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.

The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine

The Ghost Tree is the most recent book by Image of bookBritish author Barbara Erskine. Ruth returns home to Scotland to visit her sick father who dies shortly after. When sorting out his possessions she comes across old items belonging to her late mother and starts to unravel a mysterious family history.

Given that this book was about family history, British history and had a bit of the paranormal thrown in it was ideal for me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, getting through it in just two days and hardly putting it down. I found all of the characters to be really well written, even the ‘baddies’ had some depth to them and weren’t two dimensional like they so often are in books.

This is a book about Ruth and her ancestor Thomas, and it swapped between the two almost seamlessly. I found I was completely engrossed in the book, always wanting to know what was going to happen next, and not appreciating having my attention pulled away from it.

I liked the fact that the paranormal side of it wasn’t easily accepted, Ruth is reluctant to believe in it and uses logic and reason to argue against it being true. For me this made the character of Ruth easier to relate to and made it less of a science fiction book and more historical fiction.

I was worried that the ‘present day’ storyline would take away from the historical one, however I feel that it managed to balance the two very well. I also enjoyed the authors note at the end, untangling the fact from fiction as Thomas was indeed a real person, and the author is in fact distantly related to him.

I have never read any books by Erskine before but if they are all as well written as this I will have to change that. Are you familiar with Barbara Erskine? Are there any of her books you would recommend?

Read other reviews of the book at the blogs listed in the image below that will be published on the dates listed.

Thank you to Love Reading and Harper Collins for my copy of the book to read and review.

The Humans by Matt Haig

Professor Andrew Martin is gone, and his body has been taken over by an alien.  This alien has been sent to earth by his planet because Professor Martin made an incredible mathematical discovery that could change the world and the alien race don’t believe humans can cope with the advances this will result in. After all, we are a selfish, greedy, violent species.

The Humans was published in 2013 and written by Matt Haig. Matt Haig is a British novelist who has written for both children and adult books, fiction and non-fiction (Reasons to Stay Alive is in my ‘to read’ pile). 

I’m really struggling to express how this book made me feel and what I thought of it. Not great for a book review really. When I started reading this book I expected a standard sci-fi book. Alien comes to earth and strange things happen. The end. This book is so much more. It’s been a week and I keep finding myself thinking about it. The Humans is an incredible novel exploring what it is to be human. It points out our failings, but also the good in us. With everything that is currently going on in the world, this is a beautiful novel that gave me hope in humanity and reminded me that there is good out there. 

It was strange reading a book where the narrator didn’t have his own identity or name, but it worked. I struggled to put it down and constantly wanted to read more. Exploring the different relationships Martin had, and other people’s perception of him made me reflect on my relationships and how I could be perceived. 

Of all the books out there asking what it is to be human and the meaning of life, I never expected a sci-fi book about an alien to be the one that came closest to answering those questions. 

This was beautifully written and I genuinely felt moved by it. I honestly think that this is a book that is going to stay with me for a long time and I’m sure it will be one that is re-read. 

How to Find Love in a Book Shop by Veronica Henry

Book is due to be published: 16 June 2016

Emilia Nightingale’s life has been turned upside down.  She is trying to deal with grief whilst also keeping a struggling business running.  Unsure of what she wants in life Emilia is leaning on those around her whilst she makes it through each day, until in the end she can decide what it is she wants and how she is going to get it.  Read as she comes up against problems, finds out secrets, makes new friends and discovers what, and who, she loves.  At the same time follow the lives of those around her, as they deal with lifes ups and downs.

Veronica Henry is a British script-writer and author of Romance fiction.  In the past she has worked on the The Archers and for various TV shows, and also written for Heartbeat and Holby City.  This is her 16th book and her last book, High Tide, was a Top 10 bestseller.

HowToFindLoveInABookShopHow to Find Love in a Book Shop is focussed on Emilia Nightingale who is dealing with working through grief and keeping a business running.  You follow her story as she finds her way through her struggles, and also follow the stories of various other characters linked to the bookshop.  The bookshop is in a small but active village and seems to be an important part of residents lives.  One particular quote that stood out to me was “… a town without a bookshop was a town without a heart” and you really do get the impression that this bookshop and owner, are at the heart of this small town/village.

I absolutely loved reading this book, in fact I read it in just two sittings as I couldn’t put it down.  There is some sadness woven through it, but not so much that the book is depressing.  In fact, Henry manages to get the balance of sadness/hope/happiness just right.  All the characters are so likeable, well with the exception of one, and you do find yourself really rooting for things to work out for them.  Two of my favourite characters in the book (other than Emilia) were Thomasina and Dillon, I loved following their stories and seeing how things unfolded.  You see the struggles that are happening in the lives of all the characters, and you can’t help but care and hope that they manage to find their way.  The characters are also really easy to relate to, when you read the book they feel like real people.  I really enjoyed following the journey of Emilia, at the beginning she’s trying so hard to ‘find herself’ and work out what it is she wants, and at the end you feel as though she’s made that discovery and understands and knows herself so much better.

Henry also dotted short lists of books throughout, where each list was linked to a different character in the book.  This was a really lovely touch and I enjoyed reading all of the lists.  They all felt like recommendations and it has definitely helped me expand on my list of future reads!

This is very much a book for someone who likes to read Romances but doesn’t want too much drama.  Just a storyline that flows at a good pace and branches out as it goes.  I found it so easy to follow, even though it flitted between characters, it was extremely well structured.  I would definitely recommend this book to family and friends and I would be surprised if this is not another Top 10 bestseller like Henry’s last book.

(Thank you to Orion Books and LoveReading for my pre-released copy of the book.)

Creature Comforts by Trisha Ashley

Trisha Ashley is a British author of humorous romantic fiction.  She has published more than 15 novels, a number of which have been top sellers, and she has also been nominated for numerous awards.

CreatureComfortsCreature Comforts follows the main character Izzy as she breaks off her engagement to her fiancé and moves back to her childhood home.  Izzy has had a difficult life, her parents are deceased so she was brought up by an aunt, and when she was 15 she was involved in a fatal car crash.  As her childhood home is also a small village, the repercussions of the accident were widespread and by moving home Izzy has to come to terms with the crash that was nearly 20 years ago.  Whilst trying to settle back home and confront her past, her life is also turned upside down with the arrival of a mysterious man.

I have to admit, I struggled writing this review, mainly because I struggled with the book itself.  I found it a slow storyline, and it seemed to be rather dragged out in the beginning.  I also didn’t really relate or like any of the characters until I was over half way through the book.

There seemed to be lots of irrelevant storylines in the background, which detracted from the main plot, and it appeared that every character had to be extraordinary in some way rather than a ‘normal’ character who you would meet in real life, which made it even more difficult to find believable.

I persevered and over half way through the book the characters seemed more likeable (maybe because Ashley has explained their background more and we can understand why they are the way they are?) and relatable. I did find myself enjoying the last half, even though I didn’t feel any suspense as it was obvious what happened in the crash, but watching it all unfold was rather interesting.

This is not a book that I would recommend to family or friends, however I am hopeful that this is simply a bad book for a new reader of the author to start with. Ashley does have a good fan base with readers who eagerly wait for her next novel, so I will look to see which of her releases is most popular and try that.

(Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for my copy of the book)

Police, Crime & 999 by John Donoghue

John Donoghue has had a variety of jobs in the past including sailor and soldier, and is currently working as a policeman (and obviously an author). (I will admit that I have found myself wondering if he is starting up his own ‘Village People’ tribute band, is construction worker his next job of choice?)

PoliceCrime999Police, Crime & 999 is Donoghue’s second book (the first being Shakespeare My Butt), but his first about being a police officer. It runs through a number of incidents and events that occurred during his first year at ‘Sandford’. There are an increasing number of nonfiction books out there that are based on the jobs people have where they have to deal with the public, from people who have worked in the police, to paramedics, and GPs. With the other books out there, why decide to read this one? The simple answer? Because it’s brilliant.

I feel that I should at this point advise, strongly, that you not read this book in public (most definitely not in a library), or anywhere you would rather not draw attention to yourself or you need to be quiet. It is extremely likely that you will laugh, chuckle, and groan loudly – a lot. I know I did.

Donoghue has a great way of writing, he has a very conversational style with regular tangents that are actually quite informative and educational. Whilst reading this book you feel like you’re sat having coffee with a friend as they fill you in on the happenings of the week – and there has been a lot happening!

Right from the introduction, as Donoghue recounts the story he was told that made him realise joining the police was the best way to escape a boring job, you start to realise how bizarre situations and people really can be.

From the neighbourhood dog mess inspector, to Donoghue’s very different approach to attempting to talk someone off a ledge, and then the strangest 999 calls, this book gives you an insight into what it’s like to work for the police, deal with the public, and put up with the office politics.

‘Sandford’ could really be any town – I recognised a number of the ‘characters’ Donoghue wrote about, from places I have lived – both past and present. You could despair about society when reading this, but I think that the fact that there are people like Donoghue dealing with it should give you some hope… maybe… Just don’t let him near a snowman. And you should probably ask him to take off his shoes before inviting him into your home and offering him a cup of tea.

To sum up, if you want to read a book that makes you laugh (and appreciate your job a lot more) you can’t go wrong with Police, Crime & 999. This is one person who is grateful to have been gifted a paperback book last Christmas, and it’s not even because I have a wobbly table!

The Jackdaw by Luke Delaney

Book is due to be published: 12 March 2015

DI Sean Corrigan and the Special Investigations Unit are on the hunt for a dangerous man. The Jackdaw has decided to punish the rich bankers for their part in the financial crisis, and one by one is taking them from the streets and then streaming their ‘trial’ on the Internet. As The Jackdaw describes their crimes, viewers can vote – guilty or not guilty – before he makes the final judgment and carries out the sentence.

Corrigan and his team have to work quickly to solve this case. Who is The Jackdaw? Where is he hiding? Who will his next victim be?

TheJackdawThis is the fourth book in the DI Sean Corrigan series by Luke Delaney. It is the first book from the series that I have read, however that did not cause any issues for me with relating to the characters or following background storylines. Delaney himself worked for the Metropolitan Police, and in CID, which I think adds an authenticity to his writing. The understanding of procedure, the internal politics, even just the conversations had by the characters – it all makes for a novel that completely draws you in. Delaney mentions various recent issues (as well as the obvious controversy with banks) that the police have had a significant role in, such as the phone hacking scandal and the high-profile celebrity paedophile investigations. By doing this he pulls you further into the story, making it seem like something that – worryingly – is actually feasible.

Although you get an insight into what The Jackdaw is doing and thinking, you’re never aware of what his plan is or who he is. You’re still completely enthralled, reading on, wanting to find out what is going to happen next and who the next victim will be. There are also other ongoing storylines for the main characters, which I am looking forward to find out more about when I go back and read the first three books in the series – which I will definitely do!

Delaney creates a depth to his characters, even the victims. He could have so easily made them your typical rich, greedy, London banker. Instead they all have their own motivation, reasons for what they are doing, thoughts about what they are doing etc. Nothing is overly simple, but nothing is over complicated. Delaney has managed to get a good balance between too much information and not enough. It’s this clever (and time relevant) storyline, multi-faceted characters, and the well-balanced descriptions that have all combined to make this a thoroughly enjoyable read.

If you like crime novels and thrillers then I would definitely recommend this book.

(Thank you to Harper Collins and Love Reading for my pre-released copy of the book.)