Monday, 30 December 2013

Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley

I absolutely loved this book - I just couldn't put it down. Cally was a heroine I totally loved and admired as her love for her little girl Stella shone through. Stella was perhaps the cutest little girl ever written, with her love for Sylvanian Families and observations of the world (perhaps she was a little too wise? But I still loved her). Jago was my kind of hero - a genuinely nice guy who had no intentions of pursuing Cally but slowly fell in love as their friendship blossomed. There were some brilliant quirky characters that were fun to read about, such as Cally's mother and Mrs. Honey. I also enjoyed reading about characters from previous Trisha Ashley novels. And I loved how so many things revolved around cake, although this did make me hungry! The book wasn't altogther that Christmassy, as it only came towards the end of the book, but it was still a wonderful read. I give this book 10/10!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Finding Home by Roisin McAuley

This was such a lovely Christmas read and featured some great characters. The main two women, Louise and Diana, were very loveable and Henry, the main love interest, was definitely my kind of man. Rebecca was a character who I didn't warm to, especially when the twist is revealed regarding her ex-boyfriend. The setting was perfect and I just wanted to go and see Wooldene Hall. Overall, I give this book 9/10.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A Mistletoe Kiss by Katie Flynn

This was such a lovely read, even though the synopsis wasn't really accurate and the so called 'mistletoe kiss' wasn't until about three quarters of the way through! It was the characters which really made this book, namely Agatha and Hetty. Their friendship starts in a most unlikely way, but blossoms into something beautiful that makes you wish you were a part of it. I loved how Agatha meets her love interest, Max, and how their love grows. Hetty's love interest, Gareth, was not so impressive, though. He is made out to be a bit pushy and the way they get together at the end is far too fast and random. The whole book came to a somewhat abrupt end, as if it should have gone on a few more chapters. However, I did enjoy reading it, especially life in the library and on the canal, two places which mean something to me. I give this book 9/10.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill

This was a lovely Christmassy read and I really enjoyed it. Straight away I could relate to the main character in the story, as she has a love of books and works in a bookshop. Her dislike of technology and preference for staying in reading rather than partying really made me love her! And Bailey the dog was an excellent edition to the story. The story line was really clever and unravelled mysteries as it went along. I was always wanting to find out more and found myself saying 'just one more chapter'! There were several twists which I weren't expecting which kept the story intriguing. The ending was just perfect, too, and gave me that warm fuzzy feeling inside! I give this book 10/10!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews

I always think chick lits are great reads at Christmas time, and this one was perfect! In the first chapter, I wasn't so sure I was going to enjoy it, but after chapter two I was totally hooked and couldn't put it down. Poor Juliet has so much to contend with during the Christmas period that at first you just feel sorry for her. But the way she handles everything she comes across makes you admire her and love her. There were moments during the book where I actually laughed out loud and others that brought a tear to my eye. Juliet's family are absolutely crazy, from her pregnant daughter to her bi-sexual son to her mother who is starting to get Alzheimers. The other characters such as Lisa and Izzy, Merak, Robin and Samuel added some extra plots that pulled at the heart strings. Overall, it was a fun and lovely read, perfect for this time of year and I give it 10/10!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

This was a lovely book and perfect for reading snuggled up on cold winter nights! It was a nice, easy read full of loveable characters. I loved the main premise of the book, which was Chicky's return from New York and her decision to open the Stone House hotel. Her story was sad but also uplifting as she managed to make something for herself. I liked how each chapter was a character(s) story who was a visitor to the hotel. Each story gave a background to the character and showed how the visit to Stone House made a difference to them. A classic Maeve Binchy, you get exactly what you expect and I love that. I give it 9/10.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

This was an unusual book and I'm still a little undecided as to whether I liked the main character, Macon, or not. I see that Tyler was trying to show his flaws and how his journey throughout the book changed him. But even by the end of the book, I couldn't warm to him fully. I did feel pity for him quite a lot during the book, especially because of the death of his son, the strange rituals which ruled his life, and his wife leaving him. The arrival of Muriel marked the beginning of his change, but Muriel herself actually irritated me, even though her quirkiness is supposed to be endearing. All of the characters, from his boss, to his brothers and sister, and even his dog, were unconventional and a bit strange, although I did enjoy reading about them. The main disappointment for me was how the book ended. Up until the last paragraph, I thought the book would end with Macon breaking free from both Muriel and his wife and move on to a fulfilling life. The fact that during the final paragraph he chooses Muriel was a little disappointing because I never felt she was really right for him. But I did enjoy reading the book and give it 6/10.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Calling Mrs. Christmas by Carole Matthews

I did quite enjoy this book, but didn't think it was one of Carole Matthews's best novels. I loved the idea behind the book, and enjoyed reading about Cassie's new hope and career after such a period of unemployment. However, I felt it started to go downhill once she went on the holiday to Lapland with Carter. Carter was supposed to be charming, but I couldn't quite see it. He seemed too false and obsessed with money to be my kind of hero. I liked reading about Jim, his job, and the two youth offenders which he became fond of. Cassie did reach the right decision by the end of the book, but the fact that she was even considering the other option for so long made me hugely dislike her. I give this book 6/10.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Summer House by Marcia Willett

I loved reading this book as the characters gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. They all felt like family!  Lottie was my favourite character because she was so unique and loving. Imogen and Matt felt like brother and sister, and I just wanted to shout at them when they were doing stupid things throughout the book. The only part I didn't enjoy was how Matt 'discovered' the secret which had been plaguing him. Some 'strange' photos led him to a conclusion which he could not have possibly come to! The twist in the tale was a good one, but how is was revealed seemed to have been written as if the author couldn't think of any other way. The ending was a bit abrupt, but I was disappointed to have finished it, which is a good sign! I give this book 9/10.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

How It All Began by Penelope Lively

I really enjoyed this book. It was short, and the story line was relatively simple - but that's exactly why I enjoyed it. I loved the premise behind the book, that one event that happens randomly can effect the lives of many unrelated people without them knowing it. I enjoyed reading about the variety of characters in the book, especially the relationship between Anton and Rose. Marion's journey to realising that her life needed to change was really inspiring. And I liked the fact that not all the characters were good. I enjoyed disliking slimy Jeremy and selfish Mark. And even though there was no closure to everyone's stories, I think this fitted in well with the idea behind the book. I give this book 9/10.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Although I felt like the book had a bit of a slow start, once I got to a certain point, I could not put it down. I was hooked, desperate to know what would happen next - and always shocked as each new twist was revealed. At first, I hated Nick and felt sorry for Amy, then my feelings took a total u-turn, much like the public's opinion during the story. I felt the character Amy was very unique and really drove the plot forward. All the little clues she left were really cleverly thought out. The ending, however, whilst apt for the characters, left me feeling a little bit sad and worried about Nick's future. But I really enjoyed the book and give it 9/10.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

I'm slightly confused as to whether I enjoyed this book. There were parts where I was really gripped, and I enjoyed getting to know all the characters at the beginning. However, whilst there were some odd aspects to the uninvited guests, especially Charlie, and it was clear they were supposed to be ghosts, I just don't think it was executed well enough. There were times where events were just trying a little too hard to be strange. But I did like all of the characters, especially Emerald, Ernest and Patience, which I feel is an important part of a story. Smudge was also a lovely character, and her quirks made me love her all the more. The ending did bring the story to a good conclusion, but it was just the main body which lacked something. I give this book 5/10.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French

I was quite disappointed with this book, as I'd really enjoyed Dawn French's second book, 'Oh Dear Silvia'. The main problem was that I didn't like any of the characters. Mo was drippy and depressing, but didn't seem to improve much until the last few pages. Dora was an irritating and extremely stupid teenager who acted more like a little child. The language used in her chapters, whilst probably accurate for girls her age, was painful to read. I'd rather it had been third person to avoid this. Oscar's chapters were more enjoyable and quite amusing, however. I found it hard to get into the story and to care about the characters. The ending was good, though, but it was far too late to rescue the book as a whole. I give this book 3/10.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

This was a really moving and interesting book. After reading the synopsis where it explained that David Henry gave away his daughter because she had Down's Syndrome, I couldn't imagine how he could do it and how he could keep it secret, so just had to pick up the book. How the event affected his family without them knowing the truth was tragic yet fascinating to read. I wasn't sure whether to feel sorry for Norah, however, once she began cheating. Phoebe sounded absolutely lovely and I loved the character of Caroline Gill who seemed so brave and inspiring. The twist in the tale towards the end was a real shock, and I thought the ending was perfect. I give this book 9/10.

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

This was a lovely read, even though the style was a little simplistic. But then again, James Bowen wasn't a writer, and this wasn't meant to be a literary masterpiece, just an account of his story. I certainly enjoyed it for what it was and fell in love with Bob - no surprises there! It was interesting to read a story from the point of view of the type of person that often doesn't get much of a voice in society. And it was heartwarming to read about how his life was turned around by the chance meeting with a beautiful cat. I give this book 8/10.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore

I really enjoyed this book, it had me gripped right from the start. The story of Isabel was fascinating and I fell in love with her as a character. As things began to deteriorate in her life, I genuinely felt sad for her as if I knew her. Emily was the main character from the present day, and although I did enjoy her story, too, she wasn't as gripping a character. Her relationship with Matthew was a strange one, as the reader was clearly supposed to think he was marvelous, which I did not. After their break up, she pined for him, and this irritated me because I never thought he was particularly amazing. Towards the end of the novel, there were a few dramatic twists in the tale which I had not been expecting at all, and which had me in shock. The ending was particularly unexpected, but it was the perfect way to end the story. I give this book 10/10.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year by Sue Townsend

This was quite an entertaining read as it had a lot of satirical undertones and made a lot of funny judgements of society in general. The story had me hooked as I was eager to know how the story would progress - especially to see who would put up with looking after Eva for such a long time. It is such an unlikely scenario, especially when Brian's mistress comes to live in his shed, but it is done so well that it convinces the reader that it is actually happening. The added dimension of the twins going to university and how they have their own story lines and issues created extra interest. Although, their names Brian Junior and Brianne were maybe going a bit too far in the believability stakes! Overall, though, it was a good, if slightly strange, read and I give this book 8/10.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by Jenny Eclair

Although this book was meant to be funny, it was actually pretty sad, too. The opening chapters that describes Anne's life were really quite depressing! And as we get to know Anne and Jean and their combined histories, there is a real sadness underlying all of the comic scenes and irony. My favourite scene in the book has to be when Anne's son comes across his mother in the nude after she believes he is a burglar - this actually made me laugh out loud, a rare thing in a book (mostly I laugh on the inside). I would have preferred the consistency of chapters just from Anne or Jean's points-of-view because occasionally Jess or one of Anne's sons would take over the narrative, but I suppose this was needed to reveal certain aspects of the story. But overall, it was a good read, and there were parts where I was thoroughly gripped. I give this book 9/10.

Friday, 30 August 2013

The House on Willow Street by Cathy Kelly

This was an enjoyable and easy read which allowed me to imagine some lovely characters in a beautiful setting. Out of the four main characters, I loved three of them. Suki was the only main female I didn't like because her story was so set apart and unrelated to any of the others. I felt if she was just cut out of the story, it would have made little difference and she had no grip on me at all. Danae's story was a really touching one, with the secret behind her isolation and elusiveness being discovered by her niece who helped her overcome her problems. The main love interest for Tess, Cashel, was lacking something, however. His name, for a start, was strange and he seemed a little flat. And the reasons behind the so-called betrayal and fall out between him and Tess was a bit flimsy. I was expecting something much more dramatic. Their story was on the whole a little bit boring and they seemed to get back together very quickly with not much build up. Overall, though, I loved the setting, with the antique shop and the beautiful Avalon House. I give this book 7/10.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I was fascinated to read this as I have heard mixed reviews about it, but I quite enjoyed it. I think the main problem that is people compare it to Harry Potter, but as a stand alone and adult novel I thought it was an enjoyable read. It did take me quite a while to get into the flow of reading it because there were so many characters introduced at the start so I was getting confused who was who and didn't feel I'd been given enough chance to make a decision about their characters. But once I got into the story and the characters, I read the rest of the story quite quickly. There was so much going on and various story lines that were really interesting to read. The main thing that irritated me throughout the book was Rowling's use of brackets that would go on through various paragraphs. And I felt at times techniques such as this were showing an effort to come across as 'literary' and just felt unnatural. In addition, in trying to make an escape from her Harry Potter days, I feel she involved far too many descriptions of sexual acts and lots of swearing that was unnecessary. But overall, it was a good read so I give it 8/10.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

This was a really enjoyable read. It showed some interesting insights into a culture I wouldn't normally read about. The women from this culture featured in the story were really awe-inspiring and it was great to hear their stories from their own perspective. The main character, Sunny, was a really great main character and it was interesting to read about how she recognised her feelings for Jack over time. It was very much like some other 'chick-lit' that I read, so it followed a similar format which I find quite comforting to read, but was set in an interesting location with extra factors such as bombings and prejudice views against women. I really enjoyed reading it and give it 8/10.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

I realise that I am probably supposed to like this book because it's a classic. But to be totally honest, for the most part, it was incredibly boring. I am not one for long, elaborate and pretentious descriptions, which is what the majority of this book is. I enjoyed some of the tales, and reading about some of the characters, such as Laurie's mother. But most of the time I just got bored. Laurie's narration was dry and I didn't like him as a person. It's such a shame, because I liked the idea of the book, just not the book itself! I give this book 1/10.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The House We Grew Up In By Lisa Jewell

This was a really enjoyable read and I was quite hooked, particularly towards the end where I kept telling myself 'just one more chapter' and then inevitably finishing the book! The story was relatively sad, specifically regarding the Mother of the story, Lorelei. The hoarding issue was a really unusual one to cover, as I have never encountered it before. And the effects of Rhys's suicide were written subtly but also referred to quite often. The family dynamics and the journeys of the different family members were so interesting and intriguing, all with an air of mystery which comes together towards the end of the book. Overall, I really loved this book and give it 9/10.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Way of Muri by Ilya Boyashov

I was sadly disappointed by this book, mostly because it was really pretentious. It went on far too much about philosophers and ideas and quoted lots in latin. I think that the author was almost mocking these people but actually more made a fool of himself. It's a shame because the actual story of the book and the variety of characters that Muri met on his travels were actually really interesting and I enjoyed those parts. The only strange part of his story was the inclusion of spirits and other ethereal ideas. I think the story would have been better without those. I suppose the book just wasn't what I was expecting, and I was fed up during quite a bit of it. Therefore I give this book 4/10.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Bernadine Bishop

I really enjoyed reading this book as it covered so many interesting topics and characters throughout. The main character, Cecelia, was brave and enduring in the face of cancer, being given an infant to care for, the abduction of her son and so many other issues. And yet there was an honesty about the situation that showed her fears, too. Helen was another interesting character, who acted quite differently to her cancer but still dealt with it with a great deal of bravery. The variety of plots surrounding the characters, including the mad Leda, courtship at an older age and accepting the inevitable death of one's mother, to name just a few, were so amazingly told and with such respect but honesty. I never once felt confused as to what was going on, despite the wide range of plots and characters. And I always felt that I was part of the family and friends, and wanted to find out more. I give this book 9/10.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson

This was a lovely, easy read with various characters which show the dynamics of family relationships and the effects of death. The main character, Myrtle, was perhaps a little bit weaker than I would have liked, but grew throughout the book to become really loveable. The two daughters were well written, both being very different and therefore bringing different elements to the story. The character of Gianni was a bit random, but was important and enjoyable to read. And I really enjoyed reading the growing relationship between Myrtle and her next door neighbour. The only problem was that it just didn't have me totally gripped, but I can't quite put my finger on why. I also would have liked to have seen Myrtle using her garden more as a haven as implied in the synopsis. I give this book 7/10.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

I was really disappointed with this book, especially after hearing such good things about Joyce's debut novel. I found it really hard to get into the story, forcing myself to read on and hoping it would get better. The last 100 pages were a definite improvement and I started to want to find out what would happen. However, this was majorly overshadowed by the fact that I just wanted to finish the book so I could start another. The main problem for me was that I did not feel connected to any of the characters, except perhaps I felt a bit of empathy towards Jim. The story was very slow going and not much seemed to happen for a long time. And there was so much mystery in the story, it left me confused rather than wanting to find out more. The idea of the extra two seconds being added to time was excellent, it was just poorly executed. It was such a shame, as I had been looking forward to this book. I give this book 3/10.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The President's Hat by Antoine Laurain

This was a lovely, quirky little book which I really enjoyed reading. It is such a simple idea, of a lost hat travelling between different owners, and it is done so well. It left the question open as to whether the hat actually had magical powers or if the life changes that occurred because of the hat were because of the people themselves. I enjoyed reading about all of the characters (although Bernard's story contained a bit more politics than I could really understand) because they were varied and interesting. It is just such a brilliant idea for a story that it was pure fun to read. I give this book 9/10.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This book was really amazing, and had me absolutely gripped. There were twists and turns throughout and just as I thought I was finally figuring out the answers, more new information would appear and have me wanting to read more! The final twist in the story had me so surprised yet it all made sense at the same time. The characters were all intriguing, the setting of wartime London during the Blitz added real immediacy to many of the events. The switches in time and character perspective were well done and always ended on cliff-hangers to get me to read more. It was one of those books which had me desperate to find out what would be revealed at the end, but also sad to have finished the story! I give this book 10/10.

Friday, 21 June 2013

The One-Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Jumped Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

This has got to be one of the best books I have ever read! It is witty, interesting and gripping. Allan is the most amazing, yet modest and indifferent, character ever to be written! His calmness and ease in every situation is something to be admired and gets him into some hilarious and precarious situations. I love how at the start of the book, Allan is alone, but as the story progresses, we get introduced to a motley gang of characters, who should not go together, but do. Sonya the elephant was a particularly great addition to the cast. I was always on the edge of my seat, wondering how Allan would get himself out of all the situations he found himself in, especially as the police were always a step behind. I was fascinated reading the story of his life and the famous historical characters he met and the events he effected. Each chapter ended with a cliff-hanger, leaving me wanting more. And it was written so well, with such humour yet empathy and without all of the literary trappings that often make books pretentious. So I definitely give this book 10/10!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Heft by Liz Moore

This was a sad but enjoyable story. Reading from the point of view of Arthur showed insights into a life I couldn't imagine and I felt so empathetic towards him, I wanted to dive into the story and be his friend. When the story switched to Kel's point of view, I didn't enjoy it at first, but as I got to know him and his predicament, I started to warm towards him. These two lives, which are connected in a loose way through Charlene, run parallel to each other, and it was frustrating that they never got round to speaking to each other for so long! Yolanda was a character I adored - she was non-judgemental and kind, and I loved seeing the effect she had on Arthur. The ending was just perfect, not finishing with a neat conclusion, but with the promise of a conclusion to come soon. I give this book 9/10.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Holiday Home by Fern Britton

This was an enjoyable read, although it seemed to get off to a slow start. There were a few twists and turns throughout the book, particularly towards the end, which surprised me and added a bit of excitement to the story. The one problem I had was that I didn't feel particularly drawn towards either of the two sisters which the story revolved around. Pru was just generally irritating all round and mean to her - lovely but spineless - husband, and after reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey' all her marriage problems seemed suddenly resolved. Connie was easier to like but a little bit dim and didn't seem all that bothered when she discovered Greg's infidelity. Merlin, the main man who caused friction between the two sisters, was an irritating addition to the story. I see the need for such a character, but felt he wasn't up for the job! I did enjoy the book overall, but it just didn't have me gripped. I give this book 7/10.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

I absolutely loved this book, it had me hooked! It was a little slow to start, but after a couple of chapters I was addicted. It was very fast-paced with lots of twists and turns. I enjoyed reading about historical events from a first-person viewpoint, and I really began to sympathise with Anne and her complicated life which she had little control over. And it seemed to really reflect how changeable life was for her from one moment to the next. What Gregory did really well was involve lots of different characters (and many with the same first name) without confusing me too much. In addition, it was good how she didn't portray Richard III as the villain he is often seen as in the history books, giving him a fairer representation. I give this book 9/10!

Friday, 31 May 2013

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

This was a really sad but touching book and shows how people affect each other without realising. Eddie seems like a grumpy sort at the start of the book, but by the end you discover the reasons for why he is how he is and therefore understand him as a person. It is also quite comforting in its suggestion that there is something to come after death, and I hope this is true and wonder who my 5 would be! It was quite a short book, but it was perfect in size - it explored the idea in detail, but still managed to leave me thinking. I give this book 8/10.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Starting Now by Debbie Macomber

I really enjoyed the story of Libby told in this book. What I liked most was that it was a story of self-discovery, where Libby learns that there are more important things in life than work and money. The link to the knitting store, which features highly in the Blossom Street series, was great to see and it was nice to revisit Lydia, my favourite character from the series. Other new characters, such as Ava and Phillip, added new dimensions to the story. Although the ending was so easy to guess, the journey Libby goes through during the book was the best part - it made me think about life in general as well as her story. I give this book 9/10.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Home To Roost by Tessa Hainsworth

This was a really enjoyable read. It was basic storytelling at its best, with lovely characters and a beautiful setting. It showed the ups and downs of life in the country and was full of different stories of the various people living in the area. Tessa Hainsworth is a very lucky woman to be living in such an amazing place and to be able to mix with so many people as part of her job as postwoman! The story of her new neighbours was the best story of all as it just went to show how communities come together when threatened. If only I could live in such a place! I give this book 9/10.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

I was absolutely addicted to this book once I started reading it! The story was so gripping, with constant twists and turns in the story. Every time I thought I knew who was telling the truth - Scott or Mirabelle - something new was revealed to make me question it and change my mind, just like the main character Tami. Just as I thought things were really good, a murder happened that had me intrigued even more. More and more truths and shocking news came out until I looked and realised I was devouring the book quicker than I thought. However, the BIG problem for me was the ending. I knew the killer probably wouldn't be too obvious, but I was sooo disappointed when I found out who did it and why. I thought it was a real letdown by Koomson. But even though I felt cheated at the end, I still have to give this book 8/10 because the rest of the book was so fabulous.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Summer House by Santa Montefiore

I absolutely loved reading this book, it had me hooked! From the synopsis on the back, I presumed that Phaedra was going to be George's mistress, but then when she revealed that she was his daughter, the story took a really interesting turn. I adored George's wife Antoinette and loved reading the journey she took throughout the book, from grieving to anger to forgiveness and truly finding herself as a person as she learns of new passions. I also loved reading of how the family as a whole grew and came together all because of Phaedra, especially the grandmother, Margaret's shift in character. David's crush on Phaedra seemed a strange story line to include, and to some extent gave away the twist that would come towards the end of the story. The only disappointment to me was the ending of the book, which seemed a little too neatly and easily resolved, especially the epilogue where the happily ever after was summed up by Margaret as part of a conversation that seemed a little bit too forced. This was the only thing that stops me giving this book full marks, so instead I give this book 9/10!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Chicken Coops for the Soul by Julia Hollander

I was really disappointed with this book, as I was expecting it to be something different to what it was. I expected it to be far more autobiographical. My favourite moments in the book were those about Julia's children and how they reacted about the chickens. However, a lot of the content was facts, figures and the history of chickens. Which would have been interesting in smaller doses, but I felt myself zoning out in these huge sections and contemplating whether to give up reading the book all together. I did enjoy certain aspects, don't get me wrong, such as reading about the chicken's personalities and their life in general. Overall, though, I have to give this book 3/10.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Eloise by Judy Finnigan

I don't usually read this type of book but the synopsis had me curious. And I'm so glad I decided to read it because I absolutely loved it. I read it so quickly and couldn't wait to read it again whenever I put it down. I was desperate to know the answers to the secrets and mysteries that Cathy was having to face. I felt so sympathetic towards Cathy, especially the judgement she had to face by others and her fears of going mad. There were so many plot twists throughout the book that had me gripped, I just wanted to keep going to find out more. Cornwall and Cathy's cottage sounded magical and was beautifully described. All of the characters had hidden depths and individual traits that really represents the diversity in real life. I have to give this book 10/10!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The List of My Desires by Gregoire Delacourt

This was a really interesting read, with a message about the dangers of money and that money doesn't bring you happiness. It is a relatively short book, but very engrossing and full of character depth. The twist toward the end was totally unexpected and shocking and finished the book off perfectly. It was quite a sad read throughout, with Jocelyne not really recognizing what she had before it was too late. I was hoping for a happy ending, but there wasn't really a proper one - but then I suppose that reflects real life! The only dissappointment that I had was that Jocelyne's haberdashery shop did not seem to fill her with pride in the way that it would have with me. She seemed to think her job was dull but it seems pretty amazing to me! Anyway, I give this book 9/10.

Warning: This was a proof copy and the actual book will not be out until 4th July 2013.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Country Loving by Cathy Woodman

I was slightly disappointed in this book because I did not feel it was as good as Cathy Woodman's previous Talyton St George novels. Stevie was a good lead character but not as strong as I would have hoped. Once she realised she had feelings for Leo she became very needy and pathetic, thinking that she could not live without him, which I hate in female leads. After he left for New Zealand, she would not move on as Jennie sensibly suggested. The back story of Stevie's family was interesting to read and added a new dimension to the story. And I loved the description of the the farm and all the animals. The pregnancy storyline was a bit random and I felt unnecessary as Stevie had enough going on with the farm's plans. And I was slightly disappointed by the ending too, hoping Leo wouldn't turn out to be perfect and that Stevie would realise how lovely James was. I therefore give this book 6/10.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding

This was a really enjoyable read. Clare's childhood was interesting, but not made to seem too idyllic. Her life surrounded by animals is full of happiness but also sadness. I loved how each chapter was the name of a particular animal and how each one's personality was really portrayed. Clare also explored the tougher times in her childhood, too, like the inherent sexism in her family and her father's lack of enthusiasm towards her. The stories really had me gripped, some of them even making me laugh out loud. The only part I didn't enjoy was some of the dates and statistics used about horse racing which I didn't fully understand, but most of it was explained well. I give this book 8/10.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Accidental Husband by Jane Green

I did enjoy this book, but did not feel it was as good as 'The Patchwork Marriage' which I read recently by Jane Green. At the start of the book I got really gripped and really loved the main character, Sylvie. It was when Part Two started and the perspective shifted to Maggie that I felt the book lost it's sparkle and it just became an average read. Maggie irritated me as a character, which would have been fine had I grown to love her throughout the book. Although the events of the story drastically changed her character, I felt the transformation was too fake and she was too unrecognisable for it to be believable. The story as a whole was a very interesting one, and I read on wanting to know what would happen next. But overall, there was something missing from this book, so I give it 6/10.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Good Husband Material by Trisha Ashley

This was a really enjoyable read, and I was gripped! I loved the story of Tish, who desperately wanted to live in her dream cottage. Nuthill sounded lovely, and was full of some really quirky and loveable characters such as Mrs Deaken, Bob and Mrs Peach. James was a suitably horrible husband and as I got to know Tish, I felt proud of her and was in awe of her bravery for finally getting rid of him! Fergal was an interesting hero, not my personal taste in the looks (I'm not a fan of long hair on men) or music taste department, but I could see what a great love interest he was by his personality and actions. The only problem I had with the book was Tish's meanness about Bess the dog before she came to love her. She seemed a bit harsh! Even though the book was long (500 pages) I felt the ending was a little rushed. But overall it was a lovely read and I give it 9/10!

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews

I have enjoyed almost all the Carole Matthews books I've ever read, but this one has to be my favourite. The setting is what clinches the deal for me as it sounds like my idea of heaven. being isolated from the world by the beautiful coast. Grace is a character that I really felt connected to and respected for choosing her marriage over having an affair. Ella, one of her best friends, was also a loveable character who showed a lot of strength throughout. Harry and Art were suitably annoying, as was Flick who often deserved a bit of a slap, I felt. Noah, the love interest, was actually perfect and it is easy to see why Grace (and I'm sure many readers) fell in love with him. Although the plot twists were entirely predictable, this gave it a sense of comfort and security as it is how I wanted to story to go. The only problem now is that I'm disappointed to have finished it and I feel that I desperately need a holiday in Cwtch Cottage! I give this book 10/10!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Honey Queen by Cathy Kelly

This was a really enjoyable read, perfect for this time of year. It was set in a lovely location with some diverse characters. I liked how all the characters linked together through Lillie, who had travelled over from Australia. There were some really sad, touching and lovely stories amongst the various characters, too. The only complaint I had was that at the beginning I got confused between some of the characters, especially because there seemed to be a few whose names began with M - Molly, Meredith, Miranda. And at times the story seemed to jump randomly from one character to the next. But overall it was a lovely book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I give this book 10/10.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

Although this was an 'ok' read, there was something missing that made me fall in love with Colgan's other 'food' novels. The story was a lovely idea, and the addition of Claire's story was wonderful. It is actually hard to put my finger on why exactly this didn't have me totally gripped. Perhaps it was the main character, Anna, who didn't seem to have much about her, or the love interest Laurent, who I found incredibly boring, despite his potential for being a heart throb. The descriptions of Paris and the food were enjoyable, as was the shop itself. Claire's story with Thierry was nice to read and ended rather well. But the story as a whole was a little flat, and sometimes I found myself reading this book just so I could finish it and read the next one on my list. I give this book 5/10.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Beautiful by Katie Piper

This is a book I have been wanting to read for a long time, and I'm so glad I finally got round to it. I spent a whole day reading this book and just couldn't put it down. The story of how she met and was hurt by her boyfriend, Danny, was told so well that my heart was beating fast in my chest. Reading the story of her recovery was truly inspiring and emotional, and I really admired her honesty about the fears and doubts she still had years later. This book really makes you look at people and life in a different light, showing that superficial beauty is not everything. I give this book 10/10.

A Year of Doing Good by Judith O'Reilly

I really enjoyed this book, having never heard of Judith O'Reilly before but being attracted by the idea behind it. I liked how it was written in short diary excerpts, which made it easy to read. Although Judith sometimes reluctantly performed her good deeds and sometimes came across as a little selfish, I liked her honesty about the difficulty of her resolution. Some of the deeds, especially her work with the Jam Jar Army, were fascinating to read and a real inspiration. I'd say the only real problem I had with the book was that she didn't name her children, which seemed a little impersonal, but rather called them 'the-eight-year-old' or similar. Overall, though, this was a humourous read and I give this book 8/10.