The Vets at Hope Green: A New Start by Sheila Norton

The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home by Sheila Norton

 

32491675Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 13th April 2017

Series: The Vets at Hope Green #3 (read my review of part 1 here part 2 here and part 3 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 80

Genre: Women’s Fiction,  Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

Synopsis:

PART FOUR of a serialised novel – a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

The last few months have been hard for Sam. Her dream to work as a vet is slowly becoming reality, and she is beginning to encounter the struggles and heartbreaks that someone in a job like this must face.

But what’s more heartwarming and inspiring than a litter of new piglets? On a call to a farm with Joe, Sam can’t help but feel a sense of renewal in her own life as she witnesses one of the most glorious and natural processes of all.

Sam’s thoughts inevitably turn to her own child – will she be able to cope when the baby is born? And with her love life so shaky, will a fatherless child turn out all right?

Rating: 2/5

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

So, “A New Start” is the fourth and last part to the Vets at Hope Green series by Sheila Norton. Yes, I did enjoy those short novellas, they were light – hearted, incredibly easy to follow and they were written in a way that’s just drawn me in and I wanted to know what’s going to happen in Sam’s life.

However, this last part disappointed me. Already the previous part was very short and this one was also so short, but while in the third part there was all the time something happening, here I had a feeling that everything is incredibly rushed. Don’t get me wrong, all the things were very neatly wrapped up but for me there was no sparkle to the writing, it was as if the author wanted to seal things up and just be done. Actually, there probably couldn’t happen anything new as all the opened threads needed to be closed, so in fact there were really no surprises. However, it was not the biggest problem for me. What spoiled this novel for me was something that I’ve already suspected is going to happen. Namely Sam and Joe. My opinion about Joe didn’t change a lot, yes, there was a lot of things going on in his life but for me it was not justification for him behaving like a spoiled child, being so incredibly moody, changing moods like a girl changes clothes, quoting a famous song. Then the way he was with Sam, blank her and ignore her because he was thinking she was with David, being OFFENDED with her because of this fact, even though he was still married to Andrea! What the hell??? How old are you, Joe, and what’s your way of thinking? But then happened this worst thing that I was expecting [SPOILER]– that Joe and Sam will stay together and I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but feel that Joe’s wife was not cold enough in her grave and they were already making plans for the future. Sorry. Out of place. (hide spoiler)]

I am incredibly, incredibly sad that this conclusion to the series didn’t work for me. No, it didn’t not work for me, I just didn’t like it. I love Sheila Norton’s writing style and the way she told this story, I liked the idea, I liked the place and the villagers (which there was almost no mention of in this last part, a pity!) but it just wasn’t for me this time. However, I am glad that I had a chance to have “The Vets at Hope Green” being introduced to me. It was a sweet, easy and uplifting story altogether.

The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home by Sheila Norton

The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home by Sheila Norton

 

32880548Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 16th March 2017

Series: The Vets at Hope Green #3 (read my review of part 1 here and part 2 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction,  Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

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

Things are finally starting to look up for Sam – a chance at her dream job as a vet, and a new friend (who is a huge animal lover himself – a very important detail!) What more could she ask for?

But a something is eating away at her: her boss Joe is acting strangely around her – he’s definitely hiding something. And having dreamed of being a vet for so long, she cannot afford to put a foot wrong.

When a call to tend to a sick pony comes into the practice, it all strikes too close to home for Sam and Joe. The odds are stacked against her, and she risks losing everything…

Rating: 4/5

“Too Close to Home” is the third and last but one part in “The Vets at Green Hope” series. It starts exactly where we left, seeing Sam at hospital with a miscarriage scare. This part feels and seems much shorter to the previous two ones, the chapters are shorter and there are only six of them, as far as I can remember, so it is really a very, very quick read – but sometimes it’s just what you need.

So this time there is a lot happening on the pages, guys, really. There was not a single minute without something happening, let it be with Sam, or Joe or even with Joe’s sweet daughter, with friends visiting and falling out, with parents visiting and missed cats bringing surprises. It was packed to the brims but it was written in such a way that I’ve never felt overwhelmed or tired, and those events were realistic and relatable. We also learn much more about the very moody Joe in this part and I must admit that as much as I sympathize with him, this man is bringing me to my limits – he’s exceptionally rude, and if all of us were so rude when having problems than our lives would be really miserable. Also Sam annoyed me a little this time with her occasionally childish behaviour and with everything bringing tears to her eyes – I know, hormones, but still, give us a break, girl. But again, the villagers and the village are brought to life, and there is more about the vet practice itself, and I enjoyed it very much.

This short story ends – of course – with a cliffhanger and I am already looking forward to the last part of the series. I am only afraid that it’s going to end not in the way I’d like it to end re: the romance but let’s wait and see.

The Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows / Blog Tour + Extra

I seem to be reading only historical novels lately, guys, but I also have this luck that the books are really great representatives of the genre. Today “The ambulance Girls” by Deborah Burrows blog tour stops with me and I have an extract for you – it’s just a foretaste, sounding so very promising and I am sure you’re going to enjoy the book whole – heartedly!

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CHAPTER SIX

I woke to a cold morning. Damp white mist swirled around the gardens and the sun was like a great orange ball. It was nearly winter, I realised disconsolately. It would be my second winter in England, and I was not looking forward to it at all. It was the darkness that had affected me the most last year. I expected that I would find it as miserable this year also, with the added bonus of nightly air raids. I couldn’t help sighing. It was springtime in Perth now and my mother’s roses would be in full bloom in our small garden.

On the table in the lobby, next to the cubicle that housed the building’s telephone, were the letters that had been delivered for the occupants of St Andrew’s in yesterday’s second post. There were three letters for me, all from Australia. The flimsy aerograms were creased and a little grubby after their long journey. One was my mother’s weekly epistle. I recognised Uncle Charles’s scrawl on the second, and when I turned the third letter over, it was from a school friend. I was delighted at this tangible connection to home, but I sighed as I tucked the letters carefully into the pocket of my jacket; I would read them once I had breakfasted.

I had been away from Australia now for nearly three years, and I missed my family terribly. After so many letters, I knew what my mother’s would contain: she would tell me that my father and my brother Ben were well, give me a small anecdote about each, and then concentrate on her ‘war work’. Mum had formed a local Red Cross branch as soon as war was declared and now spent most of her time rolling bandages, packing parcels for Australian prisoners of war and helping to run funding drives for Blitz victims, in between knitting scarves and jumpers for servicemen. From her letters, it seemed my mother was the same tiny ball of energy as she had been when she waved goodbye to me at Fremantle Dock on that hot January morning in 1938.

My father hated writing letters, but I knew he would have scrawled a message of love at the bottom of my mother’s epistle, telling me that he missed me and longed to see my beautiful smiling face. He always wrote the same message, and it always made me cry. If I were lucky, my brother Ben, now fifteen and about as fond of letter writing as Dad was, would also have written me a short note.

I was well aware that my parents were desperate for me to return home, but they never pushed. Sometimes I wished I could leave London and sail back to Australia, but I knew the work I did in London was worthwhile and essential, and I had made up my mind not to leave until the war was over, no matter how many cold, dark winters I had to endure.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR FOR MORE CONTENT:

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The Vets at Hope Green: Follow your Heart by Sheila Norton

The Vets at Hope Green: Follow Your Heart by Sheila Norton

 

32880546Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 16th February 2016

Series: The Vets at Hope Green (read my review of part 1 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 61

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

PART TWO of a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals. Perfect for fans of Appleby Farm, Ivy Lane and Alfie the Doorstep Cat

Working as the receptionist at her local London vets, Sam dreams of escaping to a quieter life in the country. Spending time with her Nana and her lovely but elderly dog Rufus has sparked something within Sam, and all she wants is to start afresh. But her boyfriend Adam is in London, and something tells her that it won’t be an easy conversation.

But then something happens that makes her going-nowhere receptionist job seem much more appealing: a little stray cat called Ebony, in need of love and nurturing back to health. Faced with a dilemma, she must choose between her heart’s desire and the little ball of fluff who’s desire is to worm her way into her heart…

Is it possible to have it all?

Rating: 4/5

“Follow your Heart” is a nice continuation of the series, and I enjoyed it even more than the first part. It was not so wishy – washy, even though the first part was also very nice, but this one was in my opinion more down to earth and believable, yet still cute and light – hearted.

The story starts exactly where we left. Sam tells Adam she’s pregnant and the way he reacted didn’t surprise me at all. It doesn’t take long for Sam to decide that she wants to leave London and where is better than at her Nana Peggy’s who’s feeling so lonely. There is also a small black cat in a need of a good home involved and the story also brings us back to the lovely people from Nana’s village and one very complicated vet as well.

It’s a very easy, straight – forward read without twists and turns, yet its steady level somehow works and it’s a real pleasure to read it. And this time it is also full of decisions to be made, of new beginnings, new and old friends. The last scene ended – of course – with a cliff hanger that is not a cliff hanger for me any more as – my mistake! My mistake! I shouldn’t have but have done it (well, it was at the end of the book, so there) – I’ve read what is to be expected in the next two parts. However, I am really looking forward to reading the next parts as I incredibly want to see why Joe is as he is and I am sure that Sam is jumping to conclusion about one situation, and I want to see it explained. There is great warmth to the writing style and I just want it to envelop me in its warmth again. Easy, light and quick read and lovely continuation to the series. Really recommended, though you have to make sure to read it in the right order!

 

The Vets at Hope Green: Escape to the Country by Sheila Norton

The Vets at Hope Green: Escape to the Country by Sheila Norton

 

32880549Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 19th January 2017

Series: The Vets at Hope Green #1

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

Number of pages: 328

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

PART ONE of a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals. Perfect for fans of Appleby Farm, Ivy Lane and Alfie the Doorstep Cat

Working as a receptionist in a London vets, Sam is living far from her idea of a simple life. She’s always broke, rents a tiny flat and is constantly arguing with her boyfriend. But the worst part is that her career is going nowhere. She wants to be a vet, but the most contact time with the animals she has is a quick hello when she books in their next appointment.

Something’s got to give, so when her parents suggest visiting her Nana Peggy in a small quiet picturesque village, she agrees, thinking a bit of R&R could do her good.

But rest and relaxation may not be the order of the day. Poor Nana Peggy’s lovely dog Rufus is unwell, and Sam can’t help but grow fond of him. With the help of Joe the local vet, a charming yet strangely distant man, Sam sets out on looking after him, despite her London life trying to call her back…

Rating: 4/5

I haven’t read a Shelia Norton books before, am not really sure why? If her other novels are so cosy and lovely written as “The Vets at Hope Green” than I’ve missed tons and am going to make up for this as soon as possible. Moreover, I love animals so this novella being about vets could work really well for me. Well, this is what I hope for, at least 🙂 And, as it turned out, it was a great introduction to the series, a feel – good, quick read. Tad predictable, tad too sweet but overall a nice, cosy novella, offering you a few moments of relax, rest and escapism.

Our main character, Sam, always wanted to be vet but right now she’s working as a veterinary receptionist in London. She’s dating Alex – they’ve been together for a while but Sam starts to think that this relationship doesn’t have a future – that is, until something happens that makes her to think everything over. A visit to her grandmother couldn’t be planned for a better moment, then – Sam is hoping to recharge her batteries and make some important decisions in the countryside. Long walks with her grandmother’s spaniel Rufus, sea air, Nan’s company is all what she needs right now. What she doesn’t need is problems and a new village vet, Joe Bradley…

The story ends, of course, with a cliff hanger, as it well can be expected in a series, and naturellement it made me want to read the story further. Moreover, I fell for the characters and I like Sam very much – I found myself keeping my fingers crossed for her, admiring how she dealt with the stressful situations, how she was around other people and animals. You could feel she has a big heart made of gold. There was some jumping to conclusions on her side, I suppose, as I think that one of the plotlines is going to turn a little differently than she thinks, but let’s just wait and see. Joe, on the other hand, the enigma vet in the town, was driving me crazy – he may be good around animals, and it is something already, right, but his hot/cold blowing was incomprehensible for me and it annoyed me a little. I am guessing there must be a perfect reason for him being like this but as yet it was not revealed. So patience, my friends, patience.
I also loved the setting of this novella – the gorgeous, coastal countryside of Hope Green in Dorset where everybody knows everybody else, and the feel – good community spirit was visible there. Heck, when people say how sorry they are because your dog has just died, they must be lovely folks to live around, right? No wonder Sam felt immediately at home there – I felt immediately at home when reading it!

So yes, it was a very promising start to the new series, methinks. What is great is the fact that as much as I am guessing how some things are going to develop there is also a lot of potential and the story can really go in multiple directions. It was a light, easy, sometimes too far – fetched, yet interesting read and I am looking forward to reading it further. It was not a story full of twist, turns and fireworks but it is clear that it was not meant to be like this, and sometimes it’s great to read such an easy, light novella. There is this overall feel – good factor to it, cosy atmosphere and even though it looks predictable, it didn’t bother me so much. Looking forward to part 2!

Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Nina Is Not OK

by Shappi Khorsandi

 

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Publisher: Ebury Press

Publishing Date: 28th July 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction, Young Adult

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 09.02.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

A dark, funny – sometimes shocking – coming of age novel from one of the UK’s leading comedians. NINA IS NOT O.K. will appeal to fans of Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham.

Rating: 2/5

I can’t express how excited I was when my review copy of “Nina Is not OK” arrived at my doorstep. I’ve seen some early reviews, I’ve heard incredible praises for this novel and the synopsis was great – you’ve no idea how much I was looking forward to reading it. However, very quickly, I’ve used to put this book down a few times in frustration as I couldn’t believe that I was reading it at all, wondering what in fact am I reading? My biggest problem was with the main character – I just didn’t like her. And it is really hard to like the book and to feel it if you don’t like the main character. Nina was for sure not OK but in my opinion she had all this at her own request. I might have fell for her eventually but to be honest I haven’t seen any remorse in her, she was weak, erratic and she only thought that she’s so “cool”. Yes, I know she was young, she was teenager but we can expect something even from teenagers, right? If I only could see a small sign of will to change I’d give her a standing ovation but for me there wasn’t any. While mostly she was not in control of situation, she didn’t do anything to not to put herself in such situations! She was repeating the same pattern, the same mistake again and again. What kept me reading was the promise that it’s incredibly funny read – but sadly, I haven’t laugh once. I didn’t even smile. I’d rather cringe with disbelief and distaste.

I probably didn’t get this book, but on the other hand I think we can’t dodge comparisons to Louise O’Neill’s “Asking For It”, as the books are relatively similar in plot, which I’ve also read and which gave me a major hangover because it was a brilliant read that I “got”. It happens – sadly. I started reading “Nina Is Not OK” full of enthusiasm, was absolutely intrigued by the synopsis but it turned out that it’s not a right read for me. I appreciate what the author did with this book, she tried to give us a deep insight into Nina’s life, to make us understand her and her choices but I just didn’t buy it.

Nina was a very complicated and difficult character – to like. She wasn’t nice, even in her better moments. Sure, the author gave us a chance to see her when she was low, as well as when she was high, but I think her personality didn’t change a lot and she didn’t learn her lesson. You could feel sad with the way Nina’s life turned out but I personally felt annoyed and angry. But also other characters, I just found some of their actions so unbelievable, for example Nina’s mother, who actually abandoned her moving to another country – I know Nina was 17, but huh? To strike off a daughter because her new husband had got a chance for a better job? Zoe felt like your typical, mean blonde, I couldn’t believe how naive and foolish she is, this character could be so interesting and adding a lot of intrigue but she just felt totally under – developed. Pity.

The story itself felt a little chopped, jumping between scenes and characters, not stopping or concentrating on something particular for longer. It felt so bleak, and it dragged on incredibly and I was blinking hard trying to find something happening. It made me feel depressed and I didn’t find a positive thing in this story, to be honest. The first part of the book feels very repetitive, I really had a feeling I’m reading about the same thing over and over again.
I feel really bad when I’m rating a book so low, especially as it had its points – it was brutally honest and dealt with alcoholism in a very realistic, truthful way, without beating around the bush, which is a great thing. It also shows that rape has many faces and it deals with real family’s dynamics and raw relationships. But no matter how important the book was, I couldn’t feel any connection to it, I didn’t have any positive feelings towards the characters and it is really difficult to enjoy the novel when you feel like this. I am sure the book is going to find its fans, I am only sad that I won’t be one of them.

 

 

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman

We Are All Made of Stars

by Rowan Coleman

 24493717

 Publisher: Ebury Press

Publishing Date: 28th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 Synopsis:

What if you had just one chance, one letter you could leave behind for the person you love?

What would you write?

Stella Carey has good reason to only work nights at the hospice where she is a nurse. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, Stella leaves the house each night as her husband Vincent, locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

During her nights at the hospice, Stella writes letters for her patients containing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and usually she delivers each letter to the recipient he or she has died.

That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time to give her patient one final chance of redemption…

Rating: 3/5

 

So. „We Are All Made of Stars”. You’ve no idea how much I waited to eventually read this book. I didn’t manage this when it came out as hardcover, so when the publication day of the paperback copy arrived, I knew that it is finally THE time, and as soon as my beautiful, beautiful copy landed on my doorstep, I started reading it, with incredibly high expectations – I mean, all the prizes for this book, and I adore Rowan Coleman’s novels, so I thought, what can go wrong?

It turned out that, unfortunately, some things can go wrong. I was mostly confused when reading this story, and I had a feeling it’s incredibly dragging on. Confused, because I really didn’t know why some of the chapters are told from different characters’ points of view, who are those people and what is their role in the story. After reading synopsis I was expecting this novel to be about Stella and her husband, and while yes, it was partly about those two, mostly it was about other people more or less connected with the hospice. However, as I didn’t see any direct connection between them and Stella, and for example in Hugh’s case I couldn’t figure out for a long time why is he a characters in this book at all, what is his part in this story, how significant he or the other people are, it just didn’t keep my attention. Usually I don’t have a problem when the book is casting a bigger group of characters, as it was in this story, but I couldn’t warm to them at all. Of course I sympathised with them, I felt their pain, but I had a feeling that I know little too little about them to really know them. I think that my favourite character was Thea, Issy’s mum, and it’s telling something, as she is a very backstage heroine. Please, don’t get me wrong, they are really well written but I couldn’t find any depth in them. Also, my problem was that for me the story didn’t concentrate on a single storyline – there are many subplots, but not one of them was really greatly and deeply explored – maybe this is why I couldn’t connect with them?

This book tells the story of few main characters over the course of seven nights – together with their most hidden fears, feelings and difficult moments. And it was beautifully described. It has touched at all the right heart – strings, especially the letters that Stella was writing for her patients – letters that were meant to reach their recipients after the person’s death. There were two that made me cry hard, really, really hard. Those letter were for the families, friends, neighbours and even strangers and there was a whole variety of them, from funny to really heart – breaking, and I think that they were the best part of this book. Just the best.

I’ve missed a story in this book, you know? Something that would keep my attention, something that would wow me as much as for example Ms Coleman’s last book, but this moment has never arrived. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I’ve been there, I’ve seen this all before, that there is nothing new. This book was absolutely okay, full of emotions, understanding and empathy and yet I was missing this „something” that makes the reading exceptional for you. However, it never took me by surprise, I personally didn’t find there neither a twist nor turn, and it lacked in freshness for me. So while it was really a lovely, poignant book, I personally have read better stories, and from Ms Coleman as well. But one is for sure – Rowan Coleman can write with a great sensitivity and she’s not afraid to touch upon really difficult issues.