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1 June 2017

Review: 'The Bluebell Bunting Society' by Poppy Dolan (2017)

At twenty-nine, Connie isn’t quite where she thought she’d be. When her beloved gran died Connie returned to Hazelhurst, the village she grew up in, and took over her gran’s old job as caretaker at the village hall. It might not be the stuff of dreams, but Connie loves working at Bluebell Hall – the heart of the community fuelled by copious cups of tea.

So when Bluebell Hall is threatened with closure, Connie is determined not to let greedy property developers get their hands on it. She hatches a plan bonkers enough that it just might work. All it takes is a needle and thread, scraps of old material and willing hands.

Can Connie convince the people of Hazelhurst that their village hall is worth saving? And will she save herself in the process…?

I can’t quite believe it, but the moment has finally arrived: it’s time for my very last book review on this blog! Ever since I made the decision to stop blogging a few months ago, I’ve been both looking forward and dreading this moment. I’ve loved having my own book blog, but at a certain point it was simply taking up too much of my time and I couldn’t combine it anymore with my life and full-time job. I’m incredibly happy I managed to reach the last book on my to-review pile, making sure I’ve honoured all review requests I’ve received over the past few months. So, here we go… One more review to share with all of you, and one more set of spoons to give away!

Twenty-something Connie loved her grandmother, and when she passed away Connie immediately returned to the town of Hazelhurst, where she grew up, to take over her grandmother’s responsibilities as caretaker at the local Bluebell Hall. Connie has come to love her job as caretaker, but unfortunately the hall has seen better days. A lot of maintenance work needs to be done and there are certainly not as many visitors these days as there used to be in the past. When Connie discovers the hall is under threat of being closed, she decides to do everything in her power to stop this from happening. With the help of her friends and the Bluebell Bunting Society, Connie is determined to save her grandmother’s legacy, but will it be enough…?

‘The Bluebell Bunting Society’ was actually my very first Poppy Dolan read. I straight away liked the colourful book cover (it reminds me of sunny days and that lovely holiday feeling) and the description promised a lovely story, which I’m glad to say it was! Connie is a great main character; I found myself rooting for her and her mission to save Bluebell Hall straight away, but was also curious to learn more about her, since it is quite clear she’s struggling with what it is she wants to do in life and whether her job as the caretaker is really what she was meant to do. There are some great secondary characters in the story as well (such as Connie’s best friend Steve and his wife Lucy, and new mum Flip), even though I did feel we didn’t get to read as much about the secondary characters as I personally would have liked. However, this obviously also has to do with the fact that the read is quite a short one, with just 200 pages, while it could also have made a great full-length novel, I think.

I’m a sucker for reads that have that lovely comfy village and community feel at its core, and that is definitely the case with this read. All the people in the village of Hazelhurst come together to try and save Bluebell Hall, and I just loved that aspect of the story. The read was a bit slow-paced at times, in my opinion, but I still really enjoyed it and it has certainly made me want to check out more of author Poppy Dolan’s work in the future. All in all, ‘The Bluebell Bunting Society’ is a warm, light and cozy read that is great to pick up on a sunny day when you have a few free hours to yourself. A recommended read for any chick lit fans out there, or if you’re just looking for a read that will cheer you up!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

28 May 2017

Review: 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier' by Sandy Taylor (2017)

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again. 

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin. 

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart. The man she cherishes with all her heart is leaving. 

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. With Jack no longer by her side and Nelson at war, Maureen has never felt more alone. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of?

Last year I was introduced to author Sandy Taylor when I received a review copy of her novel 'The Girls from See Saw Lane', the first part of her Brighton Girls Trilogy. I really thoroughly enjoyed the novel (click here to read my review) and was already looking forward to the other instalments. I haven't been able to read the second part, 'Counting Chimneys', but I did manage to get a review copy of the third and final part, 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier', which was released by publisher Bookouture in March 2017. As soon as I saw the book on NetGalley I had to request a review copy, not just because I was curious to read more by Sandy Taylor, but I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous title and cover. I really love the title, especially; it's gorgeous and I really hoped the story inside would manage to match it...!

Set mainly in the 1930s, Maureen O'Connoll grows up in the city of Brighton. Her father takes care of her and her younger sister Brenda, while their mother goes to work to take care of her family. Luckily Maureen also has her good friends Jack, Nelson and Monica with whom she experiences all kinds of things. As they grow up, the friends go through a lot, but at the core of it all Maureen continues to believe in the love for Jack she has felt since she first laid eyes on him; the two of them are meant to be together, no matter what. But when the Second World War looms, the future is no longer certain for any of them; will Maureen and her family and friends make it out alive, and what exactly does the war and life in general have in store for them?

After reading 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier' I can say with certainty that author Sandy Taylor is definitely a born storyteller. Just like with the first instalment of her Brighton Girls Trilogy, 'The Girls from See Saw Lane', I was immediately intrigued by the characters in the novel and captivated by their story until the very end. Sandy Taylor really manages to find the right balance between dialogue and scene setting, and mastered the art of writing a truly compelling war time story that will make you both smile and perhaps even shed a tear here and there. Maureen, Jack, Nelson, Brenda, Monica... The book is filled with characters that all have something to add to the story, and I loved learning more about them and their lives.

Even though this novel is the third part of a trilogy, I do not think it is necessary to read all books before picking up this one; it can definitely be read as a stand-alone, in my opinion. As with most war time stories, the novel deals with quite a few serious and sad issues, but at the same time the author managed to add a layer of fun to the story, and she really combines the different factors and emotions in a convincing way. I'm definitely adding Sandy Taylor to my list of authors to watch, and if you love war time fiction and haven't checked out one of her novels yet, I urge you to do so. Overall, 'When We Danced at the End of the Pier' is a captivating and emotional war time story about friendship, family, love and how to get through difficult times together; a great read!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

25 May 2017

Review: 'Summer at the Little Wedding Shop' by Jane Linfoot (2017)

The third book in the bestselling series, ‘The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’.

Summer fun comes to Brides by the Sea and there’s love in the Cornish sea breeze as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?

I'm so glad author Jane Linfoot contacted me a few weeks ago with the question whether I was interested to review the third part of her lovely series about the Little Wedding Shop by the Sea. Both Jane and her novels have been some of my favourites during the past few years, and even though I actually stopped accepting book review requests because I'm closing down the blog, I couldn't possibly say no to her. When I read 'The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea' I immediately loved everything about it and I'm so glad to have been given the chance to check out this third and latest instalment of the series. I was more than ready to dive back into the world of weddings and once again meet up with some familiar faces...!

Wedding dress shop Brides by the Sea is doing better than ever, and when boss Jess decides to open a special section for styling weddings she immediately knows whom she wants as her stylist. Lily is mainly used to working with flowers, but as she finds herself out of a job she decided to take Jess' offer with both hands and make the best of it. But then Kip Penryn, a familiar face from Lily's past, unexpectedly shows up in Cornwall and sets up a rival wedding business in a gorgeous country mansion down the road. Without even a second to worry about her new job, Lily is sent to investigate and check out the enemy; what are Kip's plans and how will this affect Lily and her friends and their wedding business...?

As soon as I picked up this novel I knew Jane Linfoot wouldn't let me down, and as expected: she didn't! 'Summer at the Little Wedding Shop' is the third part of this book series, published by Harper Impulse, and it's a series I honestly can't get enough of. The first part already made me fall in love with Brides by the Sea (the wedding shop that's central to the story), the different characters (Poppy, Sera, Jess, Rafe, Immie, Lily...), the setting and the engaging and simply great storylines. The second part of the series was just as great, and I can say the third part follows the exact same line. While the novel can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend starting at the beginning of the series, because you won't be disappointed (especially if you're a chick lit fan).

This novel focuses on Lily, who is a great and easily likeable main character, and some handsome man candy is added to the novel in the form of Kip Penryn. I loved the fun banter between Kip and Lily and felt myself rooting for them from the start. There were several different aspects to the story and I really loved how the pace of the book was great and all the different storylines kept me captivated and entertained at all times. All in all, I think 'Summer at the Little Wedding Shop' is a simply fabulous, sweet and delightful wedding-filled story by author Jane Linfoot; a fantastic third part of this series, and the only thing left for me to say is: when can we expect part four...?! 
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher & author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.