Freecycling For Beginners by Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin @rararesources #contemporaryfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Recycling For Beginners by Misha Herwin. I have read several of Misha’s books in the past and I was delighted to be able to grab a spot on the Blog Tour for her latest book.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot ont he tour and for arranging my e-copy of this fabulous book.

The time has come for Jane to sell the family home. Downsizing to a flat means that everything must go, but her late husband’s favourite chair is far too precious for the tip.


Meanwhile, Robyn, balancing her precarious career as a portrait artist with raising an autistic son, is searching for a chair with panache that will allow her sitters to pose in comfort.


Elsewhere in the city, Tracey is clearing out her wardrobe at the same moment that divorced and cash-strapped Debbie is frantically seeking a prom dress for her daughter.


None of these women have ever met until Freecycle brings them together and their lives are about to be changed in ways they could never have imagined.

Purchase Links – AMAZON UK US

MY REVIEW…

Jane decides that it is time to get rid of her late husband’s chair, too good to dump but not good enough to sell. She decides to advertise it on her local Freecycle site. From this chair, a connection is formed that stretches further than just one chair moving from one household to another.

The author has used the act of offering items that still have use and life in them for free. From this, she has then woven such a fabulous story that delves into the lives of various people. An artist, a single mum, and a very stressed mum. None of the women knows each other, but it is the chair that brings in a link to them.

I loved everything about this story, it gave a glimpse into the lives of the characters, their homes and their families. Bringing up children, tackling problems with finances, with illness and then the general coming and going of life, work, and love. Relationships can be brittle and there are times when you need support, sometimes it can be a simple act of kindness that can make the world of difference to someone. From the smallest act of help to giving a large amount of time, the author has included it in some form within this story of stories.

It is a story of different lives and therefore different threads, these have been tweaked and nurtured wonderfully by the author. This was a wonderful book that I adored, the stories of each family were emotional but in very different ways.

This is one for readers who like a good heart-warming contemporary fiction story about families doing what families do. An absolutely wonderful book and one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR…

Misha M Herwin is a Staffordshire based writer. When not writing she runs workshops for adults and children, including youth groups at the New Vic Theatre, and events such as the 6×6 Story Café for Stoke Libraries. She spends what spare time she has with family and friends, reading, working in her garden and baking. Scones are a speciality.


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The Best, Most Awful Job: Twenty Writers Talk Honestly About Motherhood edited by Katherine May @_katherine_may_ @eandtbooks @alisonmenziespr #nonfic #motherhood #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Best, Most Awful Job edited by Katherine May. A book that features 20 women writers who have each wrote about motherhood, the good, the bad and the heart breaking.

My huge thanks to Alison for arranging my copy from Eliot & Thompson Publishers.

Motherhood is life-changing. Joyful. Disorientating. Overwhelming. Intense on every level. It’s the best, most awful job.

The Best, Most Awful Job brings together twenty bold and brilliant women to speak about motherhood in all its raw, heart-wrenching, gloriously impossible forms.

Overturning assumptions, breaking down myths and shattering stereotypes, these writers challenge our perceptions of what it means to be a mother – and ask you to listen.

Contributors include:

Michelle Adams – Javaria Akbar – Charlene Allcott – MiMi Aye – Jodi Bartle – Sharmila Chauhan – Josie George – Leah Hazard – Joanne Limburg – Katherine May – Susana Moreira Marques – Dani McClain – Hollie McNish – Saima Mir – Carolina Alvarado Molk – Emily Morris – Jenny Parrott – Huma Qureshi – Peggy Riley – Michelle Tea – Tiphanie Yanique

You can purchase a copy HERE

My Review…


This is a book of experiences from 20 writers, their experiences of motherhood. Being a mum myself I was intrigued by this title. The Best, Most Awful Job. Yes, being a mum is one of the best things but why is it also the most awful? This book is an open and honest selection of accounts from women who are mothers and from however their path to motherhood was.

The book explored things that are not spoken about after the birth of your child, you know, things down below, will they ever be the same again or how on earth will I ever be able to walk normally! Obviously, things do return and you do walk normally, but often these are not spoken about.

Some of the stories are very poignant and how while pregnant you tend to lose your identity and are often asked “How’s Mum doing?” then after the birth, you are then ignored as people asked about “baby”. I remember knowing loads of mums at school but often didn’t know their names. I was one of the many who became so and so’s Mum.

The 20 authors are from a range of backgrounds and ethnicities. Different countries and cultures. Yet some things are the same no matter where you are from. There are stereotypes and stigmas in all aspects of society and there are some that are very much worse than others.

I can remember with my first child, being in hospital and being treated well as I was a married young mum. The unmarried young mum, who was similar in age discharged herself after two nights as she was not given the same level of support. This was in 1989, and I still remember feeling so sorry for her, but afraid to say anything as the midwife at the hospital tended to be older and if I am honestly quite scary. I will say that by the time I had my final child things had improved, younger more patient-centred midwives were around and they had no prejudice at all.

This book looks at motherhood from the perspective of each authors viewpoint. Whether it is a step mum, mum with a disability, mixed-race mum, and many others. I will not mention them all as I want to leave plenty for other readers to discuss.

After reading this book I understand the title much more. Yes, being a mum can have some awful moments, but there are also many, many of the best moments ever.

This is a book that anyone can read, it will be eye-openeing for some, it will make others nod knowingly but most of all it brings the doubts, worries and stereotypes out in the open. We discuss many things and this is another thing we must talk about more, be more open about and not keep the horrible bits hidden. Being open and discussing things makes life so much easier.

A fabulous collection of experiences and it was a pleasure to read. Some are very sad, others warm and hopeful and others make a stand. It is a book that I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Would I Lie To You? by Aliya Ali-Afzal #NetGalley #20booksofsummer @HoZ_Books #contemporaryfiction

I am delighted to share my review today for Would I Lie To You? by Aliya Ali-Afzal. This is a book I requested to read from House of Zeus via NetGalley and I am so glad I did because it is fabulous.

I am including this as part of #20booksofsummer reading challenge, this is a change to my list! 🙂

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From fresh new voice Aliya Ali-Afzal, Would I Lie to You? is a page-turning, warm and funny debut about what happens when you have your dream life – and are about to lose it.

At the school gates, Faiza fits in. It took a few years, but now the snobbish mothers who mistook her for the nanny treat her as one of their own. She’s learned to crack their subtle codes, speak their language of handbags and haircuts and discreet silver watches. You’d never guess, at the glamorous kids’ parties and the leisurely coffee mornings, that Faiza’s childhood was spent following her parents round the Tooting Cash ‘n’ Carry.

When her husband Tom loses his job in finance, he stays calm. Something will come along, and in the meantime, they can live off their savings. But Faiza starts to unravel. Raising the perfect family comes at a cost – and the money Tom put aside has gone. When Tom’s redundancy package ends, Faiza will have to tell him she’s spent it all.

Unless she doesn’t…

It only takes a second to lie to Tom. Now Faiza has six weeks to find £75,000 before her lie spirals out of control. If anyone can do it, Faiza can: she’s had to fight for what she has, and she’ll fight to keep it. But as the clock ticks down, and Faiza desperately tries to put things right, she has to ask herself: how much more should she sacrifice to protect her family?

My Review…

This is a debut and one that I immediately fell for as I began reading. The pages flew by as I read this over the course of one day. The author made it so easy to submerge me into the life of Faiza’s life.

Faiza is a character who is so desperate to fit in, no matter the cost. This isn’t really a problem until her husband Tom loses his job. Their savings have been decimated as Faiza gets sucked into keeping up with the elite mums at school. Wanting to be one of the clique. Not wanting to be on the outside, to be part of a group and to feel as good as those around her.

Initially, I couldn’t understand why Faiza would want to be part of this group of upper-class mothers until I got further into the story. I started to understand her upbringing and the reasons behind her spending. Faiza is a Pakistani Muslim, she is in a multicultural marriage and has three children. She, as many other parents stay at home, runs the house, looks after the children and her husband works long hours to provide for them. They do have a lavish lifestyle and not wanting others to notice the lack of money Faiza does what she can to keep the charade of “being fine” going as long as she can.

The author has brought many things to this story, money worries that lead to marriage problems, arguments, stress and keeping their heads above water. Having a change of roles for the parents was such a good route to go down, but then this route turned dark and highlighted other issues. Being a woman working in a high powered city job has a whole set of other problems.

This is a brilliant story, one that had me engrossed from start o finish. It has such good pacing to it and it reflects the spiral and panic as Faiza tries to keep juggling various problems. Cultural differences become a problem and Faiza is not the only one to notice this, rather than confront it head-on, the author uses Faiza to approach this in a different way. There are several eye-opening moments in the book and not just the more obvious ones either.

This is a great read and I am really looking forward to reading more by this author. This is one for readers who like contemporary fiction, family life and relationships. It is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low @sharilow @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers @BoldwoodBooks #contemporaryfiction #NetGalley #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review today for One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low. This was an absolutely gorgeous read. My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

As the sun rises on a hot summer’s day, four lives are about to be changed forever…

Brand new from the bestselling author of What If?, What Now? and One Day In Summer.

Today, Maisie McTeer decides to track down the ex who jilted her at the altar. Today, she’ll find out that revisiting the past can also rewrite her future. 

After losing her husband, Harriet Bassett can no longer bear her lonely life. Today, a familiar face in a crowd will spark a quest to discover if there’s something and someone worth living for. 

Scott and Kelly Bassett’s daughter is leaving home. Today, Scott plans to tell Kelly that he’s ending their marriage to pursue his rock and roll dreams. 

However, Kelly, has a bombshell of her own. How will Scott react to the news that a new arrival is on the way to fill their empty nest? 

Between sunrise and sunset, there’s love, heartbreak, laughter and tears, but who will find happiness at the end of the day?

Purchase HERE

My Review…

The synopsis gives a quick introduction to the main characters of the story, Maisie, Harriet, Kelly Scott. Along with other family and friends, this is the story of one day in the summer.

Oh, my goodness did I love this story! I was completely wrapped up in the lives of the characters and how in one day their lives all changed dramatically. The author did such a wonderful job of introducing the characters in such a way that they became easily memorable. Even though the focus is on the main characters, the supporting ones are just as important, without them, this would be a very different story.

The supporting characters are to help interlink the main characters and bring them together and also weave an emotionally charged story. As well as this there are snippets of backgrounds, relationships, family and friends that create a much bigger picture.

This is a story that has a whole lot going on, there are moments when grief and guilt make an appearance, but this is what happens in real life. There are also some inappropriate comments, some well-meaning comments, quite a few giggles and some wonderful heartfelt moments. The story is one that deals with family, friends and relationships. While on the outside lives can look great, you’re not always aware of things that are hidden away.

The author gradually works her characters and the storyline to provide a book that is very addictive. She effortlessly glides between characters and weaves her tale. I adore this book from the very start, and then there was that final section. Oh my! what a wonderful ending, it left me with tears.

A fabulous story about family and friends, of happiness, guilt and grief all worked together to give a stunning read. One for fans of contemporary fiction and family drama. Great book and one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author…

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood was My One Month Marriage in January 2020.

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Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson #historicalfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson. This was such an amazing historical fiction novel that I read mid April. I requested this via Amazon Vine.

Venice, 1943: Under the Nazi occupation, life is increasingly perilous for Italian Jews. Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive – to leave her beloved parents and hide in the countryside, posing as the bride of man she has only just met.

Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to return home to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he refuses to remain a bystander to Nazi and fascist atrocities. The only way to keep Nina safe – and protect secrets of his own – is to convince prying eyes that their sudden marriage is a love match.

But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbours are wary of this soft, educated stranger. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico.

As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their relationship deepens, transforming into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart…

My Review…

This is the first time I have read a book by this author and it was such a wonderful as well as heartbreaking read. It is a historical fiction that is set against the backdrop of WWII and the persecution of the Jews.

As the synopsis tells, this is the story of Nico and Nina. Nina is a Jew in Venice, through connections with her father she is helped out of the country by Nico and poses as his wife. They two have never met before, but they do become friends and then further entwined as a fuller relationship develops.

The story is very well researched, and there is a good section at the back of the book going into more detail. The story is based on true events and the author has then woven such an incredible and moving story. The life Nina once led is very different to the one she now embraces on the farm. There are so many things for her to learn and also she has to keep the secret of her Jewish roots and of the pretend marriage.

As the persecution of the Jews increases and the reach of Hitler, there is a point where Nina becomes concerned. It is not only Nina but also Nico that is also at risk. He has not only helped her but has been helping with the moving of other people. He will do what he can to help who he can, but this does put him in the sights of a certain German officer.

The author then takes the story into a much more harrowing section, that of the camps. It is here that the emotions for me really came, the sense of loss and uncertainty between life and death. The emaciation and the fear have been done with a balance of hope. That hope does flicker day by day as the war continues.

The author has created a story that I found so very addictive, it is one that’s full of heartbreak and also of hope. Of love, friendship and of family. I did have tears and I found it to be quite emotional at times. This is one for those readers who like historical fiction and saga style books. This was a stunning book to read and one that I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland @JessicaRedland #boldwoodbloggers @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #contemporaryfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to be one of the Book Bloggers opening the blog tour today and to share my review today for this third book in a series, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland. This is a fabulous series and one I am loving, each book gives an insight into the lives of those who reside there and also visit.

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Every family has its secrets, and at Hedgehog Hollow there is no exception…


It was always Samantha’s dream to run her beautiful rescue centre, Hedgehog Hollow, full-time. But just as her wish comes true, she becomes a victim of her own kindness when she finds herself with a house full of guests – all with their own problems and secrets – looking to her for support.

When her self-absorbed cousin, Chloe, unexpectedly turns up at the farm – swiftly handing over her baby to Samantha to care for – trouble is definitely brewing. Especially as Chloe won’t tell anyone why she’s left her husband, James…

As Samantha juggles new hedgehog arrivals, family dramas and her own health challenges, it soon becomes clear that she needs to start putting herself first for once. Little does she know that life-changing secrets from the past are about to unravel and turn their lives upside down…

Return to glorious Hedgehog Hollow with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a heartwarming, emotional but uplifting story of family, friendship and moving on from the past.

Purchase Link – Amazon

My Review…

Oh my goodness this was a fabulous and also emotional 3rd book in the Hedgehog Hollow series. I have adored each book as I have followed the journey of the characters.

This story focuses on Sam and Chloe, their story alternates and fills in some important events in Chloe’s life, it also goes a good way to understanding her behaviour and gradually why she has upped and left her husband landing on Sam’s doorstep with a baby in tow.

How Sam has the patience and energy to deal with all that is going on in her life is beyond me! The woman never stops and never thinks of herself, always there for others. With the running of the hedgehog rescue centre, additional family staying in the house and then Chloe’s arrival she is run ragged. Something is going to give, quite how and what I will leave you to discover.

Over the course of the series, Chloe has been the demanding princess type, everything has been about her and how important her life is. This latest chapter of the series shows that there is more to Chloe than anyone realised and this is based on events in her teens. A secret that is so big that it threatens to tear her marriage apart.

Sam has her own problems and the author gives her quite a lot to cope with. Sam is a character who is always busy has miles of patience and she is a character that can take a lot of pressure. The author got the balance right for when the pressure gets too much.

This is another gorgeous instalment of the series and it is one that has a much more serious tone to it. Once again the author has created a story that is truly addictive and of course has gorgeous bundles of hedgehog-iness! A fabulous read and one for fans of contemporary fiction and stories about families and their trying times. And we have been left with such a tantalising teaser for the next book!!! It is a series and a book that I would definitely recommend.

About the Author…

Jessica Redland writes uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community set in Yorkshire where she lives. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast and her Hedgehog Hollow series takes them into beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.

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Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman #GoodEggs #NetGalley @AllenAndUnwin #PublicationDay #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman. Many thanks to Allen And Unwin who granted my request to read this via NetGalley.

Happy Publication Day to Rebecca as well xx

I do have to mention this cover. As I have read this book I can look at it and it just makes me smirk. A moody teen, a rebel Grandmother and a son who is at his limits 👍😂

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Meet the Gogartys; cantankerous gran Millie (whose eccentricities include a penchant for petty-theft and reckless driving); bitter downtrodden stepson Kevin (erstwhile journalist whose stay-at-home parenting is pushing him to the brink); and habitually moody, disaffected teenage daughter Aideen.

When Gran’s arrested yet again for shoplifting, Aideen’s rebelliousness has reached new heights and Kevin’s still not found work, he realises he needs to take action. With the appointment of a home carer for his mother, his daughter sent away to boarding school to focus on her studies and more time for him to reboot his job-hunt, surely everything will work out just fine. But as the story unfolds – and in the way of all the best families – nothing goes according to plan and as the calm starts to descend into chaos we’re taken on a hilarious multiple-perspective roller-coaster ride that is as relatable as it is far-fetched.

Good Eggs is a heady cocktail of that warmth and wit of Marian Keyes, Caitlin Moran and TV’s Derry Girls.

My Review…

This is such a lovely story of three generations of the Gogarty family. Millie, the 83-year-old grandmother, Kevin her son and then the teenage grand-daughter Aideen.

The synopsis does give a good idea that this is a story that is going to have a few chuckles, and it certainly does. Right from the get-go, I adored Mille, she is an elderly rebel and poor Kevin does have his hands full with her. Aideen is a troubled teen, she feels overlooked as her twin sister does tend to get more of the attention.

Between the antics of Millie and the antics of Aideen, Kevin is definitely stuck in the middle. I did feel for him as he is pulled from pillar to post. From one situation to another with often quite funny events in the midst.

This is a story that has a good heart to it, no matter what age you are or generation there is always something that you wish you had done. In some ways, this feels like a coming of age for all the generation involved. Realising that there are options and choices, that changes and chances are part of life.

This was a lovely contemporary fiction novel about a normal family, dealing with situations as they rise. At times it was quite serious as there are topics that the author deals with, but at the same time with a snigger of humour interlaced in between. It did make me chuckle as well as giving me that lovely warm heart-warming feel. One I would recommend to those who like a feel-good story.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Hat Girl From Silver Street by Lindsey Hutchinson @LHutchAuthor @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #histfic #bookreview

Today see’s the final day of the Blog Tour for The Hat Girl from Silver Street by Lindsey Johnson. I am delighted to be one of the Book bloggers to share my review today as tour. I would like to thank Rachel at Rachels Random Resources for my e-copy of this wonderful historical fiction novel.

Let bestselling author Lindsey Hutchinson take you back in time to the Victorian Black Country, for a tale of love, hardship and fighting against the odds to succeed.

Life is tough for Ella Bancroft. After her father, Thomas, is wheelchair-bound by an accident at the tube works, the responsibility for keeping a roof over their head falls to Ella. Ella’s mother died when she was ten, and her sister Sally lives with her no-good, work-shy husband Eddy, so is no help at all.  If she and her father are to keep the bailiffs from the door, then Ella must earn a living.

But Ella is resourceful as well as creative, and soon discovers she has a gift for millinery. Setting up shop in the front room of their two-up, two-down home in Silver Street, Walsall, Ella and Thomas work hard to establish a thriving business. Before long, the fashionable ladies of the Black Country are lining up to wear one of Ella’s beautiful creations, and finally Ella dares to hope for a life with love, friendship and family.

Meeting the man she longs to marry should be a turning point for Ella, but life’s twists and turns can be cruel. As the winter grows colder, events seem to conspire to test Ella’s spirit. And by the time spring is approaching, will the hat girl of Silver Street triumph, or will Ella have to admit defeat as all her dreams are tested.

The Queen of the Black Country sagas is back with a heart-breaking, unforgettable, page-turning story of love, life and battling against the odds. Perfect for fans of Val Wood and Lyn Andrews. 

Purchase Link – Amazon

My Review…

What a wonderful story The Hat Girl From Silver Street was, and also my first outing with this author and be I will come back to based on this book.

The story revolves around Ella, the younger, and nicer of two sisters. She is a hard worker under the employ of a milliner. With low wages and unfair working conditions, her father encourages Ella to leave. Between them, they start their own business and this introduces them to many other people.

This is a lovely story that I found very easy to get caught up in, so much so I read it in one sitting. The author delves into the living conditions briefly as well as the hardships and uncertainties of the time. Starting a business from scratch is a brave decision but the author has given solid reasons. Meeting new people in a society is one fraught with danger as Ella’s shop is in her house.

This story revolves around family and life in general. A society that is all about class and getting the best marriage deals is something the author did tackle well. It made for an agonising waiting game as I read the story, getting more and more drawn in.

There are some really good characters that range from the outspoken to the more gentle and with a good range of traits that include vindictive, sly, aloof and downright nasty there is something to keep a sense of intrigue. This means that you will root for some and wait for the others to get their comeuppance.

Overall a great story to lose yourself in for a few hours, it is one that I found easy reading as well as very addictive. A little predictable at times but still very enjoyable. One for those that do like their historical fiction and romance that leans more towards the family saga style of story. One I would recommend and a great introduction for a new to me author.

About the Author…

Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury, and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson.

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Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor @jennie_ensor Relaunch #contemporaryfiction #bookreview and #extract

I am delighted to be helping out Jennie Ensor with the relaunch of her book Not Having It All. THis was a book I read last year and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Jennie is also holding a GIVEAWAY over on her Facebook Page, more details below.

Here is the new cover and I absolutely love it 😍

This is the story of four middle-aged people who are definitely NOT having it all. Meet Bea, Kurt, Maddie and Colin.

Senior lecturer Bea Hudson juggles her job at the ‘Psycho Lab’ with looking after her demanding five-year-old daughter, badly-behaved dog and next-to-useless au pair. When her chief exec husband is sent overseas and she’s left without childcare, Bea turns to best friend Maddie for help.

Kurt, downing whiskies in his hotel room as he imagines what his wife is up to, is convinced that Bea is becoming a little too friendly with Maddie. With characteristic obsession he enlists his neighbour’s help in a secret surveillance operation.

Found-object artist Maddie longs for a child of her own with a man she can trust – and he must love cats.

Divorced, risk-averse Colin is a senior manager at ‘the nation’s number one pussy insurer’. When he meets Maddie in a lift he’s smitten, and resolves to displace Maddie’s feline companions on her sofa. But he starts to fear that Maddie sees him only as ‘a handy stud with a fat wallet’.

Can Bea and Kurt find happiness again? Can Maddie and Colin risk falling in love?

A story about love, relationships and second chances, perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jojo Moyes, and anyone who loved Bridget Jones’ Diary or Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. If you enjoy novels with depth, heart and laugh-out-loud humour, you’ll love this razor-sharp romantic comedy like no other.

My Review…

How on earth does Bae Hudson juggle being a neuropsychologist on the brink of a breakthrough with being a wife, mum and friend? Well, I soon found that it isn’t easy for her as I read Not Having It All!

Bea is fraught and struggling. A serious career and research means she has to spend time at work to be seen as someone serious about her career. If she reduces her hours she could very easily be side-lined and her funding may disappear. Her husband also has a demanding job, often working away from home for periods. This time he is in Turkey because “he is the best man for the job”. With both of them in full time careers the housekeeping and looking after Fran, their daughter falls to Polish au pair Katie.

Along the way, I also met Madelaine, Colin, Nigel and Allie. They all have roles to play in one form or another. It seems they are also having some sort of crisis in their lives. This is at times a hilarious read as it includes such a cross-section of people. Whether they are having a midlife crisis, feeling guilty about working too much or feeling downright unappreciated, they all seem to be having problems of some sort. Life can be a pain sometimes as pressures easily mount, making mountains out of molehills and often just needed to be looked at from a different perspective or to have recognise the struggles of others. The author has taken everyday worries and wrapped them into a fabulous story that held my attention.

I liked the format or this book as it is told in journal entries, notes or emails from each of the respective characters. It felt that it added to the busy lives of those concerned. Yes, it is unusual but, it worked very well as I got to see different sides to each of the characters. It also meant that the story moved along at a good pace but also that it didn’t feel rushed.

I really enjoyed Not Having It All. I liked how it reflected today’s modern and fast world and also was upbeat and had a good level of humour that kept it from falling into a more serious read. I loved that I actually laughed out loud on several occasions.

Not Having it All is one I would Definitely Recommend.

Extract…

Emails between Bea and Allie

From: Bea Hudson (bhudson9@blueyonder.co.uk)

Sent: 12 June 2018 10.40pm 

To: Allie Loff (allie53@outlook.com)

Subject: Crisis at home 3

Hope Ray calmer by now?

Sorry to hear that my suggestion re gradual exposure didn’t work. Those emus sound nasty, it might be better to stay well away from now on.

Today’s crisis as follows:

I was trying to make Fran eat more than three spoonfuls of Rice Crispies and at the same time trying to find my laptop with the slides for the presentation I’ve cobbled together about the Phobia Group’s latest non-findings before rushing to catch a fast train to Birmingham.

Me: What are you playing at, Francesca? I’m in a hurry. I can’t wait here forever while you finish that. If you don’t hurry up, you’ll have to go to Little Lanes without your breakfast.

F: (banging her spoon on table) No!

Me: What do you mean, no?

F: I don’t like Little Lanes. I want to stay here!

Me: You can’t, I have to be at a conference in three hours.

F: No!

She picks up her beaker of orange juice and chucks it at me. I’m standing next to the table, three feet away, an easy target. The beaker bounces off my collarbone and rattles to the floor. A gush of cold liquid drenches my shirt.

I’m so shocked I can’t utter a word, let alone a shriek. Fran leaps up from her chair and runs out of the kitchen faster than I’ve ever seen her move. The juice seeps under my bra, down my stomach into a puddle at my feet. My white linen shirt is covered in several large, bright orange splodges. I pull off shirt and skirt and fling them in the sink, then have an urge to run upstairs after Fran and slap her.

How dare she do such a thing? Whatever happened to the smiling, affectionate little girl who used to jump onto my lap and hug me as we watched Mr Bean, or grab my hand and kiss it at the Waitrose checkout?

I lean on the sink, head in hands, not giving a toss that I’m in the kitchen with the blinds open wearing only a bra and knickers in full view of the neighbours. When I finally go upstairs, Fran is sitting on the floor playing with a headless Barbie.

Me: Why did you do that?

F: –

Me: Come on, tell me. I want to know.

F: I don’t know, Mummy.

Me: (yelling) How can you not know!

F: (looks at me in horror)

I take a deep breath, imagining a tropical beach and a gentle breeze cooling my bare skin.

Me: You must not throw things at people on bicycles – and you must not throw orange juice at Mummy. Especially you must not throw orange juice at Mummy! She loves you very much and tries to do what is best for you and Daddy. Sometimes what she does won’t make sense to you, but you must know that she is doing the best she can. Do you understand?

Fran: (looks at me as if I had thrown juice at her)

Me: I love you very much, Frannie. I’m not going to hurt you. But I’m not going to let you behave like that in my house. (That last bit is what Kurt says when he’s angry with her.) Don’t you dare do that again, or there’ll be no more trips to the beach.

I got out Fran’s picture book, made a cup of tea and took a shower. I couldn’t think straight, didn’t know what to do – I couldn’t face trying to get Fran in the car again after what happened last time. I was about to call Katie and ask her to come over early, then remembered her 10.30am hospital appointment (NHS, so no telling how long she’d be).

So I called Maddie. 

Maddie drove over (took less than an hour, so must have been at 90mph), told me I must go to the conference. She would stay and look after Fran, so I could call Katie and tell her she wasn’t needed this afternoon.

Thank heavens for Maddie! When I got back to Godalming this evening, Fran was a sweet little girl again, eating out of Mad’s hand – in both senses! They were sitting side by side on the sofa sharing a plate of bread with peanut butter. I’m not sure who was enjoying it most. Mad likes her food, that’s for sure. Actually, I was a bit taken aback to see them sitting so companionably together. Not jealous, exactly. Well, just a little.

Fran jumped up and wrapped her arms round me and said she was sorry she had been so horrible. I was touched, though I think Maddie put her up to saying it.

The three of us spent the evening together. Maddie cooked dinner and Fran showed me drawings she’d done. Mad had got her drawing deep sea fish from photos on the web, scary-looking creatures with enormous serrated snouts. I told her they were fabulous and she looked so pleased. She was a totally different child to the one I was with this morning – it’s so confusing.

Maybe she feels bad about throwing the juice. Or maybe it’s because Maddie is great with children. She has so many child-friendly skills that I lack. She talks to Fran differently to me, as if she’s a child herself. Yet she can be firm enough to get Fran to do what she wants, even helping to dry the dishes!

I sat in a daze, letting Mad take over, enjoying the peace – no fighting about how much ice cream Fran can have, how much TV she can watch or when she has to go to bed. And M’s such a wiz at practical things – on top of looking after Fran, she fixed the wonky gas ring, wound up the kitchen clock, put the damp remover thingies in the cupboards and swept away the bits of cobweb hanging from the hall ceiling that I keep forgetting to tell Katie about.

After we’d said goodnight to Fran, Maddie joked that I should be married to her instead of Kurt. I said yes, a wife would be much handier – Kurt does nothing around the house except watch TV, make a mess and demand food, back rubs and sexual favours (gross exaggeration, of course). We couldn’t stop laughing. It was almost as funny as years ago when the chemistry teacher at St Mary’s stopped in the corridor, blew her nose and farted (even louder than Dad used to after a helping of Mum’s stew).

Just at that moment, Kurt rang. I couldn’t speak so Mad answered, still chortling. She said I was busy, could he wait a minute? He said, ‘Please, I’d like to talk to my wife, is that too much to ask?’ and hung up.

He still hasn’t called back, which is just as well. He can stew in his own sour juice, imagining whatever he likes. By now he’s probably cooking up visions of Mad and I in bed together, getting up to no good 😨

Anyway, Maddie has offered to come over and look after Fran whenever I need her to. She loves the space and light here, she can paint out on the terrace and do her yoga in the living room. I might take her up on her offer next month, when preschool ends. Then (thank God) there’s only the summer to get through before Fran starts school full-time in September.

xx

About the Author…

A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, obtaining a Masters in Journalism (winning two awards) and covering topics from forced marriage to accidents in the mining industry. She isn’t afraid to tackle controversial issues in her novels, either: Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in her debut BLIND SIDE (a psychological mystery blended with a love story), domestic abuse and sexual exploitation in her second, THE GIRL IN HIS EYES.

Her third novel NOT HAVING IT ALL, a relationship comedy, is an excursion to the brighter side of life. A new edition was published in January 2021.

Ms Ensor’s poetry has appeared in many publications including Poetry Salzburg Review, Ink Sweat and Tears. Her poem ‘Lost Connection’ placed second in the Breakout Prose category of the Fish Lockdown Prize in 2020. In her spare time (?) she reads, walks and attempts twice-weekly yoga. She regularly cycles the punishing hills of north London and at the end of the day enjoys collapsing with a bar of chocolate/glass of strong alcohol in front of a TV crime drama.

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GIVEAWAY –  A prize draw to celebrate the relaunch will be held at 6pm on 23 February on Jennie’s FB page  https://www.facebook.com/JennieEnsorAuthor (the giveaway post is pinned to the page). 

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A Reunion at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke @AnneHerries @rararesources #histfic #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for A Reunion at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke. Yes it has a Christmas cover, yes it is only September, but Christmas is not the only thing in this gorgeous book.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this fabulous book.

Synopsis…

A brand NEW festive read from Rosie Clarkes’ bestselling Mulberry Lane series.


1949

Peggy and Able Ronoscki’s seaside cafe in Devon is thriving and their twins Fay and Freddie are growing up fast.
To pursue her daughter’s destiny, Fay must train in London and Peggy is faced with a dilemma of moving the family back to London once more.

Meanwhile, Peggy’s elder daughter Janet has her own troubles. She fears her husband is having an affair and Is desperately unhappy.

Peggy is torn two ways and can only hope that a reunion with her friends at Christmas can help resolve her problems.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2T4OS6m

My Review…

What an absolutely lovely book A Reunion at Mulberry Lane was to read. This is the 6th book in this series but the first one I have read. It does work very well as a stand-alone.

I met several characters who are family and friends of Peggy and Able. These two have left Mulberry Lane, also known as The Lanes, to run a cafe. They work hard but do miss their family and friends back home. It is set just after the end of WWII and the effects of the war are still being felt there are those who are suffering from we now know as PTSD and have a very hard time adapting. But on the whole, it is a time when people are gradually getting back to how things used to be, there are still some food shortages but the country is getting there.

The family and friends of Peggy are a wonderful group and there is an obvious bond between these characters that have been built up over the previous books in the series. The sense of belonging and having people to turn to for support and also the reactions when news is shared gives a wonderful feeling for the reader.

The storyline is a gentle one as such because it is one about the everyday lives of people who work hard and support each other. There is a wonderful feeling of belonging and being loved between the characters and this is what makes this book so special. There are some fabulous characters that I have met and I soon found myself getting to know them and remembering them.

Considering I have come to this series quite late on, I was surprised and also delighted at how quickly I found myself invested in this book. There are mentions of things that have happened in the past and the author gives just enough to make me aware but without giving too much away.

While this book works very well as a standalone I do wish I had begun this from the very beginning as I think the reading journey with the resident of The Lanes would be wonderful. I really enjoyed this book and I think readers of historical fiction and family sagas will absolutely adore this if you haven’t read any of the books I would say read from the beginning as I think this would be a wonderful series to settle down with. I Would definitely recommend A Reunion at Mulberry Lane.

About the Author…

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series.  She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner.  She lives in Cambridgeshire.

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Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx