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When I First Held You By Anstey Harris

Songs In Ursa Major‘When I First Held You’ is the latest book by Anstey Harris.

In 1960s Glasgow, anti-nuclear activists Judith and Jimmy fall in love. But their future hopes are dashed when their protestors’ squat is raided and many, including Jimmy, are sent to prison. Pregnant and with no word from Jimmy, Judith is forced to enter an unmarried mothers’ home, give up their baby and learn to live with her grief. More than half a century later, Judith’s Mending Shop restores broken treasures, just as Judith herself has been bound back together by her late, much-missed partner, Catherine. But her tranquillity is shattered when Jimmy―so different and yet somehow the same―reappears, yearning to unpick the painful past. Realising they each know only half of the other’s story, Jimmy and Judith finally break the silence that tore apart what might have been their family. Amid heartbreak and hope, how much can now be mended?

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Anstey, but I’ve always had a soft spot for her debut novel called ‘The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton’

In her latest book we meet Judith who met James during the 1960s, they were young protesters who fell in love and when James is arrested, Judith is left behind pregnant. She returns home hoping for her parents support but instead is sent to a mother and baby home, where her baby is adopted. Judith has never given up on finding her daughter and when James comes into her life, they face old ghosts as well as connect with Ruby, their granddaughter.

The story is seen through the narrative of Judith and Ruby as they meet and begin a new relationship. Both are tentative whilst James just jumps straight in. He’s unaware of the hardship that Judith went through after his arrest and it’s quite hard reading in parts, as Judith tries to keep her baby only for it to taken away.

The story is also written in past and present tense and really highlights the trauma a single woman has to go through when pregnant. The pressure and judgement from society and the church that forces women into these homes and tears families apart makes for really sad and upsetting in parts.

A tender and beautifully written story about the horrific times women had to go through, ‘When I First Held You’ is an emotional story about, love, loss and reconciliation that will tug at your heartstrings.

You can buy ‘When I First Held You’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Proper Family Christmas By Chrissie Manby

'A Proper Family Christmas‘A Proper Family Christmas’ is the latest book by Chrissie Manby.

Take one Queen Bee: Annabel Buchanan, with a perfect house in the country, a rich husband and a beautiful daughter, Izzy and one large, loud family: the Bensons. What happens when their worlds collide?
When Izzy suddenly falls dangerously ill, adoptee Annabel has to track down her biological family to see if they can help her daughter. But can she see past the Bensons’ brash exteriors to the warm, loving people they are at heart? With December just around the corner, is it too much to hope that the Bensons and the Buchanans can have a proper family Christmas?

‘A Proper Family Christmas’ sees Chrissie return to the Benson family and carry on where her summer novel ‘A Proper Family Holiday’ left off when the mother of the family Jacqui tells her two daughters Ronnie and Chelsea, that she had another daughter long before they were born and she had adopted.

When they get home, Jacqui receives a letter from her long lost daughter wanting to get in touch and so ensues, the reunion that Jacqui has dreamt of but it causes a flurry of emotions between them all varying from anger, jealousy and sadness.

The story is seen from the perspective of the ladies of the Benson family all giving a different insight to the newcomers to the family. Ronnie is still as loud as ever and her nose is out of joint with no longer being the older sister and is suspicious as to why Annabel has got in touch and Chelsea is a quiet observer as she tentatively starts a new relationship with Adam, a man she met on the holiday.

Annabel, is completely different to her biological family, after leading a privileged life, she is quite snobby and finds their brash and loud behaviour unsightly but with Izzy being seriously help, Annabel needs to see past this, if she wants them to help. I loved the scenes where the two families gather, as there usually drama and chaos highlighting the class difference between the Bensons and Buchanan’s.

The scenes with Annabel were great, she was an interesting character, as she battled with the emotions of meeting her new family and dealing with the trauma of Izzy’s illness all whilst putting on a brave face. Also the chapters with Izzy and Sophie who is Ronnie’s daughter, were good as they started a fledging friendship though they were from different worlds.

I loved this book, I’ve been a fan of Chrissie’s books for years and the new Benson book series have been tremendous reading. But if you haven’t read the first book, Chrissie gives the background of the characters so it’s not necessary but I would recommend reading ‘A Proper Family Holiday’ purely for the entertainment value and the introduction to the characters.

Like her previous book, this book is filled with Chrissie’s wit and charm but there is also a serious element to it with the sensitive issues as adoption and organ donation. Packed with a cleverly written storyline and characters that we have grown to love, ‘A Proper Family Christmas’ is a poignant and heartwarming story that is perfect for the Christmas season, wrapped up with a pretty bow, this book is an ideal Christmas treat.

You can buy A Proper Family Christmas from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell

Don't Want To Miss A Thing book cover‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ is the latest book by Sunday Times bestseller, Jill Mansell.

Dexter Yates loves his care-free London life, but everything changes overnight when his sister suddenly dies leaving him in charge of her eight month old daughter, Delphi. How is he going to cope leaving his hedonistic life behind for a quieter retreat in the Cotwolds.

Comic strip artist, Molly Hayes lives in the village that Dexter moves to. She’s not had a great history with men and even though there is a connection between the two of them, it looks like this isn’t going to change.

But lots of the village residents have secrets to discover and it soon becomes clear that Dexter isn’t the only one who is going to have to adapt once their secrets are exposed.

‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ is the first book that I have read by Jill Mansell and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this heartwarming tale of family and friendship.

The story is set against the backdrop of the village of Briarwood, a small close knit community where everyone looks out for each other and knows everyone’s business. Dexter, the reluctant hero of the story has to give up his womanising and philandering ways as he has to take on the responsibility of his suddenly orphaned niece, Delphi. It’s in this small village, that he meets Molly, who takes Dexter under her wing and helps with his new role as a parent. Throughout the main story, there are smaller sub stories with supporting characters that interweave coming together nicely in the end.

‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ is a skill-fully written story, populated with vibrant characters, that all have a story to tell and a secret to hide. Thoughtfully written about adoption and love, this enchanting story will tug at the heart strings and have you smiling at the sweet scenes between Dexter and Delphi as he struggles with his new life and adjustments, beautifully sweet and engaging, Jill Mansell is definitely one author, who’s back catalogue I shall be looking into!

You can buy Don’t Want to Miss a Thing on Amazon and other good bookshops.

Three Little Words by Jessica Thompson

Three Little Words book cover‘Three Little Words’ is Jessica Thompson’s second book.

Bryony, Rachel and Sara are three women unknown to each other, but one evening’s dramatic turn of events will change all of their lives forever.

Rachel is a ballerina on the verge of stardom, Bryony is suffering a heartbreaking loss and Sara makes an unhappy discovery that makes her question everything she once knew.

When your world shatters at your feet, could three little words be enough to put it all back together.

After the success of her debut book, ‘This Is A Love Story’, Jessica Thompson has returned with her follow up book ‘Three Little Words’ and if you are expecting another story of love and romance then you are in for a surprise, as she taken a different path with her writing. ‘Three Little Words’ is much darker and focuses around the subject of murder, love and betrayal.

The story is based around one day, where three women’s lives will drastically change. It tells the story of Bryony, Sara and Rachel and the circumstances that follow on after that fateful day.

Set against the background of bustling London and beautifully written, ‘Three Little Words’ reflects on forgiveness and no matter how hard you try, it can be sometimes be difficult to forget and forgive.

All three women were inspirational characters, all strong minded and wilful, but it has to be said that Bryony was my favourite of the cast. She was sweet and even in her vulnerable state still came across as strong woman, as she struggled to deal with the cruel hand that she had been dealt. Caught between trying to forgive and not letting go of the past, her story was a beautiful and bittersweet tale as she found strength with time being a healer and she began to blossom as a person.

Heartbreaking from the start, ‘Three Little Words’ is an emotional book about forgiveness and discovering your way in life. A captivating read and a bold move from the young author, who writes dark tales wonderfully. ‘Three Little Words’ is definately a worthy read!

You can buy Three Little Words on Amazon and will be available in paperback from 15th August 2013.

Lifesaving For Beginners by Ciara Geraghty

Lifesaving for Beginners

“Lifesaving For Beginners” is the fourth book by Irish author, Ciara Geraghty.

Kat Kavanagh lives in Dublin. She thinks she is love with Thomas but can’t bring herself to tell him her dark secret from her past. Kat has a few secrets, like her job as one of the most successful crime writers in the world.

Milo McIntyre lives in Brighton with his mam and older sister, Faith. He does lifesaving classes and loves hanging out his mam’s cafe the Funky Banana with his best friend Damo. But then one day Milo’s world comes crashing down on him as he and Faith uncover a secret that will take them on an adventure, to Dublin and right to Kat’s front door.

“Lifesaving For Beginners” was such an enchanting book that I couldn’t put it down.

Written as a dual narrative from the leading characters Kat and Milo, it was fascinating to see the perspectives from two completely different people. Kat is 39 years of age, who has become accustomed to being her own best friend and enemy. Whilst verging slightly on the reclusive side, not wanting anyone to get too close to her, apart from a select few including her best friend Minnie Driver and her Down Syndrome brother, Ed. I loved Ed, he was terribly sweet and had an innocence about the world and life, that made the world seem like a better place.

The star of the book for me had to be Milo. I loved him, I loved his naivety, his wisdom and most of all, I loved how he made everyone around him feel better, by just simply being in his presence. As Ciara wrote, he was a tonic, helping Faith get through the hard times. And to quote young Milo, he was a “legend”

“Lifesaving For Beginners” is a superb book that will have you captivated into the small hours. Filled with wit and moments of a darker side which occasionally makes for emotional reading as Kat struggles to deal with letting people get closer to her.

Ciara Geraghty has proven just how wonderful a writer she is, she can quickly adapt herself as a reclusive 39 year old crime writer to a 9 year old trainee lifesaver, in quick succession flowing the two characters beautifully throughout the story, never once confusing the reader.

With one of the prettiest covers of 2012, “Lifesaving For Beginners” is a wonderful triumph of a book.

You can buy Lifesaving for Beginners on Amazon and other good bookshops.