Just the Way You Are – Beth Moran

I have read books by Beth Moran before, and have enjoyed them, and so it was with great anticipation that I opened this latest book to start reading it.

I empathised with the main character Ollie, from the start; it must be tricky getting to a certain age, when everyone else seems to be paired off, and living at home probably doesn’t help! Certainly her Mother’s devious, controlling ways don’t help. Thank goodness Ollie was surrounded by a group of strong women in her life. Karina was a shining star, and as far as characters go I liked her hugely. In fact I liked all of Ollie’s friends – it was just such a shame about her Mother and her ways!

It was really time for Ollie to make some new friends too, once she moved into her own house, and Joan, the 11 year old neighbour whom she took under her wing was a start, although I felt sad that Joan’s own Mother automatically presumed the worst of her, regardless. Sam was a welcome addition to the New Friends Club and I couldn’t help but wonder about his marital status, hoping that above all, he was single! This proved to be the case in an excruciating chapter involving Ollie, Sam and his Sister and a posh restaurant! The sight of Sam in his lawyer outfit, is surely enough to make the sternest hearts flutter!

I felt sad that Ollie had been so smothered by her Mother, that her bucket list of items included things that I know I take for granted, such as eating what I want, when I want, and even just being able to spend quiet time in my own company! When it comes to Ollie’s Mother, two words come to mind ’hard’ and ’work’. She clearly has mental health issues, but regardless, I felt sad at the way she treated Ollie.

This book is fill of humorous moments, to outweigh the more serious issues, for example when Nesbit the stray dog Joan found, broke into Sam’s house and stole the chicken he had cooked for a family dinner. Oops! Another humorous moment of note proved to involve Jaxx and his nipples in the library, after he took control of the overflowing coffee incident. Another amusing moment was the arrival of the ‘K’ Triplets in their extremely ’short shorts’ outfits. The funniest moment though, was surely when Sam came across Ollie while she was wild camping. ’Excruciating Moments 101!’

On a personal note,  I loved the concept of ’nomato’ sauce. The mere name reminded me oh so fondly of when my Son was 3 years old, over  20 years ago. At nursery, he had just been moved up to the ’Dolphin’ class from the ’Penguin’ class, having turned 3. He came home one day in the run up to Christmas, sobbing;  absolutely breaking his heart. I tried to find out what on earth was wrong, only to make out between sobs ’I want to be a ’Noflake’! It transpired that whilst the ’Penguins’ were going to be snow flakes in the upcoming nativity play, the ’Dolphins’ were all going to be bells. Well, all turned out well in the end. I spoke to the staff and arranged for My Son to be a ‘Noflake’ with his old ’Penguin’ pals. Truth be told, I was also relieved, in that the only costume I had to provide was a white t shirt and tights; even having an older Daughter, yellow tights were not that easy to come by 20 years ago! Anyway, I am so sorry for the diversion, to explain the unique circumstances whereby every time I read the word ’nomato’, I see the word ‘Noflake ’. Hearfelt thanks, Beth Moran, for invoking such a truly special memory for me!

‘Ebenezer’ another new neighbour for Ollie added a bit of intrigue to the book with his byzantine mixture of sarcastic notes, interspersed with random acts of kindness, such as fencing in the shared garden. At the other end of the spectrum, Irene the library manager was a tyrant, best avoided at all costs, although I am convinced that there were occasions where she thawed to the most minute extent!

This book provides a spectacular lesson in people not always being what they appear to be, and situations not necessarily being what they seem. We all have the capacity to change – for the better and Ollie seized that opportunity for herself.

The mixture of humorous issues and those more serious matters such as domestic abuse and other social care concerns, completely drew me into this book and I started to find it increasingly difficult to put down; indeed I made the rookie mistake of becoming so engrossed in these hallowed pages, that I ended up staying up all night reading, in order to finish the story.

To read this book for yourself, follow this link. Purchase link:https://amzn.to/3DunLYt


Brown Eyes – Frances Ive

I loved the concept for this great, unique book from the very beginning – a narrative of family life from two different views, with chapters alternating between the views of Benji the labrador and Meriel, one of his owners. This great book accentuates the way that dogs are indisputably attuned to their owners emotions.

To a pet owner, it is nothing new how a cat or dog can sense your emotions, and I loved the way that this book tapped into that empathy, revealing its absolute power to the uninitiated. Perhaps in future, alongside no arguing ’in front of the children’ , there will also be an awareness of what you shouldn’t expose your dog too, such is their emotional intelligence. Granted, dogs can’t actually talk, or reveal emotions in chapters of books, but in my mind there is no doubt when it comes to their emotional prowess.

I felt an affinity towards the female characters in is book, but unsurprisingly I wasn’t so drawn to the men – Phil in particular hadn’t behaved well and seemed to think that a fairly hasty apology was enough to earn him his redemption. I did feel that he blew any chances of forgiveness from me, when he brought up ’custody of the dog’ in front of said dog, shortly followed by who he felt did or didn’t like/want he dog!

Benji, I invariably loved. ’His’ words flowed with a tangible sense of canine poetry and I loved every word of it. He seemed to have nailed (or maybe clawed’ a real sense of how dogs feel about their people and their environments.

Next time you raise your voice in front of your pet, take a moment to consider their emotional health. They may not be able to speak, but they do still have very strong, real feelings.

If like me, you are an emotional animal lover, then this is the book for you. You will need to read on for yourself, to find out whether there is a future for Meriel and Phil, and how dear Benji deals with the tough times within his family unit. One can hope that Benji can maintain the way that he glues his family together.

Just use this link to buy this great book for yourself:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Q3N3D15

The Not So Golden Oldies – Liz Davies

I can often be heard bemoaning various versions of the fact that ‘life is to short to read books that you don’t love’. I have loved every one of Liz Davies’ books that I have read and I am certain that I will enjoy this one. If you haven’t read any of the great books by this author, I wholeheartedly recommend the Ticklemore series of books – guaranteed to entertain you.

Meena had a difficult childhood, being brought up by a single Mother. Her Mother wasn’t the tidiest of folks, and others noticed and commented on the mess. I genuinely felt for Meena, knowing how cruel children can be (and sometimes their parents too).

Invariably adult Meena has become very houseproud, although her Husband seems to think her immaculate housekeeping is effortless!

There is humour in this book. An elderly patient at the GP surgery where Meena works was described as having a ’dripper’ on the end of his nose! This wasn’t a turn of phrase I have ever heard of, but it felt like onomatopoeia at its best! Absolutely vile though!

When Meena’s Husband is forced into early retirement and declares that he will do the housework (it can’t be that much effort), sparks begin to fly. is this the end of their life as they know it, or can they learn to give and take and live in harmony again? You will have to read the book for yourself to find out.

Purchase link:https://mybook.to/GoldenOldies

Spring Blooms at the Hummingbird Hotel – Daisy James

I have a spring in my step today, at the thought of getting my nose stuck into a much anticipated new Daisy James novel. Even better, it is a Hummingbird Hotel update. I am so excited about what Abbie may get up to, but rest assured. If you have never read a Hummingbird Hotel book, this is great as a standalone story, but beware – once you get your nose ensconced in this book, you will invariably want to read the others in the series! When I did my last Hummingbird Hotel review, I likened starting reading a new book from Daisy James thus: ’starting this book was like stepping into a new pair of slippers from my favourite brand. You just know you are going to love them and they will fit perfectly, but they also have that lovely new feeling.’ Well, I can assure you that the warm, fuzzy feeling has in no way lessened over time.

The book is dedicated to ’everyone who is craving a splash of sunshine’ – and I couldn’t think of a more apt dedication!

Abbie is trying to make money for the hotel and is running a ‘Bakes and Beaches’ retreat that seems to involve a ’Bake Off’ type competition, involving multiple exotic, hard to source ingredients. Poor Abbie seems to be be run off her feet, running around with lists and clipboards. What could conceivably go wrong, especially when she is concurrently trying to arrange her wedding to the gorgeous Nikos. If there was one character in this book that I could gift wrap for myself and take home, it would be Nikos. Not only is he kind and gorgeous (in that order, of course!) but the man can cook AND clean up, too. A win-win situation, if you ask me!

I loved the author’s descriptions of the eclectic group of visitors, staying for the retreat and Bake off. Each individual was portrayed eloquently and with thought; as a group I felt that they couldn’t fail to entertain the reader, with such different personalities, although to be honest I wouldn’t want to spend much time in Marcus’s company, with his extreme competitiveness in everything he does; luckily as readers, we don’t have to spend time in his company, but can wait to be captivated by how he rubs other people up the wrong way! I adore Abbie and the hotel staff and locals; encountering them again feels like catching up with a group of old friends. Whilst I didn’t ‘like’ all of the hotel guests, I just loved the clever ways that they were portrayed, and the ways that they interacted with each other; a group certain to enthral the reader.

The first couple of scene-setting chapters in the book left me excited for the rest of the book. Actually that last sentence is a gross understatement! I felt positively overwhelmed with anticipation for the remainder of the book, and just couldn’t wait to just get ’stuck in’. I could sense an ’all-nighter’ approaching, so fellow reader, BEWARE; perhaps start reading this stonking book as many hours as possible before bedtime, or plan ahead and embark on your potential ’all-nighter’ at a time to suit, when you don’t have to get up early the next day.

I loved the way that Abbie’s true vocation – flowers/floristry, was reflected in the book, with each chapter being attributed to its own flower. I loved the way that the flowers connected with the the chapters and it seemed to me the perfect shout out for Abbie’s passion. As I read through the book, I would often find myself wondering what the next chapter’s flower would be and how it would connect with the general flow of that chapter.

This book had its moments of humour, interspersed throughout the whole book, although one of my favourite moments was when Dimitri perched his perfect posterior on Abbie’s freshly painted bench – Oops! I am delighted to announce that Dimitri is as lovely as ever, as is his posterior. It is surely a testament to Daisy James’ descriptive writing that I have no problem picturing both Dimitri and all of the other characters in my mind – and Abbie’s face, when Dimitri sat on her wet bench, certainly was a picture! As for the ’sport’ of ’Extreme Ironing’ – I confess to having googled it and it does exist; apart from that, I have no words!

A bit of book cross-pollination always excites me, and I was thrilled that the Paradise Cookery School got a mention. If you haven’t read the Paradise Cookery School series, then you really must try them; they make for a really great read. I certainly found myself hoping for a ‘Paradise crossover’, for the surprise guest baking judge, but you will have to read this great book for yourself to see if that seed of thought comes to fruition.

Marcus. I could start a list of 10 things I dislike about Marcus, but that would be petty. Very early on, he displayed many characteristics and traits that could seem unlikeable, but in actual fact, his faults make for an excellent character, due to the abrasive way that he winds his peers up. A character like Marcus proves for great entertainment for us readers. We can all wish that we were staying in the Hummingbird Hotel, provided that we weren’t on a retreat with Marcus. I did feel sorry for the rest of the Beaches and Bakes retreat, sharing their experience with such an obnoxious being. I am most uncompetitive, but I think that staying with Marcus might bring out what little competitive streak I have, in order to try and beat him! He is also petty – a point in case is the fuss he made about the baking workstations, when the rest of the group were all happy to just pick a station.

As I touched on before, Marcus’ character traits make him interesting, because he creates friction within the group and I think he is a very clever creation. At the end of the day, if your worst ever crime is that you’re irritating, then you’re not doing too badly; and at the end of the day, I will give Marcus the benefit of the doubt, because whilst undoubtedly irritating, he is a fantastic ’invention’ and his heart is most probably in the right place (although I have no evidence of that to date) and I have the impression thus far that he wouldn’t deliberately cause harm to anyone. Marcus is a walking rule book; he is like a well known yeast extra spread. You either love him or you hate him, and he leaves a strong, potentially overpowering aftertaste in his wake. Just one encounter with him, and you will certainly know it.

The retreat group consist of a mix of personalities, and the remainder of them seem pretty pleasant characters. You will have to read the book for yourself however, to see how the Group develop and how they interact with each other, with Marcus and with the hotel staff. If they thought they were getting a nice little break, it looks as though Marcus will put paid to that, ’ruling the roost’ with his constantly evolving rules, ably assisted by his myriad of timepieces – clocks, watches and stopwatches and a sports bag full of medals!

I felt bad for Abbie, with regard to the problems she was having with regard to meeting Nikos’ family. Abbie really was just niceness personified and I found it hard to see – that she was getting distressed/stressed about it and their continuing to cancel visits. It would be hard for anyone, not to start to feel personally slighted. What made things worse in my opinion, was Abbie’s complete lack of family. Any time that anyone (me included) has the slightest grumble about a family member, they should be made to imagine being in Abbie’s shoes, with not a single member of family to invite to her rapidly approaching wedding. As a side note here, I feel compelled to comment on the realism in this story, or in fact in any of Daisy James’ books. Her writing draws you in as a reader in such an adept way, with such interesting, complex characters, that you may find that from time to time you forget that this is not real! What truly amazing writing, with pages able to garner laughter, tears and raw emotion from me in an instant, or more appropriately, at the turn of a page!

There was no doubt that once the baking started, things started to liven up at the Hummingbird Hotel, but I am not going to spoil things by oversharing with you; you will need to read this great book for yourself.

Purchase Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09GBDMD6Q

Dear Daisy James, the list below is my wish list to you 🤓

  • Another Hummingbird Hotel instalment
  • A crossover between the Hummingbird Hotel and The Paradise Cookery School
  • The Little Coffee Shop of Corfu (more about Emily)
  • Cupcakes & Cocktails campervan (a 2nd Emily instalment)

Delivery before the end of the year is fine🤓

Under One Roof – Samantha Tonge

Robin in actual fact, deserves a medal, for putting up with the way her Mother, Faye treats her. It’s not surprising that Robin hasn’t seen her for years. Robin was always determined to be a better Mother, but her Daughter Amber doesn’t appreciate the mollycoddling.

Robin is likeable as a character and clearly has a lot of appreciation of family – how it should be. She always had great relationships with her Father and with her Uncle Ralph. Hoover, Faye’s dog provided a little light relief.

This book is an epic tale of family, friendship, love, joy and tragedy, all merged into one story. A book of circles – can they be completed, or do they need to be broken?

Will Robin get the chance to repair old friendships? Can she repair her relationship with Faye? Can Faye break free from the torrid memories of her own Mother and unpleasant childhood?

Uncle Ralph holds many answers – can he help, together with help from beyond the grave from Robin’s Late Father.

This wasn’t simply a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, it was a lesson. A valuable, emotional lesson in family and listening; proof that you can break the cycle of repeating terrible behaviour you yourself have been subjected to. This is a book brimming with hope; proof that it is in your power to mould your own future.

To purchase this book for yourself, just use this link: https://amzn.to/3r7hoHi

Tea For Two at the Little Cornish Kitchen – Jane Linfoot

This book is the second in the Little Cornish Kitchen series, but it holds its own as a standalone read. Saying that, once you have finished reading this new book, if you haven’t read the first instalment, then you will most certainly want to do so. The cover of this book declares it ’A pure delight’. Indeed I can think of nothing more delightful than whiling away my winter evenings ‘holidaying’ vicariously in Cornwall, through this book. The cover did, rather sensibly in my opinion, dodge the eternal bullet debate over how one should serve ones scones – the Devon (cream then jam) way or the Cornish (jam, then cream) way, by opting not to grace the cover with any kind of sconnage at all! Myself, I have always considered the Cornish method to be infinitely more practical!

One cannot help but sympathise for Cressida, an internet baking sensation who has had a bit of a baking disaster on national TV. Things seemed to have blown completely out of proportion, necessitating Cressida to combine a bit of house/pet sitting, with hiding out as anonymously as possible in Cornwall. One thing is of no doubt – Cressida’s public seem to have forgotten about the concept of ’being kind’ – an issue which sadly too often comes to the forefront in real modern day life, with cyber bullies feeling that they can say whatever they like, if it is said online.

The book was packed full of comedic moments, with some verging on cringeworthy – an example being when Cressida bumps into Ross, her first love from a decade ago. Another example is mistaking Cressida’s cake sales for tinder dates. It was all enough to virtually make Cressida devoid of all normal sensibilities, whilst giving the reader a right old belly-chuckle. Amusement 101! Poor Cress – Ross did adopt his best ‘hoity-toity’, ’holier than thou’ attitude, which did nothing but simultaneously fuel both my enjoyment and Cress’s embarrassment, as well as providing some kind of satisfaction for Ross! Further comedy was provided by the paw load – with the way that Diesel and Cress reacted so differently every time they bumped into Ross! On a more serious note, Ross and Cress still clearly have unfinished business of the rawest kind between them, even after ten years – but I won’t going into the detail; I’ll let you discover it for yourself and make your own conclusions.

The Community Retirement Home sounded absolutely amazing; If this kind of place doesn’t exist in real life, then it undoubtedly should? Who, in reality wouldn’t want to end their days there, compared to the usual kind of facility. It was really touching when Cress went to the home to decorate cakes – how a simple fairy cake can evoke such a variety of memories from a relatively small group of people, with each associating their favourite colour of icing with a particular memory. In fact the author was very clever with her writing in my opinion, in her portrayal of the emotional side of cooking and baking, in a way that felt fresh and unique.

Ross was in fact a likeable character, despite what Cress might say; indeed I was pretty certain that her outward dislike of him was a surefire indication of how much she actually liked him still, but because of their past, she didn’t dare admit to herself, or anyone else, just how much he actually did mean to her. I saw it as a defence mechanism on Cress’s part – act as though she doesn’t like Ross and she’s not going to get hurt by him again. For his part, Ross seems completely oblivious that he may have ever caused any kind of discomfort or upset.

This book runs a lot deeper than I initially realised, when Cress touches on her relationships with her family members; I was sad that she felt inadequate, in comparison to her siblings. It did however explain some of her life decisions. Indeed, as Cress and Ross started to reveal their vulnerable sides to each other their relationship seemed to improve.

Individually, Cress and Ross were both such wonderful, commanding characters, but together they would be amazing. Both seemed to have worked towards banishing their demons both past and present, although at times it seemed that they didn’t even realise this themselves. I found myself fervently wishing that they could become an item once more at best – although I would settle for them just being friends at this stage.

In order to find out what happens for yourself, please purchase this great book for yourself and read on: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tea-Little-Cornish-Kitchen-Book-ebook/dp/B09MH5L4SP/

The Great Summer Street Party (part 1) – Georgia Hill

It was with fond memories of our street party held to commemorate the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977, that I delved into this book. I remember that as a child, it was such a momentous event and so I looked forward to the author capturing some of that 1970s magic and bringing back memories for me.

I liked the characters in the book immensely, and will admit to chuckling out loud at the thought of gentle Noah being ‘terrified’ by the fearsome Biddy. I empathised with Ashley, and having grown up by the seaside, I related to her never tiring of the sea. I also loved the sense of community in the book, epitomised by Biddy, who seemed to have taken control of arranging the street party to commemorate D-Day with a slightly ironic military precision.

I grew up in Dorset and so I loved the familiarity of the fictitious town of Berecombe, with its echoes of Lime Regis.

Despite not having read any of the author’s previous books set in Berecombe, I felt that this book stood its ground as a standalone read and if anything, it encouraged me to look out for the other books based in the town .

I felt for Ashley, as she continued on her path to recovery, but couldn’t think of a nicer spot in which to stay, in order to facilitate that recovery. We didn’t get a huge amount of information about Ashley’s accident initially, but judging by her reaction to hearing two cars prang, it must have been traumatic – although that seems like a bit of an understatement, when you are recovering from having been in a serious car crash.

I enjoyed Ashley’s encounters with Eddie, the social history expert, and found myself hoping that some kind of relationship might start to germinate between the pair.

As the book progressed, it felt to me as though Berecombe and its inhabitants were playing a huge role in Ashley’s healing process, and that felt good. I felt positively overwhelmed by the tight-knit sense of community that was so apparent within the small town.

I don’t know about sunshine and cider cake, but I can say unequivocally that this book made me feel good – warm and gooey inside, a bit like when you drink hot chocolate, accompanied by a tasty, excessively creamy and sugary slice of cake on a cold morning.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and my interest in the outcomes of these wondrous, realistic characters grew exponentially, the more that I read, and I found myself frantically reaching out for the next instalments in this great series.

Love Lessons in Starcross Valley – Lucy Knott

I found myself enchanted by this novel from the very beginning, with its splendid, colourful cover, and I just hoped that it would live up to my expectations.

Marnie has returned to her home town after a long Canadian road trip, taken to get over her ex, Josh. While in Vancouver she spent an unforgettable day with Nova, a Canadian palaeontologist, but they parted ways at the end of that amazing day. The break up of her longterm relationship with Josh, as well as that of her parents, has left Marnie with a pretty jaded view on love.

I liked Marnie from the very beginning. I liked the way that she was equally comfortable as half a set of twins, as she was being her own person. She certainly earned the love her family and friends showered her with. I wholeheartedly shared Marnie’s delight at meeting Nova again in the UK, while on a school trip.

As the book progressed, Marnie flowered as a character and I particularly loved the way that she approached her work, going above and beyond what might be expected and being prepared to adjust the curriculum to meet her pupil’s needs, in order to encourage her to flourish.

Will Marnie get together with Nova, now she is in the UK? Could a long distance relationship work? You will have to read this wonderful piece of indulgence for yourself.

To buy this book for yourself, use this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Lessons-Starcross-Valley-Knott-ebook/dp/B09FVDSJQ7

Starting Over at Primrose Woods – Jill Steeples

I loved the front cover for this book and could think of nothing more relaxing than settling down to read it on a wintry Sunday night. I hadn’t read this author before, but my heart gladdened when I saw hat this book was from Boldwood Books, whose books I seem to enjoy without fail.

I immediately warmed to Abbey and just hoped against all hopes, that her partner Jason, was genuinely working ’all hours’ as opposed to being up to no good. Some kind of foul play was however seeming increasingly likely, despite my romantic notions.

Primrose Wood sounded utterly delightful, from the author’s descriptions. Indeed the descriptive dialog was such that I made a conscious effort not to research the wood’s provenance, because I so wanted it to be a real place – its beauty had somehow captivated me at a very early stage and I didn’t want to sully its aura in any way. I admit to being entranced by Abbey’s advice, when feeling down, to ’follow one of the trails, or else find a peaceful spot to sit and watch the world go by’. it sounded like a pretty solid recommendation to me.

I loved Rhianna as a character. She had guts to go to Abbey and apologise about Jason, even though she had no fault in the matter. I also liked that she offered to fly to Australia with Lizzie.she was basically a kind soul through and through.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Lizzie and Sam, and found myself imagining a fledgeling ‘relationship, such was the obvious (to anyone but themselves) chemistry between them. I did find myself at times, wishing that one could somehow titrate a relationship, in much the same way that a diabetic adjusts their insulin regime. AIas it transpired that there was a bit too much of an age gap between the pair. Regardless, I found myself in possession of a palpable soft spot for Lizzie and the way she loved life, despite her Husband having died young. Luke came across adorably and I must admit to holding out a little hope for something happening between him and Rhianna. As for Sam, I began to see that he was far more appropriate as a suitor for Abbey – a potential match made in heaven – or in Primrose Woods at least! As for Primrose Woods, I was seriously beginning to wonder about Abbey’s Dad and Lizzie?

I do like a mystery, and this book was full of twists and turns. I did however wonder about the new owner of Primrose Hall, the local stately home in the woods. Could it be that one of the characters I have grown to love – preferably Sam, but maybe Luke, is the wealthy new owner, ploughing money into its restoration? An idea for the next book in the series?

Primrose Woods is a kind if magical place; a panacea for all one’s woes and I could see why Abbey found solace in its branches. I just hoped that it might bring her a more physical means of healing, but it felt like a bit tall of an ask to find Abbey new peace in both her old love life and in the fledgling throes of something new. Saying that, I was inordinately proud of the way that Abbey politely listened to Jason and his ridiculous apology, and then threw him out. Abbey’s Dad’s appearance did nothing but cement Abbey’s already steadfast family ties.

In all I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it was as though Primrose Woods was at the very heart of the story, and the fledgeling romances within the book, reflected the roots of the trees, hopefully growing equally strong and steadfast, ready to stand the test of time.

To buy this book for yourself, please us this link: = https://www.amazon.co.uk/Starting-Over-Primrose-Woods-countryside-ebook/dp/B09KRD1TSS/ref=sr_1_3?fcrid=2B4YO2Y28AY56&keywords=starting+over+at+primrose+woods&qid=1642961917&sprefix=Starting+over+%2Caps%2C73&sr=8-3fyuu