Book Review: Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley

Book number six in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Wish Upon A Star by Trisha Ashley.

‘Single mum Cally’s life is all about her little girl Stella. She’s resigned to the fact that the only romance she’s going to get is from the rom-coms she watches and with her busy job and her daughter; she doesn’t have time to even think about love.
But when Stella gets sick, and Cally is forced to move in with her mother in the remote village of Sticklepond, to save money for Stella’s operation, Cally realizes how tough it can be to go it alone. Still, the last thing Cally wants to do is fall in love. All she wants is a Christmas miracle to save Stella. Can laid-back, charming Jago unlock Cally’s frozen heart and show her that the best gifts aren’t always found under the tree?’ (Thanks Amazon!)

So this is my final festive read before we reach November/December, although I do appreciate it is currently April! This is the story of Cally and her daughter Stella, a young girl in desperate need of life saving surgery.  Cally has brought up Stella all alone, after being left whilst pregnant and has therefore dealt with all of her medical issues with only the support of her mother and close friends.

This novel follows Cally as she seeks to raise the money for the life saving surgery in America by selling her London home and moving in with her mother.  What ensues is a whirlwind of fundraising, as the local community embrace both Cally and Stella in a way that Cally could never have imagined. In the midst of the health scares and fundraising, Cally meets Jago, a local baker whom she had met previously in London.  Their friendship blossoms as he supports her through her troubles.

Again, there are very few surprises in this novel.  You have a main character who has to overcome adversity, a budding romance, family and community spirit.  It is a lovely novel, and I particularly liked the references to Winter’s End, Sophy and Seth which featured heavily in Trisha Ashley’s novel, A Winter’s Tale (read this first, but do read it). If you’re looking for a light novel (which at some points can be slightly heart-wrenching), then read this.  Although I wouldn’t blame you if you add it to your TBR list for nearer Christmas 😉.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖

 

Book Review: A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn

Book number 5 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn.

‘Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?’ (Thanks Amazon!)

That’s right, I returned to my Christmas themed novels (sorry, but December is just too long to wait!).  After the beautiful, but harrowing Code Name Verity, I needed a lighter read and this was the one to catch my eye.  A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas combines the vibrant city of New York with the story of two best friends whose love for one another begins to evolve (finally!) from a life-long friendship into something more.

As with many books of this genre, there were no surprises.  It was not surprises that I was looking for however, and this book delivered.  The blindness of one to the others feelings was expected, as was the expectation of others that they were meant to be.  The significant event of a wedding in New York threw them together, placing them into a situation that forced them both to explore their own feelings.

I must admit that I found Lucie to be a little annoying.  In fact she was annoying to the point that I wondered why Dale stuck around! I enjoyed Dale’s character though, even if I was willing him to move on for a good three-quarters of the book.  As we are now almost in April, the daffodils are blooming and the sun is shining, I would probably say that now is not the right time to read this book (although I am not trying to put you off – Christmas cheer at any time of year is always good!).  However once we hit November, when the shops have been full of Christmas for a good couple of months already but you are only just starting to feel Christmassy, give this book a read.  It’s a light, easy read that will be most enjoyable to you, sat beside the fire with a glass of wine and good slab of cake!

Rating: 📖📖📖

 

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Book number 4 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

‘ ‘I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.’

Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Code Name Verity is a bestselling tale of friendship and courage set against the backdrop of World War Two.

Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive.  When a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France, she is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in ‘Verity’s’ own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they’ve ever believed in is put to the test . . . ‘ (Thanks Amazon!)

As you are probably already aware, I do love a novel set during World War II and Code Name Verity did not disappoint. This is a beautiful story about the love and friendship of two very different women thrown together due to the onset of a world war.  Queenie and Maddie come from two very different walks of life: one a Scottish aristocrat, the other a girl from Manchester from a working class family.

Whilst the story is fictional, the description of Maddie’s work with the Air Transport Auxiliary and Queenie’s amazing bravery in the face of her terrifying German captors highlights what really would have been faced by those who assisted the war effort during the 1940’s.  Wein captures beautifully the unwavering love and loyalty of two women whose friendship carried them through the worst of times.

There’s very little that I can say about this novel as I don’t want to give anything away.    All I ask is that you read this novel, and let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: Scandal with a Prince by Nicole Burnham

So book number 3 in my Goodreads reading challenge is Scandal with a Prince by Nicole Burnham.

‘A one night stand. A lifelong obsession.
One magical summer, Megan Hallberg met—and loved—Prince Stefano Barrali. But his royal duties took him home, and when she discovered she carried his child, she also discovered he was engaged…to a beautiful, worldly aristocrat.

Ten years later, Stefano runs into Megan at the grand opening of a Barcelona hotel, and it’s his every sensual fantasy come to life. His memory of the stunning blonde and their passionate summer has haunted his dreams, and a night under the stars gives him the perfect opportunity to reclaim the woman he thought lost to him.

Megan finds herself torn between passion with a prince and a fierce need to protect her daughter. Can the man who captured her heart so many years ago be her destiny…or her downfall?’ (Thanks Amazon)

As you can see, I have been enjoying my chick lit since Christmas!

Megan is an independent, highly successful woman who will do anything for her daughter, Anna.  She is fiercely protective of her, having brought her up all alone for a decade. When Prince Stefano walks back into her life Megan becomes flustered as her memories threaten to become a reality once again.  This is a story full of secrets and passion, as two people who were briefly involved in a passionate love affair come back together by chance, whilst discovering long held secrets.

This is a typical chick lit, with an infusion of sauciness for good measure!  This was a great light read, and i’m sure i’ll be reading Honeymoon with a Prince, the second book in the Royal Scandals soon enough!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖

 

Book Review: The Christmas Project by Maxine Morrey

Book number 2 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is The Christmas Project by Maxine Morrey.  Despite Christmas having been and gone, I was not quite ready to let go of the festive cheer so I started working my way through a collection of festive novels I had saved up for Christmas and then had no time to read. I should also warn you all that I have been loving a good fluffy romance, so expect a few reviews in the coming days and weeks.

‘Professional organiser Kate Stone has never – NEVER – been tempted to hit a client over the head with a snow shovel, but Michael O’Farrell is the most obnoxious – and heart-stoppingly gorgeous – man she has ever met. If he weren’t her best friend’s brother, she would not have waited on his doorstep in the freezing cold for five minutes, let alone an hour.

Kate knows, however, that her job isn’t just about tidying up, sometimes she needs to be part therapist too, and Michael clearly needs her help to declutter his heart as well as his home.

But with the festive season just around the corner there isn’t much time to get Michael’s house ready for the O’Farrell family celebrations, but everyone knows that at Christmas anything can happen…’ (Thanks Amazon!)

There are no surprises in this novel, but that is not what I was looking for when I picked up this book.  In fact this novel completely ticked all the boxes for me; it has an organised, albeit slightly neurotic Kat who is expecting to spend Christmas alone (despite having an ‘amazing’ boyfriend who is always too busy to see her); it has the heartbroken but devastatingly handsome Michael, who needs his life and heart pieced back together; it has the very loving O’Farrell’s, the family Kat has never had; and it has the meddling but good-hearted best friend (and sister of said devastatingly handsome Michael), Janey.  So all the pieces are there for a lovely, feel-good Christmas novel.  All I had to do was kick back and watch Kat and Michael fall in love, despite their differences.  An added bonus was that Kat and Michael spent their time re-organising Michael’s beautiful home – I have a thing for home interiors!

I appreciate that it is now February (I did read this in early January), however I think we can all do with a little love and festive cheer at any time of the year.  So get reading!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📗

Book Review: Hunger by Michael Grant

So my 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge was pretty unsuccessful – I binge read and then loose my mojo.  Sometimes that’s because of a book, other times real life gets in the way.  However I am not one to give up, and so I am attempting it again in 2017.  50 books…let’s go!

Book number 1 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Hunger, the second book in the Gone series by Michael Grant.

‘Food supplies are dwindling and Sam Temple is facing mutiny from the kids in Perdido Beach. Driven into town by hunger, Caine and his psychotic sidekick are spreading fear and violence.

And deep in the ground, the biggest danger of all is getting hungry.’ (Thanks go to Amazon)

So firstly I would say that Hungry is darker than book one in the series, Gone (if it can get any darker than the disappearance of anyone aged 15 and over).  Children dealing with starvation, hunger and many other issues that children would not and should not be expected to deal with.  All issues that are faced by the children in the Fayz are further compounded by the fact that more and more children are discovering they have powers, splitting this young community in two as those without these powers grow ever more fearful of their peers.

There are some powerful messages and lessons within this book – it deals with life and death, power and fear, uncertainty and outright violence.  Despite being a YA book, I have to say I was gripped.  I do love a dystopian novel, and this one doesn’t disappoint.  You will need to read the first book Gone as it gives the background and context to this continuing story, but please do that.  I will certainly be reading my way through this series.  The characterisation is strong as you follow the characters on both side of the conflict, and Drake’s increasingly psychotic behaviour is, quite frankly, a little scary.  I’m hopeful that the next book in the series, Lies, continues to live up to it’s predecessors.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📗

parTea #6 Perrywoods

As my blog is supposed to be all about books AND cake, it seems only right to direct you all to this fab new blog aimed entirely at afternoon teas – with any luck Rach will point me in the right direction for a an afternoon tea setting where I can read my latest book AND enjoy some amazing cakes! Enjoy!

Rach's Afternoon parTea

img_1025 28th January 2017

Next stop is Perrywoods Garden Centre in Tiptree, if you have never visited this garden centre it’s one to go to – it has a very large selection of both indoor and outdoor plants and lovely homeware throughout the shop (I can recommend the flavoured Tiptree Jam Factory gin which can be purchased here ;o) ). Now, before we have even arrived I am already concerned about the setting, I love a traditional tea room and this is a garden centre – I was sure the atmosphere was just not going to be the same, however the end of the coffee shop was reserved for afternoon teas, we were sat right next to the window and assigned a waitress who was in charge of all afternoon teas for the day. We were offered tea or coffee and then had the choice of numerous jams, this is a…

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