The Pets at Primrose Cottage Part 3 by Sheila Norton

Pets at Primrose Cottage: Trust Your Heart by Sheila Norton

 

34846988Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 18th January 2018

Series: The Pets at Primrose Cottage #3  (read my review of part 1 here and part 2 here )

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 80

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

PART THREE of a serialised novel – a charming and romantic story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

Emma Nightingale finds she’s accidentally becoming something of a local celebrity in the small town of Crickleford, and it seems that everyone wants her to look after their pets.

While looking after a hamster, she accidentally uncovers a mystery that threatens to draw even more attention to her. With nowhere to turn, soon Emma will have to make a decision that could cost her everything…

Rating: four-stars

 

And so The Pets at Primrose Cottage series continues with part 3, “Trust Your Heart”. In this part, as opposed to two other ones, there is a lot happening, however it still doesn’t explain much about Emma’s previous situation and I’m afraid that the last part will feel too rushed as the author will have to wrap all the threads of the subplots neatly together. But let’s wait and see.

I think this is also the funniest part yet, especially with the hamster adventures, and with the fish troubles. It of course brings back the characters that we’ve got to know but I only hope that the unappetizing Rob won’t enter the scenes anymore, he’s incredibly annoying and I am really not sure what’s the point of his advances. Emma is promising to tell this all his wife but it’s the same as with her lies – she promises to stop and it never happens. However, in this part she’s plucks up the courage to open a little to Matt and I must admit that his reaction disappointed me – and let’s be honest, were the stories that Emma told before so life – changing and significant? And well, hello, there was no talk about relationship before, so why to react so strongly? Probably because he has something to hide as well (oh boy. I fear that the fourth part is going to be longer as the three parts together, everything just accumulates). I also am not sure if I understand Emma’s allegation’s towards her family because when her sister visited her at Primrose Cottage, they were both so well around each other, they enjoyed each other’s company and there was not a feeling that there is something wrong between them.

The story was flowing so very nicely and it made me smile and I enjoyed it. However, all the time I have a feeling that it would work much better as w full – length novel, not all books can be split into series and in my opinion this is such a book, and it just losing too much. But I, of course, will be reading the final instalment, I have to know all the answers. “Trust Your Heart” had some romance in it, some buried secrets and altogether it was enjoyable, quick read.

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On the Bright Side by Hendrik Groen / #BlogTour

Hi guys! Not so long ago, because it was July 2017, I read and incredibly enjoyed “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old” – you can read my review here. When I heard that there is going to be a second diary, I really couldn’t wait to reconnect with the lovely, full of chutzpah and life characters and there really was no question if I’d like to be a part of the blog tour – of course! For Hendrik – anytime!

On the Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

 

35997475Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Biographical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

The new diary from one of literature’s most beloved octogenarians.

On The Bright Side picks up where The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen left off, at the care home of the anarchic Old-But-Not-Dead Club where Hendrik and his friends are determined to enjoy their autumn years full of optimism. Written with his characteristic charm and humour Hendrik proves, yet again, that age is simply a number.

Rating: four-stars

 

Oh, it was a real joy to read book 2 in the Hendrik Groen’s Secret Diary series – I had no idea that I missed him, his octogenarian club and their antics so much! I love Hendrik’s spirit, his plans for the future and his dark humour. If you don’t know Hendrik yet, he’s 85 years old and lives in a care home in Amsterdam. He and some of his cronies founded the Old But Not Dead club, arranging day trips and also visiting differently themed restaurants for food sampling. And they are not as innocent as they might seem, they are causing a lot of troubles in their care home – they really have a spirit!

This is a real diary, as Hendrik writes about his days and the things that happened in the care home. He’s the first to cause a mayhem but there is also this gentle, vulnerable side to him – he has experienced so many things in his life, also some of the most sad ones, and he really knows what he’s talking about. He may be old but he has a spirit and reading about him is like reading more about a school boy. His friend Evert complete him in a perfect way, as he’s the more naughty one, and they both together are unstoppable duo – whenever they appear, there is a mischief and laughter. But there is also a great depth to all the characters, they have experience, they have souls, they have great personalities.

I think this time the books speaks even more loudly to you because you like the characters so much, you keep your fingers crossed for them, and there is now the more serious case of declining health, the looming presence of death. It may sound darker, and it is darker, and more sorrowful read, but there is still a lot of charm to it and it tugs at the heart – strings.

This book is full of dark and intelligent humour but there is also the more serious and poignant side to it, perfectly hidden under all this humour but not to overlooked. It deals with things that we often choose to ignore with humour, wit and gentleness, and the author really does a great job with describing the older age in such a forthcoming and entertaining way (kudos to the translator here as well, as the translation is absolutely brilliant!). I think I enjoyed this second part in Hendrik’s memories better, even though it was a little more on the darker, more serious side but still it was a great entertainment.

It is a story about enjoying life, full of emotions and feelings, filled to brims with outrageous escapades and poignant moments. It’s about not giving up, about dignity of old age, about friendship. Touching and very up – to – date, mentioning events and issues that are our present, it was a great pleasure to read. Recommended!

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The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin

The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin

 

36066989Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 30th November 2017

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 364

Genre:  Suspense, Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Dear Carys, Zoe and Andrea
Come and join me for my fortieth birthday adventure weekend, full of mysteries and surprises the like of which you can’t imagine.

When Joanne’s friends reluctantly accept an invitation to her birthday party, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to this weekend than they are expecting.
One of them is hiding a secret.
And Joanne is planning to reveal it…

A weekend away in a cottage in the woods sounds like fun – until no one can hear your cries for help.

Four friends.
A party to die for.
Who will survive?

Rating: four-stars

After reading “Sister, Sister” by Sue Fortin I was impatiently waiting for this author’s next release, so when “The Birthday Girl” was offered to request on NetGalley I didn’t hesitate long, quickly downloaded it to my kindle and almost immediately started reading this another compelling, hooking read.

The story follows four friends, Carys, Andrea, Zoe and Joanne. The first three have been invited to a mystery birthday weekend by Joanne and reluctantly they arrive at the very remote place. Why reluctantly? Well, lately their friendships haven’t been as good as they used to be and, as it turns out, each of the women had a grudge against the other ones. However, for the sake of the friendship and relationships, they agree – but they are going to regret it, as Joanne feels wronged and she has conjured a plan to expose some of her friends’ secrets.

The relationship between the four women is brilliantly described and very complex – the author knows when and where to add another red herring to change our perspective and to start thinking differently. She can also perfectly well capture the atmosphere, that was changing from very frosty to very heated to full of mistrust. The characters are really not immediately likeable ones, and some of them aren’t likeable at all but this only makes the whole story even more gripping and interesting. They are also all so very different which – I think – is a great thing as it only makes the story so hooking. Joanne is reserved and cold and – in my opinion – unpredictable, Andrea is outspoken and straightforward, Zoe is bouncy and optimistic and easy going and Carys is a very complex person, with a complicated past, with plenty of survival skills, that she’s going to need during the weekend.

It brilliantly describes how a female friendship works, with all its petty jealousies but also bigger and more serious dramas – just as it usually is within groups. The writing style is brilliant, and the author so skilfully builds layer upon layer of secrets, misunderstandings to gradually unpeel the layers and reveal the overall picture. It is very fast paced and it keeps you tightly in its grips, you just can’t put it down as you want to know what’s going to happen next. Also, the setting already adds tons to the atmosphere of uncertainty and fear – in remote woods, far away from inhabited places, it creates this feeling of foreboding and danger.

I can’t stop comparing those two books, though, “Sister, Sister” and “The Birthday Girl”, and I am really sorry for this, I probably shouldn’t be doing this as they are two totally different novels, so please forgive me, but in comparison “The Birthday Girl” was not as full of this palpable tension as “Sister, Sister”. What is the same, however, is the fact that the author incredibly professionally and skilfully makes each and every character suspicious. Guys, really. I was changing my mind instantly and with every new character entering the scene I was suspecting them. While I guessed the main suspect, I haven’t guessed their motivations, and also the author of the few hate letters between chapters directed to Carys was a great surprise to me. She skilfully played with our minds and I was all the time asking myself whom should I trust – is it Carys, as we mostly get the story from her point of view, or is she really hiding something? Shall I believe her version of events or those of the others? I loved this, this feeling of uncertainty and of anything being possible.

Altogether, “The Birthday Girl”, though not as good as “Sister, Sister” (sorry. Sorry!), was a brilliant, compelling and suspenseful read, full of twists and turns and it surprised me more than often. I was very intrigued what the secrets that each of the woman kept were and couldn’t wait to discover them. This book is filled with dramas, feelings and emotions, it is complex and clever, and it ends with a terrific grande finale. However, the very end seemed a tad too flat in comparison to the whole story. Nevertheless, it was a great novel and I can’t wait to read more from the great Sue Fortin. “The Birthday Girl” – recommended!

The Place We Met by Isabelle Broom

The Place We Met by Isabelle Broom

 

34890012Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 30th November 2017

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 406

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Lake Como, Italy, New Year’s Eve. The perfect place to fall in love? Or the perfect place for everything to fall apart?

‘Utterly romantic’ Adele Parks, bestselling author of The Image of You

Lucy may have suffered her fair share of bad men, but now she has Pete. Finally, a man worth sharing her favourite place with, Lake Como. That’s if she can put mysterious phone calls and glamorous ex-girlfriends out of her mind.

Taggie is rushed off her feet, but distraction is exactly what she needs to forget why she fled England and the sadness she left behind. She certainly doesn’t have time for infuriating stranger Marco. A man is the last thing she needs right now.

Lucy and Taggie might not know it, but their lives are about to collide. The New Year might begin with fireworks – but how will it end?

Rating: four-stars

In Isabelle Broom’s newest release “The Place We Met” we are introduced to two main characters. Taggie works as a tour guide in Lake Como after escaping London and a heart – break. Lucy loved Lake Como as a child and decides to take her new boyfriend Pete there for Christmas and New Year. The two, at first sight, different women that don’t know each other do share something in common and they don’t know that their lives are going to change soon.

I, of course, loved the setting of Lake Como at around Christmas and New Year, the author is already known for gorgeous places she’s choosing for her stories but I think she could work on creating her characters better, more developed, more interesting – settling for the characters took me a little longer – probably because it took long for the two different characters and two different stories told alternatively to eventually overlap and find something in common.

But again, Isabelle Broom is perfect when it comes to the settings and describing the places, with all the gorgeous little details, places known only to the insiders, things to discover, but when it comes to action the books start to slow down and feel flat – with the exception of Isabelle’s debut novel, “My Map of You”, which I incredibly loved and which stays currently my favourite book by this author. “The Place we Met” felt mostly very slow, concentrating hard on the setting and bringing the beauty of Lake Como at Christmas to life – which, BTW, the author has effortlessly brought to life – but it lacked on pace and more complex plot. I also had some problems with the plot being build up to something much bigger and shocking than what Taggie’s secret turned out to be. However, there was much warmth to the story and in the end I found myself surprised how much I enjoyed reading the book, and it left me with a smile on my lips.

Altogether, it was a bitter – sweet story about finding peace with your past, about love and hope, and I think it is Isabelle’s second – best, after “My Map of You” of course. The writing here is lovely, full of emotions, evocative. The plot is tad predictable and I would love it to be more complex and more mature but I am sure that soon I’m going to get it from this author. In the meantime I can only heartily recommend this book to you all, guys.

The Pets at Primrose Cottage Part 1 by Sheila Norton

The Pets at Primrose Cottage: A Place to Hide by Sheila Norton

 

34659312Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 23rd November 2017

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages:

Genre:  General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

PART ONE of a serialised novel – a charming and romantic story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

Emma Nightingale needs a place to hide away. Pursued by the demons left by her ex-boyfriend, she takes refuge in quiet Crickleford, a sleepy town in Dartmoor, where she can lay low.

Life in Crickleford is quiet and peaceful, but it won’t be for long if people discover the truth about Emma’s past. Not wanting to make too much of a fuss, she ends up lying about why she’s there – she’s looking after some cats, she says – then suddenly the town’s new ‘pet-sitter’ is in high demand!

While looking after an Alsatian, Emma finds all attention is on her, and the handsome young reporter from the local paper takes an interest in her story…

Rating: four-stars

I got to know Sheila Norton after reading her previous serialized novel “The Vets at Hope Green” and when I spotted “The Pets at Primrose Cottage” available for request on NetGalley, I didn’t hesitate long and requested the story.

I think I can guess what has happened in Emma’s past, why did she move back from New York to Devon – there were enough hints for my liking but nevertheless, I am of course curious if my assumptions are right, so I am already looking forward to the next parts, especially as I really liked this novella. It was sweet and charming, optimistic and very promising. And even if I had a huge problem with Emma, to be honest, she made me feel almost desperate. I couldn’t understand why she feels the need to tell so much lies. Yes, there was a reason, she was hiding (we don’t know why, but I am sure more details will be revealed in the next parts) but really, no matter what situation, no matter what person, no matter what about, she has never told the truth. And it started to annoy, and bother me, and I didn’t like to see her digging a hole for herself with her lies – she seemed as she was not capable of telling the truth.
However, there was something in Emma that made me like her and fell for her. She is full of life and light.

Sheila Norton’s writing style in this novella is warm and chatty and she brings the setting, the situations and the characters to life. It was cosy, I liked the atmosphere of the sleepy town and adored the great number of the four – legged characters. I can’t help it but I’m comparing “The Vets at Hope Green” and “The Pets at Primrose Cottage” all the time, and “The Pets” feel much better and much more promising, and I can only hope that it’s going to continue in this lovely way.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng / #BlogTour

Hi guys, hope you are all having a great Thursday – it’s almost weekend, right? Today I’m very thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Celeste Ng’s blog tour – her new novel, “Little Fires Everywhere”,  is out today, as a beautiful hardcover copy, but what is between the covers is even more beautiful – this story took my breath away and I was like glued to the pages. It was an intriguing, captivating novel and I can’t wait for more from this author.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

 

35221049Publisher: Little, Brown

Publishing Date: 9th November 2017

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Rating: four-stars

Celeste Ng’s debut novel, “Everything I Never Told You”, is a part of my ever – growing TBR pile but I’ll make sure to clear some of my reading time to read this book as soon as possible, as “Little Fires Everywhere” has just blown me away – I expected it to be good but not this good, as it turned out to be a very clever, multi – complex book with unforgettable characters, a story about motherhood, manipulations and opinions, an absolutely hooking and captivating psychological mystery touching upon many taboos and controversies.

This book was a slow – burner. For me personally the story took off at around page 150 – I was then glued to the pages, while earlier it was a nice albeit slow read about things and events that at the first sight were not so significant to the rest of the story. But of course we needed this long introduction to figure out all the complex relationships, friendships, family dynamics and battles, and we move on, but in my opinion it was a little on the slow side. However, we get a great picture of what has happened and what has led to this tragic finale.

The characters in this book are incredibly vivid and so caught up in the little fires of the small town Shaker Heights – the author so incredibly well captured the atmosphere of this place, of its residents, the way they were ticking. The characters, the Richardsons, Mia and Pearl, then Bebe and the McCulloughs, they just pulled me into their lives. I was exposed to all kinds of emotions when reading about them and their lives, liking and disliking them, pitying them, feeling impatient with them.
The characters were not the most likeable ones – they were manipulative, they used each other, they were morally corrupt and mostly some of them had a feeling they’re of a better sort. They were full of flaws that they were trying to hide from other, prying eyes and on the surface their lives seemed perfect, even though they were far from it. I’ve been actually changing my mind about them, and it doesn’t happen often that my feelings and emotions vary so much during reading and even now, days after finishing the novel, I still find myself changing my perspective and opinion.

It was a brilliant description of relationships, of how the behaviour of the others may affect you and the way you behave – a great psychological portrait. It is very character – centred and they create a very powerful and intriguing story. I loved the fact that the author isn’t judging any of the characters, letting us to have our own opinions, and even though I was sure on which character’s side I’m on, I started to have doubts as well. Am I right to think so? Are the characters really white or black, good or bad? I love when the stories are not straightforward and make you think, and this was this kind of a story.

It was thought – provoking, compelling and intriguing domestic drama. It was raw, emotional, and sharp observed about small – town politics, about hypocrisy, about tragedies, small and big, full of surprises and brilliantly well crafted characters. However, I must admit that I am not the hugest fan of the end to this story. It is left open, and it is this kind of a story that I’d love to have a closure, to know what has happened then – hence the four stars rating. But apart from this, I was really captivated by this multi – layered and clever story. Recommended!

 

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Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb / #BlogTour

Hi guys. Today I am delighted to be part of the “Last Christmas in Paris” blog tour. I do love a great historical fiction, and I am always intrigued by books written by two authors, and this novel brings both of those things. While I’ve already read and adored books written by Hazel Gaynor – they mostly make me cry like a baby but they are so beautiful! – Heather Webb was a new author to me that I am incredibly happy to have discovered for myself.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

 

34150794Publisher: William Morrow

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2017

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre:  Romance, Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Rating: four-stars

I love to read great historical fiction and Hazel Gaynor is for sure one of the authors that can write in this genre. This time she has collaborated with Heather Webb, and together those two ladies have delivered a wonderful, poignant and heart – breaking novel, and a very unique one, as it is written in a letter format. There are literally only letters, and yes, at the beginning it was somehow hard to follow the story like this, without the usual descriptions of, I don’t know, people, their looks, the way they dress, places, weather, without dialogues, but it didn’t take me long to fell in love with the characters and the way the story was told.

Evie Elliott’s brother Will and his best friend Thomas leave to serve in World War 1. They all hope that war is going to end soon and that they’re going to see each other in a few months, in time for Christmas. They stay in touch via letters in which they describe all things that happens, their deepest thoughts, hopes and fears – out of those letters arises a story between a young and ambitious girl who wants to fight the war in her own way and becomes a spirited journalist, her reserved but loving brother and his best friend, those two new – minted soldiers, believing in all things good – that is, until they realise what war really is.

 There was one thing that didn’t really work so well for me, and it was the romance aspect between Evie and Tom.  All the time they were best friends and the sudden explosion of the love was this little bit unrealistic and out of the blue. I had a feeling that the authors concentrate on all things but the blossoming feelings, and then suddenly, towards the end, the love exploded and it felt much too rushed for my liking, too flawless. Also, the change in Evie after she went to the war was too forced for me, it just didn’t ring true, and was also too quick.

 But altogether,  it was a great love story, about dreams, disillusions and loyalty. What made it even more better was the fact that the authors so skilfully smuggled a lot of clever, sharp humour that was so needed when we faced all those tragedies. It was thoroughly researched and I didn’t have a feeling that it was written by two authors, maybe it was even better that it was written by two authors because the letters had their own distinctive voice and didn’t sound similar, as if written by the same person. Both authors writes in such an engaging, descriptive and rich style and they effortlessly transported me to a different times and different places.

In the end we receive a wonderful, touching and unique story that tugs at the heart strings. It made for a very fast read and it was, in fact, unputdownable – because it was always “just one more letter” and because it was so hooking and captivating. You somehow felt just like a part of the characters’ lives, probably because thanks to the letters, as they were so honest, there were no secrets, you knew all their feelings. Beautiful and poignant, a great book for fans of historical fiction – recommended from me!

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