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Victoria Park By Gemma Reeves

Victoria Park‘Victoria Park’ is the latest book by Gemma Reeves.

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.

This book was such a pleasant surprise. When I settled into it, I initially thought it was a story but really it read like a collection of short stories around the residents of Victoria Park over the course of a year. This made for observational and lovely reading, as we joined these people on the different issues and adventures that were impacting their lives.

A lovely thing about each story was the connections from the previous stories with the same characters unaware of the impact that they were making on each other.

The stories focus on many different issues such as dementia, infidelity, fertility and death and each issue is handled with sensitivity and grace. A particular story and character that stood out to me was the first story in the book called ‘Smoking Salmon’ and it features an elderly man called Wolfie and his wife Mona. For me they were the central characters in the book, as they appeared in many other stories and the focus was dementia as Mona battled with the illness and Wolfie was determined not to put her into a home. Wolfie is a gruff character, a pillar of the community with having owned a popular deli but with Mona, he’s kind and never loses patience with her confusion. They regularly regale on their old life, before the illness took hold and it’s lovely to read their life together, their courtship and challenges along the way.

Beautifully and sensitively written that handled many subjects that are so current in our world, ‘Victoria Park’ is an insightful story about community and coming together with a fresh adventure with each story keeping the reader fully engaged.

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

Love Your Life By Sophie Kinsella

Love Your Life‘Love Your Life’ is the latest book by Sophie Kinsella.

Ava is sick of online dating. She’s always trusted her own instincts over an algorithm, anyway, and she wants a break from it all. So when she signs up to a semi-silent, anonymous writing retreat in glorious Italy, love is the last thing on her mind. Until she meets a handsome stranger. . . All she knows is that he’s funny, he’s kind and – she soon learns – he’s great in bed. He’s equally smitten, and after a whirlwind, intoxicating affair, they pledge their love without even knowing each other’s real names. But when they return home, reality hits. They’re both driven mad by each other’s weird quirks and annoying habits, from his eccentric, naked-sauna-loving family to her terribly behaved, shirt-shredding dog. As disaster follows disaster, it seems that while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they overcome their differences to find one life, together?

Sophie is back with an rollercoaster of a story packed with big personalities and hilarious situations.

The story is seen through the narrative of Ava who fed up of online dating and its disasters, so she takes herself away to Italy in a romantic writing retreat and it’s on this retreat that she meets a man called Dutch, who she falls in love with. But the unique thing with the relationship is that, they reveal very little about themselves having fake names Dutch and Aria. But when they are back outside in the real world, Ava and Matt realise that they’re are two completely different people and have to really work at their not so perfect relationship.

From the offset, this book is an enjoyable story, Ava is a passionate and driven character who’s obsessed with finding real love much to the amusement of her friends, but can sometimes come across as quite a flakey character with starting so many projects but never ending them. Her relationship with Matt, once they are back home is completely different. Matt is unhappy with working for the family company whilst Ava is a believer of working for living and not living for working. The couple find themselves battling to adjust to their new lives and this makes for interesting and funny reading.

Like Sophie’s previous books, the characters are a great bunch of personalities from Ava and Matt to their outspoken friends bunch of friends. I particularly liked Nell, she’s a strong, robust character battling Lupus but doesn’t stop the illness from speaking her mind and living her life and Matt’s friend Topher who also wasn’t afraid to speak out. There was also the addition of a buoyant Beagle called Harold, who was the star of the book with his cuteness and disobedient behavior.

Fun and witty from the first page ‘Love Your Life’ is another warmhearted story from Sophie that is packed with laugh loud and tender moments that will have you smiling throughout.

You can buy ‘Love Your Life’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday By Milly Johnson

I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayIf there’s one book that will get you into the spirit of Christmas this year, it’s Milly Johnson’s latest festive offering.

Six people all going to different places are forced to hole up in a small inn on the North Yorkshire Moors. Bridge is meeting her soon to be ex-husband Luke to sign a piece of paper that will officially begin the end of their marriage. She wanted to see him for five minutes tops, because she can’t stand the sight of him. Or is she just afraid to be in his presence for any longer than that because what she feels isn’t the hate she pretends to have for him? Luke is meeting his soon to be ex-wife Bridge for the shortest of meetings. He has moved on from his disastrous marriage to her and the last thing he needs is to be trapped with her for four full days when dangerous old feelings could resurface. Industry boss Jack is on his way to a meeting with a Japanese client who cancels at the last minute. It’s a dratted inconvenience having to spend Christmas with a bunch of strangers. But is it really – for someone who is lonely and craving company? Mary has been in love with her boss Jack for four years and this was her big chance to show him she was flesh and blood not the mere useful equivalent of an office stapler. Now she has four days to show him that he needs her in his personal life… but has that chance come too late? Charlie and Robin are going to Aviemore for a snow-filled, luxury Christmas with all the bells and whistles they can muster. Having to spend it with a group of strangers instead, cooking their own dinner would be a complete and disastrous let down to them… wouldn’t it? Six people – some at peace with themselves, some work in progresses, some lost… all take and give from each other in this festive fun-filled feast. A story packed with broccoli, snowmen, carols, paper chains, mince pies, plum tomatoes and cherries… kindness, wisdom and above all hope.

The story is seen through the perspective of 6 people who are all travelling on a snowy winter’s night. The weather is so torrential that they all pull over in a hotel called Figgy Hollow Inn, that is lying vacant but is completely prepared for Christmas. The 6 people are all at crossroads in their lives but during the 23- 27th December, they become firm friends and come to some realisations about themselves.

Outspoken Bridge is meeting her ex-husband Luke to finally sign their divorce papers, married couple Robin and Charlie were off to Scotland for their Christmas celebrations, whilst businessman Jack and his PA Mary were on their way to an important business trip.

As usual, Milly has produced another book that will literally have you feeling warm and glowing inside. With the magical setting of the Figgy Hollow Inn, it’s festive and welcoming setting as well as the wealth of indulgent food on offer that literally has the reader salivating with each page.

I loved the characters so much and had a connection with each one. Bridge and Luke are a complex couple, after years of arguing and moving on, they’ve finally decided to sign the papers but whilst in Figgy Hollow, they remember the good times when money was less but they still loved each other. These parts make for poignant and warm reading as the couple reflect on old times. Robin and Charlie bicker like a old couple, but there’s a deep love between them even though there’s quite an age age between them. Charlie was the gentleman of the story, exuding charm and wisdom to the party with his gentle nature. Whereas Mary has been in love with her boss for years, but Jack has never seen her in this light, but it seems the magic of Figgy Hollow is making him look at his PA in a new way. The magical setting of Figgy Hollow is making everyone reevaluate their lives as well as the importance of friendship at this time of year.

‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ is another charming story from Milly, delivered with her trademark tenderness, love and wit and is story of hope, magic and new friendships. This book is Christmas wrapped up with a festive bow.

You can buy ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Christmas For Beginners By Carole Matthews

Christmas For Beginners‘Christmas For Beginners’ is Carole Matthews Christmas themed book for 2020.

Christmas is fast approaching at the new Hope Farm. Owner Molly Baker has been convinced to organise an open day to raise some much-needed funds ahead of the New Year, but the nativity tableau is proving challenging. With anti-social sheep, awkward alpacas and a seriously sequined Santa Claus to assemble, Molly is feeling overwhelmed, and in desperate need of some Christmas spirit. Despite the chaos of the farm getting in the way of her event planning, Molly is looking forward to spending the holidays with boyfriend Shelby and his son, Lucas, hopeful that a happy family Christmas is exactly what they need to draw them all together. But while she is busy making plans on the farm, Shelby, it seems, has ideas of his own. As the nativity draws near, the team are working hard to pull off a spectacular festive fete – and make sure the animals and humans remain on their best behaviour. Will this Christmas be merry and bright… or is there more than one surprise in store for Molly and Hope Farm?

If you’re looking for a book that is pure Christmas, then look no further as Carole Matthew’s is back with a warm story of love, friendship and new beginnings.

In this story, we see the return of Molly Baker, who we met in Carole’s previous book called ‘Happiness For Beginners’.

The story is seen through the perspective of Molly as she enjoys life on her farm along with the moody teenage son of her boyfriend Shelby, who she looks up like a son. Shelby is the popular character on a soap series and is always noticed when out and about. When his role is cut from the show, Shelby takes on the role of a villain in the Christmas pantomime and all his time is taken up with rehearsals. Whilst Shelby loves his life in the spotlight, Molly shies away from it and feels at her most happiest at the farm surrounded by friends, the animals whilst getting the farm ready for Christmas along with the help from the new handsome mayor.

I really enjoyed this story, it was warm-hearted and entertaining and was able to get back into easily after returning to read it. Molly is a sweet character and the polar opposite to Shelby who loves the attention whereas she’s at her happiest when she’s up to her wellies in muck. She has a kind heart and spends her time helping others, particularly Luke, who has a troubled relationship with Shelby, but finds solace in Molly’s kind nature.

There are many stories weaved throughout the book, there’s the relationship between Molly and Shelby, Luke finding love for first time as well as Molly getting Hope Farm ready for children who come from troubled backgrounds and suffer from disabilities. The story also touches on difficult subject of domestic violence and the impact it has not only on the adult but also on the children too.

Brimming with warmth and festive fun, Carole’s latest book is another enchanting story from the author. ‘Christmas For Beginners’ is a sweetly and wittily written story of hope, contrary animals and new beginnings.

You can buy ‘Christmas For Beginners’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Just Between Friends By Rosie Nixon

Just Between Friends‘Just Between Friends’ is the latest book by Rosie Nixon.

Aisha Moore is eight months pregnant. She’s thrilled, and a little scared. Not least because her husband Jason hasn’t quite wrapped his head around the fact. Lucy is having her first child too. She has finally got her wish – although the circumstances aren’t quite what she had hoped. Oscar will be a great dad though, won’t he? When the two women join the same baby group, they quickly become friends and before long they’re confiding in each other. Only there’s one thing Lucy hasn’t told Aisha. And while a baby may turn your life upside-down, a secret this big will change everything.

This is the second book that I’ve read by Rosie Nixon and I must admit it was a really interesting and completely different from her previous book called ‘The Stylist’.

The story is seen through the narrative of 2 first time mothers called Aisha and Lucy who meet at a Baby Group and become friends on this shared journey of becoming first time mothers. Aisha is happily married to Jason who’s longed for a child for a number of years, whilst Lucy conceived her baby through IVF whilst being broken up from her partner.

Both women have different stories and are coping differently to the new changes in their lives. It’s fascinating to read they’re perceptions are off each other. Aisha sees Lucy as glamorous and Lucy is envious of how easily Aisha has adapted to motherhood and how placid her baby is compared to Lucy’s little boy.

This book is completely different to Rosie’s previous books, which are always lighthearted and escapist story. ‘Just Between Friends’ is a deep exploration of relationships and there was a sense of suspense and unease that weaved seamlessly through each page.

There’s an underlying twist in the story, that was great to read, I guessed part of it but wasn’t completely right, so that made the book a far from predictable read.

The characters are relatable and interesting to read, as we joined them on their first trip into motherhood. Although the story is primarily a suspense story, there are elements of humour and wit in the story when the women meet for the first time at their baby group. The leader of the class is an outspoken and opinionated character who was prone to shouting “vagina”.

A smart and engaging story that is riddled with drama, secrets and dirty nappies, ‘Just Between Friends’ is a sharp and witty story that made for compelling reading with every snappy chapter.

You can pre-order ‘Just Between Friends’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops from 12th November 2020.