Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mrs Sinclairs Suitcase - Louise Walters

Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you...

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother's belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew - dated after he supposedly died in the war.

DOROTHY - is happily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shock-waves will touch her granddaughter many years later...

Published by: Hodder & Stoughton - Fiction
Year: 2014 - Paperback
Pages: 296
ISBN: 978-1-4447-7745-1

Roberts is a collector of old letters, postcards even receipts that she finds in old books.  So when her father is clearing out his mothers belongings after she goes into a nursing home he gives Roberta an old suitcase belonging to his mother.  Written inside is the name Mrs D Sinclair.  Mrs Sinclair's suitcase starts with a letter from Jan Pietrykowski written to Roberta's grandmother during the war.  The only problem being the date of the letter is after her grandfather supposedly died.  Roberta is left intrigued and she decides this is a puzzle she needs to try and resolve.  Who is this Mrs D Sinclair and how could this letter have been written after Jan Pietrykowski's death.   Roberta unravels the mystery and in doing so reveals a secret that her grandmother has kept for nearly 70 years.

This is a great debut novel by Louise Walters.  Throughout the book you flip between the 1940's war time Briton and the present day as Roberta Pietrykowski unpicks the secrets of her elderly grandmother.

Definitely worth a read.....


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Lost dogs and lonely hearts - Lucy Dillon

Rachel has inherited a house in the country along with a rescue kennels. She claims she's not a dog person. But then she tries to match the abandoned pets with new owners with some unexpected results.

Natalie and Johnny's marriage hasn't been easy since they started trying for a baby. But will adopting Bertie, a fridge-raiding sofa-stealing Basset hound make up for it?

Meanwhile Zoe's ex husband has given their kids a Labrador puppy and left her to pick up the mess - literally. She's at the end of her tether, until her pup leads her to handsome doctor Bill, whose own perfect match isn't what he was expecting at all.

As the new owners' paths cross and their lives become interwoven they - along with their dogs - all find themselves learning important lessons about loyalty, second chances and truly unconditional love.

Published by: Hodder & Stroughton - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 412
ISBN: 978--444-76305-8

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts is 412 pages of heartache, romance, love and friendship all pulled together from one place.  The kennels left to Rachel by her aunt Dorothy in her will.  With inheritance tax and the house and kennels needing a lot of work Rachel has to decide whether she wants to leave her high flying life in London behind or get through probate and sell up at the earliest opportunity. Along the way Rachel will discover a secret about her aunt Dorothy something that even her own mother Dorothy's sister doesn't know. She will meet some amazing new people who all want whats best for the dogs and the kennels.  Each character has their own fare share of problems but all that is put to one side in order to help Rachel keep her aunt's dream alive, to help homeless dogs find new owners and a better life.  

Lucy Dillon has captured each character beautifully and you could see this novel as a definite chick flick starring Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.  If you're looking for an easy read that doesn't require too much concentration then Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts is a book for you. Very easy read and would recommend.

Happy reading one & all


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Don't want to miss a thing - Jill Mansell.

Dexter Yates loves his fun, carefree London life. But everything changes overnight when his sister dies,  leaving him in charge of her eight-month -old daughter Delphi.

Comic-strip artist Molly Hayes lives in the beautiful village of Briarwood. When it comes to relationships, she has a history of choosing all the wrong men.

Leaving the city behind, Dex moves to Briarwood - a better place to work on his parenting skills - and he and Molly become neighbours. There's an undeniable connection between them. But if Dexter's going to adapt, he first has a lot to learn about Molly, about other people's secrets .... and about himself.

Published by: Headline - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 420
ISBN: 978-0-7553-5589-1

'Don't Want To Miss A Thing' is number 25 off the yet to be read bookshelf, so I have almost completed all those lovely books I bought in 2013.  Dexter's life changes overnight after receiving a phone call to say that his sister has died and as her only next of kin and no involvement from Delphi's father he finds himself named as Delphi's guardian.  Dexter's not sure that he is up to the task, what did he know about raising a child. He starts by swapping his beloved bright yellow Porsche for a more child friendly car and having recently bought a cottage in Briarwood as a weekend retreat he decides that the only way to make this work is to leave his old life behind completely by moving to the cottage permanently. He has met his neighbour fleetingly whist the cottage was being renovated but now living there full time Dexter soon realises what a great friend Molly is going to be. 

As you can imagine this book by Jill Mansell is undoubtedly a love store, with a few hiccups a long the way and you follow their journey waiting to see whether boy will meet girl, boy will fall for the girl next door but by the time he realises this will it be too late.  Well you would just have to read the book yourself in order to find out.....

It was a lovely Autumn read and one I would recommend.

Happy reading one & all.


Friday, 19 September 2014

The keeper of Secrets - Amanda Brooke

The Keeper Of Secrets (novella) [epub Edition] By Amanda BrookeOn the surface, Elle has the perfect life - husband, child and a beautiful home. But sometimes a perfect facade hides the cracks beneath: Elle's husband Rick seems determined to clip her wings at every turn, keeping her at home and away from her friends and from the world. When Elle's father dies and she starts to clear his house, the cracks start to widen - and it's only a matter of time before everything breaks open.

On a quest for buried treasure at the house, her young son, Charlie, finds a box underneath the apple tree, with love letters from the past that could tear her world apart.

As past and present collide, Elle must decide what is right - and what course her life should take.

Published by: Harper Collins - Fiction
Year 2013 - Kindle Edition
Pages: 100
ISBN: 9780007522187

The Keeper of the Secrets had been sitting patiently on my Kindle for some considerable time.  It is a shortish story of only 100 pages and having just finished Amanda Prowse's Will You Remember Me I decided I wanted something quick to read before embarking on something more involved.

The Keeper of the Secrets is about a young married women who has a young son. Her father has recently passed away and whilst sorting through his things she discovers letters from a women he had quite clearly had an affair with before her mother died.  Elle is very shaken by this as she feels it makes a mockery of all she has known.  She decides she should meet this other women but far from disliking her she finds she actually likes her and can see why her father was drawn back to the love he had had before her mother.  Elle is trapped in a marriage to a very controlling husband who leaves her lists of chores to do each day and who will deliberately tell her something urgent has come up to prevent her going out with her friends.  Eventually Elle decides she has to let the past go but realises she has to make some very important decisions about her future.

Well worth the bother if you are looking for something quick to read.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Will You Remember Me (No Greater Love Series No. 5 - Amanda Prowse

Will You Remember Me? - No Greater Love
How do you say goodbye to your family for the last time?

Poppy Day is looking forward to her best year yet. 
She's thirty-two, married to her childhood sweetheart, and a full-time mum of two gorgeous children.  She loves her clean little house in the countryside - a far cry from the London estate where she grew up. Her husband Mart, a soldier, has just returned safe and sound from his latest    tour.

But Poppy is so busy caring for others, she hasn't noticed the fatigue in her body, or the menacing lump growing on her breast. If there's anyone strong and deserving enough to defeat cancer it's Poppy. After all, she's fought harder battles than this. But does life really work like that?

Publisher: Head of Zeus - Fiction
Year: 2013 Paperback
Pages: 345
ISBN: 978`78`856512

As those of you who have followed by blog from the start know, I am a big fan of Amanda Prowse novels right from the first one Poppy Day back in 2011  when Amanda Prowse introduces us to her heroine.  In this her latest novel we have moved forward 10 years from when we first met Poppy and she is now 32 and a mother to two children Peggy and Max.  Throughout her life Poppy has always put the needs of others first and like most mum's neglects to look after themselves especially when it comes to her health.  She has ignored the little lump growing in her breast for long enough and goes to the see her GP.  From there a referral is made to breast screening and the diagnosis is confirmed.  From that point onwards Poppy is fighting the biggest battle of her life. 'Will You Remember Me' is the story of Poppy's battle against her disease, how she and her family cope with tears and laughter all the way.  Poppy may have fought bigger battles before and won but it is whether this particular battle is one battle too far.

Yet again a great novel from Amanda Prowse and as per usual one I couldn't put down until I had turned the last page.  It went everywhere I went and was even to be found in my had not only whilst cooking the dinner but whilst eating it.

Product DetailsWell done Amanda another great work and I can't wait for 'Christmas for One' to come out in November.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Whilst We Were Watching Downton Abbey - Wendy Wax

When the concierge of a historic Atlanta apartment building invited his fellow residents to join him for a weekly screening of Downton Abbey, four very different people fins themselves connecting with the addictive drama and - even more unexpectedly - with each other...

Samantha married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money - for herself and for her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.

Claire is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for a new and productive lie. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all.

And then there's Brooke, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She's just starting to realise that it's time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be.

For Samantha, Claire, Brooke - and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings - it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life's hardest moments - all of it reflected in their shared love of Downton Abbey.

Published by: Orion - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Kindle
Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-1409147855

Having just finished  If You Were the Only Girl  by Anne Bennett which was a cross between Downton Abbey and Gosford Park and with Downton Abbey coming back to our screens on the 21st September here in the UK to start series 5, I thought it was time that I read Wendy Wax's novel  'Whilst We Were Watching Downton Abbey' which is about three woman and the friendships they forge thanks to their quint essentially English concierge Edward Parker. If it hadn't been for his idea to bring the residents of Alexander apartments together to screen the first two series of Downton Abbey ahead of the third series which was to be screened in the states the following January, these three women would never have said more than a polite good morning whilst crossing the lobby.  There was never a truer saying than 'you never know what goes on behind closed doors'.  To the outside world these three women were very confident women but on the inside each had their troubles. Through meeting at the weekly screenings and building a friendship they soon develop a strong bond each supporting the other through their life's struggles eventually becoming the strong confident women that everyone thought they were.

A very good read and has definitely put me in the mood for the next series of good old Downton Abbey.

Can't wait until next weekend.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

If You Were the Only Girl - Anne Bennett

When Lucy's father dies and her family is plunged into poverty, she is forced to take a job as a scullery maid at Windthorpe House, home to the aristocratic Hetheringtons, who lost three of their four sons in the Great War.

When their only remaining son, Clive, returns home from his studies, he and Lucy strike up an immediate bond, which only deepens as Lucy becomes indispensable to the family.

With the outbreak of war ever more certain, the two fall in love and Clive is determined that the class difference won't keep them apart. But Hitler's troops are gathering and fate has something very different in store for both of them.

Published by: Harper Collins Publishers - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 530
ISBN: 978-0-00-735923-3

'If You Were the Only Girl' by Anne Bennett is number 24 off the bookshelf.  Lucy Cassidy is young Irish girl forced into service after her father dies.  She is not happy when her mother forms a relationship with an old flame and when the church here's that a man has been seen at her mother's house the priest and the nuns threaten to take Lucy's brothers and sisters away from her.  The only way around this for her mother to re-marry but this would mean moving the family to the USA where her  new husband has his own business.   Lucy is very distraught and refuses to go with the rest of the family and continues to work for the Hetherington's.   Young Master Clive has always had a soft spot for Lucy but she has always known this would never go any further.  That is until Lucy leaves their employ to train as a nurse.  Clive and Lucy have never been happier.  Just when Clive is about to tell his family of his intention to marry Lucy his mother reveals to him the truth of their responsibilities and insists that he will have to marry the daughter of her long time friend in order to maintain their status.  At first Clive refuses but when it is laid out to him just the financial mess his family has gotten into he soon realises that he has no other choice but to agree to the marriage.  Lucy is distraught and feels betrayed by Clive Hetherington and thinks she will never be able to have such a love again that is until Doctor Christopher Gilbert convinces her otherwise.  Will Lucy and Clive ever be able to be together or are they both destined to marry another.

'If You Were the Only Girl' is a lovely book to read a definite Gosford Park meets Downton Abbey.

Happy reading one & all.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

To Sir With Love - E.R. Braithwaite

In 1945, Rick Braithwaite, a smart, highly educated ex-RAF pilot, looks for a job in British engineering. He is deeply shocked to realise that, as a black man from British Guiana, no one will employ him because of the colour of his skin. In desperation he turns to teaching, taking a job in a tough East End school and left to govern a class of unruly teenagers. With no experience or guidance. Braithwaite attemts to instill discipline, confound prejudice and ultimately to teach.

Published by: Vintage Classics - Memoir
Year: originally 1959
Pages: 208
ISBN: 0099483696

'To Sir With Love' is my return to school read for September.  I can't remember what age I was when I first read this book by E.R. Braithwaite.  He did go on to write other memoirs but this is his most memorable.  Like many of us I have seen the film starring Sidney Poitier many times and it still makes me cry. Having not read the book since school I had completely forgotten that the true story is actually about an English East End school called Greenslade.   Braithwaite had been demobbed from the RAF and had spent 18 months looking for work as an engineer without success.  He encountered prejudice being invited to countless interviews but as soon as they saw the colour of his skin every excuse would be given as to why he was not suitable for the post.  Then someone suggested he look into teaching and he was soon employed in his first post.  He achieved great things with this first class of students, teaching them self confidence and respect for others.

When Braithwaite left Greenslade to be a social worker his class gave him a gift and on the card were written the words 'To Sir With Love'  and this he chose to be the title of his now famous book.

If you have never read this memoir it is well worth  taking the time.

Happy reading one & all.


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The memory Book - Rowan Coleman

Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. P 9780091953119The name of your first born.
The face of your lover.
What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?
Is it possible to rebuild your life?
Raise a family?
Fall in love again?

When Claire begins to write her Memory Book she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have left of her.
But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers....?

Published by: Ebury Press - Fiction
Year: 2014 - Paperback
Pages: 374
ISBN: 978-0-091953-11-9

I had first seen this book as a hardback in 2014 and had made a mental note to read sometime in the future.  Having almost but not quite completed by challenge to read the 26 books that had still been residing on my bookshelf this year, I decided I could have a little treat and when I saw that 'The Memory Book' was about to come out in Paperback I decided it was fate and the right time to pick up a copy.

When I started reading it I thought it was going to be about a women who had received a diagnosis of cancer and that the story would be around how she would prepare her family for when she had gone.

I was wrong.

The story is of a young women in her 40's married with two daughters who has a diagnosis of early on-set  familial Alzheimer's. Her father had, had it and now she had come to realize that she had the gene too. It started the day she drove her beautiful red car into the post box outside the school where she worked and not remembering whether she had, had breakfast or not. Then one morning she couldn't make sense of her shoes and upon going down stairs to ask her daughter about it she then couldn't remember her daughter's name.  She knew then that the fog was starting and from then on it was a barrage of  tests until it was confirmed she had AD just like her father had had. The Memory Book tells the story of  Claire and her family.  How she copes with remembering some things but not others. Not even being able to remember where you live some days but know you have red curtains.  Having to have your mother come and live with you to stop you wandering off in the supermarket or taking your 3 year old to the park in the dark.   

It was a very moving read and makes you wonder just how millions of families deal with this scenario every day. 

Definitely worth the time it takes to read this novel by Rowan Coleman.

Happy reading one & all.