Ella’s Ice-Cream Summer by Sue Watson


Ella’s life just hit rock-bottom, but can a summer by the sea mend her broken heart? When life gives you lemons… make ice-cream!

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her.

Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets.

There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time.


This is a lovely, summery book. I got into it straight away, loved all the characters, and really enjoyed the story. Ella’s summer where everything changes for her is a feel good, interesting read, and the bit of intrigue about what has happened in her family history adds another dimension. Her characters are great, Ella’s mum is so funny, with her newfound love for social media, which doesn’t always go as planned, and her adventures with her little dog, Delilah, are wonderful.  The descriptions of ice creams are mouth watering, and there’s even some recipes at the end of the book. Really a great book to get you in the mood for summer.



When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson


‘‘Do you ever wonder if you’ve lived the life you were meant to?’ I ask her. She sighs, and dips her head. ‘Even if I do, what difference will it make?’

In 1988, two eight-year-old girls with almost identical names and the same love of ballet meet for the first time. They seem destined to be best friends forever and to become professional dancers.

Years later, however, they have both been dealt so many cruel blows that they walk away from each other into very different futures – one enters a convent, the other becomes a minor celebrity. Will these new, ‘invisible’ lives be the ones they were meant to live, or will they only find that kind of salvation when they are reunited twenty years later?


I had to write this review the minute I finished this book, as I sat there stunned by all that had happened in it.

I love all Dorothy Koomson’s books, but I feel that this is her best one ever.

Right from the start I was engrossed. It’s a book that I couldn’t wait to get back to, to see what would happen next.

As is often the case with her books, the story grabs you right from the start, even though you don’t yet know what it is all about.  The story is very cleverly woven, moving all the time between the two main characters, Roni and Nika, and between different times in their lives. Even when it comes close to the end of the book and most of the story has been revealed, there are some last minute shockers, which keep you engrossed right till the end.

This is not a pleasant, feelgood story. There are unpleasant and shocking storylines throughout the book, but it is a book that will make you think, keep you guessing, and make you want to cancel everything and keep reading until the end. Highly recommended.

MY RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Married Girls by Diney Costeloe

IMG_9113.PNGI am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Diney Costelo’s new book “The Married Girls”.


Diney Costeloe is the bestselling author of THE THROWAWAY CHILDREN, THE RUNAWAY FAMILY, THE LOST SOLDIER, THE SISTERS OF ST CROIX and THE GIRL WITH NO NAME. She divides her time between Somerset and West Cork.


The war is over, but trouble is brewing…

Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.

Meanwhile, the squire’s fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming… and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne’s past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.


I loved the previous book “The Girl with No Name”, where we first met Lisa, and followed her story as she is evacuated from Nazi Germany and comes to England. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review this sequel and be part of the blog tour.

In this book we are back with Lisa, now known as Charlotte, and married to Billy and living in Wynsdown.

She appears to have an idyllic life, living in the countryside with her husband and two children.  Wynsdown is like many other small country villages, a lovely place to live, with many interesting people, and of course, the inevitable village gossip.

Felix, the squire’s son, has a new fiancé, Daphne.  She is from London, and there is more to her than meets the eye.  I found their story facinating, with many twists and turns. Felix is a very likeable and gentlemanly character.

The depiction of village life is so readable.  It’s both fascinating and heart-warming.  But there is a darker side to the story.  Harry Black is back on the scene, and still involved in the dark underbelly of the seedy criminal world.  He wants to find his old friend, Lisa, and it makes for good tension in the novel, as we wonder if he will find her, and if so, what will happen.

This is a wonderful,evocative novel, full of very interesting characters, with many twists and turns.  It’s so much more than just a pleasant tale about village life, though it is definitely a book that will make the reader feel good.  It’s such a good depiction of a different era and the reader will be transported back to another time, when the world was so different to today.

Its a book that I was sorry to finish. I had got so caught up in the lives of the characters that I didn’t want to be finished with them.  I really hope that there’s another sequel, as I feel there’s so much more to this story and I’d love to know what happens next.

I’ll certainly be reading more books by this author.

MY RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Many thanks to Blake at Head of Zeus for the advance copy and an opportunity to review this book.



Then. Now. Always. By Isabelle Broom

IMG_9117Hannah can’t believe it when she’s offered a trip to sunny Spain with her best friend and dreamy boss . . . what’s the catch?

Twenty-eight year old Hannah is ready for an adventure. She and her colleagues are in Spain for a month to film a documentary, and it’s a dream come true. Not least because Hannah will get to spend long summer days with Theo, her boss (and crush). If only Tom (Hannah’s best friend and cameramen) and Claudette (the presenter) would stop getting in the way…


I had read this author’s previous books and was so delighted to be able to review this one.
It certainly didn’t disappoint. The imagery is wonderful in this book; the sights, sounds and even smells, of Mojacar are so wonderfully depicted, it’s almost like being there.
The storyline sounds simple enough, a girl has a crush on her boss, they are away filming in Spain for a month, what will happen? But as always with Isabelle Broom, there is so much more to the story, the characters’ stories are all interwoven, and it makes for much more than just what the blurb might suggest.
Beautifully written, with funny and poignant moments, this book is a pleasure to read.
Just one word of warning: it will make you really want to book a holiday after reading it!

MY RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow


It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books – after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.

I knew I’d be in for a treat with a Christie Barlow book. Her Playground Mother books were so enjoyable and I’ve recommended them to several people.

This is a lovely book. Her characters are so real, the sort of people you feel you might know. The central character, Evie, didn’t have an easy start in life and even though she is settled now, with a wonderful foster mother and great friends, there’s something missing in her life.

The characters’ lives are nicely interwoven, and we get a little insight into them all. I have to admit that I did guess one of the plot twists, but not quite how it was going to play out, but it didn’t spoil the book at all.

The settings of the library, book club and Mim’s cafe are a nice touch.  When you love reading, it’s nice to have a book that’s full of other readers, authors and book lovers!

The story flows beautifully and it is one that will have the reader engrossed and wishing that there was time to read it in one sitting!

A feelgood, touching and delightful book.


A Life Without You by Shari Low

Dee and Jen have been best friends since their days of teenage crushes, bad 90’s make-up and huge hair.
They’ve passed every milestone of their lives together and now in their thirties own a successful boutique, sharing a bond that is as strong as the closest of sisters.

Until one day everything changes.
Dee is gone, killed by a reckless driver, leaving Jen to face the harsh reality of a world without her.
Jen vows to honour Dee’s dreams and take care of everything and everyone she loved.
Until she realises that sometimes the only way forward is to let go of the past.

When Dee is killed, her best friend Jen, is left to cope with her death and adjust to life without the person who has been a best friend, and like a sister to her. It sounds like it might make for a very depressing read but it certainly isn’t.
It’s touching and sad at times, but there’s also humour, and an interesting story that develops after Dee’s death.
The story is told from several people’s perspective; her best friend Jen, her mother, Val, and her husband, Luke. It took me a while to get used to the change of narrator with each chapter, but once I got used to it, I enjoyed the different perspectives. They had each lost her, but they were affected differently, and coped in different ways.
We get a real sense of what Dee was like, even though she is gone before the story really begins. The people she left behind all tell us the sort of person she was. She was so well loved, but of course had her flaws, some of which don’t come to light until after her death.
I will be reading more of this author’s books, her storytelling is captivating and realistic.


Straight Expectations by Peggie Cryden

IMG_9068Ever since they were young, Peggy Cryden noticed her children’s gender expression did not correspond with society’s expectations of their biological gender. In this moving and honest memoir, Peggy details the experiences and challenges of raising both a gay son and a gay, transgender son and shares her family’s journey of adversity and growth, which has helped inform her work as a psychotherapist.

Each chapter explores a particular year in the family’s life, following the children from birth to adulthood and through their numerous experiences including coming out, depression, hate crime, relationships, school and various aspects to do with transitioning (legal, physical, medical, social) as well as their appearances in the media as a family. This book is insightful, charming and thought-provoking, and through levity and humour, offers a positive approach to parenting outside of convention.

I wanted to read something different, after reading some excellent fiction recently, and thought a memoir would make a nice change.

This book was fascinating. The author begins with her own childhood. She was adopted as a baby and grew up with a distant father and a mother with mental health issues. Her childhood was difficult and unconventional. Later in the book, we see how this affected her, and how in spite of her early role models, she grew up to become a caring and strong mother to her children.
Her children went through their own tough times, with gender dysphoria, bullying, an eating disorder and struggles with depression. They are lucky to have such a wonderful and strong mother, who supported them through all this. Her account of her eldest child’s transition from girl to boy and how they coped with it as a family, and her youngest son’s struggle with an eating disorder and his sexuality, was fascinating.
I hope that this book will bring hope to families going through similar issues, and better understanding to others as to what it is like for these families.



A Boy Made Of Blocks by Keith Stuart

IMG_9033A father who rediscovers love

Alex loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. He needs a reason to grab his future with both hands.

A son who shows him how to live

Meet eight-year-old Sam: beautiful, surprising – and different. To him the world is a frightening mystery. But as his imagination comes to life, his family will be changed . . . for good.

This was one of the best books I’ve read this year. The story of a father and his journey of discovery to understand his autistic son.

It’s a book that will make you laugh and cry. There’s humour and there’s sadness, and it’s such an uplifting book.

The story and the characters seem so real, it’s like reading an autobiography. You develop a real fondness for Sam, and for his parents.  I work with special needs children, and found the authors insight into children on the spectrum so accurate. It was only when I read the author’s note at the end of the book that I realised that it was based on reality, and that he had similar experiences with his son.

Everyone should read this book. Not only is it a wonderful read, it will give readers insight into what it’s like for parents of children with autism.

MY RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

IMG_9016With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

I was so excited to read this book, any novel by Amanda Prowse is guaranteed to be brilliant, and I read it in two days, it was hard to put down.

This is an emotional story, at times heartbreaking and at other times joyous. As always with Amanda Prowse, her characters are so real that you feel as if you know them.
Lucy’s story is heart-wrenching and poignant and really makes you think about family and motherhood, and how we sometimes take these things for granted.
A really engrossing story that you won’t want to put down, and that will stay with you after you have finished it.

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing for the ARC.

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An Unsuitable Marriage by Colette Dartford

IMG_8977Could your marriage survive the ultimate betrayal? The emotional story of a family under pressure, perfect for fans of Joanna Trollope and Hilary Boyd.

Olivia had everything – a loving husband in Geoffrey, a thoughtful and intelligent son in Edward and a beautiful home in the Somerset countryside.

But all that changed when Geoffrey’s business went under. Now penniless and homeless, Geoffrey is living with his recently widowed mother, whilst Olivia has been forced to work as a housemistress at her son’s elite boarding school.

With their marriage under intolerable strain, Geoffrey makes a mistake – one that has devastating consequences for the guilty and innocent alike . . .

This was my first novel to read by this author. She writes beautifully, with strong imagery and beautiful prowse.
The story immediately grabs the reader, with a strong opening chapter. The book is not fast paced, but it is engrossing, pulling the reader in. The main character, Olivia, speaks of “the tangled undercurrents that swirled beneath”, and this is what makes this book so fascinating. There is a sense of tension building, as you wait for the inevitable crash. When everything finally comes to a head it is shocking and unexpected.
A fantastic book, readable and fascinating. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Bonnier Zaffre for the ARC.


MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️