Monday, 24 March 2014

The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell

This is a really nice read - if a little uneventful. When I look back on it, there isn't much plot to the book, but I kept wanting to read on because I liked the main character, Sophie, and the setting by the sea. I thought the two main love interests were a little bit meek and too perfect to be realistic, but I loved all the other characters. Dot and Lawrence's plot was interesting to read. And Marguerite was a fascinating character, especially regarding her relationship with her nephew, Riley. What I liked about books like this are that they are like wearing a well-loved pair of snuggly pyjamas - they're comforting and reliable. I give this book 8/10.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I really loved reading this book. It's just my kind of story - a loveable main character who is down on their luck and manages to pull their life back together despite all of their issues. Polly was a really inspiring character and everything wasn't sugar-coated. For example, her relationship with Mrs. Manse was very rocky to begin with. And her love life was not a smooth ride, especially with several twists involving Tarnie that had me really surprised. The only thing that really let the story down was the character Reuben who was so ridiculously rich he could have solved everyone's problems with the drop of a hat but never bothered. His Star Wars themed wedding (whilst I realise this does happen in real life) was just silly and out of character. And the party he held at the end of the wake was really inappropriate, but none of the characters seemed to notice this! But other than that, it was a lovely read. I give this book 9/10.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Festival in Prior's Ford by Evelyn Hood

I think that the Prior's Ford books must be my favourite series of all time because they are just perfect easy reading. When I read one of the books, I feel like I'm being given a warm hug and that I'm getting to visit my favourite friends again! I was so disappointed when I finished this book because I have just got back into them again and there are no more to be read! I can't decide who my favourite character is. I enjoy reading about Clarissa because she is so brave to accept her love is so much younger than her. Stella is another favourite, mostly because she works on the mobile library! Her new love interest, Malcolm, is a great addition to the village. I have to give this book 10/10.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Tomorrow There Will be Apricots by Jessica Soffer

I enjoyed reading the majority of this book, although there were some parts that frustrated me about the main characters. Although they had their problems, I didn't feel all that empathetic towards them. Victoria never really explains why she didn't want to keep her baby, for example. And I didn't like the couple of scenes where Lorca's self-harming was described in a lot of detail, as I'm pretty squemish. But I did enjoy reading about Victoria and Lorca's growing friendship and of Lorca's relationship with Blot. Both characters had a lot of issues to overcome and it was interesting reading how they did it with help from each other and their shared love of cooking. I give this book 7/10.

A Short Book About Drawing by Andrew Marr

I was really looking forward to this book but was slightly disappointed. It was more a history of art, with dates and names of artists and paintings. I was expecting a little bit of easier reading but it turned out to be really pretentious. I didn't end up finishing it, I'm sad to say. Although I did look through all the pictures and Marr is very talented. I give this book 3/10.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Heart Whisperer by Ella Griffin

I really didn't like this book when I first started it. I hated all of the main characters, especially Ray and Claire. They were so immature and in a world of their own and they just generally annoyed me. The worst point for me was when Claire tried to get rid of her father's dog so heartlessly by pretending he was a stray to the vet. I was tempted to stop reading but was glad I didn't, however, because things turned around about half way through as new plots were revealed and the main characters Claire, Ray and Nick all began to change for the better. Claire overcame her fear of dogs and fell in love with 'Dog'. Ray learnt that he actually enjoyed being a father. And Nick realised that he wasn't so perfect. The story line including the love interest Richard was good, and threw a few spanners in the works. And I really liked the ending, as I was worried that Ray and Claire would end up together, but the actual ending was much better. Overall I give this book 6/10.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Return to Prior's Ford by Evelyn Hood

Once again the Prior's Ford books have got me hooked! It's been a while since I read the previous ones in the series, and I was worried I wouldn't remember the characters, etc. But with the handy character descriptions at the start and some quick plot reminders as part of the narrative, it all came flooding back. And it's still full of its easy charm and stories which make me want to live there! There were a couple of plot twists, and the usual excellent storytelling - I can just picture all of the characters and settings. It's pure easy-reading but that is why I love it. And I can't wait to read the next one in the series, too. I give this book 10/10.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

It took me a little time to get into this book, but once I did I really enjoyed it. The whole premise behind the story, of Harold walking to save Queenie from terminal cancer, took me a while to get my head around. But by the end of the book, it just seemed like a normal thing to do! There were a lot of interesting stories and characters along the way. I felt very sorry for Harold's wife, Maureen, but enjoyed reading about her growing friendship with Rex. Harold's arrival in Berwick was somewhat of an anti-climax, but probably representative of Queenie's situation. This book is definitely a lot better than Joyce's second novel, 'Perfect'. I give this book 8/10.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements

This was just a lovely, easy read that was predictable but nice. The ice cream shop sounded perfect, as did Italy. It was a bit difficult to picture a sunny Brighton due to the time of year, but when I was reading about Italy I was totally transported and it made me desperate to go on holiday! The whole book also made me want to eat ice cream! The main characters, Anna and Imogen, were quite simple and didn't have much depth, so I didn't feel particularly connected to them, however. And the love interests were quite boring, and a little obvious. But it was an enjoyable book and I give it 8/10.

Friday, 14 February 2014

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy

I'm still not sure whether I liked this book much or not. I didn't actively dislike it - but I felt it was a bit of a struggle to get through in parts and certainly not Maeve Binchy's best work. I felt like the first half of the book was a bit of a drag, and that too much of it followed Kit as a child and I would have preferred her to be a bit older for more of the book. The story line was really interesting, and I did feel sympathetic towards Helen/Lena although I did get annoyed by her ignoring Louis's faults. I loved the character of Sister Madeleine, but was really disappointed with the way her story ended. I must say, though, that about three quarters of the way through the book did start to get gripping and I finished the last part quite quickly. But overall, I give this book 6/10.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

I loved this book a lot! I was totally gripped throughout and thought the story line was fascinating. I really enjoyed finding out the story of Esther Wickham as Jude uncovered it all through her research. Jude was a great main character (except for her name, as I kept thinking she was a man!). Her job sounded fascinating, as was the house and folly she was working at. Norfolk sounded idyllic, as did Euan! He's my idea of a perfect hero in this kind of novel. The twists and turns revealed during the book kept my interest, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I give this book 10/10!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Best of Friends by Cathy Kelly

This was a nice read, but I didn't think it was one of Cathy Kelly's best novels. I felt connected to all of the main women in different ways. Lizzie was perhaps my favourite because she really overcame her challenges throughout the book. The topic of breast cancer and Sally's death were dealt with superbly and it was a great way of showing that good things can come out of horrible situations. The main disappointment I had with this book was that the three main women didn't seem genuine friends, more just acquaintances, and I believe that was what the book was meant to be about. They barely saw each other and didn't seem to know each other that well. However, the book was well written, and each individual's story was well told and fun to read. I give this book 8/10.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

I still can't decide whether I enjoyed this book. It was ok, and some bits were interesting, but I just wasn't gripped. The main problem was that there were just too any characters it took a while for me to figure who was who and what was what. I was also disappointed by the ending - it was very abrupt and nothing came from it. It sounds mean, but I basically found it quite boring. Not a lot happened and not a lot was revealed. I did feel empathetic towards some of the characters, such as Laurent, Mrs. Ross and Francis. But I felt I was reading it just to finish rather than because I was enjoying it. I give this book 4/10.

Friday, 10 January 2014

An Auctioneer's Lot by Philip Serrell

I did enjoy this book but must say it was a bit slow going. It took a while to get into it, too. Each chapter tells a funny story of Serrell's auctioneering life which included some very interesting characters who made me chuckle. The main problem was that the narrative included a lot of unnecessary details and went on quite a bit! I would have preferred more succinct stories and a larger quantity. Even though it's not related to the story, I very much liked the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter! I give this book 6/10.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan

This was a nice read, set in an idyllic English village with some eccentric but loveable characters, such as Lilian and Hetty. Rosie is a good main character as she is down-to-earth and is described as a fuller figure, which is more like the 'real' world so easier to identify with. The main problem I had with this book was Rosie's boyfriend, Stephen. I think he is supposed to be written as a dark and mysterious character, a Mr. Darcy type. But to me, he just came across as rude, stubborn and spoilt, and I didn't like him at all. Lilian's story line was a good one, with an unexpected twist which was interesting and emotional to follow. And the book had a very nice Christmassy feel (even though it is no longer Christmas!). Overall, I give this book 7/10.