#BookReview THE 24 HOUR CAFE by LIBBY PAGE

ABOUT THE BOOK

Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.

Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed…

PUBLISHED BY ORION

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon 

whsmith

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

I found myself totally captivated by the goings on of the staff and customers of Stella’s, a 24 hour cafe by Liverpool Street Station, that becomes a ‘family’ to those who frequent it, however briefly! There’s a story behind everyone and it was so fascinating to be a ‘people watcher’ with each chapter, while the main story revolves around the 2 waitresses – Hannah and Mona. Best friends and flat mates, who both moved to London with different artistic dreams but their career paths haven’t quite gone to plan, but they still live in hope despite constant disappointment!

They work long shifts so there’s a lot of time for them to reflect on their pasts and to look forward to what they hope, as well as connect with the different characters that they see come into the cafe. There’s Dan who is a student and still coming to terms with the death of his mother, and finding it difficult to ask for help financially. A chance chat with an insomniac writer also in the cafe brings him some hope, and it’s the coming together of people who would never normally meet up that really made this book for me. Everyone is equal in the cafe and it gives people a time to sit, take time out from the world outside and to feel safe over a cuppa or breakfast! There’s also John, the Big Issue seller, a stressed out new mum, an older couple looking forward to a new life together, the city worker losing his job and more – all really different kinds of people who have an interesting story to tell.

It also brilliantly explores the role of female friendships. Mona and Hannah were brought together when sharing a house with other friends, and they instantly hit it off and got a flat together and it is fascinating to see how their friendship evolves over the years, especially with new career opportunities and boyfriends on the scene – how sometimes the things you find most stable and comforting can quickly change in the blink of an eye.

I adored The Lido, and feel just as warmly about The 24 Hour Cafe! The author has a brilliant way of inventing characters and making them so appealing to read about – their different approaches to life and all the problems thrown in their way – and it’s a book I highly recommend!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE ICE PALACE by TARJEI VESAAS

ABOUT THE BOOK

The schoolchildren call it the Ice Palace: a frozen waterfall in the Norwegian fjords transformed into a fantastic structure of translucent walls, sparkling towers and secret chambers. It fascinates two young girls, lonely Unn and lively Siss, who strike up an intense friendship. When Unn decides to explore the Ice Palace alone and doesn’t return, Siss must try to cope with the loss of her friend without succumbing to a frozen world of her own making. 

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

This was the December book club pick for the GoodReads Group – Readalongs With Karen.

A hypnotic and haunting little book that centres around the friendship between 2 girls – very different in life experiences, but very similar in looks and feelings and how the loss of one impacts on the other.

The girls meet at school – Unn is the new girl who is lonely but there’s just something about her that fascinates Siss and they become inseparable immediately. But one day Unn doesn’t come to school and goes missing, and what follows is the story of the search for and the realisation for Siss that she’s bereft without her friend.

It really captures the isolation of grief – the utter despondency that she feels and how she thinks that nobody around her understands her feelings. Unn’s aunt provides some connection for Siss to the past and watching her trying to reach out and get Siss to open up is really touching.

It’s a short book that really makes an impact on you as a reader – it explores that spark that connects people and how even spending just a short time with them can leave such a massive hole in your life and just how important it is to have people around to make you see they are there to support you. 

★★★★

#BookReview Tin Man by Sarah Winman

About the book

This is almost a love story.

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of an overbearing father. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that. 

Published by Tinder Press

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

I didn’t think this book had captured my heart totally UNTIL the last page which I read through teary eyes and realised how much this simply beautifully written book had crept inside my soul, and I’d lived the lives of these characters alongside them and felt every high and low of life with them.

It’s not a simple story of love but one of friendship, adoration and grief. Told from the point of view of both Michael and Ellis, it follows both men over the years and the impact that their connection has on each other, and also how the role of Annie is so pivotal and important to both men and their relationships. The 3 of them are integral to one another.

It features the tougher parts of their lives as they both are trying to figure out how their pasts have affected their behaviour and emotions – whether they are shutting out feelings or behaving erratically in their later lives – and it is tenderly dealt with by the author who gives them space to breathe and discover themselves.

Incredibly this book is only just over 200 pages long and packs so much in to keep your heart and mind captivated. Stunning.

🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon #bookreview

THE BLURB

There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.
84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As shewaits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come tolight; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly aman who died sixty years ago?
From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach youmany things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

PUBLISHER –  The Borough Press

PUBLICATION DATE – 11th January 2018

AUTHOR WEBSITE – https://joannacannon.com/

Quick Links to buy;

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Waterstones

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

This is the book that I chose to read to say farewell to 2017 and hello to 2018…. and what a way to start the year!! It was wonderful!!! And if you loved The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, as I did, then you are in for a treat as this was just as fabulous, if not a little bit better – if that is even possible! And I’m very grateful to Waterstones for sending me my pre-order earlier than release date!!

This is the story of Florence who we find on the floor of her living room floor in the sheltered accommodation awaiting someone to come in and help her. As she is waiting we get to hear her background of her time in Cherry Tree along with her best friend, Elsie, along with the stories of those who work there and other residents.

She is an extremely astute and witty woman, despite the fact that her memory is beginning to fail her leading to the fact that those around her doubt things she says and notices. So when a new resident appears that she recognises, it falls on deaf ears when she tries to explain just who this character is and what impact he had on her past. The threat of being moved to a different care home hangs over her if she doesn’t improve memory and behaviour wise, and this is something that Florence really struggles with and causes her even more doubts.

It’s a story of characters who are all evaluating their lives – as we all do – have the things we’ve done meant anything to anyone? The author really captures that doubt that affects us all of what we contribute to the world, be it big or small, and nothing summed this up more for me than when the residents watched as a room was being cleared when one resident dies and they await a new one. The sadness it made them feel that all those things that meant so much to one person were just swept aside.

The mystery at the heart of the book was also a fascinating and clever one. The way the characters came together to revisit the past was the reason I couldn’t put this book down once I’d picked it up! 453 pages in one sitting! ! I love finding books that make you put real life on pause – even just for one night!!

I was an emotional sobbing mess by the end of this book and that is how much all the characters came to mean to me! Definitely going to be on of my books of 2018 – already!! Loved it!!!!!

You need this book in your life!! Believe me!!! Ooh and the cover is gorgeous so would make for a fabulous addition to your bookshelves – so what more excuse do you need!!!

HAPPY READING!!

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams – book review

THE BLURB

Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien graduate in 1998, into a world on the brink of the new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and keen to shrug off the socialist politics of her childhood, Eva breaks away to work at a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to do a physics PhD, and siblings Sylvie and Lucien pursue more freewheeling existences–she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partier. But as their dizzying twenties become their thirties, the once close-knit friends, now scattered and struggling to navigate thwarted dreams, lost jobs and broken hearts, find themselves drawn together once again in stunning and unexpected ways. Breathtaking in scope, this is sure to be the book of the summer.

Amazon UK £7.99 paperback

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore £6.09 paperback

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Adams is half Australian but has lived in England for most of her life. She grew up in a house without a TV and as a result became a voracious reader. Career-wise, she’s done everything from waitressing to working in investment banking, and in addition to a BA in philosophy and an MA has a multitude of maths, finance and computer programming qualifications. She lives in North London but escapes into the wilderness as often as possible.

Website


TWITTER      

   @Alice_Adams

 

 

MY REVIEW

I always find it refreshing to stumble across a book out of the blue and not expect much from it, and then you find yourself swept along in an intoxicating look at the world through the eyes of 4 friends from the beginning of their friendship in Bristol, 1995 right the way through to a beach in Dorset in 2015! This was such a book and I’m very glad it found me!!

The 4 friends are Eva, Lucien, Sylvie and Benedict – all very different personalities (Lucien and Sylvie are siblings) but drawn together through University where they set out with different dreams and ambitions and this book cleverly documents the stages they all go through over the next 20 years.

The book gives you brief snapshots in the most memorable times of their lives – the highs and the lows of which there are plenty – and how the group of friends are very much part of each others’ lives even if the years have taken them to different places and further away from each other. It is full of the angst of growing up and how they all see themselves progressing in life, to the reality of life and things not turning out quite how you expect. The ones you expect to succeed don’t always reach their potential, and it’s how they deal with it through the years that keeps you turning the pages to see what journey their lives will take them on next.

Each character gets plenty of time for the reader to embrace, and setting it against real life events really helps you set the scene and capture the moment during their lives. I really felt invested in their lives and how they got to reassess what is important to them depending on what was thrown at them throughout.

There is sadness, laughter, flirting, fallings out, marriages, divorce, dealings with the law, depression, success, despair, new arrivals and old secrets and how 4 people find their place in the world and I just found it to be a fabulous read that I devoured in one sitting!! Highly recommended!!

 

Thank you to Alice May Dewing at Picador books for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.