Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

I really enjoyed this book and it was a great sequel to Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe. The characters all came flooding back to me, although Jenny Colgan's reminder of the previous plot did help (and should be done more often!) I loved the main character Issy and her Cupcake Cafe. The other two main women, Pearl and Caroline, were so contrasting and their relationship was funny to read. The children in the book, mostly Louis and Darny, were wonderful. Louis was particularly cute. The Christmas spirit was lovely to read, as were the recipes. The only let down for me was the final few pages, where the plot came to a close. I was very disappointed by Issy's decision at the end of the book. Also, Austin did not appeal to me so much in this book as he did in the last. But overall it was a good book which I couldn't put down, so I give it 8/10.

Friday, 28 December 2012

A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams

After reading a few other of Julia Williams's books, I was really looking forward to this one. Although I did enjoy it, it just didn't quite measure up to her previous novels. It took me a while to figure out which characters were which, as there were 3 main couples. I found myself forgetting which kids and husbands belonged to which leading lady! The storyline regarding Pippa's husband, Dan, was a very strange one which I didn't really like. And how it was resolved at the end was not your typical chick lit ending. Although I did prefer this ending due to Dan's drastic personality change. One little thing that really bugged me, however, was that two of the families seemed to have dogs, but these were mentioned only three or four times in the whole novel and seemed to be added in as an afterthought. As a dog lover, I feel that a dog in a novel should have a real character, not just be mentioned in passing. Overall, though, it was an ok read. I give this book 6/10.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

I enjoyed this book, which surprised me because I really didn't like it at the start. It took a while for me to get into it because the main character, Lucy, really annoyed me at the start and the whole concept of 'Life' being a person was a bit strange. But as Lucy began to take hold of her life and became a better person, I found myself wanting to read more. I still did not fully understand how all the people in Lucy's life all seemed to take 'Life' in their stride, and I was expecting for it all to be explained a bit more, which it wasn't. But some of the story lines were really fun to read, for example Lucy and Don's wrong number conversations, the antics of Lucy's family and Lucy's blunders at work. So overall, although the concept of the book took me a while to get my head around, it was a funny, sweet and a lovely read. I give this book 7/10.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders

It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I really enjoyed it. Beth and Carol, the two main characters, were easy to sympathise with and fairly loveable. The different family dynamics were interesting to read about, with characters like Tim and Jenny really adding a nice touch. Beth's situation with her step-daughter, Holly, was a good plot and added to all the pressures that Beth had to overcome throughout the book. When problems with the Christmas Eve party emerged, the characters all coming together at the end really brought to life the Christmas spirit. I liked how Carol and Beth's lives became intertwined, even though they were from different worlds. And Carol's love interest, Nick, sounded amazing! I give this book 8/10.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Audiobook: My Life with George by Judith Summers

This was an absolutely lovely audiobook to listen to. Although it started off on a sad note with the death of Judith's husband, the arrival of George signaled the beginning of a heart-warming series of events. Some of the events involving George literally made me laugh out loud - as a dog owner, some were easy to identify with. And there were some nail-biting moments where I was on the edge of my seat. The voice used for the recording was very good, and expressed the words perfectly. Overall, I enjoyed listening to this story and give this audiobook 9/10.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Way to a Woman's Heart by Christina Jones

This was a good read, but I wouldn't say a fantastic one. The idea behind Ella moving to the countryside to have a break from her boyfriend and fulfill her dream of working with children was a great one. And the story started off well, especially as George was such an adorable little boy. But when Poll, the character who owns Hideaway Cottage, reveals that she is actually taking in homeless people, I found this a strange concept. Ash, Billy and Trixie were all loveable characters, but I felt that they could have been included in a different way, even if they were just lodgers. And Ash was a nice main love interest, but Onyx (his 'girlfriend') was a bit irritatingly perfect. The TV cookery competition was really interesting to read about, as were the traditional farmhouse dishes that the Hideaway team created. But I felt a lot of this was rushed, and that it was far too easy for them to win it. I did enjoy reading this book, but I just wasn't hooked in the way I am with some books. A few simple changes to the plot could have made a big difference to me. I give this book 6/10.

Monday, 19 November 2012

A Force to Be Reckoned with by Jane Robinson

As a member of my local WI, I was given this history of the Women's Institute to have a read. I don't normally read much non-fiction, but when I started to read this, I just wanted to carry on reading more. Although sometimes I got a bit confused with the different names, dates, policies, etc, I still found it very interesting. The book wasn't strictly chronological, which did confuse me at times as I found it hard to place certain events and people. And there seem to be gaps where not much is reported on, especially between the 1960s to present day. However, overall it was an interesting read and inspired me to get more involved with my local WI. I give this book 7/10.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

This book was absolutely brilliant. A lovely story about friendship, tied around one of my favourite things - teacups! The three women were all in very different places in their lives, all with jobs that I would have loved and so loved to read about. Jenny worked for a country magazine, Maggie owned her own florist, and Alison made homemade crafts which she sold. I fell in love with all the women and loved to read about their lives, separately and as they came together. Maggie's ex-husband Dylan was suitably annoying, the Spencers were absolutely lovely and other minor characters, even the dog, were great to read about! This has definitely reached the list of my favourite books! Therefore I give it 10/10!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Home for Christmas by Cally Taylor

I didn't really think that this book was all too Christmassy - Christmas was barely mentioned except for the fleeting descriptions of Christmas decorations - although it was still a good read. The only problem was that I wasn't too keen about the main character, Beth. Her heart was in the right place, but she was so incredibly ditzy and such a pushover. Some of the embarrassing things she did were quite funny, but others just made me cringe. It was good how the story was split into both Beth's and Matt's perspectives. Matt's grandad was such a lovely character, probably my favourite in the book. I didn't really feel close to any of the other characters, though. Beth's best friend was fickle and rarely there for Beth. Beth's mother was pushy and rude. And Mrs Blackstock didn't really seem to care about the cinema she claimed to love. However, the storylines were interesting, and kept me wanting to read. There was just a little something missing that I get when I feel really attached to the characters in a book, which I just didn't feel here. I give this book 6/10.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

A Season to Remember by Sheila O'Flanagan

This was a really lovely book to read as the winter is upon us. I get very excited about Christmas (I know it's only November!) so I loved it. I really enjoyed reading about all the different guests at the Sugar Loaf Lodge. Each hotel room had a separate chapter telling the tale of the guests inside. The variety of stories of how families spent their Christmases was interesting to read, and I felt like I really got to know the characters in each chapter. The only problem was that as I got further through the book, the characters would start to mention other guests, and because there were so many different characters it was sometimes difficult to remember who was who! I absolutely loved the sound of the Sugar Loaf Lodge, and wish I could stay there! The descriptions of the hotel and the grounds were beautiful. The story behind the hotel was fascinating, although the ghostly aspects did seem not to fit in with the book, even though I did enjoy it. The only other complaint was that it was more like a collection of short stories than a novel, because there were just so many different stories within it. But it was still an enjoyable read. I give this book 9/10.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Endings by Trisha Ashley

I did enjoy this book, but it was written in a very strange style, and the story would have been better if written in a different way, I feel. It was written as the ramblings of the main character as she is talking into a dictaphone, which meant she was far too familiar with me and the book was split into lots of random paragraphs and sections that flitted from one thing to another. I realise that this is probably how it was meant to be written, but it just didn't feel right to me. I'm not sure if I ever really liked the main character, Tina, who seemed a little big headed and also a little annoying. The ending was a real disappointment in how things were resolved with Sergei. I really disliked Sergei throughout the book, from start to finish, and he never endeared himself to me. Tina would have been better off without him. But I did enjoy the letters written by Tina to her clients, some of which were very comical. And some of the story lines were interesting, so I did find myself wanting to know what would happen. But it's definitely not as good as Trisha Ashley's newer novels. I give this book 5/10.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Parisian's Return by Julia Stagg

I really enjoyed this book, not really knowing what to expect from the synopsis, but being pleasantly surprised. The book had me gripped from the first few pages. A few pages in I was concerned because when conversations were spoken in French, the characters spoke normally, but when they were speaking to their English friends their speech began to change to portray an accent eg "Jacques, ze 'usband of Josette", which was very irritating. But luckily this wasn't featured much in the book. There were lots of characters in the village where the book is set, all of whom were quirky but loveable, especially the main characters Stephanie, Josette and Fabian. There were a lot of intriguing story lines. For example, who is Veronique's father? Is Fabian just a money-grabber? Who is the mysterious man driving around in the green van? It kept me guessing throughout and often surprised me! There were times during the book where I just couldn't put it down wanting to know what would happen next! Therefore I give this book 9/10.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Second Time Around by Erin Kaye

I quite enjoyed this book - there was something about it that made me not want to put it down. However, I can't quite put my finger on what! I didn't really like the idea of the 'cougar' relationship, especially because Jennifer and Ben hardly seemed to know each other when they declared their love for each other. The whole point of the book seemed to be to point out that age doesn't matter, but the relationship seemed too fake and they didn't seem to have bonded enough. However, I did enjoy some of the other plots, such as Lucy's relationship with Oren, with some of the plot twists genuinely surprising me. And there was something about the way the book was written that had me hooked. I give this book 7/10.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Hidden Talents by Erica James

I really enjoyed this book and found myself hooked. The four main characters - Beth, Jaz, Dulcie and Jack - were all loveable because they all had vulnerabilities and problems which they had to face. I enjoyed reading how all of these characters came together through their love of writing, and how they helped each other find peace with their troubles. Victor was a character meant to be hated at the start, but Erica James did an excellent job of making me change my view of him throughout the book by revealing his side of the story from his point of view. There were a few plot twists which made the story interesting, and there was a particularly huge surprise towards the end which really shocked me and ensured that the story wasn't just a predictable plot. I give this book 9/10.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Pastures New by Julia Williams

This was such a lovely book, perfect for curling up with as the weather gets colder and the nights get darker. What I love about this book is that a lot of the story is set around the allotments, which allows for the changes in season to be used as part of the story. I loved the main character, Amy, and her son, Josh. The old man, Harry, from the allotments was also a lovely character. The love story between Amy and Ben was nice to read, although the reasons stopping them getting together did seem to go on a bit, and some of it could have been cut out to make the story shorter. But overall, it was a lovely read. I give it 9/10.

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Real Thing by Catherine Alliott

I'm sad to say that I didn't finish this book. I got about three quarters of the way through it and decided to give in because it was becoming a bit of a chore to read and I thought that life's too short! The main issue that I had with this book is that I hated the main character. She had nothing about her which I liked. She almost seemed to think it was ok to have an affair and she had very strange morals. And even though she kept denying that she would ever go back to Patrick, mostly because she was married, it is quite obvious that she was going to by the end of the book. In fact, I didn't like a single character in the book, and I didn't like most of the storylines. It was a shame, because this book had a lot of potential, and I've enjoyed all of the other Catherine Alliott books that I've read before. Therefore I give this book 2/10.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Summer Fling by Sarah Morgan

This book was an enjoyable read and I loved the Scottish island the story is set on. There were characters you got to know well and loved, and the sense of community was very heart-warming. The two main characters - Kyla and Evanna - were also loveable, if a bit dim at times and too easily controlled by their feelings for the men in the stories. The only thing that I didn't like was the fact that the book was split into two separate stories for these two characters. I felt it would have flowed better had the two storylines run alongside each other. Also, the title of the book doesn't reflect the stories at all or do the book justice! But other than that, I really enjoyed it. I give this book 8/10.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Village Secrets by Rebecca Shaw

This was one of the best Turnham Malpas stories yet. It had all the charm of the other books, as well as some really interesting new characters and great storylines. The whole witchcraft element was really fun to read and the plot twists were intriguing. The traditions and community spirit of the village, as always, made Turnham Malpas seem an idyllic village. I give this book 10/10!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber

When I started to read this book and realised that the three women from the previous novel were no longer the main characters, I was a bit worried as to whether I would enjoy this book as much and the three new women as much. However, these women were just as good to read about, and I fell in love with all of them. Lydia's storyline remained the only constant one, and it was just as interesting to read. Elise was probably the only character that irritated me because she was a bit hypocritical and always went against her own advice in weak moments. However, all of the women were actually inspirational and a joy to read about. And the whole book showed important messages about staying true to yourself and the importance of friendship. I give this book 8/10.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Village Show by Rebecca Shaw

It took me a while to get into this book, longer than it normally takes with the Turnham Malpas series. Some of the newer characters didn't seem as loveable as the old ones. However, this did change with time. Characters such as Louise and Barry that annoyed me at the start really grew on me by the end. As always the story lines were unpredictable and gripping. The village show sounded really good fun, and made me excited for my own village show this Saturday! I give this book 8/10.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Long Weekend by Veronica Henry

This was a lovely summer read that really got me wanting to visit the seaside! Although it wasn't as gripping as The Beach Hut, the storylines were interesting and the characters were fun to read about, as I wanted to find out more. I liked the main storyline of the history between Nick and Claire, and Nick's family sounded lovely. But I wasn't sure I liked what Claire had become since, and I thought it was a bit harsh on Nick's fiance that he was willing to leave her only minutes after meeting his ex. It may have been easier to read if she hadn't seemed really nice! Where as Luca was suitably horrible, so Claire wanting to leave him didn't seem so bad. The other minor storylines and characters were also interesting, particularly Laura looking for her father. Overall I give this book 8/10.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Village Matters by Rebecca Shaw

This was another great story from the Turnham Malpas series. There was, as usual, some serious and some more lighthearted storylines, all great to read. I love how these books really capture village life and the different types of individuals within it. I was slightly dissappointed by Muriel in this book. She has been my favourite character so far, but she seems to have become slightly controlled by Ralph, although she does not realise this. Pericles, the dog, dying was like an end of an era for her, which I thought was very sad. It is lovely that she has found love, but a shame she has lost her independence. Overall, it was a very good read. I give this book 9/10.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Summer Daydreams by Carole Matthews

I've read quite a few Carole Matthews books, but this one was a bit of a disappointment in comparison to some of her best ones. Whilst I loved the idea behind the story, and enjoyed parts of the book, overall something didn't work for me. I think the main problem was that I didn't like the main character, Nell. At times she was a bit irritating, and a lot of the time a bit stupid. The easiness with which she kissed another man, and then accepted that her husband had maybe kissed another woman didn't seem very realistic. Some of the storylines didn't seem all that realistic, either, and tended to get out of hand very quickly. In addition, the handbags described didn't sound very nice at all! But some parts were enjoyable to read, and other bits did make me laugh out loud, so it wasn't all bad: just not as good as others I have read. Therefore I give this book 5/10.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

I absolutely loved this book! From the first paragraph I fell in love with the main character, Lydia. I felt so close to her and wish I had a friend like her in real life! I also loved Carol from the start, too, and was empathetic with her plight to have a child. At first I was unsure about the characters of Alix and Jacqueline, but as they developed and grew as characters, and as the knitting class all became friends, I began to love them, too. I felt as if I was the extra member of the knitting class and it even made me want to learn to knit! I liked how each character took it in turns to have a chapter so I could see all sides of the stories. The plot was interesting and heartwarming, a perfectly indulgent read! I give this book 10/10!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Talk of the Village by Rebecca Shaw

The second installment of the Turnham Malpas series was gripping. I read it very quickly and couldn't put it down! I really like Rebecca Shaw's style of writing in that it is third person, but written from the perspective from different characters throughout, showing their thoughts and personalities through the narrative. Muriel still has to be my favourite character - she is just so sweet and kind. A few interesting plot twists such as those involving the Baxters and Venetia and so on, kept me wanting to read on. What I like about these stories is the fact that the plots aren't always predictable, but things always end well for the good characters (which is why I like chick lit so much!). I'm now looking forward to reading the third installment to see what happens in Turnham Malpas next! I give this book 10/10.

Friday, 10 August 2012

A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell

This was an enjoyable read, another nice book by Jill Mansell. The characters were well written, I loved both of the main characters - Evie and Lara. I loved those characters I was meant to love (such as Nettie, Don, Flynn, etc) and hated those I was meant to (ie Joel). The only storyline I didn't really enjoy was the one involving the famous rapper, EnjaySeven. I understand the need for his character to be in the novel, especially relating to Harry's personal journey, but I didn't see the need for him to be famous and such a jerk! But other than that, it was an enjoyable read, but nothing really stood out to me as being particularly special or 'unputdownable'. I give this book 7/10.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Paradise House by Erica James

This was a really good read, especially for the summer as it was set by the seaside. Straight away I felt connected with the main character, Genevieve and wanted to know all about her. I was hooked reading about her past, and just as hooked to find out what would be happening next. I loved all of her family, their quirkiness and all! I also loved the location of Angel Sands, with it's variety of villagers, and the B&B of Paradise House. It sounded like somewhere I would love to go on holiday. This was a definite page turner that was difficult to put down, so I give this book 9/10!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The New Rector by Rebecca Shaw

I chose to start this series after hearing it was similar to the Prior's Ford series. Although I didn't quite fall for Turnham Malpas and it's characters quite so much, it was a good read, and I will continue with the series. There were some really intriguing story lines and some more serious story lines, which made me want to read on. The character I liked the most was Muriel, and her point of view was used often to tell the story. She was a character I felt I would want to be friends with and enjoyed watching her develop as a person. Caroline was another character I admired and felt very empathetic towards during the traumas she faced in the book. Overall it was a good read and I give this book 8/10.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Mystery in Prior's Ford by Evelyn Hood

The latest (and perhaps final?) installment from Prior's Ford was no disappointment. Another exciting read which kept me hooked with its intriguing story lines. There were some darker elements to this story, but everything was still kept light-hearted enough to be enjoyable to read. The murder in the village was an exciting story line, which I couldn't guess the solution to, until it was revealed near the end. My old favourite characters were back, and there were some interesting new faces, too. I feel like I've really gotten to know some of these characters over the series and will be disappointed if there isn't another book to follow so I can find out what they will all get up to next. This series has introduced me to a new genre I maybe wouldn't have thought to read, but that I thoroughly enjoy, which is also great. Therefore I give this book 10/10!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Laura's Handmade Life by Amanda Addison

Although I really started to enjoy this book towards the end, there was something about the narrative that stopped me from loving the book as a whole. It took me a while to get into the book, for a start, as the main character, Laura, really irritated me. She seemed to see her children as an inconvenience in her life, and I didn't feel that her having children actually added anything to the plot. She was a scatty character, which was very much reflected in the narrative. One sentence she would be discussing one topic, the next something entirely different, which often made it difficult to follow what was happening! However, I did enjoy the general plot, and the descriptions of the handmade items, the sewing classes, and some of the other characters (except Chris, who annoyed me throughout). It really made me want to get my sewing box out and start sewing again, which is a good sign in a book. And there were some parts of the book that had me hooked, despite my earlier complaints. Therefore I give this book 6/10.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Scandal in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston

Another fantastic installment from the Prior's Ford series. There were some really gripping story lines in this novel - some sad and emotional, others mysterious and intriguing, others happy and uplifting. The story at Taberthill Farm got very intense in this book, and brought a tear to my eye. I really enjoyed the storyline about the poision pen letters, and was excited when I found out who had been sending them! Ingrid, who featured quite a lot in the first book, has slowly been blending into the background during this and the previous book, so I wasn't too bothered to see her go in this one. Generally, this was a book I found hard to put down, and I'm looking forward to reading the next (and unfortunately final) book in the series. I give this book 10/10!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A Mother's Wish by Debbie Macomber

What irritated me most about this book was that I didn’t realise it was two shorter stories in one, as this was not obvious from the synopsis. I probably would not have decided to read it if I had known beforehand. However, I did enjoy Debbie Macomber’s style of writing. The first story, ‘Wanted: Perfect Partner’, was a bit of a disappointment. I loved the idea behind this story, and when I started to read it, I really got into it. At first, I loved the main character, Meg and I loved the storyline of her daughter and Steve’s sister getting them together with romance ads. However, the story was slightly ruined for me by the fact that I hated Steve and I hated what Meg became because of Steve. She became needy and pathetic and he was grumpy and rude to her. Their desire seemed to be mostly sexual and their constant falling out irritating. It felt like a bit of a chore having to finish this story and I was glad when I finished it. The second story in the book, ‘Father’s Day’, was so much better. I loved the main character, Robin, and her son, Jeff. Jeff was so adorable and his love of dogs was something I could relate to! The love interest, Cole, was a much better prospect than Steve in the previous story, and you could see his love for Jeff and Robin develop over time. This story was much harder to put down than the first.  Therefore I give the book on the whole 6/10.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Trouble in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston

I was not dissappointed by the next installment from Prior's Ford! It was one of those books where I didn't want it to end because it was so good, but couldn't stop reading it so I could find out what happened next. All of my favourite characters were back and I loved reading about them again. Maggie, a character I had previously disliked, really grew as a person throughout the book so that now she is a character that I love. I loved the storyline of the Scarecrow Festival and it really made me wish that Prior's Ford was a real place so I could live there! I really enjoy reading a story about various characters which I feel really close to, and this is always achieved in the Prior's Ford series so I can't wait to read the next one. I give this book 10/10!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Drama Comes to Prior's Ford by Eve Houston

Another amazing Prior’s Ford novel! I was so gripped by the story that I couldn’t put it down and I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series to find out what will happen next. At first, it took me a while to remember which characters were which, although this was helped by the character descriptions at the beginning of the book. But once I got my head around who was who, I was hooked! Some of my old favourite characters made appearances, but there were also some interesting new faces with stories to tell. Eve Houston has a really great way of creating loveable characters, all with their ups and downs, who I always feel empathy towards and care about, which I feel is a great sign in a novel. Therefore I give this book 10/10!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Rural Affair by Catherine Alliott

I've loved reading most of Catherine Alliott's books, but this one was a little harder to get into than the others. I think the main reason was that I didn't like the main character, Poppy, at the start. She was a very bitter, angry and depressed person at the beginning, which is understandable in her situation, just something I didn't feel too comfortable reading. However, after about half way through the book, the story picked up for me. Poppy's character drastically changed for the better, and the plot was more attention-grabbing and made me want to read on. I loved finding out all the twists in the plot, for example when Jennie finds a positive pregnancy test in her bathroom, and about Hope Armitage's link with Sam. So although I felt the book got off to a bad start, it did make up for it by the end. Therefore I give this book 6/10.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Hidden Treasures by Fern Britton

This was a really enjoyable read, which kept me gripped throughout. The main character, Helen, was easy to like and I found myself admiring her strength of character. The village of Pendruggan sounded perfect, as did its many characters- from Queenie to Dorrie to Tony to Simon the vicar. The only character I did not like was Helen's best friend, Penny, who did not seem like a very good friend at all. And I did not think she and Simon went well together at all. Piran was not an amazing love interest, as he did not seem like a particularly nice person. In addition, his name was a bit strange! However, the story line from Helen moving to the village, to the filming of a TV drama, to the happy ever after was lovely to follow. Therefore I give this book 8/10!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley

I really enjoyed this book - another great read by Trisha Ashley. I loved the main character, Tansy, and felt really close to her throughout the story. I felt similar emotions to her - sadness at Aunt Nan's death, anger at Justin's revelations, frustration at his inability to realise he'd done wrong, and the like. Aunt Nan and Bella were also lovely characters and I felt like they were personal friends. I also fell in love with Flash, who sounded adorable. So I was really drawn into the story and wanted to know what would happen next - which made it hard to put down! I also loved reading Aunt Nan's recordings and finding things out as Tansy did. The shoe shop sounded perfect, as did the whole village. I enjoyed reading about characters from previous books and seeing what they were getting up to. It was just a real feel-good story, with occasional twists and turns, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I give this book 10/10!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Village Vet by Cathy Woodman

This book was an enjoyable read, but it wasn't one of Cathy Woodman's best. It was lacking something, but I can't quite figure out what. The plot was exactly the type of thing I love to read about, with an Animal Rescue Centre set in a countryside village. But I think the problem was that I didn't quite warm to the main character, Tess. I felt there was no need for her to take her fiance up the aisle and then to decide she didn't want to be with him. And the romantic interest, Jack, lacked a certain sparkle. It seemed strange that one moment Tess didn't like Jack in the slightest and the next minute she was head over heels in love with him. It should have been a more gradual process. However, I did enjoy reading about other characters, such as Libby and the committee members. And I loved reading about the animals, from Buster the dog, to Dolly to pony, to the baby birds. And as I got towards the end of the book and the action got quicker, I did find myself enjoying it more. But the one thing that still puzzles me is why the book is called 'The Village Vet', when Tess is not a vet and it isn't based in a veterinary practice. However, overall I give this book 6/10.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Love Letter by Fiona Walker

This book was a real disappointment for me. After I read the synopsis, I thought this book would be an enjoyable read. However, there was a lot to the plot which I did not like. My biggest problem with the book was the main character, Allegra. She was referred to as 'Legs' throughout the book which thoroughly irritated me. I did not feel like I could connect with her because she kept doing really stupid things, such as wearing her nephew's clothes instead of just buying new ones and letting herself be held hostage by her own boyfriend. I never felt connected to any of the characters throughout the book, either. I did like Byrne to start with, but after he and Allegra got together, he became a different character. In addition, there was a lot of references to them making love, without there any need to, which really started to annoy me by the end. In addition, the ending was also a major dissapointment. The whole book was just generally long winded with too much going on and too many different characters and family dramas occuring which were hard to keep up with. It is such a shame, because the writing style was good and there were a few entertaining moments, but the story got out of hand and a little surreal in places. Therefore, I give this book 3/10.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Secrets in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston

I adored this book, and was completely engrossed in the story. I will admit that at first it was quite hard remembering which characters were which, as so many were introduced near the beginning. But once I got the grasp of who was who, I fell in love with the book. I loved the descriptions of the village, the events that were happening, the connections between the characters, and the whole warm glow the story gave me. My favourite story line had to be about Clarissa Ramsay, who went through a real journey throughout the book. Her friendship with Alastair was lovely to read, especially because it never developed into anything more. Friendship between men and women as being a friendship in most stories I read are non-existent, so this was a breath of fresh air. Other characters I enjoyed were Ingrid, Jenny and Helen from The Gift Horse, who each had seperate stories, but came together as one, too. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see what the characters will get up to next! Overall I give this book 10/10!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Promises, Promises by Erica James

This was a very enjoyable read. I felt very engaged with two of the main characters, Ella and Maggie, and felt like I was cheering them on throughout the book. Ethan, the third main character, was a little harder to connect with, for me. I'm not sure if it was because he was a man, or his lack of morals, but I found it hard to feel empathetic towards him. I didn't really like his plot, and his pursuit of Ella, and I wasn't too sure they should end up together. Maggie was a totally different story. Although I generally find myself getting annoyed with characters that have affairs, because I felt so connected to Maggie, I was happy when she found a man so much better than her husband. All the characters you were supposed to hate were easily dislikeable, and were very funny at the same time. Maggie's in-laws were particularly comical, especially Brenda and her dog. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, which is a good sign with a book. Therefore I give it 8/10.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Country Affair by Rebecca Shaw

This book was fantastic! I think I've discovered an amazing new author by picking up this book and now I'm desperate to read the next one in the series. I love the setting at the veterinary practice and all the characters. There are the main characters like Kate, Mia, Joy, etc who are really likeable and easy to sympathise with. Then there are the smaller characters who just add character to the book, like Mr. F and Miss Chillingsworth. I liked how the plot had some twists that made it a little less predictable, like how the situation was left between Kate and Scott. Overall, this was a light, heart-warming story where I cared for the main characters and couldn't put it down. I give this book 10/10.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Welcome to Rosie Hopkin's Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

I really loved this book and felt really involved with the story. Rosie was a brilliant main character, who was easy to like and empathise with. Lilian was also another good main character, and her back story was interesting to follow throughout the book. I loved the descriptions of the sweetshop, so much so that it made me visit my own local sweetshop! At first, there were three men who could have been potential love interests for Rosie. Moray and Jake seemed like perfectly nice characters, but went from being potential love interests to nothing in a matter of seconds, I did not even notice until their personalities seemed to have changed totally. And Stephen never really appealed to me, either, even when Rosie began to like him. Other than that, most of the other characters were loveable, particularly the little boy, Edison, who sounded adorable. And the story as a whole was very captivating. I give this book 9/10.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Open House by Jill Mansell

This was a really interesting story, but it took me a while to get into it. For some reason, I could not connect with one of the main characters, Nell. How she and Marcus ended up getting together was very adrupt and random, and she seemed to change her mind about him too easily. And there was something about Marcus which did not click at first, either. However, about half way through the book I did begin to like them a lot better. It was the other main character, Hetty, which I really enjoyed reading about the most. I felt empathetic towards her at the start, and felt almost proud of her as her character grew. Some of the minor characters were interesting, too, such as Kiki and Jemima. And overall, it was an enjoyable read once I got into it. I give this book 7/10.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Crowded Marriage by Catherine Alliott

This was a really good book. I enjoyed reading the story told from Imogen's perspective and discovering plot twists as she did. Some of the twists were really surprising and kept me gripped. Imogen's son, Rufus, was adorable and gave the book a homely feel. The way Imogen's husband was portrayed was very good - there was something about him that wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it, similar to how Imogen felt in the situation. The only thing I wasn't keen on was the love interest, Pat. He never really grew on me and his personality was somewhat lacking. The ending was also a bit abrupt, and I felt that it should have developed further. However, overall this was a good book, that I found difficult to put down. I give it 8/10.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde

I am a big fan of Katie Fforde, and have read all of her books. So I was very excited when this arrived in the post. It didn't dissappoint, either. I felt connected with the main character, Zoe, straight away from the first chapter. I just couldn't put the book down, wanting to find out what would happen next. I liked the theme of the book, a cookery competition set in a beautiful location, which reminded me of the TV series 'The Great British Bake Off' (which I love!). Cher was a brilliant character who I loved to hate. Gideon is exactly what I hope for in a romantic hero, although the plot twist involving his wife was resolved too quickly in my opinion. Zoe fell back into his arms far too easily, and he should have had to fight for her more. Therefore I thought the book was ended a bit too abruptly for my liking. But overall, a brilliant read. I give this book 9/10.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Although this book didn't progress as I was expecting, it was still an enjoyable read. After reading the synopsis, I imagined there would be three main characters, when there were stories told from many different character's perspectives. It was like reading lots of different short stories which all took part in the same location. The good thing was that I felt connected and empathetic towards each new character and their story as they were introduced. However, sometimes it got a bit complicated remembering all of the characters names and their stories when they were continued later on in the book. I liked the main family - the Miltons - and their various stories. And I also liked how several of the seperate characters came together in different ways. However, another issue I felt was that some of the stories seemed unresolved, whilst others were tied up neatly by the end. Overall, it was a nice read, if a little difficult to follow at times. I give it 7/10.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It Happened One Summer by Polly Williams

To get me in the mood for the warmer weather on my holiday, I chose a book about summer to take with me. I was so glad I took this as it was a great holiday read. Once I'd picked it up, I couldn't put it down. It was gripping, and I always wanted to find out more, especially because of the cliff hangers at the end of some of the chapters. There were lots of family dynamics that drove the story forward. The side plot of April that eventually led to the main plot was particularly enthralling. Polly Williams managed to create empathy for all of the characters, especially the main character, Nell, but also her sister, Heather, despite the initial judgement I came to when hearing how she had stolen Jeremy. I especially loved the descriptions of Cornwall in the book, especially those of the beach. Therefore I give this book 10/10!

The Difference A Day Makes by Carole Matthews

I quite enjoyed this book. When reading the synopsis, the term 'tragedy' didn't have me expecting what happened early on in the book. It made the story much more interesting. I didn't like the main character, Amy, at first. Although as she grew to love the country, the animals and became less materialistic, I also grew to love her. I generally enjoy books about the countryside (living in it myself) so all the tales of the animals such as Hamish the dog and the blind chickens really tickled me, and the love interest, Guy, being a vet was interesting. The children were lovely characters which added a cosy, family feel to the book. In terms of written style, I find that Carole Matthews writes well and I love the short chapters that feature in her books. I give this book 8/10.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Monday to Friday Man by Alice Peterson

I really enjoyed this book and felt really involved in the life of Gilly. I liked following her journey and her gradual discovery of what she really wanted out of life. The Monday to Friday man idea was an interesting one with which the plot was based around, rather than Jack just being somone she meets randomly. I love the dog-walking group where the characters are all different and heart-warming. And I especially love the sounds of Gilly's dog, Ruskin. I felt like the chapters that were told from Gilly's view when she was a child were a bit uneccesary or would have been better told in past rather than present tense. But other than that, it was an excellent read, and I particularly loved the ending. I give this book 9/10.