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Songs In Ursa Major By Emma Brodie

Songs In Ursa MajorWith a beautiful and vibrant cover ‘Songs In Ursa Major’ is the debut novel by Emma Brodie.

From the moment Jane Quinn steps barefoot onto the main stage at Island Folk festival, her golden hair glinting, her voice soaring into the summer dusk, a star is born – and so is a passionate love story. Jane’s band hits the road with none other than Jesse Reid, the musician whose bright blue eyes are setting hearts alight everywhere. And as the summer streaks by in a haze of crowds, wild nights and magenta sunsets, Jane is pulled into the orbit of Jesse’s star. But Jesse’s rise could mean Jane’s fall. And when she discovers a dark secret beneath his music, she picks up her guitar and writes her heartache into the album that could make or break her: Songs in Ursa Major.

Set in the folk/rock music scene of the 1960/70’s, this story is loosely based on the great love affair between Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. Jane Quinn is the face of the Breakers, a musician who can sing as well as play instruments, she catches the eye of rockstar Jesse Reid when her band ends up playing his set. The pair share a mutual bond for music and begin an affair whilst touring together and Jane’s becomes more successful and recognised for her performing and songwriting skills.

The story is well written and feels very authentic of this era and it’s obvious that Emma is a huge music fan with the level of the knowledge that is applied to the story. The story not only focuses on the rise of Jane’s stardom, her relationship with Jesse but also the music industry and how it’s perceived to a female artist, the misogyny and the sexism. I loved the characters in the story, both Jane and Jesse are battling their own personal demons and this is probably what makes them such accomplished writers and why their connection is so strong. Jane has never fully recovered from her mother leaving her family and she also was a songwriter but Jane is a strong woman raised in a family of strong women who do not marry, nor do they rely on men. The book focuses on the mental health and substance abuse attached to the rock and roll lifestyle of this time and parts of this makes for sad reading as people battled addictions.

For music lovers, this book is a must read, hazy, romantic and full of sass, ‘Songs In Ursa Major’ is an accomplished debut that made for intoxicating reading from the first page.

You can buy ‘Songs In Ursa Major’ 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.

Home By Penny Parkes

Home‘Home’ is the latest book by Penny Parkes.

Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives – caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously. But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start. Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.

I haven’t read many books by Penny, so when I was offered the chance to read her latest book, I was delighted.

The story is seen through the eyes of house sitter and budding writer Anna Wilson. With no permanent roots or place to call home, she looks after other people’s houses when they travel. Having spent her life in and out of foster homes, she has never known a home but decides now is the time to finally face up to her family’s past and finally see if she can finally put pen to paper and write the story that she’s always dreamt of telling.

I loved this story, it was beautifully written, impactful and tender in parts that really made for lovely reading. I loved Anna, she’s kind, caring and has never known a proper home, so doesn’t know what it would feel like to have one. After a traumatic childhood, she’s always on the run, never settling down and she treats her adult life like her childhood living in one bag and always ready for the next upheaval.

Although her job is admirable and exciting visiting luxurious houses and friendly pets that provided company, there was an underlying sadness to the story with Anna not having a permanent address.

The story is written in past and present tense, Anna as an adult and as a child. The reflections back to her younger self made for sad reading, as she had finally found herself a home, only for it to taken away and how she drifts from pillar to post without proper connection to her blood family.

Penny writes sensitively about the concept home, how it’s not only about the four walls that you live in, but it’s also the feeling you get when you close the door. The sense of calm and protection and your own wee world away from the chaos of the world.

With an absolutely stunning cover and storyline that really struck a chord, ‘Home’ is a clever and warm story about visiting old ghosts and making new friends that is both uplifting and heartbreaking in equal measures.

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

Pug Actually By Matt Dunn

Pug Actually‘Pug Actually’ is the latest book by Matt Dunn.

Loyal rescue pug Doug wants his adoring owner Julie to find unconditional love and happiness – and he knows she won’t find either in the arms of Luke, her married boss. Doug is terrified that Julie will become a lonely cat-lover if she stays single too long, but he can’t let her fall for any more of Luke’s empty promises. Julie needs to move on – and Doug is convinced that Tom, a newly divorced V-E-T, is perfect for her (despite his questionable occupation). There’s just one problem: Julie and Tom can’t stand each other. Doug doesn’t quite understand the quirks and complexities of human relationships, but he won’t let that get in the way of his mission to bring Tom and Julie together. After all, being a ‘rescue’ works both ways.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the delight of reading a book by Matt Dunn. So when I was offered a chance to read his latest book, I jumped at the chance.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Doug, a rescued Pug who has a good instinct and sense of smell. He loves his owner Julie and dislikes her boyfriend, a married man called Luke who’s just stringing Julie along and when they finally break up. Doug is delighted as this is the perfect time for Julie to find someone else and uses his match making skills to pair Julie up with a man called Tom and even though he’s a V-E-T, Doug thinks they’re perfect for each other.

I adored this book, it’s a cute and quirky love story that instantly brought a smile to my face. Having the narrative seen through the eyes of a Pug made for adorable reading as we saw the world through this tiny dogs’ eyes and how he wanted to put his owners world to right. He’s witty, fun and always up for a walk even when his little legs are tired. I loved how he saw the goodness in Tom and confronted his fear of the vets as well as getting himself attacked purely for Julie to spend some time with Tom.

I liked Julie, she lacked confidence and didn’t see herself worthy of love or full time relationships and was content with the short morsels that Luke threw at, she finds solace in drink and it was lovely to see her grow in confidence and begin to warm to Tom. Luke was extremely dislikable and I loved Doug’s interactions with Luke as their dislike was evident from the very start. The story doesn’t just focus on Julie’s relationships but also her dad’s, who’s also still grieving the wife he lost many years ago.

It was lovely to sink back in a book by Matt as his books always bring a smile to my face and they are so cleverly written. upbeat story about love, moody cats and a kind Pug called Doug, ‘Pug Actually’ is a pawsome story that was deliciously fun and filled with warmth and wit.

You can buy ‘Pug Actually’ from Amazon.

The Mix Up By Holly McCullough

The Mix Up‘The Mix Up’ is the latest book by Holly McCullough.

Paige might bake wedding cakes for a living but that doesn’t mean she’s dreaming about her own perfect day. Far from it. Trusting people is hard after she was badly let down by her family and boyfriend just when she needed them most. And to make things worse, her ex has just walked into her bakery with his new fiancée. Needing a little no-strings-attached fun, Paige goes to a party where her friend knows just the guy – the guy in the black top. There’s just one problem. There are two men wearing black tops. Noah was meant to be her perfect distraction…instead, he wants more than just a bit of fun. But could the wrong guy turn out to be the right choice?

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Paige. An up and coming baker who’s been asked to bake a wedding cake for her ex-boyfriend and his wife to be. To help deal with this heartache, she takes her friend’s advice and decides to get back out there and meets Noah, a handsome and fun ENT who unfortunately would like something a bit more serious then what Paige was looking for.

I loved this story, it was heartwarming, funny and had such a lovely protagonist that I immediately sunk into this story.

I loved Paige, she’s a relatable character who’s been heartbroken and really doesn’t value her worth. Her best friend is constantly telling her how great she is, but Paige still doubts herself and keeps people at a distance to avoid more headache. Even though her ex Chris, treated her terribly, Paige feels his behaviour is justified and to be honest it makes for hard reading when you discover what he did. Before the big revelation, I already didn’t like Chris, so this was intensified by the end of the book. I loved Noah, he’s fun, caring and even though Paige pushes him away, he’s determined to stay.

A sweetly written story that blooms beautifully as our leading lady grows in confidence and lets people get close to her, ‘The Mix Up’ is a tender and romantic comedy about love, friendship and facing fears.

You can buy ‘The Mix Up’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.