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.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the debut book by Gail Honeyman, a Scottish author.  It was written after Honeyman read a newspaper article about loneliness and it quoted a woman who said that she rarely spoke to anyone between leaving work on the Friday and returning on a Monday morning.

Book of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineI have to admit that I found this book difficult to begin with.  Not because it isn’t well written, it is.  But because the main character, Eleanor Oliphant, is difficult to connect to.  This is of course the point of the character, but it still meant that I struggled to sympathise with her or like her very much at the beginning.  Gradually you get to know her though, especially through her relationship with others, and you see that she is just a confused, lost person who is trying to fit in as best she can.  It was a little over half way through the book, when we reach the second section, that I finally began to connect and fully empathise with the character.  Watching her grapple with feelings and emotions and facing her past made her more human and relatable.  I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of this book, in fact I read it in one sitting, not getting the early night I had planned but I was just completely absorbed by it and had to read what happened next and then finish it.

The overarching theme of this book is loneliness.  It takes quite an extreme approach to it, but it was effective nonetheless.  It also reminded us that we don’t know what people have experienced in their past or what they are currently going through and we shouldn’t judge a person based on our own preconceptions – something that was addressed well with an encounter on a bus. 

It did feel as though the second half of the book was too quick, the speed at which Eleanor is meant to deal with her past issues when she finally faces them was extremely fast.  Having said that Honeyman was clear that Eleanor still had more work to do, and although the ending was a bit of a surprise (more so how easily Eleanor dealt with a revelation) you could tell that it wasn’t the end of her journey and she still had a long way to go.

I did enjoy this book and am pleased I read it, I can also see why it was a Costa Book Awards winner in 2017.

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).

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!