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…
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!!
Hello all! No sign of the sun here for a few days now – I miss it! The grey skies and drizzle are getting me down! And that normally leads to book buying…..someone stop me!!!!!
It’s been a great week for finishing off a few books with 5 finished this week and with the crap weather set to continue into the weekend it’s sounding perfect for more reading! Good news with the Persephone Mini Readathon going on, hosted by the lovely Jessie at Dwell In Possibility and the Cosy Reading Night on Saturday Night hosted by Lauren and the Books from BookTube!
I’ve been better behaved over at Netgalley this week and just a couple of Book Post items!
The simple fact of the matter is that Iris loves life. Maybe she’s forgotten that. Sometimes that happens, doesn’t it? To the best of us? All I have to do is remind her of that one simple fact.
‘A superb writer’ Irish Examiner
When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry, wife, mother and all-round worrier, is convinced something bad has happened.
And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a journey that she plans to make her last.
The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her, on a road trip that will take her, Iris and Terry’s confused father Eugene onto a ferry, across the Irish sea and into an adventure that will change all of their lives.
Somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best.
WILD DOG by SERGE JONCOUR (copy sent via Gallic Press)
publication date – April 2020
‘So original, so beautifully done, and sinister and savage. I didn’t want it to end’ Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks
When you’re confronted with a wolf, you have to think like a wolf…
Franck and Lise, a French couple in the film industry, rent a cottage in the quiet hills of the French Lot to get away from the stresses of modern life.
In this remote corner of the world, there is no phone signal. A mysterious dog emerges, looking for a new master. Ghosts of a dark past run wild in these hills, where a German lion tamer took refuge in the First World War…
Franck and Lise are confronted with nature at its most brutal. And they are about to discover that man and beast have more in common than they think.
MOLL FLANDERS by DANIEL DEFOE
copy sent from Alma Classics as part of my year subscription
The Fortunes & Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (aka Moll Flanders) is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1722. It purports to be the true account of the life of the eponymous Moll, detailing her exploits from birth until old age.
A huge delight to be able to share my thoughts on another stunning installment of the Little Duck Pond Cafe series, as part of the Blog Tour! My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!
A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Café
With Zak and Ellie’s wedding day approaching, there’s high excitement in the pretty village of Sunnybrook, especially among the Little Duck Pond Café crew. Ellie is over the moon with her romantic surprise wedding gift from Zak, and Madison is promising to organise a hen party to remember. Everyone has high hopes for a magical Christmas Eve wedding celebration at gorgeous Brambleberry Manor. (Even Maisie-Moo has a sparkling new outfit.)
But sometimes, even the best-laid plans can go wrong. And with the journey to the altar turning out to be rockier than expected, it’s going to take nothing short of a Christmas miracle to ensure a happy ending . .
Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love. Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘Bonfires & Hot Chocolate at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, is out now.
Watch out for ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, which will be published in December 2019. Rosie is also writing a full-length, standalone book for Christmas 2019, entitled ‘Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage’, which will be out in November.
It is always a delight to read a book with a smile on your face, and that’s exactly what I found myself doing with this latest installment in the Duck Pond Cafe series, as we get to meet back up with ‘old friends’ – that’s what they feel like now to me as a reader! – and see the latest goings on in the wonderful community that comes together through good and bad times.
And there’s good times on the way in the Winter Wedding, as the big day approaches for Ellie and Zak and of course things don’t run smoothly! There are last minute jitters and with Zak away a lot promoting his latest book, that means more time for Ellie to overthink things instead of just trying to enjoy herself!
There are many other characters who get featured in this book and their own trials and tribulations really add to the story. Hearing the stories from Jaz and Fen themselves adds an extra depth to this installment as each could have had their own story being the main feature. Jaz is struggling with her medical diagnosis and Fen is wondering just where her new relationship is going, despite being totally loved up and very happy!
I loved every minute of this book! There’s a great warmth and humour written into each character and you can easily picture yourself turning up in the community and finding a friend or two to hang out with and I’m already counting down the days until the next installment – Lemon Drizzle Mondays is on the way soon!! Hurry up already!!!
That’s when I literally had thoughts of becoming a nun, because I thought, Well, I’m never going to have sex again. If I become a nun, I would at least have somewhere to live.
It wasn’t just the bad break-up that caused Eleanor’s life to unravel. It was the cancer. And the demons that came with it.
Freshly single and thoroughly traumatised from the ordeals of breast cancer, Eleanor Mellett starts a new job as a teacher in a remote mountain hamlet. It’s certainly peaceful enough, almost too peaceful. But what’s become of the previous teacher, the saintly Miss Barker, who has disappeared abruptly under mysterious circumstances? And what’s with all those locks on the door? And what the hell is that bus doing idling outside her house late, late at night?
Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in Twin Peaks. Darkly funny, deeply unsettling and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday is a strange and wild ride for all fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, David Lynch and Stephen King.
If you like your books full of dark humour and with a surreal, weird vibe, then I can’t recommend this highly enough! I fell in love with Eleanor right from the off as she faces life being single and being a cancer survivor and her cynical and funny approach to life was a joy to read, especially at the beginning where I found myself laughing at her thoughts and exploits on every page! Her world just turns very dark when she finds herself in a new town as a teacher, to replace Miss Barker who has disappeared without a trace!
Talbingo is the town and has a Twin Peaks kind of vibe! There’s very little going on and often very few people around. The missing teacher was just the sweetest according to those who worked with her and the children who idolized her and her stickers, so living up to that is something that is proving very difficult for Eleanor to deal with. But she has wine!! She seems to be able to cope with anything when she’s had a drink or three!
The more she finds out about some of the children and the old teacher then the darker the story becomes! The weird stuff just keeps getting weirder and this does detract from the story a little but still makes for very entertaining but unsettling reading! In Eleanor you have a character who isn’t in the most stable of places mentally or physically and is very prone to making rash decisions, and the stuff she finds herself involved with isn’t helping keeping her from looking back on things that happened to her or helping her move on emotionally! And the characters around her aren’t what you consider normal anyway!! Wherever you think the story might go, then you’d probably be wrong!! It was one of those books that is difficult to forget once you’ve finished as you can’t believe some of the things that went on within the pages of this book!!
Sometimes the best things start in the strangest ways …. with a giggle! On a night out in Edinburgh, single mum Liza-Belle Graham finds herself revealing her hopes and dreams to a green-eyed stranger. Liza always wanted to run an “arty-crafty-booky” business, and she’s seen the perfect empty shop to make her dreams a reality. No harm in telling the stranger. It’s not like she’ll see him again …
But Scott McCreadie is no mystery man – he’s an interior designer looking for new premises. And who does Liza bump into when she arranges a viewing? None other than Scott trying to steal her perfect shop! Is Liza’s arty-crafty-booky dream in jeopardy, or is a new dream about to begin?
There’s romance, drama, fun and a cat that always steals the show – what more do you want from a book?! It’s always wonderful to reconnect with characters from the Schubert series (Every Witch Way and A Christmas Secret ) and this time with get to follow the story of single mum Liza and Scott, who is Nessa’s brother. They meet when she’s on a rare night out and there’s a spark between them, but then that could be the booze that Liza has been drinking! She opens up to him about her plans for her future business as she hopes to open an ‘arty crafty bookstore’ (don’t we all?!). He’s also on the lookout for new premises for his interior design business, and when they find themselves looking at the same place their ‘attraction’ soon becomes ‘irritation’!
When the owner of the building comes up with a compromise it’s fun to watch to see if it works out for the both of them, and with Liza’s daughter Isa becoming firm friends with both Scott and Schubert, then maybe Liza can’t be too negative about Scott for too long. He has a ‘sarky’ side but also shows himself to be very understanding and compassionate. Liza has been on her own for quite sometime now so is used to doing things her way and looking out for her daughter, so maybe someone new on the scene is a little daunting for her.
I found this latest installment in the series to be just as much fun to read as the others. I loved seeing how Schubert made his presence felt as always, and the characters in his world were just as fun to follow. It was heartwarming, dramatic and I had all the feels as the story evolved with a rather dramatic and unexpected twist!
It’s back! And I almost forgot! Oops!! Hosted by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek, it’s a chance to share a song or video you love!
So I’ve gone topical today and with talk of it being ‘BLUE MONDAY’ today as the most miserable monday of the year so far all over the radio and TV today, so I had to pick New Order! Enjoy!!
How does it feel To treat me like you do? When you’ve laid your hands upon me And told me who you are? Thought I was mistaken I thought I heard your words Tell me, how do I feel? Tell me now, how do I feel?
Those who came before me Lived through their vocations From the past until completion They’ll turn away no more And I still find it so hard To say what I need to say But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me Just how I should feel today
I see a ship in the harbor I can and shall obey But if it wasn’t for your misfortune I’d be a heavenly person today And I thought I was mistaken And I thought I heard you speak Tell me, how do I feel? Tell me now, how should I feel?Now I stand here waiting
I thought I told you to leave me While I walked down to the beach Tell me, how does it feel When your heart grows cold?
A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town “chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere.” Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
This was an unexpected little gem of a book! I knew nothing of it before I picked up a copy, and found myself totally swept along with the compelling and often heartbreaking story of 2 sisters who are dealing with a number of tragedies in their lives, but they have one another. Lucille and Ruth are devoted to one another as they’re pushed from pillar to post with various family members over the years, until they settle down with their Aunt Sylvie.
What becomes clear is that Sylvie is not the most stable of women to be caring for 2 young girls, but there’s something about her that Ruth and Lucille connect with, even if that means they live a very unstable life while under the care of Sylvie. Skipping school becomes the norm, and haphazard meals is what they come to expect.
As the girls grow, they start to become their own people, none more so than Lucille and she seems to crave ‘normality’ and finds herself drifting apart from her sister and aunt to live a more conventional life. So Ruth becomes more attached to her aunt and the two of them seem more like sisters at time.
This was beautifully written and a haunting read as you cared for these women as they’d been scarred by so much tragedy in their lives. It’s a subtle story that never goes OTT and one to be savoured.
Hello all! And welcome back to the weekend! Been a fairly quiet week for me, although keep hearing sad news so I’m already looking forward to seeing the back of January! I hate New Year!
On to books, and I’ve only managed to finish 1 book off this week which is a bit of a slow down for me! I’ve spent more evenings doing xstitch than reading this past week so that’s cut down my reading time, but seeing as I’ve just downloaded a new 50 page xstitch chart, I need to find ways to fit more stitching time into my day! I really should find less time consuming hobbies!
And remember me saying I was going to spend less time at Netgalley…. 3 new additions over there this week! I fail!! I’ll try to do better next week….. honest!
A spellbinding novel of a young doctor’s wife, Isabel Aird, struggling to make her childless life meaningful, unaware that the sinister Robert Kirke is watching her every move, by the Sunday Times bestselling author Sally Magnusson.
Loch Katrine waterworks, 1856. A Highland wilderness fast becoming an industrial wasteland. No place for a lady.
But Isabel Aird, denied the motherhood role society expects of her by a succession of miscarriages, is comforted by a place where she can feel the presence of her lost children and begin to work out what her life is for.
No matter that the hills echo with the gunpowder blasts of men tunnelling day and night to bring fresh water to diseased Glasgow thirty miles away – digging so deep that there are those who worry they are disturbing the land of faery itself.
New life is quickening within her again. While her husband is engaged with the medical emergencies of the construction site, Isabel can only wait.
But someone else is waiting too. The man in the dark coat, watching for the right moment with a huntsman’s eye . . .
By turns spellbinding and heart-pounding, The Ninth Child is set at a pivotal time in the Victorian era, when engineering innovation and new ideas flourished but women did not. Through the dual lens of history and folklore it captures a woman’s struggle to make her life matter, and a compromised man’s struggle with himself.
CONFESSIONS OF A FORTY-SOMETHING F*** UP by ALEXANDRA POTTER
out April 2020
Hilarious, poignant, and utterly relatable, Confessions of a Forty-Something F### Up is a must-read for anyone whose life isn’t working out quite how they’d planned.
Nell Stevens’ life is a mess.
Until recently she’s been living in America with Ethan, her fiancé. But when her bookshop-cum-café goes bust – along with her relationship and all her savings – she moves back to London to start over.
But a lot has changed since she’s been gone. All her single friends are happily married with children and with rents sky-high she’s forced to rent a room while she looks for a job.
Left out of the mummy club, Nell feels left behind, she misses her friends. When an old work contact gets her a job writing obituaries, she meets Cricket, an eighty-something widow who never had kids and they strike up an unlikely friendship.
Whereas Nell’s friends are all busy with their families, all Cricket’s friends are dying off. They help each other cope with the loss of their old lives and navigate towards new ones with optimism, poignancy and humour. Everyone has a path to their perfect life. It’s knowing when to take the right turn.
Instantly relatable in an Instagram-perfect world, Confessions of a Forty Something F### Up is for women of any age who wonders why life isn’t working out quite how she imagined.
THE PARIS LIBRARY by JANET SKESLIEN CHARLES
publication date – June 2020
Paris, 1939. Odile Souchet is obsessed with books and the Dewey Decimal System, which makes order out of chaos. She soon has it all – a handsome police officer beau, an English best friend, a beloved twin, and a job at the American Library in Paris, a thriving community of students, writers, diplomats, and book lovers. Yet when war is declared, there’s also a war on words.
Montana, 1983. Widowed and alone, Odile suffers the solitary confinement of small-town life. Though most adults are cowed by her, the neighbor girl will not let her be. Lily, a lonely teenager yearning to break free of Froid is obsessed by the older French woman who lives next door and wants to know her secrets.
As the two become friends, Odile sees herself in Lily – the same love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy. The Paris Library’s dual narratives explore the relationships that make us who we are – family and friends, first loves and favorite authors – in the fairy tale setting of the City of Light. It also explores the geography of resentment, the consequences of unspeakable betrayal, and what happens when the people we count on for understanding and protection fail us.
The wit, empathy, and deep research that brings The Paris Library to life also brings to light a cast of lively historical characters and a little-known chapter of World War II history: the story of the American librarian, Miss Reeder, who created the Soldiers’ Service to deliver books to servicemen, and who later faced the Nazi ‘Book Protector’ in order to keep her library open. She and her colleagues defied the Bibliotheksschutz by delivering books to Jewish readers after they were forbidden from entering the library.
HAMNET by MAGGIE O’FARRELL
publication date – 31st March 2020
Extremely chuffed to have received a proof of this from the publicist this week!
Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.
Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.
REAL LIFE by ADELINE DIEUDONNE
copy for review ahead of the February Blog tour
A fierce and poetic debut on surviving the wilderness of family life
At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents…and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world. The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.
Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the wonderful Blog Tour for THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of it all and sharing my thoughts!
‘A great tale… the golden thread that led to the crown of England’
‘An intriguing tale, told with confidence’ The Times
‘Rich and warm’ Sunday Express
‘Bewitching…alive with historical detail’ Good Housekeeping
My baptismal name may be Giovanna but here in my mother’s adopted country I have become plain Joan; I am not pink-cheeked and golden-haired like the beauties they admire. I have olive skin anddark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing…
When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive …
Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period.
This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I’m already itching to read her other historical offerings, as I found this to be both absorbing and informative and loved finding out even more about the Tudor period and the characters surrounding the court of King Henry VII’s. And with the story of Joan being so captivating and full of material, I was instantly transported back as this story takes us chronologically through the goings on at a very interesting period of history.
Joan becomes a lady in waiting to Elizabeth, Henry’s Queen, and seeing the world at that time through both their eyes was fascinating. Joan is adamant she wants more from life than just to be a mother, where that is all that Elizabeth expects her role to be! Her King needs heirs. Seeing the expectations placed on women at that time is really brought home in an easy and accessible way through this storyline, and with all the royal goings on in the news at the moment, it is still shocking to see that in the past it was all decided politically and by others – where does love get you anyway?!
I loved how the characters around the royals related the story – the gossiping while they worked, the clothing they wore and how much work went into preparing the clothing for the big events such as the wedding.
The expectations on Joan to marry were difficult for her and it seemed in the end that she married to stay close to the Tower and the ravens who she had such a fascination and respect for. The way she dealt with being a stepmother means she’s thrown in at the deep end, but she seemed to be one of those women who were wise beyond her years and could cope with pretty much anything that was thrown her way. Her one big fear though was pregnancy and it was enlightening to see the ways she tried to avoid that event happening to her!
Another aspect of the story I loved was discovering different palaces that are now long gone – when they were mentioned by name I found myself researching them online and it opened up more interest for me on this time of history. Why was it never this fascinating to me when I was at school?!
Seeing the story from both Joan and Elizabeth’s point of view, made this for such an entertaining historical read and I’m glad to have found a new author to me who does a wonderful job of sharing her passion for history through relatable and fascinating characters. Highly recommended.
It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.
But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?
Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision
Another stunner of a story from B.A.Paris and this one centres around the hidden cost of keeping a secret, so as not to spoil a big day – one of those that has you constantly thinking ‘what would you do in the same situation?’. And I still don’t know what I’d do, and if there’s a wrong or right way of dealing with such a traumatic event.
Livia is eagerly awaiting her 40th birthday party. When many want to forget their age and not make a big fuss, she’s been planning this for years. It’s a big deal to her! And her husband Adam knows this, that is why he’s faced with an awful decision when he hears horrific news. Dare he tell her straight away? Maybe if he waits, then things won’t be as bad as he first fears? He’s in a no win situation.
The story is told in alternating points of view – from the wife and the husband – and I found myself totally immersed in their lives and seeing the story unfold in this manner. The tension really builds up as you get caught up in the excitement Livia feels for her party, alongside the devastation that her husband feels as he waits for news on the horrific event that has caused him so much worry and anxiety. You live every moment with him and my heart kept breaking as he tried to put a brave face on things knowing he and Olivia’s world could be changing forever and there was nothing he could do about it.
There are darker secrets revealed along the way which just add to the complexities of family life and how tragedy can often reveal a side to people that you may not wish to confront. It explores the dynamics within a family and how relationships are pushed to the extremes.
This story briliantly portrays the toll a devastating secret takes on the person in the know and I loved every single second of it!!!
My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.