Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom.

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she's determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything - and she won't let that happen again . . .
For Hope a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it's all her fault . . . 
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can't stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .
Three different women. Three intertwining love stories. One unforgettable timeless city.

One look at the gorgeous cover of this book and you just know you're in for a good read.
Megan visits Prague with Ollie and although she knows they can only ever just be friends she is fighting an attraction to him that she is helpless to stop. Ollie is a lovely guy, totally in love with Megan but afraid to tell her. 
Sophie,who is waiting for her fiancé to arrive in Prague is experiencing the city for the first time without him as they have travelled most of the world together.
Hope, upset that her daughter refuses to speak to her since she left her dad to be with Charlie begins to analyse what exactly she wants out of life and whether she can ever be happy without her daughter's love.
I loved all the characters in this book but I have to say that Megan did get on my nerves and brought out the mother in me in that I wanted to shake her and give her a good talking to for allowing Ollie to slip through her fingers.
The star of the book has to be the city of Prague. I don't remember reading a more descriptive book, it's obvious that the author loves the city.
The three women are staying at the same hotel and their paths cross. As they begin to learn a little of each other's lives they form a tentative attachment as people on holiday often do.
I do not want to give any more of this story away as doing so will spoil the ending. After reading this Prague is now top of my places to visit. I want to experience the magic, see the towers and spires, eat in the little cafes and restaurants and stand on the Charles Bridge and make my wish.
A Year and a Day.

I haven't read the author's first book My Map of You, but I intend to.

An Off - Piste Christmas by Julie Houston

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace's, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.
Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces' class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town... But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles...

This Christmas novella by Julie Houston finds us back again with the families from her novels starring Grace,Harriet,  but don't worry if you haven't read them yet, you can read this story on its own but I bet you will then look for the other two books.
It does take a few chapters before you work out who belongs to who within their complicated families but it's fun working it all out.

With three families and children off to the Italian Dolimites for a skiing holiday what is the worst that can happen? The author's usual humour shines through this book and gives us some real laugh out loud moments. There are some very tender moments too especially on the ski slopes with Harriet and little Charlie. I've began to really love Harriet and Grace and I am so glad to be reading more about them. 

The story was so rounded that it didn't feel like a novella but it was just the right length for reading during the busy Christmas period. I've read so many sad stories lately and this book was just what the doctor ordered, a good laugh and a happy ending, with a glass of mulled wine and a chocolate Santa,of course.

An Off- Piste Christmas

Goodness,Grace and Me

The One Saving Grace.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Missing, Presumed by Susan Steiner

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

This book looks like the beginning of a series of books with dectective Manon Bradshaw as the main character.  I found at least half of this book quite hard going. Manon wasn't a likeable character, she moaned constantly about everything. She was so dedicated to her job there was hardly any room in her life to eat or drink and yet she played about with online dating taking men home to sleep with so she could smell them and see if they were compatible, made my skin crawl. 
I felt as though the missing girl, Edith was an afterthought of the story and remembered about only now and then. 
Half way through the book it began to pick up pace and I was making up theories myself as to what happened to Edith and who was involved in her disappearance.  The ending was satisfactory and I can say I enjoyed it and I would read the next book when it is published. I just think a bit less of Manon's boring life would make the book more readable.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley

Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak!
Tucked away in the idyllic English countryside, Daisy Fischer’s cosy little cottage has always been her safe haven. But when her completely dependable boyfriend issues her an ultimatum, Daisy realises there’s a whole world out there she’s missing out on.
Florence Cortes’s life couldn’t be better – gorgeous apartment right on the beach, fabulous job and dreamy boyfriend, or so she thought. Suddenly, Flo’s life isn’t so perfect after all.
When the girls house swap for the holidays, it’s not long before Daisy is being distracted by sun, sea and sexy Javier while Flo finds herself snowbound for Christmas with only handsome neighbour Hugo and a house full of animals to keep her company.
Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas, but in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it…

Two woman with not so perfect love lives, handsome strangers and Christmas, what could be more perfect? Well, throw in wonderful Barcelona and a country cottage in Chesire and you have a great recipe for a good  seasonal read. 
The grass always looks greener on the other side so when Daisy and Flo swap houses will they love what they had or want what the other has? 
Put on a pair of furry slippers and curl up at the fireside with some wine and chocolate and indulge yourself in other people's lives. You'll love it.

The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis


Kesterly-on-Sea is full of secrets. 
Some are darker than others; many are shameful. One is even deadly.

Andee is an ex-detective whose marriage is breaking up. So when a young female student disappears without trace, she throws herself into the search.
Meanwhile, the town’s beloved Rowzee Cayne has just discovered that she is terminally ill, and doesn’t want to burden her family and friends with the news.
Andee and Rowzee don't know it yet, but their journeys are going to help them uncover a secret. One that is going to affect them more than they could ever imagine.

I found this book to be a bit slow. New characters were being introduced and I was having trouble remembering who was who. Andee the female ex dectective comes across as being really strong and assertive but when she finally decides to leave her husband she seems to find it difficult to stand up to him and put him in his place...he is a real pain.
Rowzee is a lovely retired schoolteacher who when given a terminal diagnosis from her GP just wants to fix everyone's life for them. She is quick to forgive and forget and probably a saint in disguise. 
The big question in the story is what happened to Jessica,a student at University College London who sings in clubs and pubs to pay her way through college. Was Jessica leading the life her parents thought she was or did she have a secret? Two years have gone by and no one knows if she is dead or alive. 
Everyone's life will be changed in some way by the end of the book.
Once I got to know everyone I began to enjoy it more and I was anxious for Andee to find out what happened to Jessica.
I have read a few books by Suan Lewis and I would never have guessed that she had written this one if her name hadn't been on the cover. It was more like a story of a small village where everyone knows each other and most are related 
I did think the big discovery regarding Jessica would have been more dramatic than it was but maybe I've been reading too many thrillers lately.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Finding Libby by Deanna Lynn Sletten

Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother's closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.
In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie's well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack's humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie's mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.
Now that Emily's mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple's fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?

While helping her grandmother pack up her house Emily discovers secrets from her father's past. She finds out that he had once been married to Libbie his childhood sweetheart. Emily's mother has not long passed away and Jack and her had a long and happy marriage but Libbie  is curious about what happened to his first love, is she still alive?
What follows is a happy and heartbreaking love story,one you would have thought would never end.

Libbie was the girl from the rich, posh family and Jack was the boy who wanted to be a car mechanic from a poorer family. They fell in love in opposition from Libbie's patents. Jack did his best but Libbie had a fragile mental state and things went from bad to worse,her family intervened and Jack was left alone unable to make things better.

I shouted at this book a few times. I shouted at Libbie to pull herself together and I shouted at her parents and at Jack but to no avail. They went on and did their own thing and made me shed tears...again...and again.
My only hope was that many years later Jack's daughter would make everything better. Did she? You'll have to read the book for yourself to find out but I promise you won't be disappointed.

Forgotten Women by Freda Lightfoot.

It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home.
But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression.
Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever.
Deceit, heartbreak and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured.

The book begins with a heartbreaking letter from a woman sent from Ventas prison in Spain and dated 1936 and it sounds very much like the writer did not survive.
Forward to 1986 in an art gallery in Scotland where Jo is exhibiting a painting which came from her grandmother's attic as part of an exhibition commemorating the year when Scots joined the International Brigade at the start of the Spanish civil war.
She is interrupted by a very curt Spanish man who tells her that the painting is not genuine. Jo is shocked and so is her grandmother who is standing nearby. The man, Anton invites them both to meet his grandmother in Spain who he says has the original painting.
Jo goes to Spain and we hear the story of three woman who in 1936 joined in the civil war in Spain,one Spanish woman and two Scottish.

I adored this book. I wanted it to go on and on. It brought home to me how the civil war affected families and friends and how horrific it was for ordinary people. I didn't know before I read this just how many young people went from Scotland to help the cause whether it be to fight or nurse or hand out food and supplies. There is a lot more I'd like to share with you about this story, I could tell you about Charlotte from Scotland who went to Spain to escape her domineering step father, or Libby who joined the international brigade to find her young brother Nick or Rosita who was fighting for her family's survival. You will enjoy the book better if you find out all those things for yourself.
The parts of the book which were set during the war had me on the edge of my seat and scared to turn to a new page, I was so afraid of what might befall the women.
I only have one negative thing to say about this book and it's very small. I didn't like the two women speaking in Scottish tongue. I'm Scottish myself but I found those parts a bit off putting and think the story would have flowed better without it, but this is just my opinion I still loved the book and I'm sure you will too.

For kindle or paperback.