Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain / Blog Tour

Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

 

42360579Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 30th May  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

Rating: four-stars

 

Poppy is new to Nightingale Square, though I have a feeling that she’s not new to the residents of the Square, that all of them know and love her. Jacob is also new, but he’d rather keep himself to himself. Poppy works at the local greengrocers and creates all kinds of yummy sounding food. When her teenage brother Ryan suddenly appears in her life as a “full – time job”, Jacob offers to help Poppy to take a calm and measured approach in helping him coming out of his shell. Poppy takes this offer, as she was desperate to coax Jacob into joining in with the community garden.

“Poppy’s Recipe for Life” was not my first book by Heidi Swain but my first journey to Nightingale Square (yep. Apologies. From the bottom of my reading sofa. I have the other book but haven’t read it yet, must have been living under the rock) and as much as I had a feeling that the characters know each other really, really well, that they share a history and background, I didn’t feel left out, as if I was missing on something, so this is already a bonus point for the author and the book, to make it so inviting and drawing me straight into the heart of the story. Have I just written the longest sentence ever?

At the beginning the book reads just like your normal book, it was a nice story but on the average level, but then there came a moment, and I’m not even sure when it has happened, that the story started to feel totally different, more eventful and somehow I found myself not being able to put it down. Poppy was such a lovely character, caring and hard working and she always wanted all the kindness in the world for other people – but it didn’t make her feel too meh, no she was determined and passionate and she never gave up. Which could also be annoying but that was the way she was, so take it or leave it. The other characters, the inhabitants of Nightingale Square, were all so friendly and welcoming and no, it also didn’t make them feel too weak, they all had their own personality and distinctive voice. They supported each other and welcomed all new people with open hands, even the troubled Ryan, they understood the reason he was like this and it was so great to see them all help him to come out of his shell.

It was a lovely, heart – warming story about families, relationships, community spirit, friendship, trust and forgiveness. And gardening – don’t forget the gardening. But no worries guys if you, just like yours truly, don’t have green thumbs (I can kill every single plant in the world. Except for my orchids. No idea how I’m doing THIS), the gardening in this book is important but not too overpowering and overwhelming. And, to be honest, I’ve always admired those who can plant something and enjoy the results. Admired and envied. So altogether, “Poppy’s Recipe for Life” was a charming, lovely and cosy read with this so difficult to grasp feel – good factor. It was a tad predictable, yes, but it didn’t bother me too much, as it was full of other benefits and quirky characters, and the author has given a brilliant insight into their lives, really bringing them all to life, and the sense of community and the friendship were simply great. Recommended!

 

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If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

 

41149815Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 16th May 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Paige Toon. The perfect summer read for 2019!

Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 29, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world – until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.

As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way?

Rating: five-stars

“If You Could Go Anywhere” introduces us to Angie, who always wanted to follow her mother’s footsteps and travel all over the world. She was known in the town as the one always asking people “if you could go anywhere, where would you go?” However, the circumstances didn’t allow it. Angie lives in Coober Pedy in Australia, a mining town, where her grandfather used to work before he died in an accident. Angie was left only with her grandmother, as her mother also died, shortly after giving birth to her. Her plans to travel have been delayed after her grandmother fell ill and Angie had to look after her. After her death she discovers something that is going to change her life and her whole world and prompts her to set forth on her first travel to Italy.

I confess, I’ve never heard about Coober Pedy and its people living in the dugouts. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine it, people living in caves, I mean, how? But of course people’s best friend Google was very helpful, and I’ve spent a fascinating few hours surfing through different pages and looking at photos of the dugouts – they are not only homes but there are hotels, churches, swimming pools… everything! Have learnt something new again, and it’s a brilliant feeling.
Also, the whole fictional community in Coober Pedy was simply great. They stick together, they support and they know everything about each other but not in this nosy, patronising way, no, it’s simply because they care. It was crystal clear how much Angie means to all of them and how much they mean to Angie.

Angie is such a straightforward characters, and I think it is due to the fact that she has spent all her life in Australia. But it doesn’t mean that she’s naive or silly, oh no, she’s a lovely and clever girl who took the opportunity and learnt a lot from people from all over the world who came to work in the mines. I loved her fresh look at the world, at her enjoying everything in such a fresh, genuine way.
Alessandro was another matter. I must admit that at the beginning I liked him much more than at the end. Sure, I know where he was coming from, I understood his feelings, and his secrets were heart – breaking but simply, this dark side of his just didn’t sit with me. This blowing hot and cold – yes, I know he didn’t want any commitments, he didn’t want to hurt anybody but did he think it through that being like this he does hurt people? Nevertheless, he was a complex and complicated character, just like I like it best.

I really enjoyed the fact that Paige Toon takes us on the tour through Roma and other parts of Italy, and that we can admire them through the wide – opened eyes of Angie but it was not too touristy – hope you know what I mean. Sometimes authors focus so much on describing every single thing in towns, on discovering the hidden places that you have a feeling it’s not a story but a tourist guide. Well, with this book it was not the case. When we near the end, the story significantly gains momentum. I don’t mean that it was slow – paced, because the pace was really great, there was all the time something happening, but because of the art of the events it felt like a roller – coaster ride at the end. It made your heart palpitate as you know that there is not much time left and you can’t be sure of the outcome.

It was a beautiful and romantic journey full of feelings and emotions. A magic story about learning to let go and to trust again, about friendship, family bonds and forgiveness. The extra bonus was the gorgeous setting of Italy and the brilliant and spot – on descriptions of the Italian family, big and loud and full of heart for everybody. I must admit that this time the story and the writing style reminded me a little on Karen Swan and her novels that I simply adore, there was also the element of mystery in “If You Could Go Anywhere”. Paige Toon also deals with the issue of mental health and of feeling guilty, and she does it in a great, gentle way, and I really appreciate the fact that she decided to write about this topic, it’s important and too often ignored, so hats off to the author for this – and I so liked the fact that this time it was a male character with the mental health problem, the author showing that the men can also be vulnerable, that they have feelings and that they can suffer for so long, and that it’s even harder for them to do something, to open up, to confess. I don’t know why but I have a feeling that this book is somehow a little bit serious in tone that the previous novels by Paige Toon. I mean, they were always dealing with serious issues as well but this time it just deals with such deep and pulling at the heart strings issues – another brilliant work from Paige Toon that I highly recommend!

 

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

 

410pdykqsvl._sx324_bo1204203200_Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 21st February 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.09.2019)

 

Synopsis:

What has happened to Cornelia Blackwood?
She has a loving marriage. But she has no friends.
Everyone knows her name. But no one will speak to her now.
Cornelia Blackwood has unravelled once before. Can she stop it from happening again?

From a supremely talented storyteller, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is a powerful novel of motherhood, loss and loneliness and how we can make damaging choices when pushed to our emotional edge. A paperback bestseller with her debut novel, The Things We Never Said, and nominated for an RNA Award in 2014, Susan Elliot Wright has written a truly important novel that explores the dark depths of psychosis with honesty and sensitivity.

Rating: four-stars

Cornelia (Leah) Blackwood loses her husband Adrian in a car accident. After his funeral, she finds something on his computer – something that makes her start to doubt in Adrian’s loyalty and fidelity and something that is going to change her life. But before it happens, she goes on a quest and investigates to find more. She befriends Cass, a young woman that Leah somehow becomes obsessed with, and her little son Lucas. Is this friendship a casual one or is Leah hiding something from Cass?

The story goes back and forth, from past to present and while it feels a little slow, especially at the beginning, it then steps up the momentum. I also never felt confused and always knew where we are. The story is told mostly through Leah and we slowly get to know her and her background history – how she’s met Adrian, how they got married, through the ups and downs of their life together. The past intertwines with the present, hinting that something has happened previously, something bad and wrong, something that caused Leah to lose her credibility and friends. There came a point when I guessed what must have happened and what’s going to happen but it didn’t spoil the reading for me, it rather kept me hooked and made me feel as if I was getting a chill up my spine, predicting the worse to happen.
I fell for Leah, to be honest. Her story was like one tragedy happening upon another one and seeing her surviving all of them was incredibly uplifting, and it took almost till the end to reveal why she’s getting the treatment that she’s getting. The story of Leah was somehow heart – breaking, and the author has done such a great job in capturing and describing her feelings of loss, despair and desperation. She has by any means found words to bring it to us so that the pain was palpable and you couldn’t help but fell for Leah and feel sympathy for her. While you’ll probably have problems with accepting Leah’s choices, you will also understand why she made them. Her wanting something that she couldn’t have has filled her every waking moment yet it didn’t feel too overwhelming for me as a reader, too repeating, and the author has always revealed the right amount of information in the particular moment, leaving me wondering and wanting more.

This is a book that tackles some serious and heavy issues with tons of gentleness and sensitivity. It’s heartbreakingly and brutally honest in explaining how it feels to be grieving and to be mentally ill. The author has really has done her research and she deserves a standing ovation for writing with so much feeling and understanding, without judging. This novel was sad, it was tragic, it was full of tension and the feeling that something’s going to happen. Yes, I guessed the outcome, but still I was glued to the pages and drawn into this story.

Altogether, “The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood” was deeply emotionally charged and it’ll leave you thinking and wondering. It was a well – kept mystery, filled with enough red herrings, twists and turns. It was a captivating, heart – breaking story of grief, love and desperation. The author deals with postpartum psychosis in a very gentle, sensitive way and gives her character a chance after a chance. It was a hugely emotional read but I wouldn’t call it depressing – it was simply sad but without it being too overwhelming a feeling. Susan Elliot Wright has written it in a no – nonsense way, brutally honest and well, it’s a read that’s going to take your breath away, to make you stop and think – just my favourite kind of read, even if I wouldn’t classify it as the easiest read. Highly recommended!

 

The Escape by Clare Harvey / Blog Tour

The Escape by Clare Harvey

 

 

41519370Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A compelling wartime drama for fans of Lucinda Riley, Rachel Hore and Katherine Webb

Clara works as a translator for a Nazi-run labour camp for French workers. One winter morning in early 1945, Clara passes a group of exhausted British prisoners of war who are being force-marched westwards. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest. He is harbouring a group of escaped British prisoners of war in the manse: can she help?

London, 1989.  Monica is a 19-year old photography student in London, in thrall to her older boyfriend, a journalist called Quill. In November the fall of the Berlin Wall is all over the news. Quill asks Monica to come with him to Germany: before they leave, Monica’s grandmother gives her an old postcard of the village she was born in. Monica hopes that working together in Berlin will help cement the cracks in her relationship with Quill, but one night his behaviour spills over into violence, and Monica ends up fleeing through the rubble of the Berlin wall and into the East. As she travels further, she begins to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi. If she goes on, she worries that she’ll be taken into custody and be accused of spying; if she turns back, it means returning to Quill.

At last her grandmother’s photograph offers the solution. She tells people that she is going to find her family in the East. The Catholic church, and the manse, opposite where her grandmother once lived, are still standing. And the secrets of the past begin to be revealed.

my-review

“The Escape” by Clare Harvey follows two different timelines and two women, sharing a history. Detta lives in a small village in Germany. The war is coming to an end and the Russian Army is on their way – to free people, but also it is rumoured they’re cruel and nothing and nobody is safe from them. One day, Detta passes a group of force – marched British prisoners. The following day, her help is needed – a day that is going to change her life for ever.
Miranda is a photography student and finds herself in Berlin in 1989 at the Wall fall. A granddaughter of Detta, she finds an old postcard of the village where her grandmother was born. Detta sends her on a mission there but Miranda is in danger – as she flees from an abusive relationship into the east, she starts to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi. Why? Is she going to be able to help her grandmother?

This novel was brilliantly written and researched. The author can so incredibly well capture all the feelings and emotions, especially in those parts that take place during the war – fear, uncertainty, not knowing what’s going to happen and what the future brings, they’re all so very well written. While the times of the Berlin Wall fall are not so much in my area of interest, I’m always happy to read books set during the World War II, and even more gladly when there is Poland as setting involved. “The Escape” is mostly set in Germany, in and around Berlin, a little town in Poland also plays crucial role in it. It focuses on very dark and sad period of time in our history, and truly, the descriptions were heart – wrenching and tugging at the heart – strings, but this book is also full of hope and not at all depressing. It is moving, yes, but the author has managed, despite the topic being a serious and difficult one, to make it light and also uplifting.

This book was a slow burner. A very slow burner, and I’ve already found myself really irritated a few times, waiting for it to eventually kick off, for the story to finally start rolling. I’ll be honest with you – if I weren’t reading this novel for a blog tour, I’d most certainly put it away. It was only around the middle, after Miranda started searching and Detta’s story began to unravel, that I found myself glued to the pages, racing through them, desperate to see what has happened. I’d much more liked Detta’s plot to this of Miranda – I understand, after reading the author’s guest post on research, why Miranda was needed, she was like a significant tool to Detta, but I somehow couldn’t warm to her and to her story. I just felt there is no connection between us and also, she could be more fleshed out for my liking. Detta, however, was another story. There was a depth to her and she had really something to tell, and her tale was heart – breaking, full of loss but also hope. Sure, Miranda’s story was also interesting – the war is over but is there peace at all? As the two narratives interweave, the plot slowly starts to unravel, and there is a real sense of uncertainty, tension, of not knowing what’s going to happen and what has happened in Detta’s past.

Altogether, “The Escape” was a thought – provoking tale, full of questions what if and what would you do, how would you behave. It’s full of moral lessons without being patronising and the authors handles all the topics with care and gentleness. It was sensitive and compelling, and beautifully written and, as it was my first book by Clare Harvey, I’m already looking forward to read her previous novels, because “The Escape” was a great enough piece of historical fiction. Recommended.

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The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

 

39847781Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 10th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback(out on 25.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

GRACE ATHERTON HAS FALLEN OUT OF LOVE … AND INTO LIFE

Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …

For fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is the story of a woman who has her heart broken, but then puts it back together again in the most uplifting and exquisite way.

Rating: four-stars

Grace Atherton is a cellist and a luthier and a shop owner – she repairs violins and cellos. She loves what she’s doing, though her dream was of becoming a professional cellist, however this dream has been ruined after she’d been ejected from music academy, though there is much more to this than we can think at first. She loves her boyfriend David, though as it happens he’s married and he’s at least honest with her about it, and about the fact that he won’t leave his wife, at least not while their children are still little ones. But he believes in Grace and he entered her into the Cremona Triennale Competition, for which she’s creating and building a cello. There are two other people who support her through thick and thin, a loyal and caring customer Mr. Williams, and her teenage, quirky and sassy shop assistant Nadia. But when something happens, that puts David in the public eye and their relationship in jeopardy, Grace’s safe life is torn to shreds. Will she be able to recover enough?

I don’t know, I can’t put into words, but this novel was simply magic. The way it was written, there was, despite all the little and huge dramas, the overwhelming feel – good factor, it was heart-warming and beautiful. Now I realise that what probably made me feel this way was the fact that, even though all the characters in this book has their own problems and issues, the problems were all resolved by the end, and maybe it is not how it always works in life but it sat well with this novel. Sure, maybe it was too fairy – talish, too perfect but on the whole I didn’t have a problem with this.

In the background, or maybe I should say in the foreground of this book, is music. I must admit that some of the descriptions, especially the one of the spontaneous concert at the end of the story, gave me goose bumps, so vividly and beautifully were they described. Also the descriptions of restoring the damaged instruments were for me surprisingly interesting, I’ve never supposed I’d found myself so engrossed in reading about a thing that I’ve no idea of. Although, to be honest, I think it was pretty lost on me as I really had no idea what I’m reading – please don’t get me wrong, it was beautifully written, elegant and eloquent and the author has brought all the things and music to life, you simply have to have a talent to write about music in such a way and I appreciate it with all my heart but it’s absolutely not my kind of thing. So there. I’ve said it. But I still loved it.

What didn’t work for me so much, though, is the fact how weak Grace was about her boyfriend David. Yes, I get it, that’s the way she was – emotional, full of feelings, with life experience but perhaps because of this she should have known better. Especially that, well, I didn’t like David, the smooth operator, and in my eyes Grace deserved much, much better. However, please do keep reading the book – at the end you’re going to understand how important it was for Grace, and I loved to see her growing in confidence. I thought that Grace is younger at the beginning, to be honest, judging her on the way she was talking about David and behaving around him, until her age was explicitly stated, and so, knowing that she was in fact forty made her seem a little too naive, too believing.

It was a fast – paced novel, even though a huge part of it covers the renovations of the instruments, and there is much about music, but – I think I’ve already mentioned it, and if not I’ll for sure mention it – it was simply beautifully written. The author has a brilliant, engaging and easy flowing writing style. She takes us for a journey from London, to Paris and eventually to Cremona in Italy, a journey full of ups and downs. You may not expect it, but Grace, who at the first glance seems to lead a very uneventful life, which, as it turns out, is not true, her life is rather complicated. I didn’t judge her, it was her choice to live her life like this, but the way she put David on a pedestal was unreasonable and, yes, made me feel a little sorry for her. Waiting for permission to travel to Paris to see him, I mean, Grace, hello? And let’s be honest, he couldn’t be more obvious in this whole “staying together for the kids’ sake” act.
The other characters, that were probably meant to be background ones, added so much colour and life to this book. Grace, Nadia and Mr. Williams, who also had their own problems, were a very unlikely trio that worked together brilliantly. They found each other and it was lovely to see how all of them needed this unusual friendship.

Altogether, “The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton” was a charming, uplifting and also though – provoking and controversial story about friendship, trust, lost loves and hopes, heartbreak, second chances, being back on your own feet. I might have not understand all Grace’s actions and decisions but they were necessary, for us to see how much it cost to learn from our own mistakes and how much it cost to just move on. There was incredible heart in the characters, they were so lovely developed and every feeling of theirs simply oozes from the pages. And I also think this book doesn’t need any comparisons to other books, because it’s going to stand alone by itself – it’s emotional, unique and a special debut novel by Anstey Harris – truly recommended!

A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

 

39859029Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from bestselling author Holly Hepburn, perfect for anyone who loves Jenny Colgan, Veronica Henry and Lucy Diamond.

Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb‘s cocktail bar on the third floor!

Rating: four-stars

In “A Year at Castle Court” two main characters, best friends Cat and Sadie, make their dream of owning and running a business together come true and start “Smart Cookies”, a shop specialising in selling hand – made biscuits. However, not all of the other businesses at Castle Court welcome them with open arms. There is a secret scandal, an almost ex – husband and many other troubles and challenges on the girls’ way to happiness.

I loved the friendship between Cat and Sadie, with all its ups and downs, supporting each other but also with the little conflicts, which only made it feel more realistic. They were both strong women and life was not a bed of roses for them. However, I think that I could relate more to Sadie, no particular reason why, just because. I wanted to give her a standing ovation for the way she has proceeded with the situation with her husband, not immediately jumping at the chance and making her life comfortable again, oh no, she’d rather followed her intuition and decided to give it time, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t happen often, right? Cat and Sadie were going from strength to strength, deciding to set up their own business, overcoming the reluctance of some of the neighbours from the close – knit community of Castle Court, and generally dealing with many, many challenges that life decided to face them with. They were strong and independent and I liked that they didn’t look for a man at any cost, that they were ambitious but also they weren’t afraid to ask for help when they needed it, and in the end their successes were their own.

The setting in this book was simply brilliant. I adored Castle Court, with all the little shops and businesses, and as much as I’d love to stop there by, it would be dangerous for my shape. As opposed to many, many other books where the characters open either a bakery or make cupcakes, Sadie and Cat specialise in biscuits, wonderfully decorated biscuits. I have to admit, after reading the book, I’ve spent a lot of time watching blogs or films on YouTube and incredibly admiring the art of icing. The things people can create, it’s simply amazing, and Sadie was exactly like that. Now I can even better imagine all those little wonders that she concocted, although they were of course so vividly described by the author – the colours, the ideas, it was simply fabulous and delicious.

The thing that didn’t sit so well with me was the fact that all the twists were solved in few sentences, at least in the same chapter. I like when there is a little tension and not knowing what’s going to happen, when the events stretch out through the story. I understand that the book was initially published as a four – parts series so probably it needed the quick action, but in a full – length story it just simply doesn’t work so well for me. And there were moments that I really missed the plot to develop, just like with the restaurant next door for example and the way the character just got away with it – it was as if the author simply didn’t have an idea how to continue this thread, which is a pity to be honest.

The story is full of little dramas, that usually happened so quickly and unexpectedly, keeping the pace aloft but also small wins and successes. You could really say that it was action packed and the characters have more than enough on their plates, and sometimes I simply couldn’t stop thinking, oh no, not this, please let them take a breath! Altogether, “A Year at Castle Court” was a lovely story about having confidence and courage and not giving up. It was a light – hearted read and I really enjoyed reading about the close – knit community, about the friendship and the dramas. Holly Hepburn’s writing style is so bright and optimistic, eloquent and colourful and it’s a joy to read her books, so I can only recommend this book to you – go an treat yourself!

 

The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson / Blog Tour

The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson

 

40200649Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 15th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 528

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Eve Glace – co-owner of Winterworld – is pregnant.  This sends the whole of the theme park into baby mania, especially as the baby’s due date is 25th December. But their joy is soured by the fact it appears someone is trying to sabotage the Christmas celebrations.

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child.  Now, Annie thinks she is going through the menopause and any vestige of hope has been extinguished.

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will give her a helping hand out of the gutter in which she finds herself.  But when the couple split up just after she finds out she is pregnant, she is left carrying a baby she never wanted in the first place.

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor, who was Palma’s first love at school.  Though their lives have gone in very different directions, will this group help each other to find happiness and peace as Christmas approaches?

Rating: five-stars

“The Mother of all Christmases” by Milly Johnson – when you read this book you’ll appreciate how adequate this title is! – follows stories of three very different women, Palma, Eve and Annie. Palma is the one from the wrong side of the town and with a painful past and finds herself in a very difficult situation. Because of her financial troubles she agrees to become a surrogate for a couple who can’t have children. Eve and her husband Jacques run the Christmas themed Winterworld park and are up to their noses with organizing things. Eve knows her husband want a baby with his all heart and well, she doesn’t say no as well, but there is never the right moment for a baby, right? And Annie and her husband Joe, who run a cracker company have been desperate for a baby all their life but it just never happened. There were failed IVFs, a failed adoption and well, they came to terms with the fact that it’s only the two of them. Until it turns out that it’s not the menopause Annie thinks it is.
The three women meet at the Christmas Pudding Club, a club for pregnant women, and they hit it off immediately – their friendship start and they go together through happy and hard times, and there are going to be plenty of those for them.

I don’t know how Milly Johnson does it but each and every book of hers is simply brilliant – she for sure keeps her standard high, and “The Mother of all Christmases” is another cracker (pun intended) from this author. This book was so full of surprising moments, there were twists that I haven’t seen coming and that broke my heart more than once, but then mended it again. It made me cry ugly tears and it made me laugh out loud. It was clever, poignant, uplifting and simply beautiful.

What I found so brilliant and clever was the fact that we already know some of the characters in the book, and not only this, but also The Daily Trumpet, with all its hilarious spelling errors is back. Eve and Winterworld we’ve got to know in “A Winter’s Flame”, as well as some other characters and places from Milly’s previous books and it was so nice to be back with them, to see what’s happened to them and how they’re doing.
However, no worries, it is absolutely a stand – alone novel! But it’ll only make you wish you had read the other books as well, so be prepared, and maybe have the books on pre – order already, if not at your side already.

There are relatively many characters being introduced to us in this book but I coped! Actually, very easily. I had no problems to quickly get who is who, why and to whom they belong. All the characters tell their own, beautiful, sometimes very poignant, stories. The female leading characters Palma, Annie and Eve, even though they don’t know each other yet, have one thing in common – they’re all find themselves pregnant. It took some time for all of them to realize that they’re pregnant, especially in Eve’s case, and yes, she made me feel desperate at the fact that she didn’t notice/didn’t want to notice things that were obvious but well, she had her reasons. All the pregnancies were different – one that might be considered a controversial one, then a very unexpected one, and one simply a nice surprise. I loved all of the three characters though, probably not surprisingly, my heart went to Palma. Her story was so heart – breaking and it will probably stay with me for a very long time yet.
And I must mention one of the male characters – Tom. Guys, he was Mr. Perfect. Milly Johnson has so brilliantly captured the essence of him and has made him, a boxer, so human and so vulnerable, and the things he said to Palma… well, if somebody told me such things I’d print them, put them in frames and hang them on the wall.
The thing with Milly Johnson is that, even if it’s crystal clear that she herself loves her own characters, she gives them all her whole heart and soul, and she makes their lives happy and lets them look optimistically into their futures – then bang, and something happens. Something unexpected, something that turns their worlds upside down. There is actually a tension detectable through the pages, I personally couldn’t shake off the feeling that something bad is going to happen, and I kept everything crossed that it won’t happen. It doesn’t happen often that I’m so deeply involved in the characters and their lives, but in this book I actually lived and experienced things together with them, I fell for them and I couldn’t bear the thought that something could go wrong for them.

“The Mother of all Christmases” deals with many issues, some of them lighter, some heavier, and with Milly Johnson’s writing that is full of heart you’ll find yourself laughing, crying, smiling and laughing again. It is truly Milly Johnson at her best. She deals with the stuff that life throws at her characters in such a down – to – earth, casual way, she’s not afraid of throwing many challenges at her characters, of making their lives complicated and difficult. It is so well written, so full of events and there is not a single flat moment, the story is just flowing and you together with it. It was a story about friendship, sisterhood, loss, love, grief, relationships, second chances and many other things, beautifully and seamlessly binding all the threads and events together. It didn’t feel too overloaded, the pace was perfect and you’ll quickly find yourself engaged in the characters’ lives. Highly recommended!

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