#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 of A Cornish Christmas By Phillipa Ashley @PhillipaAshley @AvonBooksUK #Christmas #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction

A Special Cornish Christmas
By Phillipa Ashley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Special Cornish Christmas, Cornwall, Cornish, Phillipa Ashley, Women's Fiction, Romance

Get into that Christmas cosiness with A Special Cornish Christmas. It has all the ingredients needed for those magical vibes. Thanks to Avon Books for gifting me a copy and check out the blurb and the rest of my review below…

A Special Cornish Christmas, Phillipa Ashley, Women's Fiction, Romance

Blurb

A Special Cornish ChristmasFor Bo Grayson, Christmas has always been the most wonderful time of the year. Well, until she had her heart broken last December…

At a local summer fete, Bo and her friends meet the mysterious fortune teller Madame Odette, and they are each given the same prediction: You will meet the love of your life by Christmas Day.

With just a few months until the festive season, they dismiss the predictions out of hand. Bo’s attentions are focused on creating the best seasonal menu for her Boatyard Café, and her rock and roll dance group – the Falford Flingers – who are hard at work getting ready for their Christmas Spectacular show.

The last thing she imagines is that she’ll be ready to open her heart again. But will fate – and perhaps a sprinkle of Christmas magic – change her mind?

Review

Christmas, it can either be fabulous or can have a pang of sadness, if someone has broken your heart and that’s what happens to Bo. She vows never to fall in love again. This, however is a sparkly feel-good book, so it doesn’t end there. There’s food to feast your eyes on at her Boatyard Cafe and music from her band, which brings a bit of Christmas cheer and the atmosphere, despite of that, is divine. There’s some seasonal eccentricity with Madame Odette telling her fortunes, although they are met by some cynicism by Bo and her friends. Romance is also of course in the air and the setting in Cornwall is beautiful, in this story, which has all the magical Christmas ingredients stirred together and baked just right. It’s a bit Christmas movie like in many ways. It is cosy and lovely for pure escapism as you prepare for Christmas.

#Review By Lou of Woman In The Middle By Milly Johnson #bookreview @MillyJohnson @SimonSchusterUK #TeamBATC @ed_pr #WomanInTheMiddle

The Woman In The Middle
By Milly Johnson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Moving with a personal feel to it is what Milly Johnson brings to her latest book – Woman In The Middle. It’s got a bit of a different feel from other books I’ve read and that’s still okay in this pleasant read that delves so much into family life. Thanks to Books And The City at Simon & Schuster for gifting.

Blurb

woman in the middle cover picThe emotional, uplifting and completely relatable new novel from Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson.

Shay Bastable is the woman in the middle. She is part of the sandwich generation – caring for her parents and her children, supporting her husband Bruce, holding them all together and caring for them as best she can.

Then the arrival of a large orange skip on her mother’s estate sets in motion a cataclysmic series of events which leads to the collapse of Shay’s world. She is forced to put herself first for a change.

But in order to move forward with her present, Shay needs to make sense of her past. And so she returns to the little village she grew up in, to uncover the truth about what happened to her when she was younger. And in doing so, she discovers that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find the only way is up.

Review

Shay Bastable has a lot to juggle in her family. Caring for parents, keeping her own family going will be relatable to many people. I certainly relate to the caring for parents, in my case to keep the rest of the more adult family than in the book, going in some ways. For Shay it’s a struggle to keep all the balls freely in the air and they do indeed come crashing down all around her. Shay also has children and all their demands, especially determined, strong-willed daughter – Courtney to take care of,then there is her son who is supposed to be getting married, but she is concerned that something isn’t right within the relationship.  You feel that this would no doubt have quite an impact. The book explores this as well as how her sister does little to help and her husband, Bruce is not at all useful and practically ignores what is going on around him, which makes matters even worse as there’s not the backup needed in such a situation. There’s definitely a lot to feel sorry for Shay and how her life is panning out. So, she tries to then put herself first, which seems somewhere between sensible and losing selflessness for awhile, but you can see where she is coming too and shows the challenges of life faced in this situation, trying to also take care of yourself as well as others.

You really get the sense that Shay is The Woman In The Middle instead of at the top of her family, yet is also the glue of her family holding it all together, even though the stickyness of that glue is waining along with her resillience as the weight of pressure, conveyed so well by Milly Johnson gets to her more and more, making its impact. You get the feeling that so much has shaped her life and is still shaping it, but not necessarily as she would have planned.

#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 of The Meeting Point By Olivia Lara @olilara_writes @Aria_Fiction #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction

The Meeting Point
By Olivia Lara

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Meeting Point, newly published, is a book within a book in some respects and is great for romantics and those who love cafes.

Blurb

The Meeting Point LBT P3What if the Lift driver who finds your cheating boyfriend’s phone holds the directions to true love?

‘Who are you and why do you have my boyfriend’s phone?’

‘He left it in my car. You must be the blonde in the red dress? I’m the Lift driver who dropped you two off earlier.’

And with these words, the life of the brunette and t-shirt wearing Maya Maas is turned upside down. Having planned to surprise her boyfriend, she finds herself single and stranded in an unknown city on her birthday.

So when the mystery driver rescues Maya with the suggestion that she cheers herself up at a nearby beach town, she jumps at the chance to get things back on track. She wasn’t expecting a personalised itinerary or the easy companionship that comes from opening up to a stranger via text, let alone the possibility it might grow into something more…

Review

The book has such an intriguing beginning. It instantly pulls you into the imagination of Maya Mass and instantly you’ve jumped into the imagination of Maya Mass, who is creating a story. The Meeting Point begins as a story within a story. It instantly draws you in because it is written, especially at the beginning, like you’re watching something unfold on a screen or like a trailer for a movie on the first page. Then you get to know who Maya Mass actually is. There is the impression she relies on her imagination to get through life and because there is an element of lonliness and some hard times, so she creates characters and their lives inside her head and scribbles them down as readers are again pulled into her imaginative worlds, as well as her own life. Soon Maya’s life turns into something as strange and interesting as her imagination. It all starts with the opening of a text from someone not know and all becomes like amazing serendipity as it really opens up her life and brings some real colour as she begins to also live again outside her imagination too, not that she loses that of course. Just all seems to fit more together in a healthier way. Not, of course that it is as simple as that. 

The book whisks readers to a whole year later and Maya isn’t at all happy and makes you wonder how come and it shows that even in a romance, such as this, the whimsical warmth of the possibility of romance, a job, isn’t all perfect. There are also the stresses of relationships and how the emotions can feel so complicated with romance and what to feel about the former boyfriend and a new guy on the scene – Ethan Delphy, who Maya isn’t entirely happy with and writes to this American author and you can feel the frustrating when the reply is not directly from him. She is then compelled to track him down, encouraged by publishing friend – Ailsa.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the book and wonder if things will come good for Maya or not and it’s hard not to hope that they do, but there are some love/hate relationships going on, that it’s easy to just hope get sorted out one way or another and that she gets what she wants, but she has to make some decisions on that first. It’s interesting to see where The Meeting Point is and what then unfolds from that.

This is a delightful book for the romantics and for people who also like to hear about snippets of conversations about other books and going to lovely cafes. It’s a lovely relaxing and entertaining read for the most part. 

The Meeting Point WR poster

#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.