I read this book just after Christmas. I loved the two protagonists, Hannah and Nico, and their story had me glued to the pages. Here’s the blurb from Amazon…
A sparkling Christmas read from the Sunday Times bestseller – perfect to snuggle up with this winter!
Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.
But fate is keeping them apart…
As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.
When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?
My Brief Review
Oh my goodness, this story blew me away. I loved Nico and his kids and really wanted him to find his happy ever after with Hannah from the moment they were together on the page. Fate keeps getting in the way of these two people who are so clearly made for each other.
The locations were wonderfully described, both in Stockholm and the UK.
It was impossible to put this book down. It had plenty of fun but also heartfelt moments that had me secretly crying into my pillow. One of my favourite reads of 2020.
This is a 5 star read, and one you don’t have to wait to read at Christmas. Pick it up now I say!
Note – after reading this story I see there are other books set in Middledip. It clearly works as a standalone as I didn’t feel I was missing anything. And now I’m excited to read the other books set in Middledip and start a new adventure.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy
I plan to read at least 20 books in 2021. I’ve already finished off one book from last year, so that’s 19 to go. A review of Sue Moorcroft’s Christmas Wishes will follow soon. Here’s a spoiler though – it’s a 5 star read!
Here is my reading plan so far. There are 550 books on my TBR, so I still have plenty of others to choose from. I am a mood reader, so it will be interesting to see if I stick to this list.
Raven Storm – book 3. I’ve just started this and I’m really enjoying getting back into the Fire Walker series by Emma Miles.
Some of my next fantasy reads will hopefully be…
I like to read a paperback and kindle book at the same time, so the paperback I’m currently reading is another Jo Thomas – A Winter Beneath the Stars. 50 pages in, so far so good.
These are a few more that I want to read very soon.
I still have some non-fiction books I want to read too.
That will do for now…
What are your reading plans for 2021?
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy
2020 was a good reading year for me. I set my goal on Goodreads as 15 but I managed to read 30. I haven’t reviewed many of these books, but I hope to do a better job this year.
I love reading people’s wrap up book posts, so I thought I would share my own. Hopefully this will make up for the fact I haven’t done many reviews through 2020.
Daevabad trilogy by S.A Chakraborty – 5 stars. I loved everything about this series. Imaginative, unusual, great setting, wonderful characters. I hope Chakraborty has a new book out soon, definitely up there with my favourite authors.
Firewalker Series by Emma Miles – 5 star series so far. I loved the first two books in the series and plan to make book 3 one of my first reads for 2021. Here’s my review of the series so far.
Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso. A cool start to a Urban Fantasy series that I hope to continue with this year. Here’s my review.
Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine. Last book in the Great Library books and I loved it. 5 stars across the whole series! Don’t know why I didn’t get around to reviewing it. My goodreads review;
The perfect end to the series. I loved reading these books over the last few years but feel it reached a natural and very satisfying conclusion. I imagine the characters having the happy ever after they deserve, at least for a little while!
Origins – Summoner series by Taran Matharu – Enjoyable and quick origin story for younger readers. It entertained me at the time though I’m ashamed to admit I don’t remember much of it. I know my son loved the series a few years ago, so it might be worth revisiting one day.
The Last Wish by Andrezej Sapkowski – I loved the Witcher series on Netflix and although this was a good introduction to the books, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping too.
As I started writing a romance series myself in 2020, I challenged myself to read as many romances as I could. I’ve read some really great books but again haven’t reviewed as many as I would like.
Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas. Another fantastic romance by Jo Thomas. My review.
The Chestnut Tree by Jo Thomas. A sweet novella with Jo Thomas’ usual magic.
Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley. Not a bad read, kept me entertained but I didn’t love it.
The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet. Pretty good read.
Meet me at Beachcomer Bay by Jill Mansell. Very enjoyable story and I will be reading more of Jill Mansell’s books.
Katie’s Cornish Kitchen by Rosie Chambers – Another enjoyable romance that I highly recommend.
Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas – A heart-warming Christmas story. Maybe not quite as great as Jo’s other books but still very, very good!
Children of Sinai by Shelley Clarke – As I state in my review, this is a hard book to put into a category. It is well worth a read though. Check out my review here.
Operation Dawn Wolf by G.J. Stevens. This was a fast paced read, very gripping. Here’s my review.
White Knight, Black Swan – Ross Harding (David Gemmell fantasy legend!) A thriller by the great fantasy author David Gemmell. Despite it not being fantasy, it was still a great read.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. I was surprisingly hooked by this book. It is worth a read.
I got really into my non-fiction books towards the end of 2020 and read quite a few on the craft of writing. They are all good and worth a read. I hope to share a bit more of a review on them in the future. For now, here are the covers to show what I’ve been reading…
Nigel by Monty Don – Lovely book about the dogs in Monty’s life. A tearjerker if you’re an animal person.
Astronomy by Patrick Moore – A research book for my Starlight Prophecy series though it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.
And that’s it as far as I can tell. It has been great to look back over my reads and it has inspired me to keep going through 2021. I’ve set my reading goal to 20. Who knows how the year will pan out. I am hoping to do a lot more writing this year and that is more important than anything else right now.
Happy reading and I look forward to sharing more books with you very soon.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any favourites?
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy
This is another great read from Jo Thomas. She is one of my favourite romance writers and her books never fails to make me feel emotional!
Can Del find her recipe for happiness?
Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie.
Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? After discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?
A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence. Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.
The story starts as Del prepares to leave France with her husband but she realises their relationship is broken and she decides to stay on alone. It’s a very brave thing to do, especially where all her stuff is already on its way back to England!
Del is a strong character even if she doesn’t always see that about herself. I love being in her world, watching as she learns to trust herself and be self reliant.
The people in the nearby town make her feel welcome and she settles into her new life, finding friendship and possibly more in the process. She helps others, in particular a young mum along the way. These growing friendships really make the story something special.
The details of the farmhouse and the lavender are so immersive. I also love the details of the cooking. Del uses her love of baking to start providing for herself, incorporating the lavender from her farm into everything she cooks. Be warned, this book can make you hungry. Helpfully there are a few recipes at the back of the book, which is a nice little touch.
The chapters are very short and always draw you into the next. Many times I said to myself I’ll just read one more chapter only to find another half and hour had passed without me even realising.
If you like to be transported to beautiful places and enjoy heart-warming and feel good stories, then give Escape to the French Farmhouse a try.
I’ve just reached my reading target for 2020, four months early! Ok, so I only set it at 15, but I have been really enjoying reading again and have to say the standard of the books has been so high. I’ve read a mix of fantasy, romance, spy-thrilllers and urban fantasy, plus a non-fiction book and a bio by Monty Don – Nigel.
What I’ve recently read
Book 1 and 2 S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy. I plan to do a trilogy review as soon as I’ve finished book 3, which I was kindly given a copy of via Netgalley.
During lockdown I’ve been taken with the idea of writing some Romance novellas so I’ve decided to always have a romance book on the go. I’m currently reading…
Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley.
and I’m almost finished reading Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas. It is such a lovely read and I’ll be sad to finish it.
As mentioned above, I’m reading book 3 in Daevabad trilogy, Empire of Gold. I hope to finish this asap and get the reviews up for all 3 books. It’s a such a brilliant series that I can’t wait to tell you about it.
What I plan to read over the next few months
My book group have chosen Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I’ve been wanting to read this for the last few years so I’m looking forward to digging in before the end of September.
I would like to catch up with the next Carrie Harris book by GJ Stevens. I read the prequel a few months ago and couldn’t put it down. See my review here.
I also have plans to read some non-fiction books as research for my writing. Now the kids have returned to school I’m wondering if I’ll have more time on my hands to tackle these books;
I’d also like to revisit some non-fiction books I read last year and put into action their suggestions and hopefully review them this time!
By the end of the year I hope to support some of my fellow fantasy indie authors. I’ll share those books in another blog post in support of #Selfpubfantasymonth.
I think that is plenty of reading to be getting on with. Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR?
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy
Today I’d like to share my review of Art and Soul by Claire Huston. To briefly explain my feelings for this book – I had to ban myself from reading it at night because I just couldn’t stop reading to go to sleep!
There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…
Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.
So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.
Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?
A heart-warming romance about second chances perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Phillipa Ashley and Cathy Kelly.
(I’m experimenting and going back to my old review style, so let me know what you think.)
I felt an immediate connection with the main characters Becky and Charlie. The story is told skilfully from both their viewpoints and has lots of side characters that bring colour and warmth to the story.
Becky is a life-fixer and is brought in to help reclusive artist Charlie rediscover his muse for painting and set his life back on track whilst trying to deal with her own single parent struggles. She can work miracles with other people, and is almost like a guardian angel working in the background, but has her own difficulties and hang ups from past events that get in the way of her finding her own happiness.
What I like
It was great to read a story about a life fixer. It’s something different and I think we can agree that we all need a bit of Becky’s magical touch in our lives!
I also loved how Becky is a single parent struggling to work and raise her young son. It’s not the usual set up for a romance story and it was refreshing.
What I didn’t like
It’s one of those books where there really isn’t anything that I had an issue with. The ending could have been a tiny bit more dramatic maybe but it was still satisfying, enjoyable and choked me up so you really can’t ask for much more from a story.
I cannot go into details and risk spoilers but I will say I was left with happy feeling at the end of this novel. There were ups and downs throughout that kept you guessing but in the end it was a great conclusion to the story. It left me wanting to keep reading and being in their lives!
This is Claire Huston’s debut novel, though it reads like a book from a well-established author who has honed her craft. She’s an author I look forward to reading more from.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a feel good romance. Star rating 4.5
I have been very quiet on my blog and social media lately and I don’t really have any excuses other than I just haven’t been feeling the drive to write anything. However, looking back over my reading year has inspired me to share with you a few of my favourite things from 2018.
Starting with TV shows. We recently binge watched both seasons of Sneaky Pete and loved them. Roll on season 3.
Then along came Lucifer…
Wow, I can honestly say I have never been so affected by a TV show before. We’ve just watched the last couple of episodes of season 3 and I really don’t know what I’ll do while I’m waiting for season 4. To think they almost didn’t make it at all! How could they even consider leaving the fans with such a cliff hanger… forever?
Lucifer has everything you could want in a show – emotion, comedy, romance, friendship, fun, action, murder, mystery, and Tom Ellis is a wickedly sexy and camp devil that I adore. I’ve never been one for angels and demons etc, but I think I’m going to try some books along this theme. Any recommendations?
A final word about Lucifer; if it can grip my 14-year-old son’s attention, who would normally rather game on his Xbox ahead of eating and sleeping, then anyone should be able to enjoy the show.
Favourite film this year…
Venom – This is the easiest one to call as I loved this film so much that I wanted to stay in the cinema and watch the next showing. I can’t wait to watch it with the family when it comes out on DVD, only a month to go!
Tom Hardy was excellent and really, what more is there to say. Action, laughs, adventure, love…
I’ve just discovered Halestorm, and wow does Lizzy have the most incredible voice or what? One of her songs has given me the inspiration I’ve needed to get on with book 3 in my Silent Sea Chronicles series. ‘I am the Fire’ is an amazing song and it reflects the book cover for The Sentinel’s Alliance, which I hope to reveal soon.
Books of 2018
I just about completed my reading challenge on Goodreads, managing 35 books which was the target I set myself. Only 2 of those are audiobooks, which is a surprise as in 2017 I think I listened to quite a few.
I discovered a new favourite author this year – Maria V Snyder. The two books of hers that I read, Poison Study and Magic Study were my favourite fantasy reads this year. I was totally gripped by the characters and the story, and I’m so pleased to see that she has quite a few more books written in this world.
I’ve read a couple this year but the most inspiring one has been Take off your Pants by Libbie Hawker. It’s all about outlining novels, something I have struggled with in the past. I have lots of ideas but no idea where they are going. This guide lays out a way to outline your book and keep the pace exciting. I hope to do a proper review of the book once I’ve used the method fully. In the meantime, I really recommend giving the book a go. Goodreads link.
I’m surprised to see that I haven’t read many thrillers this year. My favourite is by my writing hero fantasy author, David Gemmell. Rhyming Rings isn’t on the same level as his fantasy books were, but it’s still a great page-turning read and you care for these characters, which is a skill of David Gemmell’s I’ve always admired.
I like to read a couple of romance books a year and this year I’ve really been spoilt with the quality of those I’ve chosen. They’ve all been excellent but if I have to pick a favourite I think I will go with The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick. Here is my review. I cannot sum up the story any better than Elizabeth Buchan does on the cover… Just read it!
I’ve really enjoyed sharing my favourite reads from the last year, though these are not the books I planned to read during 2018. In fact I’d say my plan last year was an epic fail. I had good intentions of finishing a few trilogies and didn’t manage to complete any of them. It’s not that I don’t want to read them, I think it’s because I’m a mood reader and quite often pick my next read on the spur of the moment. Maybe in 2019 I’ll just see what takes my fancy and not put pressure on myself.
What do you think of my choices? Have you read any of these books or watched Lucifer and Venom?
Join me again when I review my writing year and achievements of 2018.
This is a quick review because I just have to share this book with you all. First as always here’s the blurb from goodreads…
Escape to Italy with THE OLIVE BRANCH. The irresistibly romantic new novel from Jo Thomas, award-winning author of ebook runaway bestseller THE OYSTER CATCHER.
It’s amazing what you can buy online these days:
A crumbling Italian farmhouse…
After a Prosecco-fuelled girls’ night in gets out of hand, Ruthie Collins awakes to discover that she has bid for her dream Italian home online – and won. Recently out of a relationship, a new start is just what Ruthie needs. Anything is better than sleeping on her mum’s settee.
But arriving in Southern Italy, Ruthie doesn’t know the first thing about running an olive farm. And with new neighbours, the tempestuous Marco Bellanouvo and his fiery family to contend with, all Ruthie wants is to go back home.
Life can change with the click of a mouse. But all good things – friendship, romance, and even the olive harvest – take time to grow. Can Ruthie finally put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way? Goodreads
The Olive Branch drew me in from the first page and I couldn’t stop reading or thinking about it. It had me laughing and crying, and wishing for my own adventure in Italy.
This is the second book I’ve read my Jo Thomas and I’m now planning to stock up on the rest of her novels. She picks wonderful locations and transports you to them, immersing you in the place and the culture of its people. Not only that, but you learn something too. In The Olive Tree I learnt about the olive groves and the olive harvest. It really was fascinating to live in Ruthie’s shoes for a few days. I also got to experience a dream of moving and renovating a rundown home, but without any of the hard work!
I really do recommend Jo Thomas’ books and can’t wait to dive into the next adventure. Have to read any of her books? Can you recommend my next read?
My reading has really been slow these last few months, what with publishing my own book and all that goes with it. I’m hoping to step up the reading through the rest of the summer and what better way to achieve this than to tell the world my plan!
I’m using the format of WWW Wednesday, as I didn’t get this post finished in time to share it yesterday.
What I’m currently reading.
Jo Thomas The Olive Branch.
I only picked this book up quickly last night to get a taste of the story. 50 pages later, I know I’m going to enjoy it. I’ve read one of Jo Thomas’s books before and loved it. Here’s the review of Late Summer in the Vineyard.
What I’m currently listening to
My Husband’s Wife
It’s ok. Seems a bit slow, but there are intriguing titbits to keep me interested so far.
What I recently finished reading
Senlin Ascends Josiah Bancroft
I’m not sure what to say about this book. I didn’t love it and felt it was slow in places. I found the tower concept very hard to picture and it was hard to really connect with Senlin. However, towards the end I did find myself not wanting to stop reading, so I’ll be interested to see what happens in book 2. I’ve heard the pace picks up, fingers crossed.
What I plan to read next
Anthony Ryan’s Collected Non-fiction
I think this is a newsletter subscriber offer and I can’t wait to read his non-fiction articles.
David Gemmell – Rhyming Rings
I have been saving this book since my birthday last year as it’s one of the only books I haven’t read by my all time favourite author.
This is my book group choice for August and a book I have been interested in reading for a while.
Knowing from experience how hard it is to get reviews, I want to read a couple of Indie books and support my fellow authors. So I intend to read;
The Exercise of Vital Powers – Ian Gregoire
Not Like Anyone Else – Jennifer Leigh
I still have a couple of trilogies I want to finish by the end of this year
Queen of Fire – Anthony Ryan
Magic Borne – Crown of Stones – C. L Schneider
There are 350+ on my goodreads TBR shelf so I have plenty of other great books to choose from. Plus my kids are always recommending books and I know I should get stuck into Robin Hobb’s latest trilogy. If I do, I won’t be doing anything else for a while!
I hope to do another post in Autumn, I wonder how many books I’ll have read by then and how many of the above will be finished!
I am reviewing Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree.
Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.
Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.
Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?
When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.
My Mini Review
The cover is very cool. I love the colour contrast and the silhouette. It drew me in to find out more and the premise of the story really appealed. Who can resist a spy story!
There is a lot to like about this book. The characters are colourful and have plenty of secrets between them. Skye, Thea and Zack are well drawn and likeable, though you know they have secrets and you have to read on to find out what is really going on.
The spy part of the plot is important, but perhaps not featured enough. I would have loved to relive some of the backstory through flashbacks.
One of my favourite parts were the unusual business ideas; Skye starts up a self-defence class for children to avoid the school bully, while Zack runs Cloud Climb on his estate, which also sounds like a great idea if you like heights!
For me there were a few issues with this book. The chapters are told from each character’s viewpoints, which I liked, but I did find there were times when we head hopped between characters thoughts. This confused the narrative and I was sometimes left wondering who had been thinking what.
There is a lot of back story that needs to be revealed to the reader, which is understandable for the plot and as I mentioned above I think we could have used a few flashbacks to get the information across in a more involving way. I also thought some of the scenes in the present could have been shown more as there was too much tell and character reflection on things that had just happened. I think the book could have, and should have, been longer – I certainly wouldn’t mind spending longer with these characters and really get to know them better.
There are a few twists towards the end, some of which took me by surprise – always a good thing. But for me the ending was underwhelming and I would have liked something more dramatic for these great characters.
I rate this book 3.5 stars. Why not check it out on goodreads and see what others have to say.