Rachel’s Pudding Pantry by Caroline Roberts

This book will be released on 18 April 2019.

Roberts is a British author who has released four books in the Cosy series (The Cosy Teashop in the Castle, The Cosy Christmas Teashop, The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop, and The Cosy Seaside Chocolate Shop) and also two other standalone books (not including this one).

Image of book Rachel’s Pudding PantryRachel’s Pudding Pantry is about a young woman called Rachel in her mid twenties who is running her families farm after the death of her father a couple of years previous. Overall she is doing well however there are some struggles that she has to work with her mum and other family and friends to help resolve, all whilst raising her five year old daughter.

This is very much a chick lit book and has a romance brewing throughout. It’s very easy reading and not at all heavy like the recent books I have been reading. However I don’t think that this genre is given as much credit as it deserves. For this book to be considered ‘easy reading’ it has to be well written, which it is. The story flows, at a calm, but not too slow, pace. The characters are well written and I really liked the main character of Rachel and cared about what happened to her. This was such a pleasure to read after the recent, very involved (and good) books that I’ve been reading.

I’m not a farmer, but the descriptions of farming life seemed to be well researched, believable and were clearly described in an engaging way. Also the depiction of Northumberland was beautiful and if the opportunity ever arises for me to go there I will be eager to seize it.

I thought that the way Roberts dealt with grief was impressive, I appreciated that it hadn’t been rushed and it was shown that it is something that can still be raw and difficult years later.

If you’re looking for a nice, pleasant read that leaves you feeling hopeful and positive, as well as emotionally moved in parts, then I recommend this book.

Also there were a couple of recipes at the end that I’m looking forward to trying.

Thank you to LoveReading and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this book to honestly review.

A Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

Lynn Shepherd is a British author who studied English in Oxford and worked as a freelance copywriter for more than a decade.

A Treacherous Likeness is the third book in Image of book A Treacherous Likenessthe Charles Maddox series. I have not read the first (Murder at Mansfield Park) but read the second (Tom-All-Alone’s) over six years ago. I enjoyed it so much that I borrowed A Treacherous Likeness from a friend shortly after, unfortunately I have only just got round to reading it (thankfully my friend is patient).

(Note: Outside of the UK, Tom-All-Alone’s is called A Solitary House, and A Treacherous Likeness is called A Fatal Likeness)

A Treacherous Likeness follows Charles Maddox, an investigator in the mid-19th century, as he works to unravel the mysteries surround the life of poet Percy Shelley and his wife, author Mary Shelley.

Throughout the book I found myself changing my opinions of the main characters continuously, in fact I’m still not 100% sure what I think of them. There is a lot of history, London in the 19th century, the class system etc. There is also a lot of interesting information about the Shelleys. This is of course combined with fictitious characters and events. The author’s note at the end is very helpful in separating fact from fiction and speculation.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I like Shepherd’s way of writing, she occasionally talks to you separate from the story, discussing how a behaviour would result in a medical diagnosis nowadays etc. Although it takes you out of the period the story is based in, it seems to somehow bring you closer to the characters.

This book has raised a lot of questions for me about the Shelleys and even about Byron. I’m leaving it with lots of curiosity and will be doing some research about them all to sate it.

I really enjoyed reading this and am pleased to see that there has been a fourth book released in the series, although it does seem to be only on the Kindle that I can find it. Regardless, I hope it’s not another six years before I read it. I would also like to go back and read the first in the series.

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister is the first book by British author Beth Underdown.

Image of bookSet in the 17th century in Essex and across parts of Suffolk, the book follows Alice as she returns home to her brother in the midst of the Civil War in England. Upon returning home she finds herself pulled into a world of witch-hunting.

Interestingly this book is a fictionalised account of a real person from history, Matthew Hopkins – one of the witch-hunters who was responsible for the death of a significant number of people.

Some of the women detailed in the book are real women who were tried or testified and some chapters are opened with documents that have been compiled from actual historical sources.

I found this book to be really well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The character of Alice, and the other main characters, were so well written. I could completely relate to Alice and understand her struggle with what was happening.

Underdown paints a vivid picture of what is taking place and it’s so interesting to see reasons why women could be accused of being a witch. I find myself wondering if people truly believed that they were witches, or just didn’t like their actions and choices and so used it as a reason to punish them.

The story moved at a good pace, I didn’t find myself getting bored or wishing there wasn’t so much to read. The book finished well for me, mostly. There was one piece, in fact the final sentence, which I cannot work out whether or not I like. Part of me enjoyed it, and the other part thought it was a bit too much. If you’ve read the book please let me know what you thought of that sentence.

I hope that there are more books to come from Underdown, if there are I would most definitely be interested in reading them.

Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Roar by Cecelia Ahern is a book of 30 short stories about modern day life as a woman.

Cecelia Ahern is an Irish novelist who is known for books such as ‘P.S. I Love You’ and ‘If You Could See Me Now’.

I didn’t really know what to expect with this book, I have to admit I’ve never read any books by Cecelia Ahern before (I try to avoid books that are going to make me cry) so it was with some trepidation (I really didn’t want to cry) that I read this book.  It’s also been a while since I’ve read short stories, having had a long phase of just novel reading lately so this was a real change of pace for me.

I expected it to take me some time to get into the book, to find short stories unfulfilling.  I assumed that with the stories being short I wouldn’t be able to connect to the characters and so wouldn’t care about them.  I was completely wrong.  As soon as I started reading I was enraptured.  The stories, no matter how long or short were completely engaging and I wanted to keep reading and find out the outcome of each story, and the next story, and the next.  It was rather clever of Cecelia Ahern to not give a name to the main character in each chapter – it made it that much easier to relate and put myself in the characters situation.

I found this book to be incredible.  Each story had its own metaphor and there was a moral or lesson at the end of each chapter.  I found it so easy to read, quite often picking it up to read just one story and finding myself reading three or four.  I found every single story relatable, even the ones that on the face of it I would expect to have nothing in that was relevant to me.  Some obviously touched home more than others, but each left me feeling more empowered and self-aware in their own way.

I was surprised, and pleased, to find that Cecelia Ahern has published other books of short stories and they will definitely be added to my ‘to read’ list.

It is such a lovely, positive and uplifting book.  I strongly recommend reading it, especially if you are a woman who… well, if you are a woman.

Thank you to LoveReading and Harper Collins for my review copy.

The book is released on 1 November 2018 (Hardcopy and Kindle) and then 2 May 2019 (Paperback).

First Man In by Anthony Middleton

I got introduced to Ant (as he is known) on the most reason series of SAS: Who Dares Wins. When I saw that he had a book coming out I was quite interested to read it and learn about his time in the military so I made sure to reserve it at my local library.

The front of the book states “Sniper. Soldier. Survivor” I was intrigued about what I was going read. Is he going to talk about his work as a sniper, what it was like to be a soldier or how he survived fighting in the military? I was slightly disappointed by what I found. Yes the book is an autobiography, yes Middleton talks about what it’s like to take a life (right at the beginning in fact), but the stories are all based around examples of leadership. There doesn’t appear to be any depth to the stories – I think I may have been spoilt by what I’ve read of Bravo Two Zero. 

Don’t get me wrong, the book is very good – it reads like Middleton is talking to you and giving advice, it’s about the qualities of a good leader and how to be one. But rather than be a ‘full’ autobiography, it’s just a handful of examples from Middleton’s life where he has shown good leadership skills, in fact each chapter ends with bullet points summarising the lessons in the chapter. This is less an autobiography and more a self help book for someone trying to learn how to lead – and even then some of the advice is… well, different to that given in other books (stand looking in a mirror and list every negative attribute you have, really tear yourself down etc…).

Middleton is honest and upfront about the mistakes that he has made in life, and shows that it is possible to turn your life around. I was quite surprised by a lot of what he’s gone through and he didn’t shy away from sharing incidents that paint him in a less than positive light. 

However I feel short changed. I don’t think this book should be advertised as an autobiography, it doesn’t feel like there is enough there. It is definitely a book for the self help section. It was easy to read and I read it quickly but it’s not a book that I feel compelled to buy so that I have my own copy, nor one I want to read again.