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The Summer Fair By Heidi Swain

The Summer FairThe Summer Fair’ is the latest book by Heidi Swain.

Beth loves her job working in a care home, looking after its elderly residents, but she doesn’t love the cramped and dirty house-share she currently lives in. So, when she gets the opportunity to move to Nightingale Square, sharing a house with the lovely Eli, she jumps at the chance. The community at Nightingale Square welcomes Beth with open arms, and when she needs help to organise a fundraiser for the care home they rally round. Then she discovers The Arches, a local creative arts centre, has closed and the venture to replace it needs their help too – but this opens old wounds and past secrets for Beth.Music was always an important part of her life, but now she has closed the door on all that. Will her friends at the care home and the people of Nightingale Square help her find a way to learn to love it once more…?

For the last couple of days I’ve been reading the latest book by Heidi and even though I’m miserable and dosed with the cold, this book made me smile.

The story is seen through Beth, a carer an elderly person’s house who’s tired of living with people who take her kindness for granted. So when the opportunity arises to move into a beautiful cottage in Nightingale Square, she picks up her house plants and embarks on a new journey, along with handsome new lodger as well as a promotion in the nursing home. Beth is the absolute star of this story, she’s caring with a huge heart and has been carrying a heavy burden since the tragic loss of her mother. She’s deeply loved by the residents and staff in the nursing home and it makes for touching reading, as she arranges activities to get them entertained and see them reignite their lust for life. Whilst her housemate Elijah has also brought back her passion for music, something she has struggled with. Together the pair of them face fears and form a strong bond and this makes for wonderfully uplifting reading.

Once again, Heidi has delivered another beautifully written story that is bursting with warmth, heart and charm. Filled with hope and new beginnings, Beth’s journey made for tender reading as she embraced new challenges and put old ghosts to bed.

It was also wonderful to return to Nightingale Square and feel that sense of community as well as see them old faces from other books by Heidi.

Beautifully descriptive with warm characters, kind souls and a story to get lost in, ‘The Summer Fair’ was a joy to read and the perfect tonic.

You can pre-order ‘The Summer Fair’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 12th May 2022.

Someone I Used To Know By Paige Toon

Someone I Used To Know‘Someone I Used To Know’ is the latest book by Paige Toon.

At fifteen, George is the foster brother Leah never asked for. As the angry, troubled boy struggles to come to terms with his circumstances, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him. Theo’s wealthy family have mysteriously pulled him out of boarding school and he’s now enrolled at the local state school with Leah and George. When their worlds collide that summer, the three teenagers form a bond they believe will be unbreakable. But life doesn’t always go to plan. Shocking news brings Leah back to Yorkshire, baby daughter in tow. But Emilie’s father Theo isn’t with them, and George has unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, have they healed the scars of their pasts? Will coming back home set their hearts in a different direction?

I spent one Saturday tucked up with the latest book by Paige and it was the perfect way to spend a few hours.

The story is seen through the narrative of Leah and is written in the past and present tense. The past is when she is 15 and 2 new boys are introduced into her life. Her parents are foster parents and bring George into their home and Leah and George becomes unlikely friends and she offers a bit of stability and comfort to his life. Theo, the posh rich kid joins their school and the duo become a trio and Leah becomes conflicted as to who owns her heart. Now many years later George is back in their lives after disappearing and Leah has a little girl with Theo and is trying to deal with a new life but the same emotions.

You know when you sit down with a Paige Toon book, there are always three essentials to get you through it. Tea, chocolate and tissues because always at some point there will be some reveal that will break your heart and only these three essentials will help and ‘Someone I Used To Know’ is no different.

I loved Leah, her easy adaptation to new children coming into their lives as well as being an older sibling. She’s’ a strong woman who’s been through a lot and I really enjoyed reading her journey. Her own struggle with grief but also having two best friends that were going through stuff and she was there for both of them. I must admit I really did like George, with his kind soul and spirit. Paige has a wonderful knack of writing the ideal man in her books, deliciously handsome, charismatic and 9 times out of 10, I also fall for them!

I also admired her parents for their kindness for giving so many children a better start in life, offering them security in their unstable world.

This book is a life affirming and uplifting story that really made for tender and poignant reading and I genuinely never wanted it to end. Oozing with heart, charm and nostalgia, ‘Someone I Used To Know’ is a beautifully written and heartbreaking story about love, loss and family and is a must for read for all Paige Toon fans.

You can buy ‘Someone I Used To Know’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Ghosts By Dolly Alderton

Ghosts‘Ghosts’ is the debut novel by Dolly Alderton.

Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan. A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

‘Ghosts’ is Dolly’s debut novel even though she’s already published a book called ‘Everything I Know About Love’ and has a regular newspaper column.

‘Ghosts’ is seen through the narrative of Nina, who like many other females in the world is adapting to life as a singleton as everyone is pairing up around her. Her career as a food writer is going from strength from strength and just as her relationship with Max starts to develop, he disappears, ghosting her. Her father is battling dementia and disappears into his own world but already remembers Nina as his ‘Bean’.

This book is a powerful story and one that many will wholeheartedly relate to. The surprise and disappointment of online dating, finding the one only for them to let you know and to be judged on your status in life, married, children and if not, why not?

I loved Nina, I loved her independence and passion and how she was always there for others, no matter how they treated or disregarded her. I adored her best friend Lola, who was looking for happy ever after and was determined to find it, no matter how long she stayed on WhatsApp.

I loved the dynamics of the female relationships, how women behaved differently towards single women as if they were preying on their husbands and genuinely found this to be true of real life. I found the scene with Nina’s parents to be hard hitting as her mother dealt with her husband’s dementia by engaging now with friends to escape the pain, whilst Nina struggled with seeing her father become a different person. These scenes are hard hitting and emotional in parts and did make for quite tender reading.

Beautifully written and sadly relatable, ‘Ghosts’ is a poignant and bittersweet story about getting old, looking for love and finding your place in life. Filled with humour, cynicism and nostalgia for what has been, this book brought back all kinds of feelings and was truly a masterpiece of a read.

You can buy ‘Ghosts’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase By Jane Riley

Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase‘Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase’ is the latest book by Jane Riley.

Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone. He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months. It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified. Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose. As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.

Although this book is a story of loss and grief, it’s delivered in such a upbeat and quirky style that I was immediately absorbed in this story.

The story is seen through the narrative of young at heart Geraldine Verne, who’s struggling with the loss of her husband. So much so that keeps his possessions and ashes in a red suitcase that she wheels around with her. A once vibrant character, she’s become reclusive and avoids company until one day after having an accident, her friend called Len Goodman sets her up with Meals on Wheels so she can be looked after whilst he’s away on a cruise. Geraldine becomes friends with Lottie, one of the meal delivery ladies and although there’s over 30 years of difference in age between the 2, they become friends and share a mutual share of grief. As Lottie deals with a relationship breakup and Geraldine deals with no longer having Jack in her life.

I loved this story, it’s warm-hearted, funny and tender and made for really sweet reading. Geraldine is a great character, she’s eccentric and vibrant and as much as loves company finds it hard to talk to people without Jack no longer being at her side. It’s lovely to read her and Lottie’s interactions, as Lottie gently coaxes her into getting back into the world and help Geraldine rediscover her lust for life. To help her deal with her grief, Jack leaves a puzzle for Geraldine to solve and this makes her feel that he’s still with her and this makes for sweet reading as she discovers letters and clues from her true love. One addition that made for interesting reading was Jack’s passion with butterflies and it made for fascinating reading at the variation of the species.

‘Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase’ is a poignant and fun story about love, loss and letting go.

You can buy ‘Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances by Stephen Anthony Brotherton

Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances‘Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances by Stephen Anthony Brotherton’ is the latest book by Stephen Anthony Brotherton.

“This is my story of first love, but it is told through the eyes of two fictional characters, Freddie and Jo\-Jo. My life, like Freddie’s, was fractured by my dad’s death when I was seven years of age. As a teenager, at the end of the 1970s, I had a first love relationship that I dreamed would last a lifetime. My partner, like Jo\-Jo, was strong, independent and had her perfect world dreams, but she was haunted by her own fractures. In 1980 a heartbreaking event killed our love and, for us, there has been no reunion. But I’ve always wondered, what if? This book explores that possibility. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo\-Jo’s fractures, their teenage romance, their lives apart and their attempt to reignite their love after being separated for over three decades.

You can buy ‘Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances’ from Amazon and is available from good bookshops.