standalone novel.

The Review: There’s a lot of phrases thrown about in relation to books that people don’t think are literary-they’re fluffy, bubblegummy, not too taxing on the brain. You will find these descriptions in reviews that accompany a 2 or 3 star read, but I’ve always wondered why they’re in these reviews as opposed to a 4 or 5 star. I shake my head (and sometimes my fist;)) at such reviews. If I was to sit down after a long day the first thing I look for is as described above (fluffy, bubblegummy, not too taxing on the brain). This relates to both books and television. And why not? Gilmore Girls, Bridesmaids, Die Hard (s;)). THESE are not too taxing on the brain and they’re perfection! It means they’re comfortable, and you’ll sit through the whole thing, and THESE descriptions are how I’d describe My Kind Of Perfect (I got there in the end, sorry about that!)

Now this is book 3 of the ‘Friends like These’ series, and unfortunately I missed book 2 as it was a Christmas one (albeit a novella so I should really have read it, I may go back) and I was bogged down with Christmas books last year, but I did hugely enjoy book 1 (which I reviewed here- it’s called Friends Like These, appropriately enough!) and loved sitting down with all the characters I remembered so well. My Kind of Perfect revolves around Marie and her not very conventional group of friends and all the little binds they get themselves into. There are a fair few characters in this book, but it reads in such a way that you just follow it along, as if you’re walking  with the main character as she tries to figure why her fiance, Brian, isn’t moving that little bit faster to get her up the aisle. Add to this that her best friend, Grace, is having issues of her own and has decided she finds Marie a little bit too easy-going, leading to a few stand offs (which I really looked forward to and enjoyed), and I was happy out!

My Kind of Perfect is a hard one to describe, it’s a kooky, oddball type of chick lit, with a few  of the things that make chick lit, well, chick lit, thrown in- a whole room clapping when someone does something romantic, that sort of thing. It is more dialogue than descriptiveness , which works well, however, this means that a lot of the book reads like a series of madcap capers put together as opposed to a story that unfolds. I’ll admit now that I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as book 1 (just a smidgen less-imagine me holding my thumb and forefinger pretty much next to each other and this is what I mean), but, saying that, I looked forward to sitting down to it in the evening, was nervous that Brian was on the way out, mad about how Grace treated her best friend, and, all in all, took my time over it so I could just chill out and enjoy.

This book can be read as a stand alone or as part of the trilogy, but to be honest, if this is your type of book then you should go for all three (there’s an excerpt on Wednesday so you’ll see yourself or else check the ‘look inside’ option on Amazon). A very light read that was extremely enjoyable. Thanks to the author for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Note: As always clicking the image leads to a universal buy link for the book on Amazon.

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My February Bookish Wrap Up!

Please note: if you don’t have the time to read through the post, the pics link to the reviews! Enjoy:)

thevalentinefreezonethegirlyoulostvalentinesdayatthestarandsixpencethe astonishingreturnofNorahWellssomewhereonlyweknowthetheseushowtogethitchedSmartgirlfriendslikethese

 

So it’s been a good February, reading wise, maybe better writing-wise, as I finally put aside something I’ve been working on for a long time, that has been giving me no joy, and have started on a new story instead. I felt better the second I made the decision, as it was like pulling teeth, and although I’ve been set back a few months I’m really excited to see where the new story takes me:)

In terms of books, Valentines was very much in the air, with me finding myself very happy on reading the next of The Star and Sixpence series by Holly Hepburn, Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence, which was really good, although it didn’t quite beat Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence, one of my top Christmas reads, and continuing with me finding a short gem from Fiona Gibson, author of As Good as it Gets called The Valentine-Free Zone. I was honoured to be part of Samantha Tonge’s ‘How to Get Hitched in 10 days’ blog tour. How to Get Hitched in 10 days was the perfect short story for those who are fans of their rom coms that have multiple characters and many misunderstandings and was beyond enjoyable, although in a different way to Game of Scones, which I had read last year.

 

As you can see from above it was a month where I mostly back to a few fave authors, with The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft being almost as enjoyable as The Girl With No Past, which was a five out of five read for me. I also rediscovered Virginia Macgregor, whose second book ‘The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells‘ was as unputdownable as ‘What Milo Saw.

I was very taken with the bewitching Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis, although I decided it might be for a different age-group to myself. I became a fan for life of Erin Lawless, as I wrote my review for ‘Somewhere only we know,’ a rom com that visits the emigration office to see if the vibrant Nadia will be deported, got to meet a group of zany friends that made me laugh out loud in ‘Friends Like These,’ jumped out of my comfort zone to investigate the 7/7 bombings in The Theseus paradox by David Videcette(I also posted an excerpt), and finally, but perhaps most excitingly, I had a blogger interview with the beyond lovely Sharon, from the brilliant Shaz’s Book blog. Not a bad month, actually!;)

Friends Like These by Hannah Ellis

 

friendslikethese

I read this book a long time ago, through the Bout of Books Readathon, and the review slipped through the net, I’m afraid (apologies), so here we go! Note: There will be a fair bit of repetition in relation to the above post but stick with me!

What they say: When newly single Marie decides to shake up her social life, she has no idea what she is letting herself in for. With her sights set on the flamboyant Sebastian and his sophisticated group, Marie is sure that things are about to change for the better.
But when a chance encounter brings some unlikely characters into her life, things start to veer off course. Marie would never normally be seen with this bunch of misfits but to her annoyance they just keep turning up.
As lives quickly become entwined and unusual friendships form, Marie realises that we don’t always get to choose our friends; sometimes they choose us.
Buoyed by her newfound friendships, Marie might even take another chance at love.

The Review: ‘Friends like these’ began with Marie, in a pharmacy looking for a pregnancy test just weeks after she ‘caught her ex boyfriend in bed with some dumb blonde.’ It was a great beginning and I jumped straight in. From the off I found Marie to be slightly 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, and this was what happened here.

I loved that ‘Friends Like These’ was primarily about, well you guess it, friends! Marie is losing her best one 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.  The pacing was great, anytime there even threatened to be a lull there would be a mix-up or misunderstanding or just a plain old ‘happening’ that would keep you wanting more. Conversely there were times I found that there was so many things happening that it could get a little bit confusing and so I have to say that there were perhaps just a few moments where I felt a tighter edit could have been done with, but then I’d fall back into the story so it wasn’t really a problem for me. There are some very funny scenarios, including Marie’s speed dating experience (except it isn’t!), from which comes a number of the main characters in the story, all very different, who I found to be vivid and enjoyable, and a ‘Hangover’ type morning after. There were also a huge number of sweet, warm moments that brought a smile to my face, and I loved the growth of Marie’s character as realisations hit.

All in all a fun read, light, funny, fluffy and very enjoyable. Thanks to the author for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

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.