Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Books Galore

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake

What a fantastic book. It starts with Faye dreaming about being whisked off her feet by someone wonderful. She's been unhappily married for a long while. She had dreams of going travelling as a young girl- and finding her rucksack with a red dress she never got to wear, a list of things she wanted to do and a postcard of people dancing in New York she finally tells herself that women in their 40's still deserve to lead the sort of life they want.

Her boss and friend allows her to move in and the beautician provides some really comic moments.

She meets Dan in the local deli. He's Australian and provides a glimpse of the sort of adventure she always dreamed of. She starts buying lunch every day and there is a spark between them despite the age gap.

He is keen to tick off some of her 'goals' and they have some great times together.

It was a really heartwarming book that should serve as a reminder to us all- that if we have unfulfilled dreams that we can still make them happen

Touched- Joanna Briscoe
A chilling novella. Rowena and her husband move into the property next to his mothers home and they start to combine the two homes after moving the mum to a goddaughters. The house resists all attempts to change- spotting damp patches on new wallpaper and the walls almost impossible to knock down.

Eva who wanders aimlessly at times, disappears. It seems odd that the family aren't more concerned about her- but she is apparently a free spirit. They find a concealed room where the mum had obviously tried to recreate her youth with mementos.

Then another of Rowena's daughters goes missing. She has recently starred in a film in the village and the police investigate her disappearance more thoroughly.

Lots of secrets and intrigue and wondering where the story will go and what other chilling events may happen. I will look out for more by this author

Poppy Does Paris- Nicola Doherty
I absolutely loved this book- which is part of a series that I can't wait to read now! It would make a perfect beach read- really light and fun. 

Poppy is sent to Paris with one of her work colleagues, Charlie to sign a contract for one of their authors books. Is romance in the air- and with who? Poppy had been keen to have some no strings fun with Charlie- but Jonathan is proving very attractive.

The setting is described perfectly- you can imagine yourself enjoying the Parisian atmosphere and trying the delicious food along with them.

A completely new author to me- but I'm really keen to read more.

Home to Chicory Lane- Deborah Raney
Audrey and Grant are opening up their family home as a cosy bed and breakfast. The weekend before opening their daughter Landyn unexpectedly arrives with most of her belongings in a trailer. She's newly married and her husband isn't with her. They want to find out why she's turned up and how long she's likely to stay whilst they are stuggling to make the rooms pay for the major work they had done. Landyn husband wants to make it as an artist and had decided to take a studio in Brooklyn without asking his wife who was supporting them financially- meaning a 2 hour commute for her.

I loved the bed and breakfast and can imagine a series with further guests stories expanded and more about the family. A lovely story to read and I'd be keen to read more by this author.(
Call the Vet- Anna Birch

A lovely read about Anna's first year in veterinary practice in a lovely spot in Dorset. She is very nervous when one of her early encounters ends in disaster. She slowly gets used to the people and the work and regularly keeps in touch with the others she trained with who are dotted about the globe. She decides to visit one friend in Ethiopia to help with the programme they are running there and enjoys her time out there.

She meets the local ranger and enjoys getting to know him. She worries that he is cooling when she plans her trip to Ethiopia.
One of my favourite reads was this one- have read a lot of 'foody' books recently and this one really drew me in.
This was a lovely read. After having to resort to putting a few battered boxes of fondant fancies onto a cupcake stand- Marie vows to master this baking lark. She chooses her 'guru'- Mary Berry. Her neighbour Lucy always seems to make the perfect cake without hours of fretting and disasters.

Robert, Marie's husband is worried about losing his job and alongside Marie turns to baking- but chooses the more manly Paul Hollywood to emulate!

The book goes through the year marked by several baking adventures- including a spectacular wedding cake for her dental nurse that brings the two neighbours together in friendship.

I loved the way the story took us along with it- enjoying all the descriptive cake creations and the family turmoil.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Mairaed and Mike's wedding

We had an absolutely beautiful day at Mairaed and Mike's wedding on Saturday. It was held at Newhall Hotel and Spa and it was a gorgeous looking place. It has one of the biggest Moats apparently. Guy's mum is pictured here before we caught the bus to the cathedral.

They had organised a London Red Double Decker to take guests to the cathedral and back to the reception venue. I thought it would be great for a photo opp- so booked us onto that. It was really hot until it started going and then it was zipping along even though it's only a year younger than me! The groom and the best man were travelling to the cathedral this way and it was leaving in plenty of time to get them there before Mairaed. The lane up to the hotel was very long and very narrow and one of the houses was having some 'excavating' work done and the lady had left her car on the opposite side to the truck. She sauntered off to get her keys, then made the bus reverse because she wanted to reverse it onto her drive. Then it took some careful negotiation with the 'guide' and the driver to get it through the gap and avoid the larger branches on overhanging trees. We were sat at the front and could see how close the branch was. The driver joked afterwards that he just closed his eyes- but they did a great job as the turning cycle isn't great on the old buses. It requires the guide to stop oncoming traffic to get it out of some side roads! But by this time the groom must have been getting a little concerned that he was going to be late. But then it was speeding along the Aston Express way and making up some time. He got there about 10 mins before the ceremony was due to start.

Mairaed smiled ALL day long and looked so relaxed. She and her husband come across as totally besotted and in love with each other. She's a lovely girl and was one of our little bridesmaids when we got married.

Mairaed lost her mum when she was 13 and 'Grandma' had promised Chrissie that she would help bring the children up as her own. Their dad, who was a top consultant spent a lot of time away from home in third world countries helping during any holiday time he had and when he was retirement age. So Mairaed and Grandma share a very special bond. Mairaed is her 'favourite' and she was determined to be there even though she's in frail health and at the age of 97. The photographer must have captured some very special moments between them.

The little flower girls and page boys were her brothers children and they loved the bubbles and confetti outside the cathedral. Mairaed is ready to be showered in newly gathered confetti here!

The cathedral was absolutely beautiful. Mairaed and her husband are very involved with the church. His cousin was the bishop and the bishop that conducted the ceremony came out of retirement for the occasion and has known Mairaed since she was tiny. It felt like such a close family ceremony as they were known so well and obviously well loved. Her one brother gave her away, the other two also escorted her along the aisle. She had 'bridesmen' instead of grown up bridesmaid. It was a very emotional day- as she has lost both parents- her dad only last year. So one brother gave her away, one did a reading and one witnessed the certificate.

                                No expense spared at this wedding. She had a lovely Vintage car.
                                                         Arriving back at New Hall
 The big London bus in the background. I didn't see them taking any photos of them with the bus- but hope they did when they went off for photo ops.

The little flower girls had great fun gathering fir cones in the grounds.

                                                           Mairaed with her 'Bridesmen'
   My favourite of the group shots. One of the little flowergirls grabbed her cousin tightly and smiled!

A very touching part of the day. They had a photo frame of those not able to join the married couple in person on their very special day- but sure to be smiling down fondly. The brides parents and grandpa and the grooms dad. Mairaed and Mike gave very moving speeches mentioning their parents and the love they;d been shown. Mairaed got very emotional and her hubby gave her a comforting hug. It must have been so bittersweet for them both.

                                     Guy's mum greeting the bride at the entrance to the marquee.
                       It was Aiden and his son's birthday and they got him a lovely chocolate cake

                                                                    The first dance.

Guy and his brother Ian with Tricia. They are having a joint 50th birthday meal next Saturday- although Guy's birthday was in June and Ian's in August. They took Ian in when he was a teenager when he lost his parents and treat him as a son. He has a lovely family.

                                                          Ian and Jane are a lovely couple

                                                                       The Marquee

                                    The place settings were quite sweet- love hearts for everyone.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

I've read some really good books from NetGalley this week. I went a bit mad 'requesting' books and now the ratio of the reviews to requested means I get turned down for some great books! So need to read like mad and try and get more reviews posted. 

What a wonderful book- I was transported to Sullivan's Island for the summer and could just imagine being cosy at SeaBreeze. Three siblings are invited to spend the summer at the family home by Mamaw, their grandma. All three of them are at some sort of crisis point in their life and look forward to the opportunity to let the relaxing charm around their childhood memories surround them and start the healing process. They look forward to getting to know each other better now they are grown.

Dora is getting divorced and also looks after her autistic boy, Nate. After a health scare, her sisters look into a dolphin therapy centre for Nate. The previous summer he'd loved spending time with a wild dolphin who suffered a bad accident that they feel responsible for. Nate needs to heal aswell. His aunt Carson agrees to take him on a road trip to Florida to give his mum a break and chance to recoup her strength. She soon realises that her nephew is far from easy to settle- but really enjoys the chance to learn what makes him happy.

Lucille has looked after the family for years and you can just imagine her bustling around the house creating delicious but healthy food for her 'new' charges.

It was a really charming journey through the pages- and luckily this is part of a trilogy so I have the third book to look forward to. It made me want to escape to SeaBreezes for a few weeks this summer
1 5* read for me.

I really enjoyed this book. Felicity writes children's books and she's a bit quirky. She's married to loyal, dependable Quinn. But she starts thinking about a 'rock star' she knew when she was 20. She keeps smelling things that remind her of people and transport her back in time. She worries she may be ill and books a doctors appointment that she misses. She decides that she needs to seek out her past love and the book deals with the fall out of her decisions, the hurt caused and the way she deals with her decisions.

I guessed part of the story line- but not everything turned out the way I expected. I loved the writing and can't wait to read more by this author. I would really recommend this book.
Another 5* read.

This was a lovely little book for animal lovers. Madison and Cooper help out at a local animal shelter that is always looking for fund raising ideas.

She and Cooper offer a local dog walking business and when she sees a neglected dog on their journeys they want to investigate- but all isn't what it seems. Alongside this they are investigating a possible dog fighting ring when they discover an abandoned dog in a very poorly state.

They get into some scrapes but it's a nice story to follow. A really charming part of the story was when Madison organised a puppy adoption party as her birthday treat. It is a heartwarming story of some children who choose to spend their free time with animal welfare on their minds.

I can see my daughter enjoying further books in this series.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Cherringham- Mystery at the Manor- Matthew Costello

I was provided with a copy of this book by NetGalley for review.

This was a lovely cosy mystery. Jack and Sarah are called in to investigate when Hope becomes suspicious of the fire that killed the man she 'cared' for. His three children all have reason to be suspects for his murder.

All is revealed at the reading of the will.

I am keen to read the next in the series. They are being released in monthly episodes.

The Story of Santa Claus- Joseph McCullough

ARC copy supplied through Net Galley

This was a lovely history of the legendas of St Nicholas and how traditions started across the world and how he came to be known as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Rudolph's story of how he came to help Santa as also included.

I was interested in reading this one because by daughter is Santa obsessed. We countdown to Christmas really early here and she is going to be fascinated with all the history surrounding her favourite personality.

A great book to read around Christmas time but interesting to see how all the traditions came about.(less)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Someone else's wedding- Tamar Cohen

I received a copy of this through NetGalley for review.

What a fantastic read. The book was set over the course of a weekend wedding where most of the guests were staying at the same hotel.

Everyone seems to have secrets or things they want to hide.

What is Fran's connection to the young groom- why is she seemingly distanced from her husband who everyone else thinks makes the 'perfect man'?

Their two daughters are also keeping secrets that come out over the course of the weekend.

I will definately look out for more books by this author.

Guilt Free Baking

What a 'delicious' book in every way. Guilt Free Baking- is there a better concept?! The photographs are divine and tempt you to try every recipe.

My first recipes to try MUST include Lavendar Cupcakes, St Clements Drizzle cake and Jamaican Ginger bake.

This book has everything to tempt you including ice cream, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, traybakes. You name it you can find a 'guilt free' recipe within these pages.

This is likely to join my list of favourite recipe books.

Thanks to Net Galley for a copy for review. The entire family are looking forward to enjoying this one.