#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.

#BookReview by Lou of Frontline By Dr. Hilary Jones @DrHilaryJones @welbeckpublish #WorldWar1 #HistoricalFiction #SpanishFlu #Frontline #GeneralFiction

Frontline
By Dr. Hilary Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Frontline takes those at war in the First World War and in the medical profession and creates an intensely emotional, knowledgeable book that expertly weaves fact and fiction together to create a tight-knit story, very apt for our times. From the cover to the end of the story, it is intensely poignant in many ways.
Discover more in the blurb and the rest of my review and where you can buy Frontline.
I thank Welbeck Books for gifting me a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

Frontline cover

Blurb

The doctor hits the spot and deserves to be read’

JEFFREY ARCHER

A SWEEPING DRAMA SET ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF EUROPE AS A GLOBAL INFLUENZA PANDEMIC LOOMS . . .

Frontline is the first book in a series charting the rise of a prominent British medical family in the twentieth century. From wars to a pandemic, the discovery of penicillin to the birth of the NHS, successive generations of the Burnett family are at the vanguard of life-saving developments in medicine.

Frontline is the story of an aristocrat’s daughter who joins the war effort as a nurse. In a field hospital in rural France she meets Will, a dockworker’s son serving as a stretcher-bearer. As rumours of an armistice begin to circulate, so too does a mysterious respiratory illness that soldiers are referring to as the ‘Spanish flu’.

Review

Frontline coverEvie is one of the characters who start off this book, which begins in 1910 and makes a shift to 1914. She has a baby and her story is sure to tug on many heartstrings, even the most hardened of hearts. It’s one of woe but also of courage of those around her.

Readers also follow Grace and other nurses as well as tells of how things were from a soldier, like Will’s story too and how they are linked and it becomes about them and their lives and needs to survive and what was happening in the world at the time, that they had to find ways of living in and doing their duties.

There’s a real rawness to one of the letters written, which gives further insight into what was going on and the fears that were there.

There’s the sense of life, distinct of the times and it feels like a lot of research went into this as well as passion for the subject matters. It may not be an easy read, but its authenticity and realism through fiction really shines through and develops into a great read. It takes readers to the heart of war, including The Somme, but also what it’s like to be home on leave, as Will is when he returns to Grace. There are also some lovely heartwarming moments too, that saves this book from being too bleak and in some instances, shows some humanity in the world too, especially when Christmas arrives.

Frontline is very apt for our times, as we try to survive Covid-19, this book also shows people trying to survive a pandemic too – Spanish Flu and the devastation to life between that and war. I think it could serve as something more thought-provoking about their own behaviours in present times.

The book is an intense but pertinent read. Dr. Hilary Jones has also left an “Author’s Note” at the back of the book that adds a little more about what is dubbed as “The Great War” and is poignant, as are the acknowledgements. I agree that there are some parallels that can be drawn from today between Spanish Flu times and Covid-19 times. It’s hard not to notice, if you know a bit about way back then too and thinking about it, even if you don’t, you’ll be able to find this by reading this book.

Clearly Dr. Hilary Jones is writing from what he knows from his medical background, but he’s intelligently combined this with war, of those fighting in it and of women who are not. There is a rich tapestry that runs through it and there is a sense that it’s a bit of a nod in a way to those who came before him and that sits very well with me, and I think it will with many other readers too.

Buy Links

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#BookReview by Lou Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie – rated 5 stars @CeliaImrie @BloomsburyBooks #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction #GeneralFiction #OrphansOfTheStorm #Titanic

Orphans of the Storm
By Celia Imrie

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Orphans of the Storm is a refreshing and captivating historical read that show a different side to relationships in the 1900’s. This is gripping and so engaging, with a fascinating truth about the characters within the story at the end. This is a book I highly recommend!
Discover more in the blurb and then onto my full review.
*Thanks to Bloomsbury for gifting a copy of the book, in exchange of an honest review.

Orphans of the Storm cover

About the Author

Celia Imrie is an Olivier award-winning and Screen Actors Guild-nominated actress. She is known for her film roles in The Best Exotic Marigold HotelThe Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelCalendar Girls and Nanny McPhee. Celia Imrie has recently starred in the major films Bridget Jones’s BabyAbsolutely Fabulous: The MovieYear by the Sea and A Cure for Wellness. In 2016 she also appeared in FX’s new comedy series Better Things, and returned to the stage in King Lear at The Old Vic. 2017 so far has seen Celia Imrie appear in psychological horror A Cure For Wellness. Celia Imrie is the author of an autobiography, The Happy Hoofer, and two top ten Sunday Times bestselling novels, Not Quite Nice and Nice Work (If You Can Get It).

Website: http://www.celiaimrie.info   Twitter: @CeliaImrie

Blurb

‘Gripping … An epic adventure’ ROSIE GOODWIN

‘Smashing … I was hooked on page one and literally could not put it down. I loved all that she wrote about the true story behind this thrilling tale’ JOANNA LUMLEY

Orphans of the Storm coverNice, France, 1911: After three years of marriage, young seamstress Marcella Caretto has finally had enough. Her husband, Michael, an ambitious tailor, has become cruel and controlling and she determines to get a divorce.

But while awaiting the judges’ decision on the custody of their two small boys, Michael receives news that changes everything.

Meanwhile fun-loving New York socialite Margaret Hays is touring Europe with some friends. Restless, she resolves to head home aboard the most celebrated steamer in the world – RMS Titanic.

As the ship sets sail for America, carrying two infants bearing false names, the paths of Marcela, Michael and Margaret cross – and nothing will ever be the same again.

From the Sunday Times-bestselling author, Celia Imrie, Orphans of the Storm dives into the waters of the past to unearth a sweeping, epic tale of the sinking of the Titanic that radiates with humanity and hums with life.

Review

Orphans of the Storm whisks readers back in time to September 1911, Nice, France, where readers meet Marcella, who has children and is in the process of divorcing her husband. Celia Imrie really captures that sense of nerves as Marcella wonders if she should go through with it or not, even though she has already stepped foot into the solicitor’s office. Readers also see what happened in the lead up as time flips back to 1907.
It’s an interesting part of history with this slant of life, as not many women would have contemplated this at that time, but there were some that certainly did. It brings a bit of history that isn’t talked about much or shown very little at this time. It’s certainly attention grabbing and brings, perhaps, a fresher appeal, so even if it is isn’t a reader’s usual genre or time period for reading about, I think they’ll find something different in Orphan’s of the Storm.

Marcella works as a tailor and readers are treated to all sorts of fabrics, in words, but really she would rather be a singer. The romantic entanglement was one between Marcella and Michael, but all isn’t what it seems. It becomes one of controlling behaviours. Celia Imrie captures love and this darker side very well and shows how things start to turn in this relationship and the increasing jealousy of Michael. It’s written with disarming authenticity and readers can really be pulled in further by this.

There is also some humour to be found within the characters, which lifts it and brings something more jovial to the story.

The book also shows what was happening from Michael’s life from 1912 in Calais and the people he meets. It also shows his life in London. The attention to detail is inspired. Celia Imrie has a talent for creating an epic story that enthralls and holds you there in the world she creates. There’s the crowds of people at RMS Titanic and the atmosphere and the sense of the scale of the journey being embarked, that readers then join too.

There are twists and turns that ensue, involving Marcella, Michael and the children in reaction to what happened in previous years.
There is also the fact of being on the Titanic. Although everyone knows what happens, there is still drama injected from involving the family and of course the iceberg. Tension, action and emotions are written very well, in a believable manner. The book also takes readers beyond that fateful day of the Titanic and illustrates what happened next most excellently. Moving onwards from that is a bit about the characters you’ve just read about. This book is based on some real people. A great deal of research has clearly gone into this to create not only a compelling story, but one that goes onto say a bit more about the people behind the fictional story beforehand, which is as fascinating as fiction.

The Orphans of the Storm is even better than I thought it would be and the writing really is exquisite and captivating. This is a book I highly recommend.

#Review of A Home In The Sun by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooks #SummerRead #Summer #Books

A Home In The Sun
By Sue Moorcroft

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Home In the Sun is a great summer read by Sue Moorcroft. Readers can escape to Malta, with it’s beautiful scenery and find out about Judith’s complicated life of love and woe and more… It is a delight for these hot weather days and nights. Discover more in the blurb and my review below.
I thank Avon Books for inviting me to review and for gifting me a book.
Please note, my review is unbiased.

A Home In the Sun

A gorgeous summer read about new beginnings from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Home is where the heart is…but what if your heart is broken?

When Judith loses her partner, she loses her life in Malta too – including the beautiful view from her sun-warmed balcony of the sparkling blue waters of Sliema Creek.

Back in England, Judith finds a spare room in her sister’s house where she grew up – but with it comes a whole host of family dramas. Nursing a broken heart, Judith knows she must find happiness again – and rebuild her life on her own terms.

Could an island in the sun be the answer she is looking for?

A wonderfully escapist summer read, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Carole Matthews.

Review

A Home In the SunWho can, on a hot, balmy summer’s day, resist that title?

Judith McAllistair, in 2000 is 40 and lives in Malta and is hungry for change. New millenium, start of a new decade in her life, newly single, she sees it the perfect time to make changes. Already new romance is on the horizon with Georgio Zammit. All isn’t as it seems with a peel back of the sun and scenery, into the culture of Malta, one that makes this potential romance tricky and a bit squirmy. It’s a part of their culture that isn’t talked about as it resembles very little to the tourist scene, but is part of real life for the permanent population. It gives a very interesting insight for people wanting to reside there, that becomes compelling. The summer vibe is also all there, adding to that blissful summery mood.

The book moves to the first chapter and time has also moved onto April 2004 and there’s sizzling romance and it oozes with delightful scenery and diving is on the agenda. Everything is idyllic and has, even though, Judith is living in Malta, it has that easy holiday feel atmosphere, until tragedy strikes and her world of new hot passion is turned upside down and she is brought to earth with a jolt.

There is time for readers to soak up the Maltese sun and surroundings, which makes it lovely to escape into, amongst the challenges of the characters lives, which also takes readers to England in a move that isn’t taken lightly and ends up in Birnham, where welcomings aren’t all terribly warm and emotions are high and adjusting and building a new life is harder than it is assumed to be. There are serious money issues and the need for a new job and huge decisions to make about what it is she wants to do and not do for a living. It is fun meeting everyone, but not always easy for Judith to be reunited with people. As if that isn’t enough to contend with. there is an unexpected issue involving a snake…

In part 2, time slinks into 2005. There are secrets to keep and lives for Judith to watch moving on and to be halted by more tragedy that is beautifully observed in the writing.

The writing has everything from sadness, anger, humour and overriding all of that is absolute pure drama as the past affects the present and future and how lives can move on and keeps you guessing how they can and if that is possible and where Judith will end up in her life – England or Malta?