Review of Bookends by Jane Green @JaneGreen @PenguinUKBooks #uplit #chiclit #review #UK #US #bookshops #books #friendship #kindness #food

By Jane Green
Rated: 4 stars ****

About the Author


She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide. She has been part of the ABC News team, has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and has made regular appearances on TV and radio.
She contributes to a number of newspapers and magazines, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.
A graduate of the International Culinary Institute in New York, Green is an avid cook, amateur decorator, and passionate gardener. She is also a regular storyteller for The Moth.
A resident of Westport, Connecticut, she lives there with her husband, a small menagerie of animals, and (too) many children.


On the shelf, but still best friends . . .

Bookends CoverCath is scatty, messy and guarded. While Si is impossibly tidy, bitchy and desperate for a man of his own. They are total opposites – but equally unlucky in love. And they’ve stuck together through thick and thin. Because that’s what best friends do.

So when their beautiful friend Portia – the undisputed queen of their group of friends at university – steps back into their lives, after a ten year gap, her reappearance tests both Cath and Si’s friendship to the limit.

What does Portia want? Will she be a force for good in their lives, or something darker? And will Cath and Si ever get lucky in love?



This isn’t a brand new book, it is one I have read a few times and felt like reviewing as I raided my shelves in my book cupboard. Being published in 2000, it has topical themes and all the themes of life don’t really change and it still feels as fresh and relevant as it did then. It can still be bought and may be on some library shelves. It is interesting that the cover has changed a few times over the years. Below are some of the UK (top 3) and US (bottom 2) cover versions.

This story takes readers on life’s journey with main character Cath along with Si – her great friend, Josh – her transient friend and Portia – her soulmate. This at the beginning is how she saw these main people who are in her social circle at university.

Portia is the first character to be really introduced. She comes from a rich background and Cath had assumed all was perfect when they were students, except its readers will soon learn that was perhaps not quite so. Cath, Si and Josh drift away from her as she hurt other friends of theres.

Si is a film editor in Soho and wants to find his Mr Right. Whether there is the perfect romance for him or not, you’ll just have to find out by reading the book. He certainly looks for it and I always find myself rooting for him.

Josh works within mergers and acquisitions and within this circle of friends. He is also married to Lucy, but is suspected of having an affair.

Cath is single after a 2 year distasterous relationship where she decides not to open herself up to love ever again, although whether she sticks to that vow she makes to herself or not remains to be seen.

Si is like a great best friend, he is written a bit like on a wish list of friends. He is written as caring for Cath and a lover of fashion and tries to perk her up on Bond Street, London. He also has a wonderful sense of humour. He can be moody at times and that would be frustrating. The characterisation of Si is excellent.

Lucy and Cath set up a bookshop together that’s made of so many people’s dreams. Lots of lovely books and a cafe area with the most scrumptious sounding cakes and pastries. What’s not to like? A book about frienship and how everyone interacts with each other and their lives and this lovely bookshop. The book is simply so wonderful and that is why I wanted to re-read it.

There’s romance and twists and this book is compelling. It’s one to devour and is so hard to put down once started, everything about it is so divine. The more the book goes on the more the characters almost enthrall and then there’s Portia who is mysterious and the question of what she really wants builds. She has some sort of effect on everyone’s lives one way or another.

There’s really shockingly sad heartbreak that is handled so sensitively and so believable. I won’t say to whom or what it is as it would spoil the story.

This book has everything in it. I enjoy Jane Green’s books but thus far this is my favourite of hers and one I am certain to return to again.

Uplit is the latest buzz word in literature and this book has kindness, friendship and although there is heartbreak, there are enough elements that will lift people’s spirits too.

Jane’s latest book is called The Friends We Keep and was published on June 4th 2019.


Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls @DavidNWriter @HodderBooks #SweetSorrow #SummerReads #Summer #ComingofAge #NewBook #Review #Fiction

Sweet Sorrow
By David Nicholls
Rated: 4 stars ****

About the Author

David Nicholls is the bestselling author of USONE DAYSTARTER FOR TEN and THE UNDERSTUDY. His novels have sold over 8 million copies worldwide and are published in forty languages. David’s fifth novel, SWEET SORROW, was published by Hodder in July 2019. 

David trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. He is an award-winning screenwriter, with TV credits including the third series of Cold Feet, a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About NothingThe 7.39 and an adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. David wrote the screenplays for Great Expectations (2012) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015, starring Carey Mulligan). He has twice been BAFTA nominated and his recent adaptation of Patrick Melrose from the novels by Edward St Aubyn won him an Emmy nomination. 

His bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and in 2006 David went on to write the screenplay of the film version.

His third novel, ONE DAY, was published in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award.

David’s fourth novel, US, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 and was another no. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. In 2014, he was named Author of the Year 


One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…

In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

Sweet Sorrow DN cover


Sweet Sorrow – part of a quote of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” Sweet Sorrow is one of the themes that runs throughout the book and one that David Nicholls deals with great skill to create a story of a man in his thirties looking back at life when he was 16 in 1997.

The beginning is dramatic to say the least: The world would end on Thursday at 3:55pm after the disco. That is what is decided in the world of school leavers on their last day of school. I must say, it certainly grabs attention. The graffiti and the scrawled messages on shirts friends messages is something many will be able to relate to. The last day of term is perfectly described with an almost tangible atmosphere and one which so many people would remember from their school days. There’s the usual teacher and lovers dancing to the slow music. There’s the awkwardness of people too such as between Charlie and Helen and when Charlie Lewis danced with Emily, who has more feelings for him that he does for her, which is such sweet sorrow. There’s also the worrying of exam results and the thoughts of completely failing.

There is some really touching writing when Charlie wishes he spoke to his school friends more. This in itself is thought-provoking about the way society can be now and back then and made me wonder how many people wish they just made that little bit more effort to keep in touch with others, and how in the future, even with all the technology to hand, there may be people who wish they had kept in touch with others more and differently. David Nicholls in his writing just seems so insightful.

Charlie’s life is not an easy one. His mum started a new life and job. This means a lot of caring for his dad, where there is a plenty of worrying times. The book highlights that sometimes life is unfair at times and can be really tough.

David Nicholls does give his main character – Charlie Lewis some hope when he meets Fran Fisher and his life changes. She belongs to the Full Fathom Five Theatre Co-operative, who are rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. He ended up joining the group, not that he really wanted to, he only wanted Fran’s phone number. David Nicholls shows great understanding and observation of young love and writes it characteristically of that age.

Later in the book there’s a party that is attended by Charlie. It is illustrated through the wonderful descriptions. Fran and Charlie do have their first kiss and it is a really lovely , tender romantic scene is painted. The writing is evocative and is so beautifully and tastefully written. As the book moves on readers will find out about what happens within this relationship.

The story twists and turns in the most unexpected ways as incidents happen and the book gathers a bit more pace as the tone changes.

There’s sweet sorrow again, like there was on that last day of school, but this time on the performance days of Romeo and Juliet through the description of mixed feelings of sadness it will be over with, but also glad. There are some heartwarming moments of his dad and what he thinks of his son acting his part out.

The book has a great ending and in its closing pages, it takes readers to years later and it makes for some very interesting reading to see what happened to the characters, now they have grown up.

Ultimately, David Nicholls captures adolescence very well. It is moving, holds some humour within it, amongst some sadness, bittersweetness, sweet sorrow within the big themes of life, which are written exquisitely. It is a vivid book. It is so picturesque in some of the descriptions and yet nothing is over described.  It is written exceptionally well and whether you have read a book by David Nicholls before or not, I recommend you give this perceptive book a read.

A Book for Each Day of the Week #TheStrawberryThief @Joannechocolat #SummerattheKindnessCafe @Vicky_Walters #TheHangryHamster #SealedWithADeath @JamesSilvester1 #TheLongestFarewell @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 #summer #bookish #crime #kidslit #romance #France #UK #Thriller #summerreads #review Resume of Reviews of 7 Great Books for Summer and Beyond

A resume of 7 great books I have read over the summer and beyond.

I have read and reviewed a number of books this summer. I thought I would give a quick resume of 7 of them. Full reviews are also in my blog. I have also provided individual links to the full reviews. Please do take a look, you may be inspired or reminded of a good book.

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – Fiction

Strawberry thief

The Strawberry Thief is the latest part of the Chocolat series, written by Joanne Harris

This book sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenette-Sous Tannes during Easter with strawberries and chocolate filling the senses. There’s also a change in the wind as there is excellent writing, truth and emotion in the writing as Anouk has grown up and flown the nest. This is in contrast to Rosette who cannot do this part of life.
Roux still lives on the boat, preferring his own company and there is a new character called Morgane Dubois.
The writing of the wind is beautifully descriptive and tells the reader there’s much more than just the wind to come and that it is meaningful. The growing up of children who fly the nest and set up their own lives is relatable. The book will arouse anyone’s senses and emotions. It is just as good as the previous 3 books within this series. The descriptive writing is atmospheric and adds to the intrigue as to how this book will end.

Note, there is also an added afterward about Joanne’s own experience of her daughter leaving home and there is a poignant, well-written short story in print copies only of this book that are well-worth reading.

Link below:


Summer at the Kindness Cafe by Victoria Walters – Fiction

Summer at Kindess Cover (1)

Enter Brew – Kindness Cafe this summer and you won’t be disappointed. Enter Brew and be inspired to do your own random acts of kindness this summer, like the three women within this story.

Abbie Morgan is the main protagonist and is forced to leave London after being made redundant, something so relatable to many people.
Within the book there are sections called “Notes from the Brew Kindness Board”. This may inspire some people to follow-suit and do random acts of kindness. Get to know the characters and their personalities and see if Acts of Kindness transforms their lives or not.
Once the story has ended, turn the page for a lovely note by the author.

Link below:

The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey – Fiction

hangry hamster

Have fun with this children’s book. Billy gets a hamster and takes him everywhere, until the hamster isn’t allowed on the plane when Billy is going abroad. The hamster gets left behind and becomes hangry and goes on an adventure through London. Take a read of this adventurous, exciting, humorous, well illustrated book, written by a child for children.

Sealed with a Death – Fiction

Sealed with a Death Book Cover

Would you like a great political thriller? Give Sealed with a Death by James Silvester a try.

This book has got to be placed up there in one of the most current book in fiction there currently is. James Silvester writes very well and at excellent pace, in conveying what is happening and mixing it with his fictional. Meet Lucie Musilova – an assassin working as part of the Overlappers Intelligence Team. Women across many countries in Europe start to disappear, Kasper Algers, an Independent MP disappears and there’s still the case as to what happened to Ines Aubel. Readers are also taken into the world of brothels and further into the world of espionage and fake passports.

The book takes us to the far right of British politics and also to France where there’s the Gilet Jaune movement and the author takes this element into Britain. There’s also a focus on the everyday prejudices, pay as well as the cuts to police resources.

I have to say, I was impressed by not just how current this book is, but also the calibre of writing, considering the time it takes to write a book, especially well and how politics moves along at the moment. The language and tone of all the characters is believable, there’s no holding back!

Link below:

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft – Fiction

A Summer to Remember Cover

Clancy Moss is the main character, leaving her old life to start a new one. There’s romance, there’s social, tourism and education issues that are dealt with. From beginning to end this book has so much of human life and yet it feels as light as summer, and still it skillfully has meaningful substance. It is a most enjoyable and absorbing read of break-up, romance and life’s trials and tribulations and escapism. A Summer to Remember is a book to remember this summer and for more summers to come.

Please note, there is also an added short story in physical print copies of this book that is worth reading.

Link below:


Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew – Non-Fiction

zippy cover

Ronnie Le Drew is best known as being the puppeteer for Zippy in children’s TV show – Rainbow. It is a well written autobiography about becoming a puppeteer, his starting out at the The Little Angel Theatre. Some of the hard time he had to go through (not a sob-story though, it is better than that). and the people he worked with such as Jim Henson and David Bowie. Ronnie comes across as being down-to-earth as he never forgets his roots. This book is also about a bit of Rainbow scandal and what happened to the people working in it afterwards. It is nostalgic to say the least. Readers will get a look of behind the scenes of Ronnie’s puppeteer work, which makes it a fascinating read.

Link below:

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet – Non-Fiction

The Longest Farewell book pic

 Condensing my review down, only goes a little into what is really within the pages of this book. I will say it is a very worthy book to read, so please do take a look at the full review of it. I will also say it is the most emotional book of the summer. Nula Suchet’s husband James who, at the age of 57 had Picks disease – a form of dementia and this is chronicled very well in this book, with every heart-felt sentence. John Suchet’s wife – Bonnie also had dementia. It is heartbreaking and there is also so much love as Nula cares for James, who does go into a care home, but that is also where she meets John, who is there visiting his Bonnie. It is also about the relationship that develops between John and Nula and their travels together, that at first don’t exactly go smoothly. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all-consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. It is telling that it is all written from the heart and this part of both John and Nula’s life was not easy. It does however have the most happy of endings or rather shows the happiness of a continuation of their lives. 

Please do look at my full review for this book, if you haven’t done so already because just a few words only really highlights the book’s existence and a little of what it is about.

Link below:

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft – A Delightful Summer Read @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK #summer #summerreads #heatwave #review #newbooks #eBookPromo #Norfolk #Romance

A Summer to Remember
by Sue Moorcroft
Rated: 5 Stars *****


I am pleased to have had the brilliant opportunity to have joined Sue Moorcroft’s and her publisher – Avon Books (Harper Collins) blog tour to celebrate her E-book promo. This is an excellent promo with the book being only 99p. I am pleased to present my review for one of her excellently written and delightfully absorbing summer books – A Summer to Remember.

Sue Moorcroft summer ebook

The A Summer to Remember UK ebook is currently on 99P PROMO!

Apple iBook: buy
Amazon UK: buy
Kobo: buy

About the Author

Sue Moorcroft summer picSue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary, and has been nominated for several other awards, including the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.

Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared all over the world.

Part of an army family, Sue was born in Germany and lived much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus before setting in the UK.

You can follow Sue Moorcroft on:
Twitter: @SueMoorcroft
Facebook: SueMoorcroftAuthor/
Instagram: @SueMoorcroftAuthor

A Summer to Remember CoverSunday Times bestselling author published in print, ebook and audio by Avon (HarperCollins)



WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…



The first thing to point out is the blurb. It caught me the moment I read it. It is just so full of humour! This made me want to read the book even more.

Clancy Moss is the main character who lives in Chalk Farm, London but now looking to begin a new life in Nelson’s Bar, Norfolk to escape and to change her life. I have now read a few of Sue Moorcroft’s books and this is something she does well. She carefully and meaningfully builds up her character’s lives, in this case it is Clancy’s, so readers know and can sympathise at the very least with why a new life is a good decision. This concept of leaving a life behind to start afresh is written so believably and convincingly, that this is the best way to go for Clancy.

In a Summer to Remember, the issues of slow to almost non-existant wi-fi are addressed adeptly and the issues that this can cause within rural places. Interestingly, there is an air of optimism too about the lack of wi-fi. This is what I enjoy about this book: is that it isn’t just about love, there’s a lot more to get your teeth into. There’s the very real social and economic issues that many will have either of experienced or heard of and tourists and keeping accomodation for them going. There’s the issues surrounding UCAS and school grades and the parent pressure to have their child attend university, there’s the issues of tourism and whether there will be too many tourists for Nelson’s Bar versus employment. Readers really get to know what goes on within each of the character’s lives.

A Summer to Remember is an excellent title. Who wouldn’t forget not getting married and leaving a fiance and re-creating a life in a different place and also finding romance. The romanticism can be found in the idyllic surroundings.  Nelson’s Bar itself is written so picturesquely with its lovely sea and sunsets. Then there’s the blossoming romance with Aaron. The love scenes are written so beautifully and tastefully and enticingly delicate and yet sizzle. This isn’t a book however, where the past is exactly that and forgotten about. What Sue Moorcroft does so well here is keep the past and present connected. Will, the ex-fiance, isn’t suddenly forgotten about, he still, whether Clancy wants it or not, features in her life one way or another. 

From beginning to end this book has so much of human life and yet it feels as light as summer, and still it skillfully has meaningful substance. It is a most enjoyable and absorbing read of break-up, romance and life’s trials and tribulations and escapism. A Summer to Remember is a book to remember this summer and for more summers to come.

I highly recommend A Summer to Remember, whether you are on holiday or a staycation or still having to work. It is a great book to unwind and escape with.

Summer at the Kindness Cafe by Victoria Walters – This Summer Be Encapsulated in Warmth, Kindness and Life. @Vicky_Walters @TeamBATC #SummerAtTheKindnessCafe #RandomActofKindness #bookreviews #SummerReads #Uplit

Summer at the Kindness Cafe
By Victoria Walters
Rating *****

Today I am pleased to have been invited on The Random Things Blog Tour for the book – Summer at the Kindness Cafe. A book which readers can be encapsulated in the warmth of kindness and friendship as well as cafe culture and life changing events.


Summer at the Kindness Cafe BT Poster


About the Author

Victoria Walters Author Pic

Victoria Walters was discovered in a short story competition run by Simon & Schuster’s The Hot Bed. Her first novel, The Second Love of my Life was published by Headline, and she returns to the fold with Summer at the Kindness Cafe, her second novel.



Summer at Kindess Cover (1)Welcome to Brew, a cafe where kindness is almost as important as coffee… almost!

Abbie has fled London and the humiliation of not being able to make rent after being made redundant. Her sister, Louise, unlucky in love, has thrown herself into her career at the local hospital. And Eszter, who has travelled from Hungary with her daughter Zoe, is hoping to fulfil her husband’s dying wish: to reunite his family.

This summer, three very different women are inspired by the random acts of kindness written up on the Kindness Board at Brew, and decide to make a pact to be kinder to others and to themselves.

Can a little bit of kindness really change your life? Eszter, Abbie and Louise are about to find out!


Enter Brew – Kindness Cafe this summer and you won’t be disappointed. Enter Brew and be inspired to do your own random acts of kindness this summer, like the three women within this story.
I love that there is a book like this, which actively becomes part of spreading the word about being kind to each other and yourself. It makes me think of a talk by another author/comedian/presenter (Susan Calman) at the Edinburgh Fringe who had an act with the by-line to join the “Kindness Revolution”. This is what this book does, it’s almost like it is part of it.

Abbie Morgan is the main protagonist and is forced to leave London after being made redundant. This reflects just how expensive London is. It’s a good way for the author to begin her story. It also means readers are already on the journey of Abbie as she seeks a new life and within a couple of pages, brings about feelings of care for this character.

Then there’s Louise, her very kind sister, who Abbie finally travels to be with in Littlewood. This is the situation of the cafe – Brew. The cafe has a board where people write-up random acts of kindnesses they’ve experienced from others. I love this idea. I’ve no idea if there are any boards like that, but perhaps there ought to be. There’s something heart-warming and quite beautiful about it. Within the book there are sections called “Notes from the Brew Kindness Board”. This may inspire some people to follow-suit and do random acts of kindness.

The contrast shows through well, between Abbie and Louise. Abbie has hardened a little and can’t really imagine being kind to a stranger and Louise who appears naturally kind, too kind, according to Abbie (not that there’s such a thing as too kind), but she sees Louise as slightly neglecting herself and she ought to be kinder to herself.

This is far from a cloyingly sickly sweet read however, so don’t be fooled. There’s heartbreak and bitter sweetness in this book. Louise, for all that she seems completely together and has life sorted, has had her heart-broken and the author ensures readers know it’s been badly broken.

Abbie, initially doesn’t know where to start on her first ever random act of kindness, it’s not really her thing, to be kind to a complete stranger. Eszter however gives some good advice and before long, Abbie has seen someone who she can be kind to. It’s all very down-to-earth and seems to unfold naturally. There’s nothing outlandish in this book.

I feel readers can really get into the characters lives and get to know their personalities and what’s happened to them as well as see their lives progress. Are their lives transformed through kindness? It is worth reading to find out.

This is a heart-warming book of kindness, friendship, finding new paths in life, which makes for a great summer read. It’s one I hope does make an impact and inspires more people to be kind to themselves, each other and to strangers.

Once the story has ended, turn the page for a lovely note by the author.

Praise for the author

Your favourite authors LOVE Summer at the Kindness Cafe:
‘A heart-warming read – cosy and comforting. I loved it!’ HEIDI
‘Utterly gorgeous, a totally heart-warming, beautiful story. I loved
every single page!’ HOLLY MARTIN
‘A really lovely story – heart-warming and life affirming’ JO THOMAS
‘Warmth and kindness on every page’ SHEILA O’FLANAGAN
‘I adored Summer at The Kindness Café – it’s such a cosy,
heart-warming read’ JENNIFER JOYCE


The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – An Exquisite, atmospheric and poignant book – 5 Stars @joannechocolat @orionbooks @gigicroft #thestrawberrythief #review #NewBook #Waterstones

The Strawberry Thief
By Joanne Harris
Rating – 5 Stars

About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy.

In 2000, her 1999 novel Chocolat was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded and MBE by the Queen.


Everyone is different. Some of us are just more different than others…

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-Sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florest, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even perhaps a murder…


The Strawberry Thief is the latest part of the Chocolat series, written by Joanne Harris (who also writes many other genres of books, which are also excellent). This book, even though, now as far as fourth in this series has been absolutely worth the wait. It’s atmospheric, emotional and exquistely written. It grabbed my attention from the very beginning and that never dissipated.

This book sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenette-Sous Tannes. Like in the first book – Chocolat, it is Lent and there’s now, what has become the comfortable familiar of Vianne making Easter treats. She seems a bit more accepted and settled in Lansquenet. There are familiar characters as well as the introduction of someone new.

The writing of the wind is beautifully descriptive and tells the reader there’s much more than just the wind to come and that it is meaningful.

There are the cacao beans and this time, also wild strawberries, filling the senses and emotions and there’s once again change. Change which every parent with growing children will be able to relate to. Anouk, Vianne’s daughter has, as expected, grown up and flown the nest. The words of this are filled with emotion. Rosette – Vianne’s winter child, as she calls her, is also growing and may not be able to say much, has vision and yet also what she and Vianne refer to as “accidents”.

I like how Rosette is written and the contrast between what people think, alongside their pity, in comparison to what Vianne, as her mother, feels, is well observed and as a reader, creates emotion inside.

Roux still lives on his boat, preferring to live on his own without the community of Lansquenet, that he does not trust, but is still a presence in Vianne’s life, who, lets face it, is also different, although accepted, from the people who originate in the area. This, throughout the books, for me, anyway, is very relatable to in small towns and villages. Things have evolved from Chocolat though and Reynaud is now no longer seeing her as the enemy come to spoil tradition and break “rules”, but as a friend.

There’s a new character for readers to become intrigued about – Morgane Dubois who unsettles Vianne. Joanne’s  writing certainly made me feel the uneasiness and suspicious of what would actually happen with this incomer. A sense of fear is deftly created.

There are wild strawberries that seem to stir up some atmosphere and emotions and conjure up lovely imagery of them growing in the strawberry wood. This story hits upon all the senses. It has a way of drawing in the reader closer and closer until you’re nearly within touching and smelling distance that lasts from the beginning to the end. The strawberries serve a purpose however, they aren’t just there to pretty things up. There’s also a strawberry thief, as you’d expect from the title and readers should continue on with the book to discover much more about this.

The writing is atmospheric and descriptive, giving a real sense of place, but cleverly also adds to the intrigue. This is worth all the wait and the buzz that surrounds books written by Joanne Harris. It is available now in bookshops, libraries and online.

Joanne Harris, in all her wisdom has done something quite wonderful in her physical books, especially for Waterstones, she has exclusive copies whereby books aren’t just signed, but also contains a very poignant afterword and a short story called The Cat Child. Joanne Harris is well-known for supporting bookshops and libraries (as well as authors) and her actions in both the past and present always speak volumes, which is admirable.

The afterword gives great insight about certain parallels between Joanne’s family life and what is written in the fictional story as well as further thoughts.

The Cat Child is poignant and resonates. It’s not some random short story, this is well thought out. It has some similar themes to The Strawberry Thief. There’s the daughter whose soul keeps soaring and the mother who is trying to keep her grounded, whereby there’s a younger daughter who is the cat child, never quite growing up and managing to leave. One night, however something “magical” occurs…

The Cat Child is also worth 5 stars. It’s concise, poignant and terrifically atmospheric.all within just a few pages, which is a skill within itself.  It also feels like it accompanies the main story very well.