Rosie Hopkin’s Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan.

Having been bought this book by my Mum, I was looking forward to reading it as it came highly recommended.

I really enjoyed reading it, it is a book full of lots of happy moments and really great characters. It is the kind of book that gives you escapism to a happier place with lots of tender moments. I read this book quickly, it was very welcome escapism.

The story tells of Rosie Hopkin’s who is a nurse working in London. She gets a call which requires her to go to a Derbyshire village to help look after her elderly great Aunt. Rosie isn’t too enthusiastic about having to go but her boyfriend Gerrard is even less so and sulks about her leaving him behind.

Rosie’s Aunt, Lilian, is in her 70’s and has ran the sweet shop in the village since she was young and when Rosie arrives she sees that it has been abandoned and has been closed for a lot longer than Lilian had the family believe. Rosie decides to help get the sweet shop up and running so it will be easier to sell.

Whilst in the village Rosie meets lots of the local residents and soon becomes very well known… the local doctor often requires her nursing expertise, the brooding young Lord who’s cut himself off and stays within his house ends up opening up to her and the little child Eddison with his imaginary friend keeps her company within the sweet shop…

I really enjoyed reading this book because there was lots going on in the village which made it feel like a really wholesome place and what is great about it is that it’s written well so the characters are all very well formed. Usually when there’s lots of different people within a village, you find they’re a bit plain but these aren’t like that at all.

within this book there were some memories of Lillian’s which really enabled me to get to know her, it reminds us that elderly people have a whole host of secrets and a past behind them. It made her a really interesting character and it was quite moving to see how she used her own experiences to help her great niece.

When having a really difficult time at the moment, this book was exactly what i needed. I love how the theme of sweets go through this book right through little recipes to the customers discussing their memories of what various sweets brought back, it was so nice. And even more difficult parts of the book where relationships were up and down, it didn’t feel too heavy to read so was the perfect escapism that I needed.

Really recommend this if you’re looking for a book to whisk you off to a village life with brilliant characters, some amusing moments, lots of tender moments and a chance to sit back and relax.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell.

Over the last year or so I’ve read all of Lisa Jewell’s books and absolutely loved them so I was extremely touched to be sent a proof copy of I Found You which is going to be published in July.  Having really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s previous novels I couldn’t wait to read this one, knowing that if it was anything like those, that it would be a wonderfully absorbing read which would leave me thinking about it after finishing it… I wasn’t disappointed, this is a brilliant book and it’s definitely one of my favourites.

When Alice finds a man on the beach, she invites him back to her house. Her children and friends think she’s crazy, but the man appears lost, he has no idea who he is or where he’s come from and she can’t just leave him out in the rain. They name him Frank and attempt to help him to recover his memory.

Whilst Alice is gently helping Frank to try to discover himself, in another part of the country Lily is frantic about her missing husband Carl. He hasn’t returned home from work and he isn’t answering his phone. The police don’t seem at all concerned about his disappearance but they are very interested in the fact that his passport isn’t a real one and that there is no record of a man of his name ever existing. So who is the man that Lily married? And why has he suddenly disappeared?

Several years previously, in the same town, Gray and his sister Kirsty are on holiday with their parents. Gray notices a man watching his sister and before long the man makes his move and introduces himself to their family as Mark. He invites Kirsty on a date and she is thrilled, having never had a boyfriend before but Gray is uncomfortable, his instincts tell him not to trust this Mark and as the holiday continues it’s clear that Kirsty is also beginning to feel uncomfortable too…

 

Something I have noticed, and loved, about Lisa Jewell’s books is that her characters are brilliantly formed and this is the case in this book too. They’re very ‘real’ with history and depth which makes them relateable. I particularly liked the character of Alice, I liked how she was so caring and thoughtful, not afraid to follow her instincts and help the stranger on the beach but also that she was flawed. She made mistakes, she wasn’t the perfect mother- she had three children with different fathers, she slept with her lodgers when she didn’t even like them, she would be late picking her youngest up from school… I thought she was a very strong character with her history, her doubts in herself yet her confidence to stand up for what she thought was right. I also really liked Lily too, who was so different, very blunt, very brash but a fun character, I’d love to read another book which would follow Lily more as there was so much to her she definitely has more to say in her future! The fact that the characters within this novel are so brilliantly formed means that you really get inside their heads which makes it a very powerful and quite fast-paced read at times as events unfold.

When reading this, there are lots of emotions. There are some edge of your seat, fast-paced drama, some tender, thoughtful moments, a few very dark, quite sinister scenes, there’s mystery and intrigue which makes you question and doubt people and there were  times when I found myself feeling tearful and moved. All of these emotions are interwoven throughout the story and make it a really powerful read. The dark, sinister moments are not too heavy, they don’t make it a difficult read they just add to the story and make it have a lot more depth. I am just amazed by how many emotions can come from within these pages, clearly a very well written book to be able to provoke all of these.

I found it very difficult to put this book down as there was so much going on and at the end of each chapter I was left wanting to know what happened- so many cliff hangers and knife edges which resulted in me reading well into the night! When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it, wondering what would happen next and who exactly this Frank person actually was and now that I’ve finished it I am still thinking about it.

One part of the book has stuck with me. Alice sells art made out of maps. She takes certain parts of maps that mean something to her customers and makes up a specific item for them with special memories within these locations. One of her pieces of art that she makes is of an imagined future that she has for one of the characters in the book, of places she imagined they would go… and this has made me really inspired! I have actually got a map art frame myself, with 4 important places cut out of a map  in the shape of hearts… where we got married, where we met, where our children were born… and now I really want to do a future one, a bit like a bucket list… places I’m determined to go… a very visual bucket list. So that was an inspiring part of reading this!

I loved this book. I sometimes worry that the ending will be a disappointment, that it’ll be rushed or it’ll leave questions unanswered but this was not a disappointment. The ending was brilliantly done, with all of the various themes coming together leaving no questions at all… the only disappointment I had was that it was finished and I have no more of Lisa Jewell’s books to read now.

This is the kind of book that you can lose yourself in completely, where you can immerse yourself into someone else’s world for a while and switch off. It comes with brilliant characters, a rollercoaster of emotions and an intricate plot which is woven perfectly between two different time points. One warning though; you will lose sleep with not being able to put this book down!

Thank you very much to Lisa Jewell for creating a book that gave me some very much needed escapism and for treating me to this preview.

It is available to pre-order now for release on 14th July.

 

 

 

Moonshine by Christina Jones

Having read this book in just a couple of days I think it’s fair to so I really enjoyed it! It’s the kind of book that’s easy to read yet still full of story and bursting with interesting characters which make it stand out against other chick lit type books.

Cleo has recently moved to Lovers Knot which is a small village in which she has taken up residency in a caravan within the local caravan park. She has just landed a job working as a PA for the lady of the manor, Mimi who is full of eccentricities as is the rest of the village… there are certainly lots of characters around, especially within the caravan park.

Then a stranger appears on her doorstep. Dylan Maguire is what her friend refers to as DDG (drop dead gorgeous) and they soon find themselves working together to create mysterious sounding wines following recipes that were left behind in her caravan from a precious owner. But Cleo and Dylan are from very different backgrounds and Cleo is quick to judge him and his choices so she knows that this is a friendship that can’t go any further than that…

I loved reading this book because it’s full of vibrant characters that really create a village atmosphere and bring the book to life. It feels effortless too- not like the author is trying to explain to you what she imagines the village to be like… but that it just simply comes to life with the characters with no need for great long descriptive paragraphs.

I think the narrative between the characters made this book feel ‘real’ with lots of humour and errors of judgment which I’m sure we can all relate to-how often do we judge someone and assume things about them without even knowing much about them? It makes you think, that’s for sure!

There are some serious issues within the book such as homelessness and relationships but they aren’t too heavy, they’re treated with respect and also turned into a positive light which is refreshing.

When reading this it was a welcome escape into the magical, crazy world of Lovers Knot with some brilliantly fun characters. I have read a few of Christina Jones’ books now and I’m looking forward to reading more. I recommend this book if you’re looking for a light read but that isn’t just ‘yet another chick lit’ book. Ideal holiday read.

 

The Secret Wife- Gill Paul

I have just finished reading this book and… wow what a book! Having read Gill Paul’s three most recent novels and devoured them, I was looking forward to reading this one and having that ‘being lost in a book’ feeling again and I wasn’t disappointed. This book had me interested right from the start, with characters that were so brilliantly crafted I didn’t want to put the book down as I wanted to know what would happen and now that i’ve finished the book I’m left thinking about it- always a sign of a well written book in my opinion.

Kitty has just left her husband, rather hurriedly, after finding out that he was having an affair. She flew out to Lake Akanabee where she had just recently learnt that she had inherited her great grandfather’s tumble-down cabin by the lake. When she’s there it makes her wonder what kind of a man her great grandfather was and why her own grandparents never spoke of him. As she starts to repair his cabin and researches about him she uncovers some very surprising facts which could have meant for an extremely different life for her family. Upon delving into her family’s past it also enables her to question her own life and what she wants from it with regards to her husband and her career.

Kitty’s great grandfather Dimitri suffered a leg injury whilst in action in Russia and woke up one morning in the hospital to see what he described as an angel beside him but it was in fact Tatiana, part of the Russian Royal family. She tended to him, her company brightened his days during recovery and they became very close.Their lives were not straight forward though, they couldn’t have a public relationship so had to meet privately and whilst away from each other rely upon the poor postal system during the war. There was great controversy over the Romonovs and how they lived lavishly whilst the rest of Russia starved and so Dimitri and Tatiana married privately so that they could confirm their love for each other but without there being more attention upon the family. All Dimitri and Tatiana wanted was to have a life together but the uprising of the times stopped all of that as the Romonovs were held captive and when Dimitri attempted to rescue them it all went horribly wrong. It was thought that the entire family had been killed, but without there being any evidence of bodies, Dimitri was determined to keep looking for her… but how long could he hold onto the hope that she was still alive? How can he possibly live the rest of his life without knowing the fate of his true love?

The beauty of this book is that you fall in love with the characters right away. They’re beautifully crafted which gives them such depth that you feel as though you know them. Usually, if I begin a book then something happens which means I can’t read for a couple of days, i struggle to pick it back up again as have forgotten what has happened, but that wasn’t the case with this at all as the characters really get under your skin.

The story goes through the lifetime of Dimitri and Tatiana, making them appear so very real that when it came to finishing this book it was like saying goodbye to friends and yes, there was a tear or two… and also a tear or two throughout the story too!

As with other books by this author, there is a lot of history intertwined with the present day and this works really well and left me wondering just how much was true and how lots of this story isn’t just fiction, that the horrors of the war and revolutions that took place really did happen. It left me thinking a great deal about just how much that has influenced people today yet we often don’t give it any thought.

What I really liked about Kitty’s point of view was how she gave the modern take on it- how the discoveries of today could have made a difference then- the likes of DNA testing, social technology and so forth and I also liked how hearing her discovering the history of her family helped her to understand herself and to draw upon the experiences of the generations before her so although there was a lot of heartache throughout her great grandfather’s life, she was able to take positives from it.

I didn’t want this book to come to an end, what can I read next that will absorb me as much as this?! It is a beautifully written book with so much history, passion and atmosphere that I am going to miss reading it. This is a perfect book for anyone needing escapism but be warned- you will lose many hours’ sleep as you keep those pages turning!