2019, New Author to me, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized

Novella Review: Stepping Out By S.J.King

Blurb: WINNER of the Books and the City Choice Award in the #heatseeker short story competition, Stepping Out is a poignant, inspiring short story about acceptance, self-love and finding the courage to be who you really are.

Paula has been practising walking in her new red velvet heels for weeks. So far, she hasn’t made it past her front door.

But tonight is different.

With the help of her sister, a panty-girdle and a little bit of Dutch courage, Paula is stepping out, for the very first time.

Will she find the courage to show her true identity to the world? And if she does, will they accept her?

Review: I purchased this on 16th September 2018 and just under a year later I’ve finally read it. The Heat-seeker winners that I’ve read have been fantastic and following Hannah Pearl’s treat I instantly downloaded this one. For one reason or another it’s taken me this long to read this but I truly enjoyed this short read. It’s the perfect tonic in between reads and kept me entertained with a coffee and a biscuit just after my breakfast and in between my lunch whilst at the seaside.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this novel, from the off I worked out it was heavily focused on anxiety but considering the title I was a little naive in what I thought it was about. An extremely well written short that had me on the edge of my seat throughout constantly wanting more and not feeling like I’d been short changed by the novella. I wholeheartedly felt captivated by the thoughts and feelings of someone overcoming these sort of challenges, and how it changes even the smallest of events hence Paula’s night out taking so much effort and preparation.

A truly heartfelt and powerful read of anxiety change and the love of a sister.

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2019, ebook, novella, Quick Reads, Short Story, Uncategorized

Novella Review: After Hello By Mhairi McFarlane

Blurb: A short story sequel to the bestselling romcom You Had Me At Hello!

In You Had Me At Hello, the one who got away came back… but what happened next?

Together, apart and then back together again, Rachel and Ben had a rollercoaster ride to get here. But now happily in love and partners in crime once more, it feels like it’s all been worth it.

But when a face from the past reappears, misunderstandings come between them once more.

Can they hold on to their happy ever after?

Review: I fell in love with Mhairi’s writing style and her characters when I read You Had Me At Hello. It was a heartfelt read that had me from the get go. I loved Rachel and Ben and their university times really did make me smile. My time at uni wasn’t as interesting as there’s but I did have a crush although it was never on the scale of best friends Ben and Rachel. In that novel I grew increasingly frustrated with them because I could see how they were meant to be.

I’m ashamed to say I’ve had After Hello on my Kindle on both my paper white and my iphone since 26th Jan 2017. As I’m on holiday and having just finished a book I thought let’s see what novellas I have. I love Mhairi’s style and whenever I read any of her books I’m hooked so I knew this would be the perfect tonic and I was oh so right.

I love a novella I know a lot of readers always complain how they are too short but for me they are fantastic quick reads that I like to slip alongside my longer reads. In After Hello I found myself getting angry as Ben and Rachel were the dream team for me in You Had Me At Hello in thinking their happy ever after wasn’t meant to be I was feeling heartbroken. I should have remembered how much Ben used sarcasm to get his point across.

A lovely reunion with Rachel, Ben and the girls. I never tire of reading stories about characters I have fell in love with it’s just like reuniting with old friends. It’s got me thinking of my university bunch and all we went through together.

Thank you Mhairi for taking me back to them, although I don’t think Ben and Rachel’s story has finished….

2019, august, ebook, novella, Quick Reads, Review, TBR, Uncategorized, update

A Patchwork Family – Part One – Moving On By Cathy Bramley

Blurb: Gina Moss is proud of herself: she’s just had the most amicable divorce ever. No arguments, no fuss, no drama. It means she has plenty of time and energy for her thriving childminding business too.

Welcome Cottage is both home and workplace for Gina. It sits just on the edge of The Evergreens – a grand if slightly run-down Victorian residence to three octogenarians who have far too much fun for their age: Violet, Delphine and Bing.

But a tragedy puts her older friends at risk of eviction – and Gina in charge of the battle to save them. It might be her first fight, but it’s one that Gina is determined not to lose…

Review: It’s been a while since I’ve read a Cathy Bramley novel and when this series was mentioned I instantly pre-ordered it, them good old 99p kindle purchases. I had hoped to have read and reviewed on publication day but that wasn’t to be. See I’m getting more organised but I’m also wanting to read more and more.

Part one is aptly named – Moving On as Gina has accomplished her amicable divorce and later on in the instalment there are more tragic circumstances. It starts with Bramley’s trademark wit, I’d heard of divorce parties via another book and the meal between Gina and Eric sure was full of laughs. It’s extremely rare that marriages can end well – but they are one of those rare breeds. The scene in the restaurant had me laughing out loud, but it also made me want to know more as they got on so well, I’m sat there wondering why they called time on their marriage.

It being part one it sets the scene and the groundwork for the story with the hint of what’s to come. What I’ve grown to love about these type of series’s is that you are left eager and wanting more and this did not disappoint. A Patchwork Family crosses over to The Lemon Tree Cafe as it’s based in the same town with some of the same characters. In realising that I realise I only read the first part of that story, so that will need to be rectified but August is proving to be a busy one.

Gina is a character that I instantly liked, she’s a go getter and wants the best out of life. A tragedy makes her realise she needs to live every day like it’s her last.

I loved the sentiments in this novel, friends and family come in all shapes and sizes and I loved the variation of age groups. You have the older generation who Gina is extremely fond of and then you have the children to whom she is also fond of. Being a childminder and an extremely good and experienced one at that. It also showed me that families can be a blessing and a curse. I don’t want to spoil the intrigue so I won’t say anymore than that. I want to see whether Dexter pulls through for the sake of his family.

2019, Author Love, july, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus – Part four – The Icing on the cake By Cressida McLaughlin

Blurb: Can Charlie pull off the perfect showstopper?
Charlie has fallen in love with Porthgolow village and they adore her vintage bus, now getting a new lease of life as the best place to have a Cornish Cream tea in the whole of Cornwall. Charlie and her bus have heralded a new start for Porthgolow too, but the one fly in the ointment is Daniel Harper who is still resisting the charms of Charlie and her bus. Can Charlie bake her way into his heart or is it time to admit that her Cornish dream has got a soggy bottom?

Review: Now from how part three concluded I always knew that part four would have a special place in my heart and would be the hardest to finish. I initially read the first chapter just after midnight on release day and had subsequently started reading on my walk into work, however, work, lack of sleep and the heat meant it took me a little longer to finish this beauty.

What I will say is Cressida played an absolute blinder as expected by a series part four had lots of moments that made you gasp. From the very beginning I was heavily invested in these characters and watching them experience full on life changing emotions really got me. I don’t know about those characters pulses racing at that point mine definitely were. I loved what that part of the story suggested and the messages underneath both incidents.

If I had been off work the day after I had started reading at midnight I would have been hooked on this in one sitting. In a way I’m glad I got a little bit more time with Charlie and the gang.

There were a number of quotes from Charlie’s late uncle Hal that really made me stop and think….

There is nothing that can’t be overcome if you believe in yourself

this is definitely something that I should listen to. In my own worst critic.

Another that really made me smile was a description for Porthgolow

It’s a proper slice of magic

I could use that sentence about a few of my favourite places in the world and it’s a line and sentiment that proper made me smile.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus was an extraordinary treat that will make you salivate for afternoon tea and cake but it will also tug on your heart strings and stay there. A tasty treat with some truly powerful messages one that I won’t forget. I would love to see Cressida revisit these characters someday.

2019, ebook, july, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus – Part Three Scones Away By Cressida McLaughlin

Blurb: Charlie’s toughest technical challenge yet…

Now that Charlie’s Cornish Cream Tea bus has taken off, everything should be going swimmingly- the locals love her baking, Marmite adores getting his paws wet in the crystal-clear sea at Porthgolow beach, but Charlie has managed to get on the wrong side of the mercurial owner of The Porthgolow Hotel, Daniel Harper. He wants her to pack up her doillies and pastry cutters and take her bus elsewhere, but can Charlie convince him that they have just got off on the wrong foot and that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village?

Review: I’ve truly loved every second of Charlie’s story and Cressida has made me excited for my Summer trip to the coast. Although my travels will take me to the Kent coast not the Cornish one but alas it’s given me a spark. Nothing beats that glisten on the water and the feel of sand between your toes.

Anyway that’s enough of my daydreams this beauty pinged through on Wednesday evening at midnight and if I hadn’t been so hot and bothered and still reeling from the last book I had finished I could have easily read at the stroke of midnight. Seeing as the next instalment is the conclusion I may just do that.

Part three – has to have been the most intense of instalments, it’s the real meaty part of the story with lots of OMG moments constantly keeping you guessing. Now in these sort of stories there’s almost always a man behind a woman’s thoughts. In this case in part there is two guys – it’s not quite a triangle but it could have been. So I don’t want to say too much as part three has shaped my opinions on Ollie and Daniel. Although I have to mention Daniel because if you can read this and not feel anything for the hotel owner then hats off to you. I however found myself a little breathless – Cressida describes the perfect kiss on a beach location.

In reading a number of these novella style books part three is always the cliffhanger leaving so many unanswered questions. Charlie has come so far that I hope she gets the ending she deserves and I’d like to hope that it includes Daniel and staying put in Porthgolow. But we shall see.

Once again I’ve had to stop reading this treat as it’s made me extremely hungry at times. I’m going to miss the Cornish coast and watch this space I may have to dive in at midnight on 25th July.

If you fancy a trip to the coast with a slice of afternoon tea look no further. I will miss these guys when this story concludes.

2018, Author Love, ebook, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized, update

Novella Review: The Boy with the Board By Katey Lovell

Blurb: A gorgeously romantic short story, part of The Meet Cute series.

When her beloved mum dies suddenly, Helena escapes to sunny California. Determined to live for the moment, she puts aside her fears and signs up for the surfing lessons she’s always dreamed of – with the added distraction of hunky instructor Ashton.

Review: I have said it before and here I say it again these meet cute stories are perfect tea break escapism from day to day struggles.

For me The Boy with the Board has a totally different feel from the other meet cutes I have devoured. Helena’s Story is tinged with sadness but from a saying her mother used to say she decides to take caution to the wind and get out of her comfort zone. There is something awe inspiring in reading a story where a seemingly average young woman decides to make a life-changing decision. In that I am envious of Helena she saw a chance to change and grabbed it.

Although on a personal note I have made some life changes that have surprised and inspired me in my self and my own motivation. I’m proud of the woman I am becoming it’s like I have got back a little of the confidence I once had. Saying that I’ve never totally felt overly confident but I do feel like the changes I have made are adding to my day to day self confidence.

Reading has always been a passion of mine and following my studies I’m so glad I got back into reading for pleasure as it gives me so much joy. In escaping I’m discovering more about myself, who I want to be and where I want to go. I’m hoping to make some trips based on bookish love so watch this space…. I have two meet cutes left and I’m hoping to participate in the 24in48 readathon next weekend and o think finishing this beautiful series will be the icing on the cake.

Back to the Boy with the Board – there is just something about a guy with confidence and wet hair eh. This tasty treat should be snapped up whilst the weather is still smoking. Katey Lovell I’m saying it again I WANT more Meet Cutes please…

2018, Blog Tour, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: My Sweet Friend By H.A. Leuschel

Blurb: A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Review: Back in March I was on the blog tour for Tess and Tattoos by Helene. Here is my review of that.

It was an intriguing and thought provoking read. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was left in awe of the strangest read that left me wanting more. Then Rachel posted about My Sweet Friend also one of Helene’s short novellas. I was an instant yes, reads like these are why I like blog tours. I do get bogged down from time to time but discovering new authors who I may have bypassed makes it worthwhile. I was also lucky enough to win this…

I still haven’t touched the chocolate as I’m very new to Slimming World but will be a good treat soon.

I really don’t know where to start My Sweet Friend is a short novella that will have you captivated from the off. Alexa looks the part and has a way of making people feel special if only for a short while. Rosie seems captivated by her confidence and stylish air but is her new friend what she seems. As the novella progresses Rosie starts to put two and two together although the damage is already done. Rosie confides in Alexa and she chooses to use her weakness to her advantage seeming like a good friend, willing to help and eager to calm Rosie’s stresses – that’s until she changes her mind.

This novella shows you what friends are and aren’t and how a person can use manipulation to make her craziness seem normal.

Alexa is a deeply troubled young woman who likes to believe she lives the high life when in reality, she’s troubled, lonely and depressed.

A thought provoking novella that will make you question your own actions and make you appreciate the people in your life who truly care for you. Helene has a way in intertwining a number of issues, friends, foes, work/ life balance, depression and manipulation. I cannot wait to devour my competition win – this author has one mental imagination.

2018, Author Love, novella, Quick Reads, Short Story

Book Review: Part Two Random Acts Of Kindness – Making Friends By Victoria Walters

Blurb: Escape to the beautiful town of Littlewood with Part 2 in an exciting new serial from Victoria Walters! Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Holly Hepburn and Jo Thomas.

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. Abbie’s ex-boyfriend and colleague, Jack, has arrived back on the scene… Will she be lured back to London or has her heart taken root at Huntley Manor? Louise has promised to be kinder to herself, but after suffering one heartbreak too many, she isn’t keen to try her luck again…. Can the handsome local vet convince her otherwise? Eszter, who is over from Hungary with her daughter for the summer, has been met with nothing but kindness since she arrived in Littlewood, and now she and her daughter Zoe are all set to return the favour as Eszter’s mother-in-law Anne finds herself with nowhere to stay… Eszter is determined to help Anne get back involved in the community after being alone for so long, but do they belong in Littlewood or will the three of them remain outsiders?

Review: Firstly, I have to have a little rant at myself. I pre-ordered this and it pinged through to my Kindle which I have on my phone and my tablet and it’s taken me so long to get around to it. I won’t mention my other post where this rant was heavily documented. Victoria Walters 110% has a way with words that hooks me in and has me up until the small hours. In reading part one I wholeheartedly believe that if you’re needing a boost, a release or just to escape these instalments of this book about random acts of kindness is exactly what you need.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it on here but I know I tweeted Victoria about it. After the Books and the City spring blogger evening (still haven’t documented – post will happen) on my way home after meeting Victoria and hearing her read an extract from the book, I was awaiting a train and ended up befriending a lady who was trying to get rid of unwanted attention from a man on the platform. As you do looking out for another woman – we were chitchatting and then an older woman who had got on shortly after I believe was crying on the phone we then took her under our wing. None of us had ever met and the lady I originally spoke to was nearer the older lady in terms of stops and she vowed to make sure she got to her granddaughter safely. That experience made me feel all warm inside and instantly took me back to Littlewood. Not enough kindness happens in London and I would love to see more of it. (Maybe another blog post on this)

Anyway back to Littlewood part one left me wanting more and part two sure was a rollercoaster of emotions. I want Louise to take more control of her life and to feel the fear and do it anyway. (In that closed off respect she reminds me of me a little) I loved how Abbie engineered the meet for Louise and Alex although I felt like I was silently screaming at them both a lot in this part. Victoria does something that also Holly Hepburn does too she writes a male love interest or partner that you should fall for but you’re like no you’re a creep. I have loved having Abbie and Louise together and I’m kind of scared to start part three because I’m like no no no.

Anne, Eszter and Zoe warmed my hearts wholeheartedly in this section. I just love the relationship forming and a bond being made – I don’t want to say too much there are twists and turns that will have you feeling a multitude of emotions.

In finishing part two I want answers – which I can have as part three is sat awaiting me on my Kindle but the other part of me isn’t ready to find out. I love the characters although a number of them are annoying me with there stubborn attitudes.

I want a coffee shop like Brew I’m sure Harry and Joy could give me the additional kicks I need and boost my confidence regularly. Although I’m currently trying to change my eating habits I don’t think Brew would help with that.

If you have read any of the instalments of Random Acts Of Kindness be sure to get in touch with your thoughts I’m torn in whether I carry on or read something else. So tell me what you think I should do and why? I’m intrigued to see what you say…

2018, Author Love, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized

Book Review: Part Three Stormy Weather at Castle Court By Holly Hepburn

Blurb: Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Cat is burned out from working long hours as a chef. They decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in the cocktail bar that overlooks the court.

Review: Now where do I begin….I had pre-ordered this baby knowing it would ping through to my Kindle/tablet/phone whilst I was in sunnier climes. Due to a weird account error/possible fraud it wasn’t that seamless although I did download whilst away. I can’t remember exactly when I started this beauty and I don’t want to moan too much on this post as there will be a separate post for that. Due to blog tours and other circumstances it seemed to take me ages to get to this.

I can now say I have completed part three and what a rollercoaster ride it’s been for Sadie and Cat. I don’t want to spoil the finer details in case you haven’t got to this instalment yet but Cat really goes through the mill once again in this instalment. Not only is she injured she also endures some emotional turmoil making me want to reach into my book and give her a hug. I was surprised by the circumstances but I’m now sitting here writing this thinking are you really surprised you should have seen that coming.

I am still not Daniels biggest fan he’s nicer in this part but I must say I was over the moon to have Adam back and I hope he features heavily in part four. I will be eagerly reading when it pings through I literally cannot wait. For Holly to have ended part three teasingly by stating “I have a really good feeling about what’s coming next.” Left me wanting more more more.

A gorgeous instalment full of biscuits, sweetness, friendship, love, betrayal and storms. Another quote I truly loved and have to mention is “You’ve had some seriously stormy weather lately and you’ve sailed through it brilliantly.” I have really loved these instalments by Holly and I look forward to what she writes next.