Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

A Parcel for Anna Browne
A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson
Published: 24th September 2015
Publisher: Pan
Pages: 501
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
The gift of a lifetime?

Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn't exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more . . .

When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift - one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her - and her life starts to change.

But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?
Anna Browne is just an ordinary girl going out about her everyday life as a receptionist at the Daily Messenger a tabloid newspaper in London .She just hopes to blend in and have an easy life. But someone believes Anna deserves more from her life and soon beautifully wrapped parcels begin to arrive for Anna from a mystery sender. The parcels are beautiful and remind Anna of happier times from her childhood. With each new parcel Anna grows in confidence and her everyday life begins to get more exciting as Anna edges out of her comfort zone.
As Anna tries to work out who the mystery sender is she begins to come closer to two men in her life.  Straight talking next door neighbour Jonah Rawdon and flighty but handsome news reporter Ben McAra, both have feelings for Anna but does she have feelings for either? Will Anna find out who is sending the mystery gifts? Will she find out why?
A Parcel for Anna Browne is the latest enchanting tale from Miranda Dickinson, it’s a book I’ve been very much looking forward to reading as I’m a girl who loves getting parcels (even the ones I’ve paid for), so to read about someone receiving beautiful mystery gifts for no reason was very intriguing and an ideal plot for a good story.
I found the initial chapters a little slow as nothing much happens, but in these we get to know Anna and her everyday life with her friends and colleagues. Anna is essentially a “nice” girl, she doesn’t say anything bad about anyone, she avoids confrontation, she agrees with people just to keep the peace. At first I did find her a little boring as a main character but after the first parcel arrives she begins to change and gradually take steps out of her comfort zone she begins to believe she is worth more and that she matters. This slowly turned her into a stronger character, who is not afraid to stand up for herself and make herself heard, this Anna I liked very much. What made her endearing was she even when she was more confident she was still a good person who was able to forgive and see the good in people…well most people.
The thing I really enjoyed in this book were all the extra characters, each which have been given their own personality and felt very real. My personal favourites were security guard Ted and fellow receptionist Sheniece, I just loved the easy banter between them and they way they both obviously cared about Anna very much.
A Parcel for Anna Browne is a story which celebrates ordinary people and what makes them special. It is a novel full of mystery and intrigue with a sprinkle of romance and I loved the message it gives us. That each and every one of us has the choice to live our own life and be the best we can be. I think this is the perfect heart-warming, feel good read to curl up with this autumn. I’d like to thank Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for the chance to review this delightful novel and I rate it 4 out 5.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Misadventures of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow

The Misadventures of a Playground Mother
The Misadventures of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow
Published: 11th September 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 300
Available on Kindle
New term. New dramas. New friendships. And that’s just the parents…

After a year of country living, Rachel Young is finally getting into the swing of things. Her four kids are happy and content at the village school, and she’s managed to navigate the choppy (shark-infested) waters of the playground mafia.

Or… so she thought.

When playground mum Penelope Kensington moves herself and her kids into Rachel’s home, after discovering husband Rupert has been having an affair, Rachel knows she must ask them politely to leave. The problem is, Penelope never takes no for an answer.

As Rachel tries to deal with Penelope, she also meets new school mum Melanie. Melanie is a breath of fresh air, but her arrival sends ripples of gossip through the playground. Melanie has a few secrets in her closet, and it seems she’s not the only one…
The Misadventures of a Playground Mother is Christie Barlow’s second novel featuring mum of four Rachel Young and her adventures in the playground in the village of Tattersfield. If you read the first novel then like me you will have been longing to find out what happened after Rupert was a little too honest on New Year’s Eve.  Luckily for me I already had a copy of the second novel already to go so I could dive straight in. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first book (but you really should its brilliant!) Christie gives us enough background information in the first couple of chapters so you can work out who is who and what happened previously.
I think I loved this one even more than the first book. Penelope has become even worse for Rachel to deal with, subjecting her to tacky speed dating, airport hysterics and meltdowns at the school fair. I really liked the introduction of new character Melanie and liked that Rachel was able to make a normal friend to counteract Penelope’s craziness. It was also good to read about the little romance blooming between Melanie and the hunky farrier.
The Misadventures of a Playground Mother is a book which echoes the reality of the playground and vamps it up making for a thoroughly enjoyable read. All the way the book you’re just longing for Rachel to tell Penelope No!! As the book comes full circle back to New Year’s Eve Penelope finally gets her comeuppance and it’s just perfect for her!
As a sequel this is just as good as Christie’s first novel and one I enjoyed immensely. I love her to revisit Rachel’s life again, but if not I’m sure her next novel will be just as brilliant and one I can’t wait to read.
I’d like to thank Bookouture for sending me a review copy though Netgalley and give this book 5 out 5.  

A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow

A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother
A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow
Published: 9th June 2014
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 336
Available on Kindle
A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A PLAYGROUND MOTHER Ever had the pleasure of collecting your children from the school playground? Even if you haven't this is a hilarious must read. A month by month comical tale of a young mother fighting for her place in the world against the backdrop of the Playground Mafia. As her life unfolds and she takes us through from one amusing anecdote to another the characters come to life. There is Penelope who has a lot more going on in her life than she bargained for and Mrs Noland who has a lot less than she claims, not to mention Rupert who is a VERY busy man. With Mrs High School Musical, The International Sex God and The Frisky Pensioner, the characters are undeniably fascinating and leave you compelled to read more. Who knew that one false move in the playground, one step in the wrong direction or smile at the wrong person could lead to such complications? The witty one liners and side splitting stories will keep you amused from beginning to end. Lively and entertaining, a hilarious comedy that every playground mother can relate to.
A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother follows life of Rachel Young as she leaves behind the bitchiness and competition of the suburban mothers and sets off for a quiet life in the county…or so she thought. Instantly Rachel is catapulted into the extreme madness of the playground mothers in Tattersfield, a small village and unwittingly she befriends probably the maddest and most competitive person of them all Penelope Kensington. As the school year progresses will Rachel make it out sane or will she succumb to the playground mafia.
I loved this book so much, it’s probably one of the funniest books I’ve ever read with the most annoying characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about: Penelope Kensington. Imagine every annoying thing that a primary school mother can do and this woman will do it and no one will stand in her way as she just doesn’t understand the word NO. Penelope is a woman who you just love to hate and throughout reading this book you will just want to shout NO PENELOPE!! Many, many times. Poor, poor Rachel being stuck with her, the woman deserves a medal!
This was a hilarious and quick read for me as the writing style is very easy flowing. It felt like Rachel was telling me the story herself over a coffee and it was very addictive. I also loved the way so much happened, there was constantly some drama taking place, usually with Penelope at the centre of it and dragging Rachel along for the ride.
I was lucky that I was able to read the follow on book for this straight after as there was a cliff-hanger ending that just made me desperate to find out what was going to happen. So I would definitely suggest you pick up this book and its sequel Misadventures of a Playground Mother and read them back to back.
I loved this book and rate it 5/5, one to share around the playground with your fellow mums.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Book Review - The Last Kiss Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

The Last Kiss Goodbye
The Last Kiss Goodbye by Tasmina Perry
Published: 10th September 2015
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 383
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
Everyone remembers their first kiss. But what about the last?

1961. Journalist Rosamund Bailey is ready to change the world. When she meets explorer and man about town Dominic Blake, she realises she has found the love of her life. Just as happiness is in their grasp, the worst happens, and their future is snatched away.

2014. Deep in the vaults of a museum, archivist Abby Morgan stumbles upon a breathtaking find. A faded photograph of a man saying goodbye to the woman he loves. Looking for a way to escape her own heartache, Abby becomes obsessed with the story, little realising that behind the image frozen in time lies a secret altogether more extraordinary.
The Last Kiss Goodbye is the latest novel by Tasmina Perry and I think it is her best yet. This novel like her previous novel The Proposal (I’ve still to read this one yet…my bad) is written with a dual time aspect, which is a different style to her previous high glamour novels but done in the usual addictive Tasmina Perry writing style.
The Last Kiss Goodbye starts in 1961 with Rosamund Bailey, a young activist set on changing the world, until she meets Dominic Blake political journalist and born explorer. As two fall in love and begin to plan a future together tragedy strikes the unlucky pair.
Fast forward to 2014 and Abby Gordon an archivist is putting together an exhibition of British explorers when she discovers a photograph of two young lovers saying goodbye. Deeply moved by the photograph Abby sets out to discover who the people in the photograph are. She then meets Rosamund Bailey, the woman in the photograph and sets out to discover what exactly happened to Dominic Blake after that last kiss goodbye.
Abby was a character who instantly made her way into my heart, she’s suffering from heartbreak after discovering husband Nick has an affair and I think she was determined to use the photograph as proof of everlasting love to sooth her broken heart. I was longing for her to give Nick another chance and let them become a family again.
Rosamund came across as slightly harsh with her opinions in the 1961 chapters. After she meets Dominic you can begin to see her soften a little as she falls in love and who can blame her – if a handsome man whisked me away to Paris I’m sure I’d fall for him in such a romantic place.
I found this novel to be beautifully written and the romance in it is subtle but so moving, I think it will be hard to read without feeling a little pull at the heart strings. The ending was perfect and I think captured the overall essence of the story wonderfully.
I’m really excited to see that one of my favourite authors has taken the leap into historical fiction as dual time frame novel are my favourite to read and The Last Kiss Goodbye is a perfect example of this. I’m quite glad I still have The Proposal to read as I know I’m going to love it! I can’t wait to read Tasmina’s next novel as I’m sure it will be brilliant.
Thank you so much to Headline and bookbridgr for sending me a copy to review, I adored this book and give it 5/5.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Book Review - The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson

The Wedding Cake Tree
The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson
Published: 7th  April 2015 (Paperbacck Edition)
Publisher: Choc Lit UK
Pages: 384 pages
Available on Kindle and in Paperback
Can a mother’s secret past provide the answers for a daughter’s future?
Celebrity photographer Grace Buchanan has always known that, one day, she’d swap her manic day job for the peace and quiet of her beloved childhood cottage, St Christopher’s – she just didn’t expect it to be so soon.
At the reading of her mother’s will, she’s shocked to learn that she hardly knew Rosamund at all, and that inheriting St Christopher’s hangs on one big – and very inconvenient – condition: Grace must drop everything for two weeks and travel the country with a mysterious stranger – war-weary Royal Marine, Alasdair Finn.
Caught in a brief but perfect moment in time, Grace and Alasdair walk in Rosamund’s footsteps and read her letters at each breathtaking new place. As Grace slowly uncovers the truth about her mother’s incredible life story, Alasdair and Grace can’t help but question their own futures. Will Rosamund’s madcap scheme go to plan or will events take an unexpected turn?
An emotional, fun-filled and adventurous journey of a lifetime.
The Wedding Cake Tree is Melanie Hudson’s first novel and I thought it was brilliantly written in a very evocative style which left me hooked until the end.
Grace Buchanan is a commercial photographer, longing for the day she can settle down in her childhood home St. Christopher’s, a cottage hidden away from the outside world. Sadly for Grace this day comes a little too soon as her mother Rosamund passes away, but before Grace can claim her inheritance she must embark on a journey planned by her mother, taking with her hunky military man Alasdair.
Grace reluctantly sets off on the journey which takes her to across England, Scotland and even Europe, at each destination Grace learns more of her mother’s past through letters Rosamund has written and slowly she begins to piece together the mystery of her mother’s life and who her father was.
As Grace and Alastair begin their journey they are quite hostile to each other but like any good romance as they begin to get to know each other they begin to have more feelings for each other which eventually become passionate. I loved the way these two interacted with each other, they didn’t want to grow emotionally attached to each other but could only fight their feelings for so long. However their road to romance wasn’t exactly smooth but one which I found very enjoyable to read about.
I think the thing I love best about this novel was the descriptions of the places visited by Grace and Alastair, it was so realistic. I have never been to Scotland and climbed a mountain but while reading about these two doing just that I felt that I had been there too. I loved the twist at the end too, which was unexpected but I think worked really well in helping Grace to finally settle in life.
The Wedding Cake Tree is a lovely novel about going on a journey to discover who you really are and where you belong in the world. I thought this was done really well and the simmering romance between Grace and Alastair was perfectly pitched to fit with the story. I’m interested to see what Melanie Hudson’s next novel is like and if she can again capture the essence of many places in one book.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Book Review - Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Second Chance Summer (Cedar Ridge, #1)
Second Chance Summer ( Cedar Ridge #1) by Jill Shalvis
Published: 30th July 2015
Publisher: Headline Eternal
Pages: 368
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Lily's been back in Cedar Ridge for less than ten minutes when she bumps into Aidan, the former love of her life. So much for sneaking back into town unnoticed. And thanks to frizzy hair and armfuls of junk food, she's turning his head for all the wrong reasons.

No one knows why Lily is home after ten years, and she's determined to stay no longer than the summer. But Cedar Ridge and Aidan have other ideas. As they set about persuading Lily to give them a second chance, she finds herself falling under the spell of the Colorado mountains ... and the one man she could never forget.
Second Chance Summer is the second novel I’ve read by Jill Shalvis and initially I was a little disappointed as it seemed to mirror the other Jill Shalvis book I have read which was Simply Irresistible. In both of these books the main heroine returns to her hometown after many years away, they then bump into an old boyfriend/ very hot guy and become overcome with lust. Luckily after a few chapters Second Chance Summer became its own story and one which I began to really enjoy.
Lily Danville has returned to Cedar Ridge her childhood home after ten years away. She’s not happy about having to return but an incident with her old job as a celebrity stylist means she’s been blacklisted almost everywhere, until her old friend Jonathon gives her a job at the Cedar Ridge resort salon. The resort is owned by the Kincaid family, one of which Lily had a huge crush on in her younger days and is now desperate to avoid. So who is the first person Lily runs into…literally...yes you’ve guessed it Mr Heartthrob himself Aidan Kincaid and almost instantly the sparks begin to fly.
All Lily wants is to hide away and battle with her guilt from her past but the more she sees Aidan the more obvious that there is some major chemistry between these two. Eventually she gives in but will she be able to conquer her feelings of guilt and will Lily and Aidan get the happy ever after that we are all hoping they will?
I loved the chemistry between the characters in this book. Lily and Aidan obviously had loads of chemistry sizzling between them and it was lovely to see Lily begin to loosen up let Aidan into her heart. I also loved the chemistry of other characters in the book, my favourites having to be the silly antic between the Kincaid brothers, I just loved the scenes with the fancy pants they made each other wear. I also enjoyed the friendly banter between Lily and Jonathon and was lovely to read about two friends so comfortable in each other’s company, even after ten years apart.
Although this is predominantly a romance novel I really enjoyed the background story that was being created around Cedar Ridge and its residents, which has left us with many questions for future books, what has happened to Jacob Kincaid? Will the Kincaid family keep their resort? What is Kenna’s background story? All of these I’m sure will be answered in future books in the series, which I am really looking forward to reading.
Second Chance Summer is a lovely romantic novel sizzling with chemistry and funny moments. It’s a story of romance, friendship, family loyalty and most of all being able to let go of the past and living for today.
I really enjoyed reading this novel and am eagerly awaiting the next Cedar Ridge book My Kind of Wonderful which is released at the end of this year.  I would rate the book 4 out of 5.
Thank you to Headline Eternal for sending me a copy to review.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Book Review -The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
Published: 27th September 2015
Publisher: Pan
Pages: 336
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
What if those you cherish harboured a secret that could break you?

Neva Bradley, a young midwife, has just learned that she is expecting. She's been present at the magical stages of many women's lives but she is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy hidden. And the weight of Neva's secret is beginning to bear down on everyone around her . . .

Neva's mother Grace finds it impossible to let the subject rest. But the more Grace presses Neva about the identity of the baby's father, the more withdrawn she becomes.

For Neva's grandmother, Floss, a retired midwife, Neva's predicament eerily mirrors events from her own past. She now must decide whether she is ready to confront a memory she's managed to supress for over fifty years.

As Neva's bump grows, it becomes harder to conceal the truth. Will each of the women reveal what has been buried for so long, or are some secrets best kept hidden?


When Sally’s Hepworth’s debut novel The Secrets of Midwives popped through my letter box I was very excited, this is exactly the sort of story I love to get lost in and discovering new authors is always exciting. After the first couple of chapters I was completely engrossed in the story of these three women and well I lost the rest of the day while I finished it.

The Secrets of Midwives tells us the story of Neva, Grace and Floss who are three generations of a family of midwives. Neva Bradley the daughter is pregnant and at thirty weeks is desperately trying to hide the pregnancy from her family to avoid all the questions and fuss as the baby has no father. Grace, the mother is determined to find out the father of her daughters baby and doesn’t see how her questions are causing rifts between the family members. For Floss the grandmother, Neva’s situation is forcing her to face her past, something she is not certain she is ready to do.

The Secrets of Midwives is told in alternative chapters between these three women as they battle with the secrets they are hiding. I loved that each voice was easily distinguishable, something which I feel was very clever given that the three women are related and are all midwives (or retired midwives) and they do lead similar lives.

I really enjoyed all three of these women and as their secrets came out, some which are expected and some which are not I felt a bond with all three of them. I loved reading about when Floss was younger and the events which led her to keep a secret for almost sixty years…now that takes willpower.

The author obviously knows lot about midwifery and particularly childbirth as there are a couple of scenes which are very detailed, a little too much maybe for the squeamish among us. She has also managed to capture with her beautiful writing just how magical the moments after childbirth are when you finally get to gaze on your little ones face and are filled with love instantly.

I loved everything about this book, the characters are lovely and the descriptions of places and events are very realistic, making me feel like I was there too. I loved that all the way through the book there are questions that need answering such as who is the father of Neva’s baby? And what exactly is Floss hiding? Both which I felt were answered very well right at the end of the book in a brilliant ending to a fabulous book.  I have adored Sally’s writing style and am eagerly going to be awaiting her next novel Things We Keep which will be out in 2016.

Thank you so much to Pan for sending me a copy to review, a well-deserved 5 out 5!


Friday, 4 September 2015

Book Review - Stirred With Love by Marcie Steele

Stirred with Love
Stirred With Love by Marcie Steele
Published: 3rd September 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Sometimes the best friends can be found where you least expect them …

Still grieving after the loss of her beloved husband, Lily Mortimer is determined to do something with the time she has left.

After the end of her fairytale marriage, thirty-something Kate is trying hard to mend her broken heart.

Chloe, a young woman with the world at her feet, is struggling to know what to do with her life.

When Lily embarks on a new venture in the picturesque town of Somerley, the three women come together to open The Coffee Stop, the most charming café for miles around.

But opening a coffee shop is never as simple as it seems, especially when you add neighbouring competition, local heart throbs and heartbreak to the mix.

When tragedy strikes, can the three women pull together to make the new business fly, or will Lily’s last chance disappear down the drain along with yesterday’s coffee grinds?
Stirred With Love by Marcie Steele (aka Mel Sherratt of crime fiction fame) is the story of three very different women coming together at crucial points in their lives, and reopening a coffee shop.
 Lily the shop owner has just lost her husband and is looking to revamp her coffee shop for a newer market so advertises for staff to help her run the place, with the promise of good prospects for the right candidate. First comes Kate, a thirty-two year old who’s just split up with her husband and looking for a fresh start in a new town. Then there is Chloe an eighteen year old diva looking for some fun before her A-level results come out and she finally has to decide what to do about her future. This unlikely trio soon find they have formed a strong bond both with each other but also with The Coffee Stop itself, which soon becomes home for them all.
I really enjoyed reading about each of the women’s journeys as they each experienced some highs and lows. I did feel that some of the relationships with Jake and Will particularly were a little rushed and I would have liked a little bit more time to digest what was happening. My favourite character was Lily as she seemed the consistent with her views. Kate was initially wanting to leave her husband and then became upset when he left her which I didn’t understand. Chloe wanted to be treated like a grown up but I felt she showed her immaturity on many occasions.
I did feel that although Stirred With Love has some moments which made me laugh and cry, which I enjoyed, it was just another coffee shop story which I have read many times before and nothing stood out to make this different.
Stirred With Love is an easy read and one which I read over a couple of evenings, it’s a story of friendships, new beginnings and having the confidence to believe you can do what you want.
I would like to thank Bookouture and Netgalley for my review copy and I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Book Review - The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jeffries
Published: 3rd September 2015
Publisher: Penguin UK
Pages: 418
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Two newlyweds: practically strangers, deeply in love, and each hiding a secret from the other...
Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamship in Ceylon eager to begin her new life as a married woman. But the husband who greets her is distant, secretive and brooding. Laurence is forever away working, leaving his young English bride to explore the vast tea plantation alone. Wandering into forbidden places, Gwen finds locked doors, trunks filled with dusty dresses, a tiny overgrown grave - clues to a hidden, unspeakable past.
Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but in the delivery room she is faced with a terrible choice - one she must hide from Laurence at all costs. When the time comes to reveal the truth, how will he ever forgive what she has done?
The Tea Planter’s Wife follows the story of Laurence and Gwen Hooper as they return to Ceylon to begin married life.  As soon I began reading this book I knew it was going to be special, the descriptive language used in the first chapter instantly transported me onto the boat arriving in Columbo alongside Gwen. The author has captured the true essence of Ceylon perfectly right down to the cinnamon and jasmine in the air masking the underlying smell of the sewage, which made me feel like I was living the story.
As the newly- weds begin their married life, Laurence becomes distant as Gwen begins to feel uncertain of her future, especially as she discovers things which begin to make her question Laurence’s past – hidden graves, locked rooms, things hinted but left unsaid by her maid and sister in law Verity. Soon Gwen finds herself pregnant and Laurence is overjoyed but on the night she gives birth Gwen gets a terrible shock and is faced with a difficult decision, one which will alter their lives forever.
This book is so much more than just a marital saga it deals with jealously, conflict, prejudices, tragedy and secrets. I particularly loved the way the author has captured the historical elements of the period including the workers unrest on the tea plantations, the prejudices of mixed race marriages and the impact of the 1929 stock market collapse, it really added to the realism of the story.
It’s also a book which affected me with all the emotions in it, Gwen and Laurence are lovely characters and so in love with each other and so eager to keep each other happy that they don’t completely reveal everything to each other, this leads to tragedy that could so easily be avoided if they’d just opened up a little more. I felt my heart breaking along with Gwen’s as she has to decide what to do and so many times I was longing for her to tell Lawrence.
This is exactly the type of book that I adore, it full of romance, with a historical element and elements of mystery all bound together by brilliant writing. The Tea Planter’s Wife is definitely one of my favourite books of 2015 and I cannot wait to read more from this wonderful writer.
Thank you so much to Penguin UK for sending me a copy to review, I loved everything about his book and give it a very well deserved 5/5!