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Cornwall’s Secrets

A Midwinter Promise Book Cover A Midwinter Promise
LULU TAYLOR
General Fiction (Adult) , Romance
Pan Macmillan Pan
November 28, 2019
400

One family across two generations. A marriage marred by trauma and infidelity. Lives marked by death, divorce and a shattered family. A dark secret at the heart of a tragedy. Now the Pengelly family reunites around the sickbed of David, a beloved husband and father, to confront the emotions and the secrets that have divided them over the years. Set around the beautiful wildness of Tawray, a house near the Cornish coast, A Midwinter Promise by bestselling author Lulu Taylor, is a dramatic story of loss, grief and the legacy of secrets. It is also a tale of reconciliation and renewal.

Cornwall is here again in its dark and gloomy clothes – the Cornwall that holds secrets and keeps things close to its heart within family houses and lakes and moors. A story of despair and family intrigue and secrets and all the other elements expected in a saga such as this beautifully written with empathy and understanding. A writer with style.

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Oh these Irish families

The Liar’s Daughter Book Cover The Liar’s Daughter
Claire Allan
Fiction, Psychological,
HarperCollins UK, Avon
January 23, 2020
400

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon.

But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.

As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him…

A gripping suspense novel about deadly secrets and lies. The perfect read for fans of Clare Mackintosh.

The ‘good’ man is very ill with cancer, and in his illness he is attended by his family – in good Irish fashion. He has cancer and has only months to live so they are gathered – his daughters, one by second marriage and one by the first are there to look after him. The husband and baby of the second daughter are there too as the baby is still being breast fed; and the sister arrives from England. All to say the last things they needed to him before…

But it is not a happy family.

In good traditional Irish family sagas there are dark secrets and they start to ooze out – and then he dies, and the police come calling and more emerge from the dark Irish boglands it seems. The text feels like you are wandering in a dark misty bog, where there is no solidity to your footsteps – the foreboding that there is something really wrong oozes from the book in a delightful fashion.

This is not a book to read if you want to be cheered up. This is a book that re-emphasised for me, the insidiousness of the way the Roman Catholic church offers forgiveness and sanctuary in return for a few prayers, no matter how heartfelt they are, your sins are forgiven if you only tell the priest in confession. Well I don’t believe that. It gives people too easy a way out of their deeds. And yes, our ‘good’ man had many sins to be forgiven and he thought becoming religious in his older age would help…

The style has the right quality for a book with this storyline and draws you in, and the characterisation is well done.

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Cottage of your dreams?

Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane Book Cover Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane
Ellen Berry
Fiction
HarperCollins UK, Avon
November 11, 2019
384

Curl up with this uplifting festive read – perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Carole Matthews.

Last winter she had a plan.

Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.

But a year can change everything . . .

Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B, but on her own. Christmas looks set to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future . . .

Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new?

Oh what a mother! Seriously needs to be told to get a life – for herself – get a hobby, look after her husband’s health and butt out of her daughter’s life.

That said, despite the well written mother’s character, the whole story never grabbed me. It seemed to meander along gradually coming to an end with no great reveal, no drama and no real emotional empathy.

It needs humour and editing to become a sharper piece of writing. For me, the ‘bleakness’ never really felt true. A cosy story that lacked originality and intensity

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It gets White

Let it Snow Book Cover Let it Snow
Sue Moorcroft
romance, women's literature, family
Harper Collins

This Christmas, the villagers of Middledip are off on a very Swiss adventure…

Family means everything to Lily Cortez and her sister Zinnia, and growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.

So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’d always believed – and is in fact the result of her mum's reckless affair with a married man.

Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known; an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a memorable romantic encounter along the way…

Family sagas and then second chance love collide in this feel good novel that sorts out a tangled set of relationships.

I liked that the parents were a same sex couple and that not only had they had a very long life together, but that they had weathered some tricky issues with both women wanting babies at the same time, and subsequent, and later, affairs.

The book showed the difficulties that children of same sex couples can have at school, but that they can also grow up to be ‘normal’ and well balanced adults. Demonstrating that the lack of a male figure in their family was no deterrent to a happy childhood and future careers etc.

The novel was well rounded and the style was coherent and well written. The storyline took us to pubs and Switzerland and singing and included a lively dog for those readers who need a family pet to be included. There was enough drama and misunderstandings to allow for the norm of this type of genre with a happy ending

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And the cottage isn’t: Family begins with a capital eff.

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! 5 Book Cover Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! 5
Why Mummy
Gill Sims
General Fiction (Adult), romance, family, women's fiction
HarperCollins
27 Jun 2019

I’m wondering how many more f*cking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society? It seems like people have been telling me ‘it’s just a phase!’ for the last fifteen bloody years. Not sleeping through the night is ‘just a phase.’ Potty training and the associated accidents ‘is just a phase’. The tantrums of the terrible twos are ‘just a phase’. The picky eating, the back chat, the obsessions. The toddler refusals to nap, the teenage inability to leave their beds before 1pm without a rocket being put up their arse. The endless singing of Frozen songs, the dabbing, the weeks where apparently making them wear pants was akin to child torture. All ‘just phases!’ When do the ‘phases’ end though? WHEN?
 
Mummy dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours. And there is never, but never, any milk in the house. At least the one thing they can all agree on is that rescued Barry the Wolfdog may indeed be The Ugliest Dog in the World, but he is also the loveliest.

I loved this series so far, and this book didn’t disappoint. It is written in such a way that you can hear her voice and understand her emotions as they are exposed. And Simon having an affair was just the icing on the cake Ellen didn’t need.

And then there is the issue about the lasagne. The lasagne that Simon loves. That Ellen has struggled to make even though it is complicated (the béchamel sauce, the mince sauce, the layers, the cheese) and that Simon thinks is easy to make.

And finally all the various bad, and good things that happened over the year, between the not so chatty chickens and the wolf puppy and Ellen’s marriage problems. All of which are etailed and explained in a somewhat ‘foul’-mouthed way with great humour and insight.

Whilst I hope, that not many of us have had years Like Ellen’s, most of us have had some parts of it – including the lasagne!

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