Imagine (and cringe!)

  Well written, amusing story that takes place over 5 days at the start of Baxter Bird’s time at the University of Leicester in the early 1970s.

Some slapstick moments and some heart wrenching stories within the story. My only criticism would be that the characters weren’t deeply explored — but on some levels this doesn’t matter. You didn’t really understand why they behaved in the ways they did – especially Truman.I think this would make a great film!

MetLineReader Rating: 4⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Piccadilly)

About this book

The party of the sixties is over and what’s left is the hangover. It’s 1973 – a time of riots, picket lines and unemployment. But it’s also a time when you can imagine the stars. Enter the Bird family…

Baxter – the first Bird to go to university. It’s fresher’s week and a new beginning. Except that his troubled past has followed him right into the lecture hall.

Christie – haunted by what’s gone before and held back by heartbreak. But with her son succeeding against the odds perhaps now it’s her turn to follow her dreams?
Truman – an absent father and husband for ten years, he now decides he’s owed a second chance. And to help him on his way he’s found a golden key that will open every door. Or so he believes.

In a story of laughter and tears, Haysom takes us on one family’s journey to achieve their dreams. And shows us that, stronger than every lie and secret in every family, is the love that lies within – and the ability to imagine…

Acknowledgements 

Imagine is written by Mark Haysom and published by Little Brown Book Group UK. I received an advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Imagine is available for purchase on Amazon.

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Friendships and secrets…

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***Update*** so excited to discover that my quote has been used in the publicity materials:  “I LOVE Marcie Steele’s writing”

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Marcie Steele has a fabulous way with words and the ability to craft her story with pace, depth and emotional attachment. There’s something rather special about this story of secrets and friendship that goes beyond the usual “chick-lit”…

This book is a feel-good tale of friendships and relationships – following your heart and not taking others for granted.

I can’t wait for her next book to come out (hurry up and write it, please Marcie!!

MetLineReader rating 4 star (Piccadilly)

About this book

Best friends tell each other everything… right?
Sam and Louise have been best friends since they hung their coats side by side on the first day of primary school. Now in their thirties, they’re just as close, but life is a little bit more complicated…

On the outside, thirty-something Sam seems to have it all; the gorgeous husband, the beautiful home and the flourishing business. But things are not quite as rosy as they seem. So when handsome stranger, Dan, walks into her life, Sam finds his attentions hard to resist.

Louise might seem like life and soul of the party, but her outgoing exterior hides her sadness about the heartbreak in her past. She just wants someone to love – but all Louise gets left with is a quick fumble with an ex at the end of the night.

When a glamorous face from the past returns to shake things up, things get even more complicated for Sam and Louise. And just when they need each other the most, they’ve reason to wonder whether they ever really knew each other at all.

An emotional and uplifting tale of love, secrets and the importance of having a best friend.

Acknowledgements

That’s What Friends Are For is published by @Bookouture TODAY (11th December). I received an advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!

A Christmassy tale of two bakers

Sue Watson weaves a tale of Christmassy cheer, intertwined with old secrets, lost friendships and family histories.

Bella and Amy were friends as children and lost touch. Their friendship ended suddenly around the time that Amy’s mum died.

Fast forward to today and Amy has just been left by her husband, works as a Maths Teacher and is frugal in her spending. She volunteers at the local homeless shelter too.

Bella is a celebrity chef – think Nigella, Delia and Mary Berry rolled into one!! Bella has a lovely lifestyle, a handsome hunk of a husband, a beautiful home and her own TV show. She is unapologetically drawn to the finer things in life.

Trouble is, most of Bella’s life is fake — and Amy wants to expose this, particularly the theft of her mum’s recipes.

By some miraculous luck, Amy is “chosen” to win the Christmas prize  on Bella’s cookery show – and this is where the fun begins. The behind-the-scenes look at TV is obvious yet funny and on the money. The caricatures are extreme yet realistic. And the friction and banter between Bella and Amy is fun and adds to the story.

Long story short, the story comes together well with bittersweet reveals about their history and heartwarming rekindling of a friendship whilst helping others less fortunate.

An uplifting tale, about friendship and being authentic. Worth a read – will get you into the Christmas spirit.

MetLineReader rating: 4* Piccadilly

Acknowledgements

I received an advance copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Bella’s Christmas Bake-off is published by Bookouture on 22nd October. It is available from Amazon

Heart-warming

Other Half of my Heart

My eldest child and I are having a bit of a baking-fest at the moment, so when I saw the blurb for this book, it appealed to me instantly.

Bettina is damaged.  Something happened in her past and it is affecting her sort-of-relationship with Rufus, the handsome, rugged next-door-neighbour.  She’s moved away from her family and after a spell in France, has settled in a remote village and set up her bakery “adventures in bread”.  Sounds like a fab place.

Stephanie Butland has woven a lovely heartwarming tale of building relationships out of the ashes of the past and dealing with tragedy.  I was apprehensive when I discovered Rufus was the same Rufus as in another book I’d read (The Secrets We Keep, 3*) but soon overcame this as the links between the stories were irrelevant .

The Other Half of My Heart shows that Stephanie Butland’s writing has developed further; this story unfolded gently but with warmth, interest and none of the melancholy that bothered me in the previous book.

I thought that Stephanie Butland deftly placed clues to Bettina’s past and hinted at what could have happened.  I wasn’t shocked when the pivotal event was “revealed” but it was well-handled and helped turn this into a really enjoyable read.

If you’re after dark, mysterious thrillers, it’s NOT for you.  But if you’re looking for a heartwarming tale, with a bit more substance, in between the heartstopping books, this is one for you!  Worth the read.

MetLine Rating: 4 stars (Piccadilly)

Continue reading “Heart-warming”

A Hidden Past

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The Girl with No Past was an easy read and had shadows of “gaslighting”, a form of abuse where the victim is drawn to question their own judgement, memory and sanity.

The characters were well-drawn and the story flowed well. The use of alternate chapters, a device often employed, helped to reveal the modern story whilst letting the past unfold. There were many twists and turns and was surprised by the ultimate tormentor.

Sadly, I wasn’t as excited by the book as I’d hoped. Given the thrillers I have read over the past year, I was expecting something much darker.   Leah’s past really wasn’t sufficiently bad for all the trauma that she had put herself through. I must have read too many dark thrillers, thanks to my friends at THE Book Club…
MetlineReader Rating: 3 (Victoria)

About this book
Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.

Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.

But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?

Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly.

Acknowledgments

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft is published by Bookouture on 15th October.  It is available to purchase from Amazon.  
I received an advance copy from netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

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I absolutely loved this book, a real gem. Deftly transporting you to Ceylon, this is the tale of Gwen and Laurence, ably supported by a cast including Naveena, Verity, Fran and Savi. Beautiful narrations of the landscape and the emotions of Gwen, this story sweeps you under its spell.  I really felt for Gwen and her anguish and didn’t predict the ending at all!

One of my 2015 favourites.

MetLineReader Rating: 4.5* (Jubilee)  Highly recommended! 
Continue reading “The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies”