The Picture House by the Sea by Holly Hepburn

The Picture House by the Sea by Holly Hepburn

 

35716672Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 10th August 2017

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

Number of pages: 464

Genre:   Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brilliant new series from the bestselling author of The Star and Sixpence series. Perfect for all fans of Cathy Bramley.
The little picturehouse by the sea is the Palace at Polwhipple – a lovely art deco cinema, nestled in front of azure Cornish seas. But it is long past its heyday now, and its only saving grace is Ferelli’s, the family run ice-cream concession in the foyer, which is widely known as the best ice cream for miles.
So when Ferdie, the owner of Ferelli’s, falls ill, his granddaughter Gina drops everything to come and help out. But when she arrives she is dismayed by the state of the cinema, which she remembers fondly from summer holidays when she was little, and she is determined to give it the makeover it deserves. Along with local builder Ben Pascoe, she sets about reviving the Palace to its former glory.
But the cinema needs more than a lick of paint. Its very future is under threat from a developer with greed in his eyes. Can Gina save the place before it is too late?

Rating: five-stars

 

“The Picture House by the Sea” is Holly Hepburn’s second full – length novel that I had a pleasure to read – because after reading and enjoying “A Year at the Star and Sixpence” I just knew I have to read the new one, no matter what. There is such a lovely feel – good vibe to this beautiful cover, don’t you think, it makes you want to go and visit the place pictured there, and the synopsis sounds so inviting – well, the story promises ice – creams and cinema, so nothing can go wrong there, right? What I personally loved in this book was the fact that the book didn’t feel like being previously published in parts – mostly, when the novel is first published in instalment, when you read it as a full – length there are many repetitions, which is understandable but often just bothers me. This time however it didn’t feel like that, and that’s a real brownie point.

The next thing that I really liked was the fact that each of the four parts of the story introduces us to a new old movie and even though I’m not a great cinema fan even I have heard (and seen!) those films, so I could really get into the atmosphere and I understood all the references or nicknames. Also, next to the films there is also a new ice – cream flavour and a cocktail being introduced and oh my words, guys…! They sounded so innovative, so different, so intriguing and so, so good! I would do lots to try them all, really.

Holly Hepburn has created brilliant, warm characters that you love or love to hate. Gina was lovely, she was full of passion and determination and she never gave up, even when life was getting in the way. Was there a thing she couldn’t do or organise? I don’t think so – impossible was nothing for our Gina, but in all this she came across as down – to – earth, normal young woman. I adored her ideas and how quickly she always got the feeling of what is needed to help. Ben is Gina’s friend from the times she was coming to her grandparents for holidays and now they catch up. Ben … *swoon*. Helpful, honest, with an unusual hobby of stream trains but at least it was something different and not so obvious. And of course all the background characters – full of good vibes, personalities and I just felt good in their company.

It was light, a little predictable read – but it didn’t spoil the reading this time because I was too caught up in the story for it to bother me. There were moments that I had a feeling the narration is going too far with descriptions or concentrating on things that are not so significant to the story but altogether the pace of the story was quick, there were many things happening, there were plenty of events and it kept me hooked to the pages. The writing was rich, vivid and colourful – you could really see why this art deco cinema used to be a local landmark and why Gina was so desperate to bring its brilliant days back – and the author brought all the ice – creams flavours to life and also the descriptions of the Picture House were detailed but full of charm and atmosphere.

Altogether, “The Picture House by the Sea” is really a lovely, warm and inviting story that has it all: vivid, living, bubbly characters, battles to fight, gorgeous setting, some romance and troubles. It’s about being determined, about not giving up, about friendship old and new and family bonds, and I truly enjoyed it. A perfect summer read, full of charm and vintage dresses and I can only highly recommend it to you all, guys!

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Practice Makes Perfect by Penny Parkes / #BlogTour + #GuestPost

Hi guys, a new day, a new blog tour – and I have plenty of them coming your way in the next days. Plenty! But today I am absolutely thrilled as Penny Parkes’s blog tour stops by on the blog. I am sure you have heard about Penny and her lovely books – Practice Makes Perfect is actually my first read by this author but she’s just won a new devoted fan in yours truly. Next to my review, I also have a guest post from Penny – enjoy!


Practice Makes Perfect by Penny Parkes



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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

Series: The Larkford Series #2

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

Number of pages: 576

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

This surgery is full of scandal and secrets!

The Practice at Larkford has suddenly been thrust under the spotlight – and its nomination as a ‘NHS Model Surgery’ is causing the team major headaches.

Dr Holly Graham should be basking in the glow of her new romance with fellow doctor, Taffy – but she is worried that the team is prioritising plaudits over patients, and her favourite resident, the irreverent and entertaining Elsie, is facing a difficult diagnosis. Add to that the chaos of family life and the strain is starting to show.

Dr Dishy Dan Carter’s obsession with work is masking unhappiness elsewhere – he can’t persuade girlfriend Julia to settle down. It’s only as Julia’s mother comes to stay that he realizes what she has been hiding for so long.

Alice Walker joins the team like a breath of fresh air and her assistance dog Coco quickly wins everyone round – which is just as well, because Coco and Alice will soon need some help of their own.

Can they pull together and become the Dream Team that the NHS obviously thinks they are?

Rating: four-stars


Practice Makes Perfect is Penny Parkes’s second book, and also second in the Larkford series about a medical practice in a small town. I haven’t read the previous book, I admit, so of course I was this little bit afraid if I can read it as a stand – alone or if I thought I missed too much. However, after finishing this book I can assure that you can read it as a stand alone. There were, in fact, so many cameos and throwbacks and recollections that right now I have a feeling as if I had read “Out of Practice”! I, of course, have heard many, many lovely things about Penny’s books so there is no need to say that I started reading this one with great expectations, right? It was actually one of my most anticipated reads this summer and I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Even without reading the first book I didn’t have any problems to get into the story and had a feeling that I already know the characters – four doctors, their lives and their work at the busy practice in Larkford. Holly seems to be coming to terms with her divorce and she’s settled in her new life with her two twin boys and Taffy, who’s also working as a doctor at the practice. Dan and Julia are the other couple and other two doctors and their lives are little bit more complicated and relationship is not so straightforward and easy, and honestly, I was asking myself more than once if they are really destined to be together. The practice has just been nominated to become a model for NHS, which means more money and more patients but also more responsibility and more scrutiny. There is also the TV team recording their program in the practice with Julia being its star – a lot of things happening at once, don’t you think?

Now guys, I think there is “something” in books about doctors, well, about doctors generally, let’s think about George Clooney in “ER”, I think that we all picture the male bookish characters as Doctor Ross, no? I personally like such books and the Penny Parkes has proved that she really knows what she’s writing about, with all the talks, the medical terms, the treatments – and this is actually my only “but”, guys. The book is rather on the long side, with more than 500 pages, and for me it could be much shorter, as I personally could miss on at least half of the medical stuff. I think it would make the story quicker and gave it a feeling of it being quick – paced, because there were moments that it dragged too much for me, and it made me feel desperate because I wanted the story to go on, for something to happen.
But other than that, it was great. The characters were just brilliant! They were believable, they all had their own stories and background, they had life – experience. Holly and Taffy’s new relationship, balancing work, demanding and very active twins, dog, etc and I adored to see the couple both at work and at home, as you could really see that they are made to measure and it was so visible that Taffy loves Holly and her family above all.
Also the background characters were incredibly well described, and I think it’s not going to be a surprise when I say that Coco, the new doctor Alice’s companion and assistance dog, has absolutely stolen my heart. The characters’ stories mixed effortlessly and run seamlessly alongside one another.

Practice Makes Perfect was light – hearted and warm and I’ve finished reading it with a big smile on my face. I adored the writing style and characters. It was full to the brims with drama, troubles and twists and turns on the way and it was so easy to forget about everything when reading it. It was gentle and it dealt with some important issues and some taboos in great, comfortable ways. It was romantic, it was down – to – earth and realistic, with some laugh out loud moments, as well as some poignant ones and I really enjoyed this book – it really had it all that I’m looking for in a good, engaging story. Highly recommended!

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Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

35126418Publisher: Scribner UK

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

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

Number of pages: 208

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Ruth is thirty and her life is falling apart: she and her fiancé are moving house, but he’s moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns that her father, a history professor beloved by his students, has Alzheimer’s. At Christmas, her mother begs her to stay on and help. For a year. Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.

Rating: three-stars

“Goodbye, Vitamin” is very different to what I thought it’s going to be, but it doesn’t mean that it made reading worse. However, as there is such a great emphasis on Ruth’s father’s Alzheimer’s in the blurb I was prepared for the story to focus mostly on him and his medical condition – but there was also a lot about Ruth’s life and memories of the past, which – and I appreciate it – in a book about a character suffering from dementia is logical and foreseeable.

The characters are not perfect, all of them have their flaws but this make them more realistic and believable. Ruth is the main heroine in this story. She agrees to quit her job and leave her life behind to move back with her parents and look after her father while her mother is working. Ruth herself felt very normal, very casual. Overall I had a feeling that we don’t know too much about the characters, that they are mostly superficial. What I really liked when it comes to the characters is how well the author could describe the impact of Alzheimer’s on all of them – the affected and afflicted ones.

At the beginning it was hard for me to get into this story, and I am not sure why. Maybe because of the Ruth character herself, there was something in her that made me feel there is a distance between me and her, that she isn’t allowing me to get too close to her. I was also not sure about her choices and there were moments I really didn’t know what kind of point she’s making. There is not a lot happening in this story. Present is interwoven with past, we got to know about Ruth’s break – up and a little about her past but it mostly focuses on her relationship with her ex – boyfriend.

What confused me was not the fact that it was written in a diary format, this only made the reading quicker and easier, without going to deep into descriptions, but that it suddenly switched from telling Ruth’s story to keeping track of what her father was doing. It was as if the author has just recalled, wait, it is about Ruth’s dad, let’s write about him now. It felt too rushed and too forced for me, to be honest. I appreciate the idea – keeping this track is done in the same way as Ruth’s dad has written about her in a notebook he gave her to her birthday (one of the best moments in the book were the short notes Howard has written when she was a child. They are incredibly sweet and they brought smiles to my face but they also pull at the heartstrings, as they’re also such touching and they remind you of the farthest, cherished memories), but maybe it should have been done earlier? Or interwoven into the story?

Altogether, “Goodbye, Vitamin” is a melancholic story about family and how important it is to appreciate it, and every day we can spend with our closest ones. It is filled with funny and sad moments, with lovely memories that it is so nice to keep. A bitter – sweet and very sharp – observed novel about forgetting and forgiving and healing , and some of those observations may feel raw but I liked this rawness.

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon

31694817Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 18th May 2017

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis:

Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change …

Rating: five-stars

My love to Paige Toon and her novels has been growing slowly but steadily, in due course and with every new book by this author I am more and more in love with her stories – I just think that each new novel by Ms Toon is better than the other one and soon I am probably going to run short of rating stars, and if I could I’d give them 10 or more. I desperately wanted to read “The Last Piece of My Heart” and when my review copy arrived I was over the moon with joy. Really. Don’t judge me but this is what the books do to me.

Bridget is an aspiring author and travel writer who’s writing about her travels on her blog. She’s also come up with this idea of a feature where she has to contact all of her ex – boyfriends to get the pieces of her hearts that they carried with them back. She hopes to turn it into a novel. But her agent has other ideas and Bridget gets a work as a ghost – writer, writing a sequel to a best selling novel by an author who unfortunately passed away shortly after her book was being published. Little Bridget knows how much agreeing to take this job is going to change her life… Moreover, to write this sequel, Bridget must travel to Cornwall and is spending 7 weeks camping in the gorgeous Padstow, while researching and going through Nicky’s notes and diaries to find what she’s had in mind for her characters. However, it quickly turns out that there are many similarities between Nicky’s life and the story in her book – what does this mean for the book and for Charlie?

I was hooked from the very first page. Seriously. I found myself racing through the pages wanting to know what’s going to happen but also not wanting it to come to the end so I could enjoy it longer and longer. To be honest, I was expecting something different when I’ve read the synopsis, now please don’t laugh but I thought that Charlie is going to be a very, very old widower, handicapping Bridget’s life and work, so I was a little surprised, but not at all disappointed, as Charlie is an ultimate swoon – character and I fell for him immediately, head over heels.

There is a great bunch of characters in this book and their stories are so captivating! There is so much depth to them all and thanks to it they just feel like real people, with real problems. Bridget was just great. So adventurous, wearing her heart on her sleeve, strong – minded and independent, and following her dreams. Charlie’s story has touched all the right heart – strings. He loved Nicky so much and now he was left alone with their daughter April. Watching him struggling with bringing the lovely little girl up, grief and everyday life was heartbreaking. I fell for him immediately, even though there were moments that I was very annoyed with him, but on the other hand I could understand him, he didn’t know what’s right or what is wrong, he was grieving but he also wanted to live his life, and it was so complicated. Seeing him come out of his shell was the greatest thing ever, guys.

I only had one “but” this time, and it’s the ending. The last few chapters seemed so, so rushed, everything there happened incredibly quickly. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely end but in comparison to the whole story, to its pace, it was just too quick. It takes Bridget, but especially Charlie, really, really long to realize what it is they’re feeling, and in the last few chapters it looks like Bridget has just decided she’s going to do it, no matter what, click your fingers, mumbo jumbo, and here we are, at the end of the story. I don’t mean that it doesn’t suit the novel, it fits perfectly and I LOVED this end, I’m just saying. So there. BUT – the way the author has written about the feelings and emotions is freaking brilliant! She can put all kinds of them into words and describe things that I had no idea exists – the feelings just jump out of the pages.

Paige Toon also writes beautiful descriptions of the settings and she always chooses them so carefully and they are always so spot on. This time we not only have London, but also Cornwall, that is so easily brought to life and the scenery is stunning – Bridget needs to do some research and the places were gorgeous! We are also taken on a journey to Thailand, where everything I read about was so vivid, colourful and full of scents.
This book balances humour and the hard – hitting emotions in a perfect way. I absolutely, totally adored the romance aspect in this novel – it was beautiful and so down – to – earth, Paige Toon has captured all the awkward moments so, so well and every element of it just perfectly fitted the other one. You could literally see how the characters were falling for each other, and I don’t think I’ve read about blossoming relationship captured so, so well before!

“The Last Piece of My Heart” is incredibly beautiful story about love, loss, grief and hope. It made me smile, it made me cry, this rollercoaster journey of emotions was just perfect. I instantly fell for the characters and I lived through all the ups and downs with them, I kept my fingers crossed for them, I also got angry with them sometimes, especially when they didn’t see what was so obvious. It was filled with adventures, heart – breaking moments and just this overwhelming feel – good factor. I loved this story, and I am sure you’re going to love it too – highly recommended!

Book of the Month: January & February + Q&A with Alice Peterson

Oh guys! Oh my word! I know, I know, it’s almost the end of March and I am posting about my favourite books in January and February only now! Mea culpa, really, but you know that life is a bitch, all the time getting in the way. I have so little time to read right now, moreover, not only have I a little time for it but I started to read so, soooo slowly – WHY??? OK. Whatever. Here are the two of my most favourite books this year and if you scroll down a little, there is also a Q&A with Alice Peterson – this lovely girl found some time in her tight schedule to answer my questions about one of the most special books in the world – “A Song for Tomorrow”. THANK YOU SO MUCH, Alice!

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So let’s start with January. It was a really good bookish beginning to the year but there was one novel that made me laugh out loud, that made me cringe, that made me cheer the characters on and also made me feel inspired by the main character! It was “My Sweet Revenge” by Jane Fallon, a story that I’ll be getting back to many, many times – though I’d love to be able to read it for the first time over and over again! Here you can read my review.

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So. And then there came February, bringing with one of my most anticipated releases this year. Alice Peterson belongs to my top favourite author but with “A Song for Tomorrowindexshe has overdone herself – this book is an absolute gem, a book like no other that turned me into a a weepy mess but that was also full of hope. Please, read my review of this heart – breaking novel here and if you haven’t read the book yet, do this immediately! Also, here is a link to my Alice Martineau’s favourite song “IF I FALL” – it’s is beautiful. The first things my daughter says when we get into the car is that she wants to hear the songs of this beautiful lady – she means Alice.

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Q&A with Alice Peterson

  1. “A Song for Tomorrow” is a book full of incredible emotions – how hard was it to write this novel? To put all those feeling into words? To do Alice justice?

For each book I write, I put my heart and soul into all my characters, but this book is different in that my main character Alice is inspired by the singer Alice Martineau, who was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). In some ways, it was easier writing about Alice Martineau than a fictional character as I was able to talk to her family and friends, her boyfriend, her music manager, her vocal coach, her consultant, and people who live with CF, so I got to know Alice from every single perspective. I remember her father, David, saying to me with a twinkle in his eye, ‘you will know things about our Alice that I don’t know’. At times it was emotional writing the story because it was true. I found describing the mother’s point of view particularly poignant. I wanted to do Alice justice because she was a wonderful inspiring person but I also wanted to do her justice for her family and friends. I wanted them to feel the book truly celebrated her life and talent in the way she deserved.

  1. Alice is a true inspiration – did she inspire YOU in some ways?

Oh yes, in every way. CF is a genetic life-shortening condition that slowly, through repeated infections, destroys the lungs, but never once did Alice moan or feel sorry for herself that this was the pack of cards she’d been dealt. Nor was she some saint who sweetly put up with it. She was one of those people who turned her life experiences into something positive – which was her music. Alice also knew her time was short (life expectancy with CF in the 1990s was 31) so she lived life intensely – and by that I mean she threw herself into friendships and relationships. Clearly Alice had a huge heart and capacity to give, and people fell in love with her. Central to A Song for Tomorrow is the love story between her and Tom and this part of the book really inspired me. It made me realize the strength of having someone by your side. Alice’s success in becoming a signed recording artist with Sony (her album, Daydreams, was released in 2002) wasn’t only down to her own ambition – she was helped so much along the way with the unconditional love and support of her parents, her brother, her close friends and her boyfriend.

  1. Alice, what happened with Tom? I need to know – please, do tell us.

The lovely Tom has married and had children, but he remains close to Alice’s family. He still flies planes too!

  1. How much fiction and how much truth is in the story?

Alice in my book is very much Alice Martineau. I shall never forget Alice’s brother, Luke, reading the book for the first time and saying ‘Alice walks off the pages’. So, the heart of the book is true – Alice’s journey to become a singer when faced with the obstacles of living with CF. We also kept Alice’s medical condition, the love story and her family as close to the truth as possible. The surrounding characters, including the anti support group, are entirely fictional – as are many of the events that take place.

  1. I am sure there are many such inspirational people like Alice in the world – why did you choose to base your book on her and her story?

You’re right, there are many inspirational people out there, but as a writer you have to strongly identify with someone so this is why I chose to write about Alice. I read about her in a weekend magazine back in 2002. Immediately I was drawn to the headline: Alice Martineau – beautiful, talented and on a triple transplant list. There was a picture of a twenty-eight year old woman sitting on some garden steps attached to an oxygen machine. I admired Alice’s ambition to be a singer when she was attached to machines keeping her alive. I also connected to Alice’s courage when faced with overwhelming adversity since I too live with a chronic autoimmune condition. I understand the emotional and psychological impact an illness can have, not just on the individual but on an entire family. It’s their story just as much as Alice’s.

  1. Which of the books that you’ve written means most to you and why?

That’s a hard question! They all mean so much to me in different ways. If I had to choose, I’d say A Song for Tomorrow, just because it’s so closely based on truth, and I have greatly enjoyed working on the project with Alice’s family and friends. But By My Side is also close to my heart. And then there’s my own personal story, Another Alice – which is important to my family… Sorry, can I have three?

A Song for Tomorrow, Simon & Schuster, February 9 2017

www.alicepeterson.co.uk

www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

 

33862163Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 9th March 2016

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

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 04.05.2017)

 

Synopsis:

When Lewis Harley has a health scare in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lewis opens the antique shop he has dreamed of. Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her.

As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. But Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Lew and Charlotte have more problems than they care to admit. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve?

Rating: 5/5

Oh yes, it was the perfect – and highest! – time to dive into the new Milly Johnson’s book, “The Queen of Wishful Thinking”. It is already a long time since I’ve read last Milly’s book – it’s the lack of time’s fault! – so I was incredibly giddy with excitement to receive my review copy and started to read it almost on the spot. And my verdict is – it was gorgeous! It was so great to be back with Milly Johnson’s brilliant writing and storytelling, to get to know the new fantastic characters. So I can tell you right at the beginning of my review, whatever you do, guys, just drop it and make sure you have this book on your list – it is warm, uplifting and incredibly genuine. This is for sure Milly Johnson at her best. I think that if you gave me the book without telling who the author is, I’d guess it immediately – Ms Johnson’s writing style is one of the most recognisable and inimitable. It’s lovely, it’s warm, it’s inviting and it is so very easy to feel part of the story. She has again delivered a brilliant novel full of friendship, loyalty, finding courage and starting new.

There is probably the greatest bunch of characters in this book, and I mean not only the main characters but the colourful group of antique dealers who are always there when Bonnie needs them. They all had their own stories and they were all full of love, friendship, broken hearts and happy endings – though not always, but they were always warm and uplifting. Also, they all had lovely nicknames that usually described what they were most interested in, and they all knew Bonnie since she was a child and they for sure knew what the word loyalty means, and I applauded them for it so very much.
All the characters are so different, and their lives are different as well. The story shows how some of them has changed because of the money went straight into their heads and how some of them must live, trying to keep their heads above water, and the contrast was so huge and greatly portrayed.
I loved Bonnie, simple as that. Yes, there were moments that I felt desperate with her, felt sorry for her living a life so manipulated but they quickly passed away – the more I got to know her, the more I understood her and I really could get where she was coming from and why she was so scared. She was a woman with a heart in the right place and she was always looking for good in people, even if they didn’t deserve it. Kind, polite and creative and even though she lived with a secret that overwhelmed her, she’d rather live like this than betray the memory of the person.
Stephen is a character that you start to dislike at the very beginning. Bonnie’s manipulative and controlling husband and to say that he was cold – hearted would be an understatement. Blackmailing his wife to stay with him, even though he didn’t love her, he just needed someone to boss around. I also think that there was something wrong with the mental state of his. While Lewis was, of course, a very different story! The owner of the antique shop Pot of Gold where Bonnie finds her second job, he was a lovely, fair kind of man – unfortunately married to a very awful woman who so didn’t deserve him!

I love when the stories in the book interweave together and in this novel it proceeds seamlessly. I also loved the antiques thread in it and I love the descriptions of the items that were for sale or were bought and how this works. This book is written in the best way possible – you feel immediately at home with the story, you immediately fell for the characters, you keep your fingers crossed for them or want to punch them in their faces. It is light and easy to follow and it flows effortlessly, from one scene to another and there is not a moment of confusion or a single moment flat. Yes, it is a long story and actually the most things happened in the last part, and it was then that I was literally glued to the pages and shooed off all those that wanted to disturb me my reading, but even if the rest of the story was slower there were enough things and information to keep us hooked, and yes, the author took her time to reveal the secret and then the consequences that followed but she has done it in a perfect way. You know, sometimes the authors mention a secret almost on every page and when it comes to revealing it you are so tired of it that no matter how life – changing or twisty it may be it just doesn’t sweep you off your feet, which was absolutely NOT the case here. We knew something happened, we knew Stephen has something in his hand to keep Bonnie with him but there were so many other important things and subplots that the waiting for it to be told didn’t drag on. But back to the writing itself – there were moments that the story made me feel sad but there were also many moments to make me laugh out loud, especially at the (in)famous articles from the local magazine Daily Trumpet. Milly Johnson’s sense of humour just wonderfully match my own.

Really, guys, it’s hard to do this book justice in a review, as it was SO good. Feel – good and totally honest and genuine, full of colourful characters that you root for, I won’t hesitate to say that “The Queen of Wishful Thinking” is a must – read this spring and I will be recommending it to all my friends.

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The English Agent by Clare Harvey /Blog Tour + Guest Post

I am thrilled to be a part of Clare Harvey’s blog tour today! The author’s new release, “The English Agent” is out in paperback now and to celebrate this fact I have a lovely guest post from Clare herself! Enjoy!

The glamorous life? Five secrets about Clare’s life as an author that she probably 97814711505792b252812529shouldn’t tell you…

 

When I got published I think people expected me to sling on my stilettoes, hop in a convertible and head off for the glamorous life. Some of the school run mums might even have raised a quizzical eyebrow at the sight of me still trudging round Tesco in my mud-spattered dog walking boots and then driving off in my unwashed Vauxhall Corsa. But whilst earning a living as a writer definitely counts as ‘living the dream’, glamorous it ain’t. Here are five secrets about my life as an author that debunk the glamour myth (and that I probably shouldn’t be sharing!)

Talking to myself: Yes, I talk to myself. Whilst I was writing my debut novel The Gunner clares-furry-paGirl, I even found myself having conversations (‘D’you fancy a cuppa, Clare?’ ‘Oooh, yes, thank you, Clare, a cup of coffee would be lovely!’ etc.) Writing is a largely hermit-like existence, so I suppose talking to myself became inevitable. Eventually we got a dog, and I now talk to him instead (which is not mad at all, ask any dog lover). Oh, and I talk to my characters, too, especially when I want to discover their back stories – I interview them and get them to tell me all about themselves (I’m not sure if other writers do this, too – it would be interesting to find out). So that’s number one: talking to myself and/or my dog – not glamorous at all, as I’m sure you’d agree.

Family meals consisting of chips and chocolate biscuits: When I’m pushing myself to hit a deadline I do not have time to be a domestic drudge, let alone a domestic goddess. I resent the time it takes to go to the supermarket (or even do an online shop) or plan and cook a nutritious family meal, when I have those final few scenes to do before the weekend. I tell the kids to make sure they take full advantage of their school dinner that day because ‘…it will only be a snack supper tonight’ – which roughly translates as ‘….you can forget Nigella Lawson; the only woman in my kitchen today is Mother Hubbard, so deal with it, guys.’ Number two, then: chips and choccy bics for supper – glamorous? I think not.

Wearing a coat, hat and scarf at work: It seems an outrageous extravagance to put the central heating on if it’s just me at home. Sometimes I have vague thoughts about lighting the log burner, but it’s a bit of a pfaff, and I really just want to get on with writing, usually (the log burner is a good idea if I’m feeling the need to procrastinate, though). Being a southerner, I’m a bit of a wuss in the cold weather, too. So I often work in my coat, hat and scarf (in fact, as I write this I’m wearing a scarf and a woolly hat – no coat today as the weather is ‘unseasonably mild’, according to the weatherman). Number three on the list of unglamorous author things: freezing at your desk in your entire outdoor wardrobe.

Working’ in bed: Sometimes I work in bed because I’m cold (I take my coat off first – but I often leave the hat and scarf on). And if it’s a freezing winter day and I have some research books to read, why not read in bed? But I also find writing comes easier in bed, perhaps because I have left my ‘internal editor’ behind with the laptop at the desk downstairs (I always write longhand in the first instance). But sometimes I like to prepare a scene and then take a little power nap before writing it, because I find that writing flows so much better if you’ve just woken up. It’s just getting a tad embarrassing that the window cleaners always seem to come when I’m working in bed, and I’m so worried they think I’m a slacker that at the first rattle of ladders I leap up and run down to the desk again. Which isn’t exactly glamorous, either.

Sleeping in my clothes: I have only done this once. Oh, all right, twice. Here’s why: I was desperate to get the final draft of my work-in-progress finished by the school holidays, so I’d been up really late getting through it. By the time I’d cleaned my teeth, etc. it was already past one in the morning, and really cold. I remember thinking that I would have to take all my clothes off, get into my pyjamas and probably a jumper, too (my husband works away during the week, so I do tend to pile on the nightclothes without him next to me to keep me warm) and bed socks, and all the while the clock was ticking on, and I knew that I’d have to be up in a few hours to walk the kids to the tram stop in the freezing cold and…Yes, I went to bed fully clothed, and wore the same clothes the following morning. But it was only the once (well, twice, if I’m strictly honest). So there’s my final secret – I have slept in my clothes. Now, do you think I lead a glamorous life? No, me neither. But don’t breathe a word!

 

My new book The English Agent is out now in hardback, paperback and e-book. You can catch up with me and find out more here:

Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth

Facebook: ClareHarvey13

Web: http://clareharvey.net

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR FOR MORE FANTASTIC GUEST POSTS FROM CLARE:

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