#Review By Lou of Ginger and Me By Elissa Soave @elissa_soave @HQstories @HarperCollinsUK #GingerandMe #ContemporaryFiction

Ginger and Me
By Elissa Soave

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Touching, haunting and a darn good read that’s hard to put down. Check out more in the blurb and my review below. Thanks, first, to the publisher HQ for gifting me a copy of the book.

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Blurb

Funny, touching and wise, I loved it’ Kit de Waal, bestselling author of My Name Is Leon

Wendy is lonely but coping.
All nineteen-year-old Wendy wants is to drive the 255 bus around Uddingston with her regulars on board, remember to buy milk when it runs out and just to be okay. After her mum died, there’s nobody to remind her to eat and what to do each day.

And Wendy is ready to step out of her comfort zone.
Each week she shows her social worker the progress she’s made, like the coasters she bought to spruce up the place, even if she forgets to make tea. And she even joins a writers’ group to share the stories she writes, like the one about a bullied boy who goes to Mars.

But everything changes when Wendy meets Ginger.
A teenager with flaming orange hair, Ginger’s so brave she’s wearing a coat that isn’t even waterproof. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend. But as they begin the summer of their lives, Wendy wonders if things were simpler before. And that’s before she realizes just how much trouble Ginger is about to get them in…

An unforgettable debut novel from the winner of the Primadonna Prize 2019 which will stay with you long after the last page.

Review

This is an interesting book that I found myself totally wrapped up in the characters of.

It all begins in present times in Polmont Prison with a pressing question as to why this setting, in the beginning of the book and who is Diane? The book then returns to how this all really began as it becomes, not a prison story, but one that is out and about in the world and friendship and how far an admiration for someone can go…

For readers who don’t know, Polmont is a town in central Scotland and really does have a prison within it.

Wendy is the narrator, this is her story and she starts from the beginning, in Glasgow and the Greater Glasgow and surrounding areas. She talks of her support worker, Saanvi, her job and not having many friends and on top of that, her mother dying hit her so hard. It becomes increasingly apparent how vulnerable Wendy actually is and even more so without her mother instructing her, so now Saanvi is attempting to open up her world a bit, which she does as she joins a writers group and a great obsession follows. She gets to know more about the author – Diane Weston and it isn’t just that she follows her on Twitter, clicking a like here and leaving a comment there. It is a serious obsession she develops for her, which becomes intense to the point it feels spine-tingling. Wendy in some ways seems to think, partly that it’s normal and to a certain degree not, but the obsessive thoughts overpower the rationale.

The surprising thing is that the author even had space to add small bits of humour here and there.

It is interesting to see the friendship between Wendy and Ginger develop throughout the book and revelations of their personalities coming through to the fore and just how close they become, all the while the obsession of one author is never far away.

There are also some shady characters such as Uncle Tam and Roddy, who are doing things that Wendy and Ginger get mixed up in, some of which is chilling. 

It all ends in an unexpected way!

This is a book I highly recommend.

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#BookReview By Lou of The Hotel on the Riviera By Carol Kirkwood @carolkirkwood @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #HarperFictionPR #TheHotelontheRiviera #Fiction #SummerRead #SummerVibe

The Hotel on the Riviera
By Carol Kirkwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Hotel on the Riviera is a beautifully written, summer escapist book, with opulence and intrigue. Find out more in the blurb and my review below. Thanks to Harper Collins UK for a review copy.

Hotel on the Riviera cover

Blurb

From Sunday Times bestselling author and the nation’s best loved TV presenter Carol Kirkwood comes a glittering escape to the French Riviera. ‘A stunning holiday read with passion and heart, perfect…!’ Anton Du Beke

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By the sapphire blue waters of the French Riviera, a decades-long secret is about to be revealed…

Wayward Greek heiress, Ariana Theodosis, inherits the Hotel du Soleil as part of a mysterious legacy. Captivated by its faded glamour, she hopes it offers her the chance to start again.

Hotelier Gabriel du Lac’s family have owned the hotel for decades – and he has no intention of giving it up for a beautiful stranger.

Madame du Lac has watched the rich and famous pass through the doors of the hotel for almost half a century, and she has kept its secrets too.

As the past finally catches up with them all, will this summer reveal a forgotten secret, and change their lives forever…?

Review

From the outset I felt captivated. The prologue poses much curiosity in the row that is created. Then readers are taken to Ithos, 2009, where Ariana is. It all feels sparkly and richly elegant. Underneath all that is an air of change when she meets up with her father – Demetrios Theodosis.

Readers are on a fantastic journey through the beautifully written book through Ithos, Portofino, Cannes. It all sounds idyllic, but rather mysteriously, tragedy strikes and so does a different sort of intrigue as now there is not only a need to find out more behind the initial beauty, there is a mystery to solve too and the question of what happened at a party is posed.

The Hotel du Soleil intrigues as there is a row brewing over who actually owns it and everyone wants a piece of it and has their own ideas of what to do about it now it’s once, more opulent and rich, famous history has faded away. There are also secrets that are uncovered, as well as quite a bit of name-dropping, which fits the setting of Cannes and around the film industry well. The book captures a bit of the lifestyles of the “other-half” of society.

The Hotel on the Riviera is a great summer read for escapism!

#Review By Lou of Lily Bennett’s Bucket List By Katherine Dyson @_katherinedyson @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK #Romcom #ContemporaryFiction #GeneralFiction #BucketlistAdventure

Lily Bennett’s Bucket List
By Katherine Dyson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Most people love a bucket list right? I certainly do and Lily Bennett’s Bucket List is a gorgeously uplifting read. Thanks to the publisher – One More Chapter.
Find out more in the blurb and my review.

Lily Bennett's Bucket List cover

Blurb

The most life-affirming and uplifting debut you will read this year. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Fiona Gibson and Clare Pooley.

What would Lily Bennett do?

This is the question Lydia Grey finds herself asking when she discovers Lily’s bucket list at the bottom of her shopping trolley. Having just run into her ex – and his supermodel gorgeous new girlfriend – while doing the walk of shame, Lydia’s discovery takes her down an unexpected path…and into the company of Jake Jones.

Jake mistakes Lydia for Lily when he offers to help her complete the list, but tempted to be someone – anyone – other than plain old Lydia Grey for once in her life, Lydia doesn’t correct him.

Now, as each new adventure brings Lydia and Jake closer, her lie threatens everything. To complete the list she’ll need to tackle #9: ‘do the scariest thing you can think of’, but how can she do that when the scariest thing she can think of is telling Jake the truth…which could mean losing him forever?

Review

So many people have a bucket list, including me, either one for later or like me, working through it bit by bit as when something can be ticked off.
Lydia Grey’s life is often dull, as dull as the colour grey when there’s no light and shade and atmosphere to it, say like you would see in a painting. It’s just plain dull! Even her husband, since left, even though after so many years together, because she had become drab and boring.
Then life spices up quite significantly and brightness shines through, along with a whole array of colours and experiences when she discovers Lily Bennett’s bucket list at the bottom of a shopping trolley. Lily is a complete stranger to Lydia, but this list looks adventurous, so she gets brave and decides to make her way down it doing all the activities on it. Then the excitement and wonderful adventures begin!
Jake assumes Lydia is Lily and she doesn’t put him right, which later causes a bit of trepidation and wonder about what she is going to do when it comes to it, as they embark on the adventures together.

It’s a sweet, uplifting read with an edge of bittersweetness. It’s a really nice debut novel for readers to settle down and relax into, with its warmth, romance and humour.

#Review by Lou – The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain Happy Publication Day @MattCainWriter @HeadlineFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction #Romance #LGBT #AudioBook #BlogTour #AudioTour #BlogTour

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle
By Matt Cain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Touching and endearing, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is nothing short of fabulously uplifting and full of joy and optimism. It’s a beautiful, highly original summer read. It’s a Must  Listen To… 

I very highly recommend this book. I genuinely loved it and could not put it down. It was a pity it had to end sometime.

Check out more in the blurb, my review and the praise it has already attracted below
Thanks to publishers – Headline for gifting me a copy of the audiobook and for giving me the pleasure of reviewing in Gay Pride Month. It makes no difference what your sexual orientation is. It’s a cracking read for anyone who loves a good story. It’s by far one of the best LGBT books I’ve ever read.

The Secret Life Of Albert Entwistle audio cover

Blurb

The Secret Life Of Albert Entwistle audio coverThe Audiobook is a dream to listen to. You really get to know Albert Entwistle and the narrator Layton Williams really brings him to life. The pacing is excellent and so is the way Albert’s story is delivered. I went out walk

Albert Entwistle is a postman, a pretty ordinary one at that and one that I was interested to know more about, even with the pang of sadness that he appears to have no life outside work, which poses a challenge when retirement is on the cards. 

I especially enjoyed getting to know Albert, George and Marjorie, as well as Nicole and seeing their lives unfold and how they are connected.

This is a very beautiful book that’s so quick to get into. It’s uplifting, with a cosy warmth. It also bridges the gap between younger and older generations, in some ways in the attutudes that and secrecy were around at certain times. It’s quite hard to put down as you uncover great characters and a life with secrets that may not be quite what you’re expecting and reasons why Albert hid part of his life for a time.

There are reunions and a love story that starts to play out and it is so lovely to watch it unfold. There’s travel and theatre and such life drama. There’s also a cat and an very emotional story unfolds that leaves you rooting for Albert more than ever.

There are discoveries made and life can be more than what you think it might as no one can predict the future. It is so poignant and touching in parts. The journeys that are taken, both deep, personal ones and the actual moving around from Toddington to Blackpool add to the great life affirming adventure, that so easily reels you in.

The book is entertaining to read/listen to and just projects so much joy and also so much emotion, with pinpoints of humour. There is strength of character and courage, which is absolutely fabulous!

Praise for The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle

rollicking love story‘ IAN McKELLEN

‘A wonderful old-fashioned romance . . . An utter treat‘ KATE MOSSE

Wonderful. Written with such a good heart, filled with joy and strength and optimism . . . inventive and fun but most importantly, true.’ RUSSELL T. DAVIES

Brilliant . . . [I] recommend to all!’ MATT LUCAS

‘I loved it! Really heart-warming and joyful, but also so poignant. I cannot recommend this book highly enough’ LORRAINE KELLY

‘Albert is such an endearing character – flawed, funny and awkward, but completely relatable. A wonderfully warm story that completely drew me in’ RUTH HOGAN

Sweetlovely and expected to be a big summer hit‘ THE BOOKSELLER

‘Prepare to fall in love with Albert Entwistle! Touching and tender’ S. J. WATSON

Albert is delightful and charming, and the book is too’ JONATHAN HARVEY

#BookReview of The Call of the Penguins By Hazel Prior @HazelPriorBooks @TransworldBooks #Christmasread #CallOfThePenguins #Fiction #Wildlife #UpliftingFiction #ContemporaryFiction #GeneralFiction

The Call of the Penguins
By Hazel Prior

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From the author of Away with the Penguins - Call of the Penguins is out this Autumn

The Call of the Penguins will have you wanting to whisk yourself to them in a heartbeat!
Thanks to publisher – Transworld Books for gifting me a copy to review. Find out more in the blurb and my full review below.

Call of the PenguinsA delightfully feel-good new novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Away With the Penguins – sure to become a firm favourite with readers!

At eighty-seven, Veronica McCreedy thinks her days of travelling the world are behind her. But when she’s invited to take part in a TV nature documentary that will take her across the globe filming her beloved penguins, she leaps at the prospect of a new adventure . . .

 

Review

'Penguins represent bravery, determination and resilience'

Set, initially in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland, The Call of the Penguins has charm and warmth and that call for a new adventure for Veronica McCreedy. The book is warm but tackles worldly issues within its cosyness of the penguins. There’s a new colony of penguins being introduced as well as updates on the penguins in the Antarctic. This brings a fresh and brings a new slant to human and animal stories.

The chapters are split between Veronica, Patrick and Terry. Readers get to know their trials and tribulations of life, such as family, health, relationship issues and more… It makes for an interesting read as they take you into the heart of the animal or at least penguin kingdom, as well as their own lives that have their ups and downs as do the penguins. In saying that, it does have a feel-good factor that will give you a cuddly warming feel, without being sappy as it deals with some of what can be found in hard-hitting headlines about the environment and conservation. Veronica McCreedy, although is trying to do something good in conserving penguins, isn’t without attracting her own headlines of controversy to a point.

This is a rather enjoyable book with all the adventures you’ll go on and the characters you’ll meet along the way as you cosy up from the cold winter days.

'The perfect fireside read' Trisha Ashley, 2021

 

#Review By Lou – Femlandia By Christina Dalcher #Femlandia @CV_Dalcher #Fiction #GeneralFiction #Fantasy #SciFi #JoinTheSisterhood

Femlandia
By Christina Dalcher

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Femlandia is interesting in presenting a dystopian world and throwing up huge questions within its scenario. This book is from the author of VOX. Thanks to Christina Dalcher for gifting me a review copy. Take a look at the blurb and my review below.

Femlandia Cover

Blurb

Miranda Reynolds has lost her home, her job and her husband – all thanks to an economic collapse that has brought America to its knees.

The shops are empty; the streets no longer safe. Miranda and her daughter Emma have nowhere left to turn.

There is one final hope, a self-sufficient haven for women who want to live a life free from men. Femlandia.

For Miranda, the secluded Femlandia is a last resort. Life outside the gates is fraught with danger, but there’s something just as sinister going on within.

Welcome to Femlandia… It’s no place like home.

Review

Like most dystopian novels, Femlandia has grounding, even though it takes readers practically off the edge and into the extremes of what they know or how they live in present times. It is quite common these days for women to wonder what a land without men in it would be like. This book hows that it may not all be the utopia, some women may imagine it to be. From each dystopian book, the realities are still there and show how the world is sometimes just a few steps away from those dystopian earthly worlds they create. This book has that and becomes thought-provoking as it has realities, such as financial crashes and what an alternative may look like.

There is the breaking down of relationships and the sort of reunions that are very rocky, including between Emma and her mother, Miranda. There is also a rape scene and before that, a suicide scene that is written well as well as economic hardships. Throughout are the differences between Mianda and her daughter, Emma, and it is soon seen as to why she distanced herself away from her mother to make her estranged.
Miranda is the founder of Femalandia, an international living community. Through Emma, we get to know more about this commune which is feminism at its extremes of having an uneasiness about it due to its air of almost cultish ways. Set in the US, this book is more international than one country. It could be set anywhere in the world as the themes and the dystopia within them could happen anywhere.

The book, especially in entering the so-called sanctum of Femlandia itself, is intense. It poses the question as to how safe such places can really be and how shows how heading into the extremes of life is not always necessarily the answer, nor healthy nor the outcomes being what is expected, even when intentions are seemingly there to entice them to look good and shows what Miranda wants from the community.

As you read on the real darkness of the ideology of how Femlandia is run is revealed, including its colonies. It’s not far off Gilead in the Handmaid’s Tale in its treatment of its population. Femlandia shows that things from an initial ideaology can grow and get carried away and how even women can take unsavoury choices, violence, which in-turn balances the book out and demonstrates that it isn’t just men who are capable of that.

The epilogue certainly concludes things, perhaps not quite as expected, in the life thoughts of a younger relative of Emma’s. The book may make people think of extremeties and how this book is set in the not too distant future and parts of it could, rather worryingly, exist. It’s a well plotted book that is far, far from a cosy read.