The Northern Lights Lodge by Julie Caplin

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As soon as I got a notification that ‘The Northern Lights Lodge‘ by Julie Caplin was available on Netgalley, I immediately requested it. I had been introduced to the books of Julie Caplin/Jules Wake last year by a friend, and I do have lots more of her books to read on my tbr.

I loved her previous book, ‘The Little Paris Patisserie’ and I attended her book tour in November 2018 to promote that book. During the evening with Julie Caplin and Sue Moorcroft, Julie said that some of the characters from The Little Paris Patisserie would be making select cameo appearances in ‘The Northern Lights Lodge‘ and this excited me at the time because the characters she mentioned, Peter and Jane, had been lovely in ‘The Little Paris Patisserie‘. By the time I read The Northern Lights Lodge I had completely forgotten, so when I was reading, I had a little light-bulb moment when I recognised them as well as very briefly Nina and Sebastian too. I love little continuities between books that on the surface are completely unrelated.

Me in the middle, with Julie Caplin on the left, and Sue Moorcroft on the right.

The Northern Lights Lodge follows Lucy, who was sacked from her job as General Manager of a prestigious hotel in Manchester, and found herself unable to find work elsewhere because news of her dismissal and the viral video that formed part of the scandal had spread amongst her profession. She gets the opportunity to head to a small Lodge in Iceland to take over as General Manager in an area where no one knew her for a probationary period of two months. Broken by her past, fragile Lucy arrives in Iceland to an interesting number of Icelandic staff, together with the very handsome Scottish barman Alex. A number of mysterious things happen at the Lodge, which could be sabotage, or could even be the HuldufΓ³lk or elves. Add to that a film crew arriving at short notice to film a fly on the wall documentary, and Lucy and the staff find themselves with more than a few issues to deal with.

The setting for The Northern Lights Lodge sounded absolutely incredible, and I finished the book with a huge desire to travel to Iceland and stay in a lodge there. The cosiness that Lucy wants to instil in the lodge for the benefit of the customers ties into the Scandinavian theme of hygge, or in Iceland huggulegt. The use of hygge shines through the pages of the book, and in spite of being aware of the cold outside the lodge, the lodge itself sounds idyllic, cosy and welcoming.

I loved the growth that you see in Lucy as the book progresses. When she arrives in Iceland and ends up soaked to the skin and bedraggled, it’s a visual suggestion of just how damaged she had been by the destruction of her previous relationship and career. With new friendship and love from her new friends, and from Alex, she becomes more in control of her own life and consequently the lodge. She even finds the strength to stand up to her past and put it firmly behind her. As for Alex, I think he’s possibly my new book boyfriend, tall, handsome and with an accent like David Tennant, could he be any more perfect?

I love the way the spark between Lucy and Alex grows, and although I’m not going to use a spoiler, let’s just say that there is a scene involving the reflection in a window that was just perfect.

This was an easy 5 star for me, and if you want a journey through Iceland, finding love under the shimmering lights of the aurora borealis, then this book is definitely for you. Read this wearing cosy socks, under a snuggly throw with a hot drink and a candle at the side of you!

I loved The Little Paris Patisserie, but found myself loving this even more, and I cannot wait for book 5 in the series, The Secret Cove in Croatia which is due to be published in July.

Many thanks to Harper Impulse and Netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Only When It’s Love by Olivia Spring

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Wow, when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Olivia Spring’s latest novel ‘Only When it’s Love’ I was thrilled and excited to take part in my very first blog tour, but I had no idea what to expect from the book. What a fantastic surprise! This book is incredible, it is funny, entertaining and incredibly clever, and a book I would recommend to any lover of humorous women’s fiction.

The story centres on Alex, a woman who has had disastrous luck with dating, and feels that she is destined to spend her life alone. When her newly married friend Stacey recommends a self-help book that helped her find her husband, Alex feels that she has nothing to lose, and decides that it would be worth following the book as nothing else has worked previously. There is only one issue, one of the seven steps in the book is that she must not sleep with a guy for six months. Will she find Mr Right, and if she does will he be willing to wait for six months before getting intimate with Alex? As we follow Alex with her dating progress, following the steps in the book, only one thing is certain, it is going to be a roller-coaster of a journey!

Alex was such an immensely likeable character that almost immediately I was on her side, willing her to find her Mr Right, after so many Mr Wrongs. I found myself wanting to shake her when she tolerated far more than I would have done from one of her potential suitors, and shake her again when she was torn between two suitors, when to everyone else, including me it was clear who was perfect for her and who was far from perfect.

I’m not going to give any spoilers, but the person she eventually falls for is the perfect embodiment of a wonderful, sensitive, thoughtful man, and when she finally realises it I was practically cheering for her! Throughout the book the humour had me smiling and even laughing out loud, and it was such a fun read that I honestly could not put it down.

I had not read Olivia Spring’s previous novel, The Middle Aged Virgin, but I definitely intend to rectify that as soon as I can this year. Olivia is an incredibly talented writer, and definitely one to watch. I cannot wait to see what she does next!

Many thanks to Olivia Spring for a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

Dear Rosie Hughes by Melanie Hudson

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What an incredible book! When I started it, I had no idea what to expect, other than the fact I had seen people talking about it wherever I turned on social media. By the end of the book I was completely broken by a book that will stay with me for a very long time.

This book takes the form of a series of letters and emails, sent through the military system, and then eventually via regular email. Agatha Braithwaite and Rosie Hughes were inseparable friends throughout their childhood, but an incident in early adulthood ended their relationship until Rosie is deployed to Kuwait as a reservist in advance of the war in Iraq in 2003. When Agatha finds out that Rosie is off to war, she writes to Rosie, and both women are overjoyed to reconnect. Their correspondence focuses on their current issues, Aggie is plagued by a difficult mother, and writer’s block for her ghost-writing career, Rosie is facing a divorce she regrets, whilst worrying about the impending war. The issues that tore them apart, and the deeper issues both women have are eventually revealed in their letters to one another. Interspersed between their letters and emails are additional correspondence with Rosie’s parents, her soon-to-be ex husband Josh, a troubled boy in their old primary school, and a growing friendship between Aggie, and Rosie’s friend in Kuwait, Gethyn, a military doctor.

As the book progresses, Aggie runs away from her issues to help run a cafe in a remote location in Scotland, and her experiences with the new people she meets are shared in her letters to Rosie, with much hilarity.

There were so many funny moments in the book, that I spent far too much of my time giggling out loud, although I did not anticipate that the book would leave me with tears streaming down my face as I tried not to wake my sleeping husband at the side of me!

I know that some people are not fond of books that consist entirely of correspondence, but I found it created the perfect balance, and if anything, it was possible to form stronger opinions of who Rosie and Aggie were as people, based on witnessing their complete openness with one another. I really did not expect to be so moved by this book, but it is going to be a strong contender for my favourite book of the year.

Many thanks to Melanie Hudson, Harper Impulse and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Are We Nearly There Yet? by Lucy Vine

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This book is a hilariously funny tale of Alice, who heads off on a world trip to find herself and #FindTheFun.

There have been comparisons with Bridget Jones, so I was tempted to read it but at the same time dubious that it would not live up to the comparisons, but how wrong I was! Alice really was the modern day Bridget, from her haphazard attitude towards life, to constantly getting things wrong.

The book begins with Alice’s 30th birthday, a day where she gets really drunk and accidentally sends a sexually inappropriate text to her boss which causes her to lose her job, add in a newly pregnant and loved up flatmate, and Alice feels that she no longer knows where she fits in. As a result, she decides that she has reached a milestone where she needs to broaden her horizons and find herself. She sets off on her travels and sets up a travel blog to share her experiences.

I honestly cannot think of the last time I laughed out loud when reading a book, but the snappy dialogue and sheer hilarity of Alice’s escapades were just so funny it was impossible not to laugh! There was also a more serious side story, which was thought-provoking and poignant, and provided the perfect balance between the humour of the present day events, with the sadness Alice carries from her childhood and early adulthood. The blog posts and comments interspersed within the story added something special to the story. Alice blogs sometimes creatively to make things sound less chaotic than they actually were, and sometimes with such a brutal honesty that I cringed at her openness. The trolls commenting on her posts, together with a funny moderator add a realism and additional level of humour that really add to make this an exceptionally funny book.

I have not read Lucy Vine’s previous novels, but I will be checking them out now, because this was fantastic. 

I would like to thank Lucy Vine, Orion and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Wife’s Shadow by Cath Weeks

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This book is incredible. It kept me guessing from start to finish, and if you want a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, this is most definitely the one!

The story opens with Suzy, a deli owner who has, from all appearances, the perfect life: a devoted husband who is a stay at home dad, two adorable young children, a newly expanded deli business, and a beautiful home. Incidents start happening which make Suzy think of the father she had not seen since she was 6, and believed was dead. As the incidents increase, she thinks that she is being stalked, but her friends and family think it is merely a series of coincidences until one night when she wakes to the stalker standing at the foot of her bed.

Although that event makes her friends and husband realise she was not hallucinating, it prompts Suzy to find out more about her father. The stalking then culminates with a twist that I did not see coming until the end.

I loved the way the story built, and I felt every incident acutely alongside Suzy. I won’t spoil the story for anyone, but it was a roller-coaster ride where every twist, turn and dip brought with it a fresh surprise. I have not read Cath Weeks’ debut novel but I will certainly be checking it out after enjoying this one so much.

Thank you to Little, Brown for the copy of this via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

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This book ticks so many boxes for me, As someone who has always wanted to write a book, I found this on a separate level to be a fantastic insight into the life of a writer, irrespective of the main story.

The story revolves around Brie, a bestselling author of steamy romances, whose family and friends stage an intervention after a messy and very public break up leads to her losing her way and becoming more reclusive than was healthy for her. As she begins to rebuild her life, she is sent by her agent Carrie to assist as a teacher on a writing retreat, set in an idyllic villa in Italy, working alongside the owner, fellow writer and historian, Arran.

I found both characters complex, because they both had issues which made them multi-dimensional and very interesting, but it was also really nice to get to know the participants on the writing retreat too. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where one of the main characters is a writer and their writing processes are considered in such detail, so I loved the way you could see Brie develop the two books she was writing at the same time, and how people in her real life inspired her characters.

If you want to read a book that is both fascinating, and a feel good romance, then this book is for you. It certainly was for me!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Aria for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Cover Reveal: Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

I am so privileged to be able to share the cover reveal for Heidi Swain’s new novel, Poppy’s Recipe for Life.

If you are familiar with her books you will know that they are always beautiful covers and this is no exception. The style is slightly fresher than the other books but I think you will agree it looks perfect.

I am overjoyed that this book will see a return to Nightingale Square, the setting that was so lovely in her book Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square. Here is some information about the new book:

Treat yourself to a glorious novel full of food, sunshine, friendship and love

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies. 

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be released on 30 May 2019! You can preorder from the links below

 

Paperback

Paperback

 

Ebook

E-book