#Review By Lou of The Cottage in the Highlands By Julie Shackman @G13Julie @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #RomanticFiction #ScottishHighlands #SecondChances #ScottishScenery

The Cottage In The Highlands
By Julie Shackman 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Transport yourself to rural Scotland, so rural is this cottage, it is located in the Highlands. Open the pages and discover that rural doesn’t mean devoid of life, there’s plenty of that to explore in this mysterious part of Scotland… Discover firstly, the blurb and review below… Thanks first to Rachel Random Resources for inviting me to review.

Blurb

When Leonie Baxter finds herself out of a job and out of a relationship, she’s at her wits end. Her life has just been turned upside down and she needs a plan, fast.

By chance, on a walk with her rescue puppy, Leonie stumbles across a striking house in the woods; fully furnished but unoccupied. As a journalist, she is determined to find out more, after all, reporting is in her nature.

But her attempts are thwarted by Lily Cruickshank who lives in the cottage next door. Why won’t Lily help Leonie? And who is the mysterious Flynn Talbot, whose letter Leonie finds inside the house?

And in uncovering the secrets of the abandoned house, will Leonie open her own heart and let love back into her life?

The brand new escapist story from the bestselling author of A Secret Scottish Escape and A Scottish Highland Surprise, for fans of Jo Thomas, Trisha Ashley and Cathy Bramley.

Review 

The Highlands, full of beautiful scenery, romance and mystery and Julie Shackleton brings it all into this lovely book. There are secrets and twists as well as charming characters, coupled together with that second chance at life.

Leonie is the main character who is a journalist, recently losing her job through changes in the way the industry is being made to work, so in a way it really highlights cause and effect and how certain actions can be detrimental to people’s jobs. Leonie gets lucky and gets a chance to have a new life adventure in the Highlands of Scotland, with new people to meet, perhaps some beckoning romance, and a cottage to open up and be in. As she looks round the cottage she finds a mysterious letter…

This is a charming book set in beautiful scenery but with so much to uncover and to delight and be intrigued in.

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#BookReview By Lou of The Good News Gazette By Jessie Wells @JessieWells22 @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #TheGoodNewsGazette #BlogTour #ContemporaryFction

 Goodnews Gazette
By Jessie Wells

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Hear ye, Hear ye, roll up for the Good News Gazette! A book I am on a blog tour for and today I have a review for you to peruse. Thanks first to Rachel Random Resources and One More Chapter for the invite to review.

 

The Good News Gazette

Because we all need something to smile about!

She may be down but don’t count this determined single mum out just yet…

Nine years ago, Zoe Taylor returned from London to the quiet hamlet of Westholme with her tail between her legs and a bun in the oven. Where once her job as a journalist saw her tearing off to Paris at a moment’s notice after a lead, now the single mum covers the local news desk. At least, she did…until she’s unceremoniously let go.

When Zoe invites her friends over to commiserate, wine and whining soon turns into something more… and before the night is out she’s plotted her next step: The Good News Gazette.

Now, as a developer threatens to force Westholme into the twenty-first century, Zoe’s good news movement finds her leading a covert campaign as a community crusader. She may have started The Good News Gazette as a way to save herself, but she might just be able to save Westholme in the process…

Review 

Zoe Taylor works for the local newspaper in Westholm. Things aren’t always working out too well for her and is made redundant, besides, there’s a lot of bad news to be reporting about, which she was not always enthralled about. She, however has skills, but nowhere to go and a family to support on her own to boot. She gets all entrepreneurial and strikes lucky when an idea hits her friends and grows on her, to start her own newspaper. She calls it The Good News Gazette as she wants to lighten things up a bit, with their being enough depressing things happening and being reported on, so she sets out to report about only good news. The challenge is, trying to find enough to sustain a new newspaper where that’s it’s main focus. Zoe also has a bit of positive activism within her as she also tries to save the shopping centre from closing down. There are also other community stories within the volunteer sector that weaves into her life and gazette ideas. There are community Facebook page comments that are witty at the end of the chapters, something that has grown a lot in recent years, so sort of pays homage to that.

It is an uplifting book about getting on with life and about community and friendship spirit.

#Review By Lou of – All This Could Be Different By Sarah Thankam Mathews #SarahThankhamMathews @orionbooks #ContemporaryFiction #AllThisCouldBeDifferent

All This Could Be Different
By Sarah Thankam
 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


A coming of age story in a way, as the main protagonist reaches that age where life is changing again with being in the working world, trying to figure out, now properly adult, where you fit in, told in a very contemporary style. Thanks to Orion Books for a review copy. Find out more in my review and then my review below.

This is not a story about work or precarity. I am trying, late in the evening, to say something about love, which for many of us is not separable from the other shit.’

This is a novel about being young in the 21st century.
About being called a ‘rockstar’ by your boss because of your Excel skills.
About staying up too late buying furniture online, despite the threat of eviction hanging over you.
About feeling like all your choices are mortgaged to the parents that made your life possible.
About the excitement of moving to a new city: about gay bars, house parties and new romances.
About a group of friends – about Sneha, Tig and Thom – and how that can become a family.
About love and sex and hope.
About knowing that all this could be different.

Review

Everyone remembers being young and full of aspirations. Some things never change, even though technology does. There’s the desire to move out of the parental home, becoming even more independent, finding a job, cultivating new or more friendships and romantic relationships. At the heart of this book is finding your way in and growing into young adulthood now Sneha has hit twenty. It’s very much written in the first person for the narrative, so the narrator is telling you, much like a narrator on tv does when looking down the camera lens.

Sneha moves to Milwaukee and restarts life and has to make new friends, but also has work to contend with, especially the property manager.

There’s a bit of a political element at times, featuring Barack Obama, which adds a different element and angle to showing life.

It was an interesting take on a young adult’s life, trying to find her way in the world and in one way or another. Where this book excels is relatability to everyone at that age and passed that age, as there are elements of life that never changes, whenever readers hit their 20’s. For that, it is an entertaining, well observed/experienced read.

#Review By Lou of Summer at the French Cafe By Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK #RomanticFiction #WomensFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Summer #SummerReading

Summer at the French Cafe
By Sue Moorcroft

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Summer at the French Cafe is unputdownable, may keep you up for longer than you thought and will most certainly transport you to a French idyll where the food is good and where you’ll meet characters to embrace and be enraptured by.
Read onwards to the blurb and the rest of my review below. First, thanks to Avon Books for the review copy.

Summer at the French Cafe

Blurb

As soon as Kat Jenson set foot in the idyllic French village of Kirchhoffen, she knew she’d found her home. Now she has a dreamy boyfriend, a delightful dog and the perfect job managing a bustling book café in the vibrant Parc Lemmel. ‘

But when she learns her boyfriend isn’t all he seems, it’s the start of a difficult summer for Kat. Vindictive troublemakers, work woes and family heartache follow, and the clear blue sky that was her life suddenly seems full of clouds.

Then she gets to know the mysterious Noah, and her sun begins to shine brighter than ever. But Noah has problems of his own – ones that could scupper their new-found happiness. Together, can they overcome their many obstacles, and find love again?

The perfect summer read for fans of Trisha AshleySarah Morgan and Carole Matthews.

Review

Whether you are avoiding the airport queues or having a staycation or travelling to France, Summer at the French Cafe will get you in the mood for whatever your plans are.

Summer at the French Cafe provides wonderful escapism and great story-telling. There’s lots to entice – food, romance, friendship, humour to get bound up with this summer. Kat is a great character to get to know. She works at the cafe/bookshop that she has 100% embraced.

Life, despite the idyl of the the parkland backdrop and the setting of the lovely cafe, life isn’t as easy as creating tasty pastries. Kat has come from a broken home life, with many issues, that she then proceeds to try to resolve with her brother and father, to try to re-establish relationships. As she does this, along comes Noah. Noah is kind and understanding, but this is also not always an easy relationship as Kat’s previous relationships in romantic entanglements have also been troubled, even her work takes advantage. The book covers coercive relationships well. That being said, there is an air of the upliftiing summery spirit as Kat is strong and independant and doesn’t allow all the emotional baggage to weigh so heavily to have her completely crumble.
She also has an important and perhaps, life changing decision to make – to open herself up to romance with the lovely Noah or not. Noah also has to work out what to do for best for his daughter too and whether and how he can continue to be the perfect boyfriend and take care of his daughter’s sensitivities.

Summer at the French Cafe is unputdownable and a perfect read to escape into and not exit until the very end.

#BookReview by Lou – The Bookshop of Second Chances By Jackie Fraser @muninnherself #TeamBATC @simonschusteruk #RomanticFiction

The Bookshop of Second Chances
By Jackie Fraser

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charming, uplifting, but without life’s complications in a Scottish town – The Bookshop of Second Chances is one you won’t want to miss! Thanks to Team Books And The City – part of Simon and Schuster for inviting me to the blog tour to review and for gifting me a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. Please find more about the book in the blurb and the rest of my review below, as well as some buy links. Please note, I am not affiliated to anything.

The Book of Second Chances 2           The Book of Second Chances

Blurb

The Book of Second Chances 3Set in a charming little Scottish town, The Bookshop of Second Chances is the most uplifting story you’ll read this year!

 

Shortlisted for the RNA Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award 2021.

Thea’s having a bad month. Not only has she been made redundant, she’s also discovered her husband of nearly twenty years is sleeping with one of her friends. And he’s not sorry – he’s leaving.

Bewildered and lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But, when she learns the great-uncle she barely knew has died and left her his huge collection of second-hand books and a house in the Scottish Lowlands, she seems to have been offered a second chance.

Running away to a little town where no one knows her seems like exactly what Thea needs. But when she meets the aristocratic Maltravers brothers – grumpy bookshop owner Edward and his estranged brother Charles, Lord Hollinshaw – her new life quickly becomes just as complicated as the life she was running from…

An enchanting story of Scottish lords, second-hand books, new beginnings and second chances perfect for fans of Cressida McLaughlin, Veronica Henry, Rachael Lucas and Jenny Colgan.

The Book of Second Chances starts on Valentine’s Day. The day for lovers and shed loads of romance, but it is the exact opposite for Thea. She’s not got a lover anymore and needs to work out what furnture she wants and to top it all off, she’s also just lost her job. Just the year before, her Great Uncle Andrew died in Scotland. She’s pretty restrained, perhaps too nice, after all that, but then she also has her interests to protect too. You get a feel for her character and how she deals with things.

When a surprise letter is found from a solicitor, Thea’s life dramatically changes. It ups a lot of gears and suddenly she finds herself travelling to Scotland to a huge estate she has inherited, including a lodge and an array of precious first edition books. Jackie has created a history of the lodge, as though this was a true story and has made it feel like it is real and been around for centuries. It feels authentic as a result of her research and/or knowledge. It sounds amazing and many people would jump at the chance of staying, but Thea’s recent past holds her back initially as she considers selling it.

Readers, along with Thea then start to meet the locals, like Jilly and Cerys and get an impression of the surrounding areas.

This is also great for librarians who will appreciate the mention of The Dewey System and shudder at even the mere thought of repairing a book with sellotape. The chat about social media also seems so familiar too. There are lovely snippits of book and music as well.

The bookshop is absolutely wonderful, but all isn’t well with Charles and Edward there with a longstanding feud, with a dark and brooding atmosphere, as Thea discovers and ends up being caught up in. Life then becomes rather complicated for Thea in ways she wasn’t expecting, since she is trying to work out how to leave the complex life behind. Thea, however shows she is pretty reslient most of the time, which works really well for her characterisation. She has her principals, but there’s always that bit of a tug between going home to Sussex or staying in Scotland and making an area there her home. There is also the unescapable fact that there is romance brewing and that bookshop really providing a second chance at life, but you’ll need to read to find out all the nuances and if Thea really thinks this is so and will work well for her or not. It’s not a straight-cut decision to make, which brings some realism in this otherwise relaxing read.

The Bookshop of Second Chances is overall a warm, cosy delightful read that is highly enjoyable.

Buy Links

Waterstones       Bookshop.org     Amazon

#BookReview by Lou – What Planet Can I Blame This On by Ellie Pilcher @ElliePilcher95 @Hodder_Studio

What Planet Can I Blame This On
by Ellie Pilcher

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Laugh out loud funny, this book is one comedy of life that is great to relax into and tickle those funny bones.
Thank you to Ellie Pilcher and Hodder Studio for the invite to review and for gifting me a book.

What Planet Can I Blame This On

Blurb

The stars are not in position  and Krystal Baker is determined to make them fall in line.

It’s Krystal’s 29th birthday. This year:

· Her boyfriend finally proposed after six years of dating (only for her to find out he cheated on her for five and a half of them)

· She landed her dream job as a writer at Craze magazine (which swiftly fell into administration)

· She moved into her dream flat overlooking the city (just for the pipes to explode making the place unliveable)

As she mourns everything wrong in her life, her best friend mutters the dreaded words: Saturn Return. The time in a woman’s life where Saturn returns to the position it was in on the day of their birth, 29.5 years ago, and, according to legend, everything falls apart. Krystal has never bought into astrology but maybe it’s time to re-evaluate – because if the stars got her into this mess, they can get her out of it. And she only has six months to make things right.

Loaded with crystals, horoscopes, tarot cards and a carefully aligned chakra or two, Krystal’s determined to have her life back on track by the time Saturn returns. No longer shall she brand herself a ‘human disaster’ because this time it’s not her fault, it’s written in the treacherous stars.

It’s Krystal versus the universe in a fight for her future that she’s determined to win.

Review

This is surprisingly very funny. It starts with Krystal’s birthday and her bemoaning her playlist, of which I may have furrowed my brow at Stay Shakespear’s Sister, but each taste is different. Moving on… It’s her birthday and her playlist dislike is the absolute least of her worries. Her boyfriend and his behaviour is her biggest problem. Luckily she has friends, Tina and Paige to turn to. The conversation that ensues is seriously funny and the humour in the descriptions and dialogue continue throughout as they decide what they want to do with the bad boyfriend. There’s also a funny description and reference to Villanelle in Killing Eve and Harry Potter and other references to things such as pop culture and more, carefully placed, and in a witty way
Life just tumbles for her as she then loses her job and finds herself which planet or star she can blame it all on. It’s a book that lives and breaths in grown-up millienials in some ways and in another, in the most funniest ways, that the planets and stars have a lot to play in her life. As much as throughout, it is fun to laugh with Krystal and her friends and at her, it is easy to cheer her on and hope that things pick up in her life again, from all the freefalling catastrophes that life can throw at people. She then relies on horoscopes and planet alignments to help her re-evaluate her life and to try to change it and her friends are there too, full of kindness.
Whatever stage you are in life, there will be something relatable and it is ultimately a laugh-out-loud book, that’s as good as some sitcoms in some of the humour.

The humour makes this a wonderful book to sit with a glass of wine or something, out in the sun.