#BookReview THE ISLAND GIRLS by NOELLE HARRISON #TheIslandGirls

ABOUT THE BOOK

I guess our life on the island was one which never fit you right. I like to imagine you some days when I look out the window across the harbour, all those miles of sea and land between us. But, sister, we are always connected.


When young nurse Emer loses her beloved sister, she is haunted by grief and desperate to escape her memories. Taking a job in Vinalhaven, a rocky outpost in the wild Atlantic, feels like the refuge she so badly needs.
Her patient, 

Susannah, has lived in isolation for many years, since the tragic death of her sister Kate caused her to withdraw from island life. However, when Emer discovers a bundle of letters in a rainbow quilt in her bedroom and shares the story of her own loss, Susannah opens up. She begins to tell the story of Kate’s brutal and secret past, and her marriage to a man with a heart as cold as the ocean.


But when Emer starts asking locals about Kate, the island air sizzles with hostility. There are people who would rather that Susannah kept quiet, who have no qualms about threatening Emer. But despite the warnings to stay away, Emer is determined to find out what really happened the night Kate died – and the final secret that is keeping Susannah a prisoner to the past.


An unputdownable and unforgettable story of impossible choices and two sisters who would do anything for one another. Set on a bewitching sea-scented island, The Island Girls will burrow into your heart. Perfect for fans of Lisa Wingate, Anita Shreve and The Light Between Oceans.


PUBLISHED BY BOOKOUTURE


PURCHASE LINK

Amazon


MY REVIEW

So much love for this book!! I adored the story of Emer and the prickly Susannah, as they both face up to extremely difficult pasts and find ways of moving forward.

Emer is on a boat and running away. Grieving for her sister Orla, she wants to right some wrongs and needs to do that away from memories of the past. So she gets a job nursing the terminally ill Susannah, a stubborn old woman who is convinced she doesn’t need any help and resents the intrusion of this new person in her life. Emer has time to explore the local surroundings with her nursing duties, and makes an impression on some of the locals immediately.

And then we have the story of Susannah, and we look back on her childhood in the 1950’s as she grows up with her sister Kate, who is the apple of her mothers eye. Whatever Susannah does is never good enough, and when she wants to take a different path that what her mother, and society, expects then she’s even more of a black sheep of the family. It was so fascinating to see Susannah and her struggles to live her own life. Imagine being discouraged from wanting to better yourself and be more than just a housewife and mother!

The more time Susannah and Emer spend together then the more the similarities about their pasts and their relationships with their sisters are explored and I loved the different storylines as they both played out. The stories take quite a dark twist at times and I enjoyed the suspense and drama that added to the mix!

It’s a story about the bond between sisters, about grief, about regret, not following the path others plan for you and I highly recommend it!


★★★★★

#BlogTour THE GARDEN OF LOST MEMORIES by RUBY HUMMINGBIRD #BookReview @bookouture @BOTBSPublicity

Hugely excited to be taking part in the Blog Tour today for the wonderful THE GARDEN OF LOST MEMORIES by RUBY HUMMINGBIRD. My thanks to the author, publisher and Sarah of https://twitter.com/BOTBSPublicity for letting me be part of the tour and putting it all together!

Book Description:


Just because you feel ordinary doesn’t mean you aren’t extraordinary to someone else.
Sixty-two-year-old Elsie knows what she likes. Custard creams at four o’clock, jigsaw puzzles with a thousand pieces, her ivy-covered, lavender-scented garden.


Ten-year-old Billy would rather spend his Saturdays kicking a ball, or watching TV, or anything really, other than being babysat by his grumpy neighbour Elsie and being force fed custard creams.


If it was up to them, they’d have nothing to do with each other. Unfortunately, you can’t choose who you live next door to.
But there is always more to people than meets the eye…


Elsie doesn’t know that Billy’s afraid to go to school now, or why his mother woke him up in the middle of the night with an urgent shake, bags already packed, ready to flee their home.
Billy doesn’t know that the rusting red tin he finds buried in Elsie’s treasured garden is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode her carefully organised life. And that when he digs it up, he is unearthing a secret that has lain dormant for twenty-eight years…


This moving tale is for anyone who has ever felt the pang of loneliness, or worried that their broken heart might never be the same again. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Keeper of Lost Things and The Library of Lost and Found will fall head over heels for this life-affirming novel that shows us that if you’re willing to take a risk, happiness is only ever a heartbeat away.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruby Hummingbird is a novelist based in the English countryside. She loves nothing more than writing uplifting and heartwarming fiction that gets her readers reaching for the tissues. When she isn’t storytelling, she can be found tending to her beloved sunflowers or sipping on hazelnut lattes.
@HummingbirdRuby

Buying Links:


Amazon: https://bit.ly/2WQVYiJ

Apple Books: https://apple.co/33QZRpk

Kobo:  https://bit.ly/3amwGNh

Google Play: https://bit.ly/3bqY3Wr


MY REVIEW


Stick a garden in a book and I’m immediately interested! Throw in a wonderful character in the form of Elsie and the unlikeliest of friendships of forming, and I’m smitten!! I adored this book and really took these characters to my heart!

Elsie lives alone, is elderly and gets through each day with her routines, doing her best to avoid the ‘chit chat’ of neighbours or people she bumps into at the shops.  She’s also prone to making judgements about people before knowing the real story, and she finds herself doing that with her new neighbours.  10 year old Billy lives with his mum next door and they’ve moved away from his Dad. He’s scared, frustrated and being bullied at school so he often lashes out at the wrong person and definitely isn’t a fan of being left in the care of Elsie when his mum has to go out to work.  She seems strange to him, sees her talking to herself and would rather be anywhere else but there! But something magical happens when she gets him to help her in her beloved garden that has become a little too much for her to cope with.  And this healing power of a garden was one thing that really connected with me. It gives you the chance to focus on something else in the world and it does Elsie and Billy the power of good, especially with the outside world causing them so much suffering.

When they uncover a tin buried in the garden, it leads to an extraordinary journey for the both of them and it was just so uplifting to see them heading out together to piece together the pieces of memories left behind in this tin.  Elsie is reluctant to visit one place but Billy goes by himself and makes a new friend and he starts to believe in himself again and feel less angry at the world.

This is a story that pulls on the heartstrings and shines the spotlight on how important it is not to judge people on first impressions.  I enjoyed watching the story of their pasts unfold, and how coming together helped them all move on.  Wonderful!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE MISSING LETTERS OF MRS BRIGHT by BETH MILLER @bookouture

ABOUT THE BOOK

You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

An emotional and heart-warming novel for anyone who knows it’s never too late to look for happiness. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineA Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will fall in love with this feel-good and moving story that shows you that the best friendships truly last forever.

PUBLISHED BY BOOKOUTURE

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

A beautifully written book that had me reading through tears at times! It’s a story of a woman who has decided her life isn’t what she thought it was going to be and makes that brave leap from a safe and routine life, to following her dreams and finding out that there is more to life and how her actions also end up waking up the rest of her family from living life in slumber and learning to take chances.

When Kay decides to leave her husband, Richard, of almost 30 years the shock waves are felt far and wide – even she doesn’t know why she’s picked this moment but it’s something she knows that she needs to do.  She escapes to her bolthole in Wales to figure out things, while her daughter moves back to help her dad adjust to this news.

Throughout the book we get to see letters that Kay has written to Bear over the years, and we discover the identity of Bear when Kay goes to visit her in Australia. The women have been friends since school and it’s clear that they share everything with one another. Friendship is a big thing for Kay – she relies on Rose too to help her through and they’re always seemingly honest with her about whatever she has planned – they’re not afraid to burst her bubble if her plans get too out there!

We also hear from her daughter, Stella, who is dealing with her own issues in her relationship and work life and it was interesting to see how she had inherited that strong bond with her family from her mum, but still couldn’t work out what her mum was playing at and shows how complex that mother/daughter relationship can be at times.  You could feel the frustration from Stella especially as to why was her mum doing these things now – was this a mid life crisis thing?!

This was a book about being brave!  What happens if you step outside your comfort zone and grab hold of new chances in life and it was so inspiring. It also faces those ‘what if’ moments we all have  looking back over our lives and how just being honest can mean new starts for everyone. It was emotional and touching and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all these characters and I look forward to reading more from this author!

★★★★

#BookReview THE WISH LIST OF ALBIE YOUNG by RUBY HUMMINGBIRD @bookouture

ABOUT THE BOOK

This unmissable, unforgettable book will crack your heart in two and piece it back together again. Have a packet of tissues handy…

Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can float to the top.

Maria Birch is seventy years old and, for her, every week is the same.

On Monday, she does her weekly shop. On Tuesday, she goes for a blow-dry. On Wednesday, she visits the laundrette. But Thursday is her favourite day of all – everything hurts less on a Thursday.

Every Thursday Maria walks to her local café. Waiting for her at one of the red gingham-topped tables is Albie Young, a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and an impressive collection of tweed flat caps. Every week, the pair share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea.

Except, one week, Albie doesn’t turn up.

When Maria finds out what has happened, her perfectly ordered life is ripped apart at the seams. Suddenly, she is very lonely. Without her Thursday friend – her only friend – she no longer has the energy to circle the weekly TV listings, she has no reason to leave her apartment, no reason to laugh.

Then she discovers that Albie isn’t who she thought he was, and she’s left wondering if she knew her friend at all. But Albie has left behind a legacy – a handwritten list of wishes he never got the chance to complete.

Maria is resigned to facing the rest of her days heartbroken and alone. But fulfilling Albie’s wishes could hold the key to her happiness – if only she’s able to look past his secret…

This life-affirming and heartfelt tale is for anyone who has ever looked at their life and wanted more. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things will love this poignant story, which shows us that for the truest loves, the end is never really the end…

Published by Bookouture

Publication Date – 12th November 2019

PRE-ORDER LINK

Amazon UK – 99p

MY REVIEW

Spoiler alert – books about old people always make me cry! And you’ll have to have a heart of stone if you don’t find yourself shedding a tear or two during this stunning debut from Ruby Hummingbird that captures beautifully those little moments that often end up meaning the most and how just a simple action can start a wonderful chain reaction off, bringing hope to those who need it.

It’s set in Brighton, and we follow the story of Maria.  She lives alone and has a weekly routine that she sticks to rigidly – Thursday is her favourite day though after a chance encounter with a man in a cafe, means she now meets up with him every Thursday for tea, cake and a chat.  Until one day he doesn’t show and she’s devastated to lose that connection.

When she receives a call from a lawyer, the truth about Albie is revealed and it was heartbreaking to see how Maria reacted to the news. But Albie has done something rather wonderful for her and her life and routine is set to change, if only she can cope with the loss.

With the discovery of a list that Albie left behind, she finds out he’s been a good samaritan  in his life, with a wish list where he helps a number of local people. Many of the plans he had are still unticked so she sets out to carry on his good work and starts to meet up with the people that Albie had gone out of his way to spend time with.  From a homeless man, to a troubled youngster and even to Albie’s sister, Maria starts to disover a life outside of her routine and the wonderful feeling you get when you can help someone  – it’s one of those stories that makes your heart burst with happiness when you see the positive effects a simple action can create.

Maria finds her own name on the list and ticking her ‘wishes’ off the list might prove the most difficult as she has to face some heartbreak from the past.

Maria finds that helping people isn’t always taken in the right spirit but the sense of purpose and responsibility really makes her shine, and knowing that Albie wasn’t doing these things for attention, but just to help, is just another heartwarming aspect of this whole book.  

Totally adorable and a wonderful antidote of a read to the often heartless and harsh world we are living in. A must read!!

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Bookouture and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview The Beekeeper’s Cottage by Emma Davies #thebeekeeperscottage

ABOUT THE BOOK

Comforted by the gentle hum of the beehives at the bottom of the garden, Grace drains the last of her tea and walks slowly back towards the little hillside house she adores. Her marriage is over, but is it too late to start her life again? 
Beekeeper Grace thought throwing out her cheating husband would be the hardest thing she ever did. But when she opens the door to a property developer one morning, it’s clear that keeping the beautiful home and garden – her only sanctuary throughout her miserable marriage – will be the greatest challenge of all… 
Fleeing to her best friend at the flower farm next door, Grace blurts out all her problems, only to be overheard by Amos, a handsome, free-spirited visitor in bright red Doc Martens. Fascinated by Grace and her bees, Amos offers to stay in the village of Hope Corner, to help turn her home into a guest house in return for lessons on beekeeping. 
As Grace shows Amos how to nurture a hive and harvest honeycomb without getting stung, he is charming but secretive. He never stays long in the same place after an incident in his past involving a mysterious woman named Maria. But as their eyes lock over a jar of homemade honey, Grace can’t help feeling that she’d really like him to stay… 
Determined to dispel her growing suspicion that Amos is running from something serious, Grace goes in search of the truth about Maria. But when she finds it, will she still want Amos to put down roots in Hope Corner, and will they still have a house to return to?

published by Bookouture

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This book had me at the cover! A gorgeous house set in a gorgeous garden – it’s my idea of heaven!  And with the character of Grace I also found a kindred spirit! She’s always happiest when she’s in her garden! She understands the role it plays – both in nature and in her wellbeing! The peace it gives her from the stressful world around her, and the stressful situation she finds herself in when she calls it quits on her marriage of 32 years.  How she stayed with Paul for that long is beyond me, as his behaviour through the book had me shouting at him on numerous occasions! But she’s finally had enough and stands up for herself and wants to take back control of her own life.

Her dream is to keep her home where she tends her beehives, but her ex has other ideas for the future of the house so she is left to turn to her good friends for advice and help in thinking up ways to try and keep her dreams alive.  When Amos arrives in town he has everyone talking, not least Grace and she finds herself letting him help her – he’s not one to give much away though and she finds herself intrigued by him and his backstory as he’s always quite vague when people ask him.  I found myself wondering what he was hiding too!

I adored the setting and the characters of The Beekeeper’s Cottage – the scenery was brought to life so stunningly that you could almost hear the hum of the bees and the scent of the flowers in the garden!  In her ex you have the perfect villain to get you on the side of Grace and it was lovely to have  slightly older characters as the main focus of this story showing that you can follow your dreams whatever your age!  A wonderful read!!

★★★★★

#BookReview The Shape of Us by Drew Davies

About the book

In a city of 8.8 million people, you’d be surprised. Surprised at how many times your path crosses with that stranger you spotted on the other side of the street. Surprised at how lonely living in a busy city can feel. Surprised that falling in love – against all the odds – is just about possible. 

One day in London… 

Daisy is rushing to work when a stranger on a bicycle almost knocks her over – and then asks for her number. 

JoJo, a wife in her sixties, is trying desperately to win her beloved husband back from his mistress. 

Adam has recently lost his job and lies to his housemate about where he goes every day. 

Dylan, a teenage boy, lives with an illness which means he can’t leave his bedroom – but which hasn’t stopped him falling in love. 

These four total strangers – whose paths cross in the charming and crazy city of London – have one thing in common. They’re all looking for love and they’re totally hopeless at it. But that’s about to change. 

A hilarious, uplifting and heartfelt novel about love, life and finding happiness. If you’ve ever made a mistake, suffered a break-up, waited by your phone for it to ring or loved someone from afar, then The Shape of Us is for you. A charming and joyous debut for fans of David Nicholls, Zoe Folbigg’s The Noteand Jules Preston’s The Map of Us.

Published by Bookouture

Author Website

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

This is a warm and witty story of 4 Londoners dealing with the complexities of life and love! I loved the way it was told with little snapshots of all the characters contending with all that life was throwing their way – and there’s a lot to deal with!

The range of characters also added to the enjoyment – they weren’t all young bunnies in the prime of their lives bemoaning the lack of romance in their lives. There’s JoJo who is in her 60’s and dealing with life being the other woman in her husbands’ life, and how she could have let it destroy her but choses a different path. And then there’s Dylan who is 16 and dealing with life as a teenager who has M.E and how that affects so much of his life. Being an M.E sufferer myself I really connected with many of his feelings and how he embraced the simple pleasures in life and was so grateful to those who were kind to him while he was unable to participate in life, but how he kept the fight alive in himself to keep pushing on to do what he could.

Then there’s Adam who is leading an extraordinary secretive life, unable to seemingly tell the truth to those close to him but finding kindness where he least expects it, and also Chris and Daisy who are in the early stages of their romance and all those pressures and intricacies of how quickly to push things, what to write in text messages – the do’s and don’ts of relationships!

As their lives unfold we start to see the links between them and this was really cleverly done against the backdrop of London where life is evolving constantly. You really could imagine this as a film as there is so much to connect with as readers of all ages. It shows the different stages of life and love – the getting together, the breaking up and all that goes in between!

A really intelligently written story and I look forward to more from this author in the future.

🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈

#BookReview The Paris Secret by Lily Graham #Publicationday @bookouture

About the book

On the brink of the second world war, a beautiful Parisian bookshop hides a heartbreaking secret that will tear one family apart forever …

The last time Valerie was in Paris, she was three-years-old, running from the Nazis, away from the only home she had ever known.
Now as a young woman, Valerie must return to Paris, to the bookshop and her only surviving relative, her grandfather Vincent, to find out what really happened to those she loved. As she gets to know Vincent again, she hears a tragic story of Nazi occupied Paris, a doomed love affair and a mother willing to sacrifice everything for her beloved daughter.
Can Valerie and Vincent help each other to mend the wounds of the past? Valerie isn’t after a fairy-tale ending, she only wants the truth. But what is the one devastating secret that Vincent is determined to keep from his granddaughter?

Published by Bookouture

Publication Date – 4th October 2018

Purchase Link

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

If you love a book set in Paris, based around a bookshop and featuring heartbreaking tales of family secrets then this is the book for you!

I loved the way it was told as we look back over certain points in time that were so important to the family, and that mixed with the relationships that were being formed were such a captivating mix that really added to the story.

A chance meeting on a train pairs the elderly Valerie with Annie, who strike up a conversation and Valerie gets to share her amazing story of her life as she prepares to go back to Paris where she considers home. She has led an extraordinary life so Annie is only too willing to listen.

Her past coincided with the war and she was separated from her family and sent to live with a distant relative, and she always felt like she never knew the truth of why her supposed loving family were quick to ‘get rid of her’. So in the 1960’s she travels to France to work in a Paris bookshop to get answers – but this is a very special bookshop as it is where her family lived and still do.

I loved the way how Valerie quickly settled into life in Paris and how she was so careful to keep things close to her chest whilst trying to get information from those who were around at the time of the War. When Vincent, the bookshop owner, and Madame Joubert start telling her of what exactly happened during the war when the Germans invaded Paris, you could sense the fear that they lived with but had to keep trying to live their lives as normally as possible. It must have been a truly terrifying time and there were many horrific incidents that her family had to deal with, and that helps give Valerie a true sense of the people she knew very little about. She got to hear about what her mother had to go through, along with other members of her family which really changed her perception of the people she had thought about in her mind.

I found this to be a beautifully written book. The changing timelines really worked well in setting out the family history and creating such a beguiling story. I struggled to put it down at times as I just wanted to know more and could easily have carried on reading more of this captivating story!

my thanks to the publisher and netgalley for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

❦❦❦❦❦