#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.

 

#BookReview By Lou – The Dog Share by Fiona Gibson @FionaGibson @ElliePilcher95 @AvonBooksUK #UpliftingFiction

The Dog Share
By Fiona Gibson
Rated: 5 stars *****

Uplifting and sweet, The Dog Share by Fiona Gibson is a great entertaining escape!

Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for sending me such a delightful book to review.

Please discover more further down in the blurb and then onto my review.

The Dog Share

Blurb

The next gloriously uplifting book from the #1 bestselling author of The Mum Who Got Her Life Back.

Suzy Medley is having a bad day…

… when a shabby terrier turns up at her door. Just like Suzy, Scout has been abandoned, although only Suzy has been left with a financial mess and a business in tatters thanks to her ex.

Suzy takes Scout in and her chaotic world changes in unexpected ways: strangers have never been more welcoming and her teenage kids can’t wait to come home to visit.

Then a chance encounter on a windy Hebridean beach makes things more complicated, because Suzy isn’t the only one who needs a friend.

Scout has plenty of love to go round… but does Suzy?

A wonderfully funny and uplifting story about friendship and second chances (and whisky!), perfect for fans of Gill Sims and Jill Mansell.

The Dog Share pic

Review

It’s a dogs life that is very sweet and entertaining to read about and there is whisky and delicious food amongst the island and city life that can sometimes be a bit more complicated than it first seems. The Dog Share makes for a great story to escape into. It’s also fun, feeling like you’re legitimately snooping around the lively WhatsApp chats in the book.

Suzy and Paul are going to the Hebrides with her mum, from York whose reaction is quite funny because there is something recognisable about her reaction. Things, however zany and unsettled with many work plans, there is something really sweet about Suzy and Paul, as well as a sense of lightness and fun about them 2 years ago, but then the book brings readers up to the present and the atmosphere changes when holiday plans aren’t happening as expected.

Set between York and (primarily), Scotland – between Glasgow and the Hebrides, this is a rather uplifting story, with a kindness and sense of caring for each other is enough to warm anyone’s heart. There is also a dog, who just turns up and it is fun, yet true about how people talk to dogs. Suzie then sets up a dog sharing arrangement with Cara, who she later meets.

There is also Ricky in Glasgow, who is a tutor around schools and enters one where Arthur is attending and Ricky can already guess how that would be seen. This adds even more interest in the story and a plays well off of the contrast on the island life. There’s humour to find in all parts of the characters lives. It really is an entertaining and uplifting read with plenty that people will be able to relate to, whether it is about the dog, food, business as she picks up the pieces of her life. She isn’t totally altogether, which makes it seem realistic. All in all, it’s a rather pleasing book to sink into and relax and read.

#BookReview by Lou – Happy Publication Day to @HollyH_Author for Coming Home To Brightwater Bay by Holly Hepburn @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

Coming Home To Brightwater Bay
By Holly Hepburn
Rated:  5 Stars *****

Coming Home Graphic

It is with great pleasure that I am kicking off the blog tour for the delightfully romantic – Coming Home To Brightwater Bay. It is a book that will charmingly feed all  senses with its scenery, food and lush looking guys, that may well have readers wanting to visit Orkney.

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review and for sending me a book via Simon and Schuster publishers.

Follow onto a bit about the author, the blurb and full review to read more of my thoughts on this wonderful book.

About the Author

Holly Hepburn Author PicHolly Hepburn is the much-loved author of commercial women’s fiction. She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite.

Follow Holly on Twitter @HollyH_Author.

 

Blurb

**The BRAND NEW series from Holly Hepburn, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Katie Fforde**
On paper, Merina Wilde has it all: a successful career writing the kind of romantic novels that make even the hardest hearts swoon, a perfect carousel of book launches and parties to keep her social life buzzing, and a childhood sweetheart who thinks she’s a goddess. But Merry has a secret: the magic has stopped flowing from her fingers. Try as she might, she can’t summon up the sparkle that makes her stories shine. And as her deadline whooshes by, her personal life falls apart too. Alex tells her he wants something other than the future she’d always imagined for them and Merry finds herself single for the first time since – well, ever.

Desperate to get her life back on track, Merry leaves London and escapes to the windswept Orkney Islands, locking herself away in a secluded clifftop cottage to try to heal her heart and rediscover her passion for writing. But can the beauty of the islands and the kindness of strangers help Merry to fool herself into believing in love again, if only long enough to finish her book? Or is it time for her to give up the career she’s always adored and find something new to set her soul alight?

The brand new series from Holly Hepburn, first published as four ebook parts: BROKEN HEARTS AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, SEA BREEZES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY, DANGEROUS TIDES AT BRIGHTWATER BAY and SUNSET OVER BRIGHTWATER BAY.

Coming Home Brightwater Bay Cover

Review

Merry Wilde (Merina) , a bestselling author and her other half, Alex,  just no longer fit together as snugly as, say, a jigsaw piece as that uncomfortable relationship chat comes. Whether you’ve been the instigator of it or on the receiving end, the feeling is relatable. She then moves to Orkney to begin a new life, after seeing an advertisement for a Writer in Residence ro promote reading for pleasure around the island and work with the libraries, despite currently having a case of writer’s block to deal with. On the island she meets Bridget McGinty, who is a friendly, welcoming sort of woman, who intorduces her to Niall. It is great that he isn’t “typical” librarian-like in how he looks.

The author – Holly Hepburn seems to have a passion for Orkney that oozes out of the pages in the tone and descriptions of the island as Merry sets out on her new life adventure, looking for escapism and to start her new job.

The book is warm with glints of humour sprinkled throughout, the type that is laugh out loud and is a joy to read. Readers attitudes and attitudes to events, especially when held in a library, is captured especially well and are slightly pointed, which is brave realism and will perhaps have people really taking note and find thought-provoking, before turning to a positive to her Merry’s actual writer’s event to have the story carry readers onwards.

Magnús Ólaffson may well be a Viking, readers will have to find out, but he captures Merry’s eye, so does Niall.  As Merry is such a likeable character, she is easy to root for, hoping she gets a good life in Orkney and that her broken-heart does mend. She is also a character with anxieties of doing events and also not wanting to jump into any new relationship straight away and commit, which is rather commendable and also plays on the “will she, won’t she” element. There is also the ex, who left her in a state, leaving her little texts. This is a book that also heartwarmingly demonstrates strong friendships and just what that means, but there is some tension there too, over a guy.

There is the romance of the scenery, food and the lighthouse, which just delights on the pages.

Coming Home to Brightwater Bay has a warm, cosy feeling to it, that whisks readers away for some escapism. This charming book keeps you guessing until the end as to who or even if Merry will ever fall completely in love.

Brightwater Bay BT Poster (1)

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves @g_c_reeves @AllenAndUnwin @RandomTTours #BookReview by Lou of #VictoriaPark #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction

Victoria Park
By Gemma Reeves
Rated: 3 1/2 stars

Well observed and captures the essence of Londoners, Victoria Park takes readers through a rich tapestry of various people’s lives. Also check out the wonderful cover, look through the window and then delve into the book to see what is beyond it. Please find out more about the author, the blurb and full review as you read through this blog post of the penultimate day of the blog tour.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review on this blog tour and for a physical book.

Victoria Park Graphic

 

About the Author

Victoria Park Gemma Reeves Author Pic

 

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.

 

Blurb

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.

Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.

Victoria Park cover Image

Review

Wolfie seems quite the busy man, with a wife – Mona. As well as building a shed for his garden, he also opened a deli near Victoria Park and certainly has a love of food. There’s a bit of history told about Victoria Park and why it was built, which is absolutely fascinating. There’s also all manner of life of people going about their business in the book. It’s one for those who like to observe life. There’s love, attitudes and sometimes waspishness and sometimes hardships and sometimes there are pockets of it being uplifting. It’s interesting reading about this community in London and it certainly feels very London like in many aspects. There are moments of aloofness and a sadness that hangs in the air.  It’s soft in pace, a bit like strolling through a park, as revelations then appear bit by bit as readers are taken through people’s lives one month at a time, during the course of a year, with the ever changing situations as the book focuses on twelve Londoners.
It’s a book that would feed curious minds as to what it can be actually like, living in London, largely away from all the main landmarks and activities that the city is known for, which gives people outwith London a look into how living there can be as it takes readers through the tapestry of various people’s lives. It shows that there are eperiences and behaviours that are not just unique to the city. There are also things to ponder, especially for people living in towns and cities, and also some nuggets for people in the country to consider too.

Victoria Park BT Poster

#BookReview of a #Newbook by Lou – The Unravelling by Liz Treacher @liztreacher #ContemporaryFiction

The Unravelling
By Liz Treacher
Rated: 4 stars ****

I’ve read two books by Liz Treacher before – The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction and enjoyed them. They were set in the 1920’s and quite comedic. Unravelling is different in that it is set in contemporary times as readers are invited to follow the character Ella’s life as it changes in a space of a week.
I thank Liz Treacher for inviting me to review Unravelling and for sending me a copy with a beautiful personalised message in it.
Read further to find out the blurb, review and about the author and links…

The Unravelling cover.jpg

Blurb

‘The Unravelling combines sinister atmosphere with witty insight, and characters we can relate to facing the supernatural fear of our most human nightmares’ – Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers

‘A cappuccino.’ He spoke clearly but slowly, as if he were a stranger here.
‘One shot or two?’
He gazed at me with thinly veiled contempt. ‘Oh, you only get one shot.’

For Ella Aldridge, a brilliant Classics student, life was supposed to be exciting. Thirty years on, she’s stuck in the suburbs in a boring job and a failing marriage. Even her daughter, the one she gave it all up for, seems distant.
But a sinister encounter on platform three is about to change everything. Under the watchful eye of a shadowy ticket inspector and his mysterious associate, Ella finds herself spiralling into a murky underworld where portentous signs appear from nowhere, thoughts are stored on memory sticks and speeding express trains may be more than they seem. As she begins to lose her grip on reality, Ella embarks on an extraordinary journey that touches everyone around her, forcing her to confront the biggest question of all.
By turns poignant, chilling and tinged with dark humour, The Unravelling is a novel full of heart and beauty, about the myth and magic of everyday life, and the sacrifices we make for what really matters.

Review

A lot can happen in a person’s life between Monday to Friday and it certainly does in Ella’s. She has quite a romanticised view of love and wishes things to be better between her and Derek and for him to essentially be driven wild with jealousy that others could fancy her as well. There is so much more to her than this though, as she travels by train and potentially is being watched, starting at the train station she uses to catch the train. There is a slightly unnerving quality about the writing, within some of the atmosphere that is created, as the week progresses.

Ella’s behaviours come to light as she displays, whether she wants to or not, her insecurities, especially, now her marriage is failing and her job, her life begins to unravel as reality and fantasy start to almost merge. The book has a firm grip on reality, but slowly, Ella is increasingly losing hers and the effects are beginning to manifest themselves both psychologically and physically.

There is an interesting insight into all of the characters within the acutely observant writing as the story goes primarily between Ella, Derek, Brenda and Lily. They are characters that are believable and are easy to care about what is happening in their lives.

About the Author

Liz is a writer and an art photographer and a love of images influences her writing. She is married with two children and lives in the Scottish Highlands by the sea.

Liz was drawn to writing after she discovered a tiny suitcase belonging to her grandmother. It was tied up with gingham ribbon and full of letters sent by two soldiers on their way to the First World War. The cheerful tone of the soldiers and the way their letters seemed to conceal more than they revealed inspired Liz’s first novel, ‘The Wrong Envelope.’ She has since written a sequel, ‘The Wrong Direction’ and a darker, contemporary novel, ‘The Unravelling’.