Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Review: The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

Prepare to fall in love with beautiful village of Burley Bridge.

Growing up in a quiet Yorkshire village, Roxanne couldn’t wait to escape and find her place in the world in London. As a high-powered fashion editor she lives a glamorous life of perennial singlehood – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne gets her heart broken by a fashion photographer, she runs away, back to Della’s welcoming home above her bookshop in Burley Bridge.
But Burley Bridge, Roxanne discovers, is even quieter than she remembered. There’s nothing to do, so Roxanne agrees to walk Della’s dog Stanley. It’s on these walks that Roxanne makes a startling discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a widower trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into a comforting friendship.
Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent 46 years trying to escape?

Roxanne Cartwright, fashion editor for a glossy London magazine appears to have a perfect life. If you fancy single(ish), child free and living in central London mixing with glamorous models and styling dazzling fashion shoots (you may guess this was once my dream...) but changes being implemented within the magazine by a know-nothing editor start to crumble Roxanne's perfect job and make her seek refuge with older sister, Della, who runs a cook book shop in her home town of Burley Bridge in rural Yorkshire. Somewhere that Roxanne had been trying to run from all her adult life.

We first met Roxanne, but mainly Della, in Berry's first book (one of my favourites, Fiona Gibson writes under Ellen Berry for these Burley Bridge novels). We didn't get to know too much about Roxanne but she did come across a bit selfish and caught up in her glamorous London life to help Della when their mother died. I must admit I wasn't keen on her character when we met her in The Little Bookshop on Rosemary Lane, but getting to know her properly I really did like her in this book.

So with her sabbatical in the country well underway she begins slowly to reacquaint herself with the village and the natives, and begins to realise they're not all Cath Kidston wellies and pots of homemade jam (although IMHO nothing is wrong with either of these), and friendships begin to blossom.

Her relationship slightly cool - on/off boyfriend Sean (a bit of a creep) plays on her mind a lot while in Burley, she knows something is amiss but still tries her hardest to make it work, so keeps the lovely Michael from the quaint and gorgeous sounding bakery at arms length when it's clear they both like each other, and the friendship that is sparked between Roxanne and Michael's teenage daughter, Ella is charming and probably my favourite aspect of the book.

The book itself is beautiful, the writing superb and the descriptions charming, how I'd love to live in Burley Bridge, I quite fancy opening up my own boutique there, or perhaps a chocolate shop? Anyway, I did love the book but it fell slightly away from getting 5* as I would have liked it to have been a little bit more about the bakery - which really did play quite a small part? I seemed to be waiting throughout a lot of the story, then realised by 90% it wasn't coming. But don't let this put you off unless you want a blow-by-blow account of how many cream horns Michael sells throughout the week, because it really is a lovely, charming, witty and well written book. I'd love to see, and am sure there will be, another Burley Bridge outing to come.

Review copy provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Review - The Man I Thought You Were by Leah Mercer

One fine autumn evening, Anna returns from work and starts making dinner, eager to welcome home her husband, Mark. It’s just like any other day in their ten-year, Pinterest-perfect marriage—until he says he’s leaving her.
Discovering that the man she thought she knew better than anyone else is capable of abandoning it all sends Anna reeling. She believed the life they’d built together—and the bright future they’d imagined—counted for everything. How can he walk away?
The truth is Mark is battling secrets of his own—secrets Anna knows nothing about. A painful past and an uncertain future threaten to bring his life down around him—and he’ll do anything not to expose her to that.
But unravelling the past is lonelier than Mark could ever have imagined and, as the days turn to months, Anna worries the separation will break them forever. Can she bring him back from the brink of self-destruction before it’s too late, or will she discover that she never really knew him at all?

Mark comes home and drops the biggest bombshell of Anna's life upon her - he's leaving. He doesn't want any more contact with her and their 10 year marriage is over. Poor Anna had just caramelised her onions to perfection, as well.

It took Anna a few days and many stages of grief to accept what was going on, that Mark really had upped and left. I was annoyed with Mark at this point, they had a perfect marriage, a beautiful home and he'd abandoned them - I thought for another woman or a life of crime. How wrong I was!

It turns out, well, I'm not going to say because 'spoiler alert!', but he's doing it to save her. To prevent her having to go through the most painful time in his past. He hopes that she'll just forget about him and move on, hoping that hating him would make it easier for her.

He just wanted to do one last thing for her, to find someone important from his past, someone who he feels he abandoned himself.

This book was really sad. Well written and thought out, but sad. It didn't depress me though like The Fault in our Stars or Me Before You kind of sad, the ending was rewarding in it's own way, and it doesn't leave you feeling totally bereft, but it's not light reading. It is though, rewarding reading. I loved the way that the parts of Mark's past came together in the end.

I was frustrated in parts, but all credit to Mercer, that's the testimony of a good writer when people are shouting at your characters, it shows you've developed that relationship with them.

It's definitely a curl-up-on-the-sofa-with-a-hot-chocolate, autumnal kind of read.

I received an advance copy in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

5* review - Good Friday by Lynda La Plante


Every legend has a beginning . . . 

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused - some were not. 

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can't identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation. 

'Good Friday' is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin's Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It's the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London's entire detective force? 

It is 1975 and Jane Tennison is a detective with the police force, she faces discrimination (at levels we hopefully do not see in these ages?!), and she wants to move on to the more glamorous Flying Squad which she is told is extremely unlikely and is offered the less glamorous Dip squad.

After initial reservations she is quickly thrown into a terrifying situation when a bomb is detonated near to her in Covent Garden tube station causing destruction, fatalities and mass chaos. It set at the time when the IRA were active and fear was widespread.

Jane is unfortunately a witness, identified in the press and therefore in great danger.

She is naive and makes some dubious decisions which do not help her cause to further her career within the highly male dominated force, until she inadvertently makes a major breakthrough which could save the lives of many of her colleagues.

I really enjoyed this book, it is the first of the Jane Tennison books I've read and now I'm itching to read the rest.

It was new to me as I was not born until the very late 70s and I found it interesting reading this time period - it felt strange that people were relying on calling landlines and not sending text messages and emails!

I liked the dynamics amongst the team, and I really enjoyed Jane's character. I did feel like shouting at her a few times when her naivety nearly got her into very deep trouble!

I would highly recommend this fast paced page turner. It has left me eager to read more!

Many thanks to Annabelle at edpr for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante is out now, published by Bonnier Zaffre in hardback. RRP £18.99.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Trouble With Words by Suzie Tullett - Blog Tour

Annabel is desperate to have a baby – there’s just one problem. She’s single and after losing her husband in a hit and run accident, she’s just not ready for another relationship. 
Dan is on the hunt for the perfect woman but when his mother drops a bombshell, he starts to feel the pressure.
When Dan and Annabel’s worlds collide, both start to think that maybe they’ve found the solution to their problems. But things are about to get messy.
Can Dan and Annabel get what they want?

The story opens with Annabel breaking the news to her husband that is going to have a baby.
It's not the most conventional as it's at his graveside, and he's, well, dead. And another problem she has is at that moment she has not found someone to be the father.

I really felt for her as soon as I began reading and was drawn instantly to her character.

As the story progresses we meet Dan and his mum Gerry. She is desperate for Dan to find himself a wife and she needs to be sure it's the right woman for him, she has plenty of candidates lined up!

Dan and Annabel seem perfect for each other - if only they would realise it! With both of them having their own trials that seem more important than the dating game, things seem that they will pass them by, until fate intervenes...

There are some really sad, properly tear jerking moments throughout the book, all beautifully written and sincere enough to make you think you are in the room with the characters, to offset this there are plenty of laugh out loud moments to lighten the mood along the way.

The ending was poignant, satisfying and well written, as was the whole book. I find Tullett a master of writing believable dialogue that is read in your mind just as you would hear someone speaking it. The characters are well developed and seem to really grow in strength throughout the story, Gerry being my favourite - she definitely deserves Fictional Mother of the Year!

Congratulations to Tullett on providing another well written, perfectly researched and entertaining tale.

Many thanks to Bombshell Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. She has a Masters Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist. Her motto is to 'live, laugh, love' and when she's not busy creating her own literary masterpieces, she usually has her head in someone else's.
Suzie lives in a tiny hamlet in the middle of the French countryside, along with her husband and two Greek rescue dogs.

Twitter @SuzieTullett

My website Suzie Tullett
Instagram suzie_tullett 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Ludlow Ladies Society by Ann O'Loughlin blog tour

Books that inspired me
Ann O'Loughlin

I think there are books for different times of our lives. There are books that leave a profound mark on us that shape the way we think. I think we can all remember the first book which influenced us as a teenager. Maybe it was the first time we had to step out of our comfort zone and in to the big bad world.

Such a book for me was To Kill A Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee.
It was a hot summer and I was working at my first job as a shop assistant in the small west of Ireland town of Ennis, Co. Clare. I cycled three miles to work and back every day and at lunchtime sat in Curran’s tea room reading To Kill A Mocking Bird. I was transported from one small town to another, Maycombe, Alabama. I was astounded at the racism and prejudice displayed by the good citizens of Maycombe and so riveted I found it hard to close the book and return to my job behind the counter.

Right up there alongside Harper Lee was Jane Austen.
It was the same summer when I seemed to devour every book in my local library. I studied Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice later at school too, but even that experience did not take from the fact I adored it and particularly my first read in the sunshine. Like all great stories, it is a book you can return to more than once. It is what I have found myself doing over the years. In between my second novel The Judge's Wife and the third novel The Ludlow Ladies' Society I feasted on Pride and Prejudice.
What a novel! We all know Mrs Bennet is looking to marry her daughters off, but this is a novel of manners and it is the keen observations throughout that make it a joy to read. There is great detail here without it overpowering the story. When I read it for the first time I raced through following the plot. Now, I read it as an apprentice might study the work of a master craftsman or woman!
Pride and Prejudice will always have a place on my shelf.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
My mother bought me A Suitable Boy for a significant birthday. She said I would never get through it, but even through it is a big fat book with about 1,300 pages, I ploughed on, loving the story and the life inside an Indian family. The story centres on widow Rupa Mehra wishing to find her headstrong daughter a good Hindu boy of the right caste to marry. But this is also the story of a family, a changing society and a changing India. When it came out there was a lot of talk that this book would not stand the test of time, but it has. Even now when I dip in to it, I can smell India.
I am sure too it was partly responsible for my decision later to live and work in India. It was such an accurate account, something I fully realised when I lived there and befriended an Indian family.
I love too that Vikram Seth set himself up in his family’s Delhi compound writing. I think any writer would love that constant state of inspiration!

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.
I just loved this book. I am not surprised that the Greek island of Cephalonia had an increase in tourism after its publication and the movie release. It is such a wonderful love story. Set in the early days of World War 2, a beautiful local woman whose fisherman boyfriend departs to fight with the Greek army falls in love with Captain Antonio Corelli in command of the Italian garrison occupying the Greek island. The movie did not do the book justice. I loved in particular the historical detail; this a book that made me laugh and cry.
On a more frivolous note, Louis de Bernieres was able to give up work and concentrate on his writing after publication. That would be a dream come true for any writer.

When I lived in India for a year I came across the writer Mulk Raj Anand.
His book Untouchable dates back to 1935 and is the story of a day in the life of Bakha, a proud young man, but an untouchable, an outcast in India’s caste system. A sweeper he has no chance of bettering his lot. An anger burns inside Bakha who has to put up with humiliations throughout the day. His untouchability means he can’t even fend off the so called higher castes. He looks to Mahatma Gandhi for hope for the future. This book is a way to understand the India of yesterday and today.

The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin is published 20th July by Black & White, price £12.99

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

5* review - Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

Kitty lives in a care home. She can't speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that's the story she's sticking to.
Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it - this is her chance to finally make things right.
But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.
And only another life will do...


Artist, Alison clearly has secrets in her past. Big ones.
She is struggling to make ends meet teaching art classes in a local authority college, so wonders if a job for an art teacher turning up on her staff noticeboard is serendipity. The only drawback is it's at a prison. The thought chills Alison to the core.

Kitty has brain damage and is in a home. She isn't sure exactly what happened to make her like this but is angry. Angry she can't talk, angry she can't remember and angry that she's not quite sure about some people and why she's scared of them. Why can't she remember?

Alison gets in deeper and deeper at the prison and starts receiving threatening messages. She does not know who she can trust and is put in a terrifying position where her life is in danger. 

Kitty's life changes irrevocably and she struggles even more to cope.

A secret is revealed that changes lives forever.

I loved Jane's previous novel, My Husband's Wife, but I loved Blood Sisters even more. Such a gripping story and so well written. The characters had me hooked from the start and I loved how the plot played out. The twists shocked me, I had certainly not guessed the way things were going!

A highly recommended read!

Many thanks the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Lesley Pearse 25 in 25 Blog Tour

Global bestseller Lesley Pearse is celebrating the release of her 25th novel, The Woman in the Wood with a 25 in 25 blog tour, revealing a different fact ever every day about Lesley and each of her 25 bestsellers each day.
Do follow the tour with #LoveLesley

Georgia - 

  1. Georgia: The character of Max Menzies in Georgia is based on Don Arden, Sharon Osbourne’s late father.

Fifteen-year-old twins Maisy and Duncan Mitcham have always had each other. Until the fateful day in the wood . . .
One night in 1960, the twins awake to find their father pulling their screaming mother from the house. She is to be committed to an asylum. It is, so their father insists, for her own good.
It's not long before they, too, are removed from their London home and sent to Nightingales - a large house deep in the New Forest countryside - to be watched over by their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham. Though they feel abandoned and unloved, at least here they have something they never had before - freedom.
The twins are left to their own devices, to explore, find new friends and first romances. That is until the day that Duncan doesn't come back for dinner. Nor does he return the next day. Or the one after that.
When the bodies of other young boys are discovered in the surrounding area the police appear to give up hope of finding Duncan alive. With Mrs Mitcham showing little interest in her grandson's disappearance, it is up to Maisy to discover the truth. And she knows just where to start. The woman who lives alone in the wood about whom so many rumours abound. A woman named Grace Deville.