Books/book review/fiction/humour/Romance/net galley

What happens when the kids leave home

The Mum Who Got Her Life Back Book Cover The Mum Who Got Her Life Back
Fiona Gibson
contemporary fiction, romance, humour, women's literature
01 Mar 2019

When her 18-year-old twins leave for university, single mum Nadia’s life changes in ways she never expected: her Glasgow flat feels suddenly huge, laundry doesn’t take up half her week, and she no longer has to buy ‘the Big Milk’. After almost two decades of putting everyone else first, Nadia is finally taking care of herself. And with a budding romance with new boyfriend Jack, She’s never felt more alive. That is, until her son Alfie drops out of university, and Nadia finds her empty nest is empty no more. With a heartbroken teenager to contend with, Nadia has to ask herself: is it ever possible for a mother to get her own life back? And can Jack and Nadia’s relationship survive having a sulky teenager around?

A story for all empty nesters and parents of kids who have left home – or have they? As so many people are now finding, kids that left, come bouncing back, just when you least expect them (and at very inopportune times) and really don’t need them back. They disrupt this nice life you have (finally) managed to create for yourself – even a nice new romance. They become needy toddlers again as life has been unfair to them and because you feel guilty because you didn’t miss them as much as you expected, you cater to their whims – even to the point where your new life begins to unravel.
Or least this is what happens according to this book.
Personally, if our kids had behaved the way her son did with his clothes and loo and messes they would have had a sharp word or two despite everything. Do Mums really get walked over nowadays as is portrayed here? And they don’t teach their sons to cook? Who was this woman and why did she allow her kids to treat her like a limp door mat? This rang untrue to me. So though I generally enjoyed the book the story was not as realistic as it could have been.
Overall, this works as a romance between single parents trying to find a new life for themselves and juggling the demands of work and family, but…

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Light up those deep Northern villages

The Christmas Lights Book Cover The Christmas Lights
Christmas books by this author
Karen Swan
contemporary fiction, romance, suspense
Pan Books

Set on the scenic fjords of Norway, The Christmas Lights by bestselling author Karen Swan is a moving Christmas tale of love and heartbreak. December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the 'perfect' life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can't explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who'll listen. June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . . The mountains keep secrets - Signy knows this better than anyone - and as Bo's life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.

This is a story with a moral for people who live by their instagram feeds – living a life defined and paid for, by social media exposure, can be more of a ‘drudge’ and be more limiting, than working in an office. you may think you are living a free life, but in fact you are not – you are bought and paid for by your advertisers. And in this story, this proves to be only to true for the couple that thought that they were giving into their wander lusting and living free of the consumer/money driven world.

We read the disturbing story of the couple who whilst scuba diving off Samoa, mountain climbing in Norway and all their many other adventures, yet  they were always ‘on’, on an adventure, that was being photographed and videoed for the their followers. Being a digital influencer was not a job with many hours off. and where they went and where they stayed was always with an eye to how they could improve their ratings and followers.

To counter this, with a story set on the same mountains but in 1936. This part of Norway is rather remote especially in 1936. roads hadn’t yet reached across and through the mountains and the modern conveniences of skidoos and helicopters were not yet available. 

So the village still abided by pagan customs mixed with Christian and old ways of farming. And i was a little concerned that, if the village was that remote, wasn’t there a good chance of too much in-breeding?

I found myself getting more and more engrossed by both storylines as the book progressed. Initially, it was difficult to see where the two interlinked and some elements remained unresolved as the book ended – but we can always hope for the happiest of endings of course.

I was concerned about a couple of things – okay they improved the story but even here in England no-one goes up a mountain, especially in winter, without a winter pack – including hot drinks, silver blankets for accidents and extra layers surely? At least that”s what our rescue guys always tell us. Yet in Chapter 9 we have an experienced guide doing just that.

Having been to Gereinger myself, I enjoyed re-visiting, in my memory the fjord and its waterfalls and the little orchards down by the water’s edge. And having spoken to natives, know just how easy it is to get cut-off there by snow in the winter – and funnily enough – to match the story – I arrived there on the cusp of pneumonia but with the antibiotics having just kicked in by 24 hours…!

For me it’s a 4.5 – rounded up.

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Books/book review/Fantasy/fiction/crime fiction

Faceless and buried altars

Lies Sleeping: Book Cover

Lies Sleeping:

Rivers of London #7

Ben Aaronovitch

urban fantasy, police procedural, contemporary


November 15, 2018


Martin Chorley, aka the Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud and crimes against humanity, has been unmasked and is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring Chorley to justice. But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that Chorley, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan. A plan that has its roots in London's two thousand bloody years of history, and could literally bring the city to its knees. To save his beloved city Peter's going to need help from his former best friend and colleague - Lesley May - who brutally betrayed him and everything he thought she believed in. And, far worse, he might even have to come to terms with the malevolent supernatural killer and agent of chaos known as Mr Punch . . .

We are back in London for this story and in form. The story takes us back to Lesley and the Faceless Man, what they are planning, and explains why.

Our favourite characters are maturing, as are their magical abilities and the talking foxes make a re-appearance with Abigail, who is proving to be more of a natural magician than anyone could have predicted. And I love the explanation of why the foxes talk – and especially  talk to Abigail.

I always very much like the way the history of London, especially the City, is incorporated into these stories. London was built on many ‘magical’ sites of worship from its early founding, and these places become integral to this modern explanation of London and its byeways, special sites, and hidden mysteries.

Indeed, many pagans and historians believe that London may well have had stone circles and standing stones that are now buried beneath the landscape and buildings, as well as religious sites for many religions, and St Paul’s Cathedral did indeed get built over an earlier pagan temple. So truth provides the foundation for great fantasy.


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Books/book review/fiction

It rains a lot in Scotland…

The right attitude to rain Book Cover

The right attitude to rain

Isabel Dalhousie #3

Alexander McCall Smith

contemporary fiction, romance, humour



The key to contentment in the Scottish climate is the right attitude to rain - just as in life the key to happiness lies in making the best of what you have.

Bruised in love by her faithless Irish husband, Isabel Dalhousie is a connoisseur of intimate moral issues: she edits a philosophical journal and spends a great deal of her time considering how to improve the lives of those around her. There is her housekeeper Grace, whose future she must secure; her niece Cat, who is embarking on a new relationship with a dubious workaholic mummy's boy; and even an American couple newly arrived in Edinburgh on a tour. And then there is Jamie, Cat's ex-boyfriend, a handsome, gifted musician fourteen years Isabel's junior, with whom she is slowly and hopelessly falling in love.

Intensely thoughtful and consistently entertaining, THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO RAIN is shot through with compassion and unassuming intelligence.

I keep trying this author as people rave about him, and it is social manners and social history in our times but I just find there is not enough humour or storyline to keep me interested in the characters and what happens to them. Very gentle.

I didn’t finish the book but …

2 stars from me.

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Books/book review/fiction/Romance

Why flowers and cakes?

The Forget Me Not Flower Shop Book Cover

The Forget Me Not Flower Shop

Tracey Corbett

contemporary fiction, romance, humour,

Avon Books

(3 July 2017)

Evie is busy running the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop and praying for an uplift in sales as soon as possible. She might be in the market of selling romance, but for Evie a new man is the last thing she needs!

That is until plumber Scott Castillo turns up to fix her boiler. She’s definitely not interested. But then, why does she keep ogling his rather attractive forearms? She’s been fooled before – she isn’t about to fall head-over-heels for some smooth-talker, right?

When he isn’t trying to balance paying the bills with caring for his sick mother, Scott has stepped in to help parent his 18-year-old nephew, Ben. Between that and working full time Scott doesn’t have time for romance. Until he meets Evie…

Love doesn’t always bloom the way you expect but for the customers of the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop it might just be the perfect time for romance…

This is the perfect read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Rachael Lucas

A sweet story with a plumber and a flower shop manager. The plumber having not been helped with his reading and writing dyslexia at school, meaning that he struggles with his paperwork. And then we have a florist with a controlling and stalkerish ex so she moved into new area to get away from him.

And the plumber is looking after his mother who had a stroke recently and his nephew as the nephew’s mother lacked all emotions – (?autistic spectrum possible as she is also a maths whizz) – and has moved to India. Bangalore – the Indian Silicon Valley centre – and very polluted and where the historical stuff has been largely been bull dozed as they build yet more flash flats for the workers. Suits someone with no feel for the past…

So the brother and sister are opposites. one with high IQ and lacking emotions. the other with lots of emotions, and not lacking in IQ but unable to demonstrate through book learning.

This contrast feels too pat and thus downgrades the story.

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