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realovesbooks (South east London)
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Dead to Me
Dead to Me
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lesley Pearse at her best., 14 July 2016
This review is from: Dead to Me (Kindle Edition)
I have always enjoyed Lesley Pearse books but when I read Without a Trace Last year that book put the author right up there with my must read authors and so I have been eagerly awaiting her new release Dead to Me so I can throw myself into another one of her books and it was well worth the wait as I would have to say Dead to Me has to be my favourite by Lesley Pearse.

The book is set in the 1930’s 1940’s through WWII. Verity and Ruby come from very different walks of life but after the pair witness a body being pulled from the swimming ponds the pair strike up a bond and are both inquisitive about how the other one lives. A firm friendship is formed and over the years the girls are there for each other through much needed times of support.

Both Ruby and Verity had a troubled childhood and through the years Ruby finds happiness and stability down in Devon but poor Verity finds her past keeps catching up with her. When an incident happens the girls friendship is rocked deeply and Ruby sends Verity a letter saying “You’re Dead to Me”, could this be the end of the girls friendship?

This is one of those books that will bring out each and every emotion as we go on a journey with the girls experiencing things that you would never wish any child to see or experience. At times I was absolutely heartbroken for these two good natured girls but the friendship they found with each other brought an uplifting feel around such dark times.

I warmed to both Ruby and Verity equally and I wanted nothing more than both girls to find their happy ever afters so they can see there is goodness in the world and after what they had seen at a young age they could have quite easily gone down a different path.

Verity seemed to have a vulnerability about her more so than Ruby who managed to dust herself off and start again whereas Verity was broken inside from years of keeping her sickening and heartbreaking secret buried inside herself for so long.

There is something for everyone in this book as it is a story of love and friendship, of life’s challenges and of hideous situations no one should have had to face. There is uncertainty and suspicion but also hope and positivity too. The story is carried by two very strong female characters but is helped along the way with such influential, loving and caring characters too such as Wilby and Miller.

There was such great depth and detail to this storyline it felt like the author was telling someone’s real life story and it is a story that will stay in my mind for a long time. This book deserves nothing less than a 5 star rating and I will be recommending this to all my clients, friends and family. Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Letters from Lighthouse Cottage
Letters from Lighthouse Cottage
by Ali McNamara
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Feel good read xXx, 14 July 2016
After finding myself stuck in a reading slump over the past few weeks I was desperate to find a book that would grab me right from the first chapter and keep me hooked right up to the last page and that is exactly what I found when I started reading Letters from Lighthouse Cottage by Ali McNamara.

Grace grew up in Sandybridge but she was determined to escape its clutches and see the world and build a life away from the seaside town but it meant leaving her best friend Charlie behind who was quite content in Sandybridge. Now she finds herself back in her home town with life ending up not quite how she imagined. Did she do the right thing all those years ago leaving her home town in search of something that may have been under her nose all along.

I was so wrapped up in this storyline watching the friendship between Grace and Charlie blossom over the years and see the direction both of their lives took. They were both such engaging characters along with Danny too who provided the romance and at times humour to the storyline.

I loved the enchanting touch that was weaved throughout the storyline thanks to Remy, I found it quite exciting waiting to see what news Remy was going to bring us next and I can’t tell you how much I wish I had my own Remy at home waiting for me!

At times I thought that the storyline was predictable and I was sure I knew how things would pan out but then something else would happen that would make me doubt myself which I loved as it helped to keep my interest piqued right up until the perfect ending.

I thoroughly enjoyed this charming feel-good read it is definitely one of my favourite Ali McNamara books.

Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage
Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage
by Milly Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A Heartwarming read full of friendships and unpredictable secrets x, 4 July 2016
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I wasted no time ordering Milly Johnson's new release Sunshine over Wildflower Cottage as I love losing myself in her storylines and also I am a sucker for a vibrant sweet looking cover!

We are first introduced to Viv and it soon becomes apparent that she has a secret which has brought her to the animal sanctuary at Wildflower Cottage as she quite clearly hasn't had a life long dream to work with animals! I loved the mystery surrounding her character and I had no idea what it was that Viv had up her sleeve and when it was revealed I was in genuine shock as I didn't even have an inkling as to what would be revealed.

Viv works alongside the very welcoming and friendly Geraldine who also is hiding away quite happily at the sanctuary which is owned by the handsome but prickly Heath.

The storyline alternates between Viv and also her mum Stel who has never been very successful in romance but there is a new man on the scene who looks like could be The One! I must admit I did struggle a little with the ladies of the Old Spice Girls Club who were close friends of Stel, I was constantly getting the characters mixed up in the first half of the book but they were only supporting characters so it wasn't a major issue for me but their support and friendship did bring a nice touch to the storyline and they did come into their own by the second half of the book.

Sunshine over Wildflower Cottage deals with a very sensitive issue which is a slight change in direction for Milly but I think it worked really well as she approached the issue with such care and compassion but also with realistic detail which I hope will help to bring awareness to the issue. Although this is a difficult topic it doesn't make the book a depressive read because love, friendship and support networks all help to bring light to the storyline with the help of the much loved animals too!

The Teashop on the Corner still remains my firm favourite by Milly Johnson ( and one of my all time favourite books) but this book has definitely taken second place. If you are a fan of Milly Johnson's books or even if you fancy trying out one of her books for the first time this is a wonderful, enjoyable book that will not disappoint, full of secrets, friendships and overall a heartwarming read.

Out of Practice
Out of Practice
Price: £0.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrific debut with a couple of dishy doctors too! x, 11 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Out of Practice (Kindle Edition)
Out of Practice is Penny Parkes debut novel and if dishy doctors make you go weak at the knees then this book will be right up your street.

Holly Graham has relocated to Larkford with her adorable little twin boys and husband Milo. Hoping for a fresh start Holly is thrilled to be close to her best friend Lizzie and is looking forward to starting her new job as a GP at The Practice but the new life that Holly envisioned soon starts to show signs of trouble.

The book gets off to a welcoming start with a touch of humour and it soon becomes clear that the author has a wonderful writing style that manages to pull you into the storyline from the first chapter and hold your attention the whole way through.

There is such a likeable group of characters in this book alongside our main character and the community spirit is buzzing through the pages. Elsie Townsend was a wise and wonderful character who has lived a fulfilled life and she takes an instant shine to Holly and I constantly found myself looking forward to her popping up during the book. We watch Elsie encourage Holly to find her true self rather than being a people pleaser and this is where Holly’s character really develops as she learns that it is ok to say no and put yourself first and do what you want to do rather than what you feel you should do.

I was really hoping all the way through that Holly would walk away from her husband Milo, he was such a controlling and egotistical character who I could not stand and I didn’t want someone as vibrant and loving as Holly to waste her life with a man like that. I was hoping she would fall in to the arms of one of the dishy doctors but one minute I wanted her to fall for Dan and the next moment I wanted her to fall for Taffy but ever way I was happy to take whoever didn’t tickle her fancy!

There were some predictable parts of the book but equally the author also managed to conceal some little snippets too that came as a surprise. This was a terrific debut and I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves revisiting Larkford and its loveable characters in a future book by Penny Parkes but either way I will definitely look forward to more books from this author.

The Sunshine And Biscotti Club: The perfect summer read for your next holiday
The Sunshine And Biscotti Club: The perfect summer read for your next holiday
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read perfect book to keep you company on your holiday x, 7 Jun. 2016
The cover of The Sunshine and Biscotti Club will definitely entice you in if you are looking for a vibrant Summery read and the story it hold inside is a light, easy read perfect to pick up and put down on a lazy down around the pool.

Ultimately the storyline is about a group of friends who are reunited this Summer to help Libby renovate her baking school slash hotel ready to open to visitors from all over the world but along the way we find out each of them have their own relationship problems that they need to work through.

The recipes that Libby and her friends recreate in this book are mouth-wateringly good and I found myself wanting to bake biscotti and I am a stranger to the kitchen. This is one of those books that I feel could have benefitted from having a couple of the recipes included in the book for readers to recreate.

Relationship troubles is a big focus in this book and with each chapter alternating between Libby, Eve and Jessica we get to know each of the characters and their problems and I was hoping they would all get their happy ending but I was just so surprised that the girls didn’t come together with a sympathetic ear and wise words for each other.

The only thing missing for me was the lack of chemistry between the characters considering they are all friends that go way back and who lived together for me the connection between them all was missing.

This storyline was set in a blissful location and I enjoyed the renovation side to the storyline, Libby sure got her friends to work hard. With a gentle pace and an easy storyline this book will make great company for your holiday this year.

The Secret of Orchard Cottage
The Secret of Orchard Cottage
by Alexandra Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful trip to the village of Tindledale xXx, 6 Jun. 2016
It is no secret that I am an Alex Brown super fan and her books set in the quaint little village of Tindledale are my absolute favourites so when I heard her new release The Secret of Orchard Cottage would be making a return to Tindledale I didn’t waste any time in getting started on this book.

Our protagonist is April and she is such a loving and selfless character who lost her husband 18 months ago and is still trying to come to terms with his death and work out what path her life should take now. With a little persuasion from her step daughter Nancy, April decides to spend some time back in Tindledale with her aunt Edith but when she arrives April is shocked at how bad things have got, it is quite clear that Edith is struggling to cope.

Edith is desperate to find out what happened to her sister Winnie who disappeared during WWII and with April at Orchard Cottage now with her help hopefully they can try and discover the truth of what happened to Winnie.

I love books that involve restoration so this book was perfect for me as we watch April try to bring life back into Orchard Cottage. April has faced such a challenging time and I had such compassion for her character and watching her working on the orchards and the cottage we begin to see her character blossom and I was willing her to find her happy ending.

I was really intrigued by Winnie’s story too, I wasn’t sure what we were going to uncover and I love that the author managed to keep me in the dark because I was unable to predict what had happened to Winnie and I was unsure if we were going to find that she had died or that she was still alive. I had such admiration for Winnie and her story brought a lump to my throat. Winnie and April’s stories weave together perfectly in this book and creates such an emotive and yet uplifting read that had me captivated the whole way through.

I loved the return of some much loved characters and being able to revisit the Spotted Pig Café and Hettie’s House of Haberdashery where Hettie and Sybs make another appearance.

This book was full of emotion and tackles some difficult subjects but Alex Brown has also managed to bring that soft and cosy feel to the storyline that I have come to love in her books that makes me just want to visit Tindledale even more. I loved this book and it is up there with my favourite The Great Christmas Knit Off. Kick back with an apple cider and a copy of The Secret of Orchard Cottage for a perfect Summer combo.

Last Dance in Havana
Last Dance in Havana
Price: £3.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An evocative and charming read., 20 May 2016
I have been looking forward to reading Last Dance in Havana firstly because I have never read any of Rosanna Ley’s books and I love discovering new authors but also because I have always longed to visit Cuba and although my purse won’t allow me to go I thought this would be a perfect little teaser trip.

The storyline moves between two time frames Cuba in 1958 and England in 2012. We meet Elisa in Cuba when she is only a teen, she meets the love of her life Duardo in Havana as they danced the rumba but with the odds stacked against them will their love last the test of time. We meet Grace in England and we see early on that she has a very strained relationship with her father. She is in a very difficult time of her life where she has come to a cross roads should she just take the easy safe path or should she follow her heart and turn her whole life upside down?

Eliza was such an endearing character who put everyone’s happiness and needs before her own and I just longed for a happy ever after for her. Grace was a more complex character and I found my feelings towards her constantly changing throughout the book. At times I was shocked by her actions and wanted to throttle her, then at other points I sympathised with her and hoped that she would make the right decision in the end. I found Grace’s story unpredictable I was sitting on the fence not sure which path she would chose.

Rosanna Ley has brought Cuba to life with her vibrant details, showing not only the charm of the country that draws people back but also showing the darker struggles the country and the Cubans have had to face. The author has quite clearly spent some time in Cuba and has absorbed a lot of Havana’s history. I found this such an evocative and charming read, my longing to visit Cuba has just magnified thanks to this book and I can’t wait to discover more of this authors books. Thank you to the publishers for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The One We Fell in Love With
The One We Fell in Love With
Price: £3.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Paige Toon book to date., 19 May 2016
The One We Fell in Love With is Paige Toon’s 10th book and I have read and absolutely loved every single one of her books, if ever I am in a book slump she is my go to author whose books I can always rely on and this latest book pulled me up out of my slump and had me so engrossed and before I knew it, it was 3am and I had finished it in one swoop!

Identical triplets Phoebe, Rose and Eliza not only look the same but they have the same taste in men especially when the hot new neighbour Angus moves in next door and captures all the girls attention. But there is only one Angus and Phoebe is determined to make her claim, surely it won’t take long for Rose and Eliza to get over their crush once they know he is off limits.

This has been a difficult review to write as I want to be so careful and not let anything spoil your enjoyment of this book but there is something about this storyline that is different from Paige Toon’s previous books and I think this is what has given this book a slight edge and has now knocked my two favourites, Pictures of Lily and One Perfect Summer off of the top spot.

This is the first book that I have read which features triplets which was great to read something fresh and original. Each of the girls were so well developed and at no point did I mix any of them up as although they were identical their personalities were completely different and I loved all three of them although I had more of a soft spot for Eliza. We get a great insight of what it is like to be an identical sibling and especially one of three when there is a fight for attention and not to be the one left out but also trying to find something to give their own identity to set them apart from their sister.

I did find this a great uplifting read with comical parts too which I have come to love in this authors books. The storyline was unpredictable too which I think was another reason why I couldn’t put the book down as I just needed to uncover what happened next. We do have the heart strings pulled too so we do go on a rollercoaster of emotions. Paige Toon fans are going to love this book and anyone who has yet to dive into the world of Paige Toon’s books will quickly become a number one fan after reading this book.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.

The Swimming Pool
The Swimming Pool
by Louise Candlish
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unpredictable read but I personally struggled with the time frame., 13 May 2016
This review is from: The Swimming Pool (Hardcover)
When I saw the cover for Swimming Pool by Louise Candish I headed straight to Amazon to read the synopsis and it immediately had me intrigued and after reading some rave reviews by reviewers who have similar taste to me I couldn’t wait to read it but unfortunately I did struggle with the structure of this book.

The storyline as you can imagine revolves around a swimming pool, Elm Hill Lido which has recently just been reopened with the help of Lara Channing and she soon becomes the woman who everyone wants to be associated with.
The swimming pool reopening isn’t good news for everyone though especially Natalie and her daughter Molly who has an extreme phobia of the water but despite her daughters phobia Natalie can’t stay away as she has been dazzled by Lara and wants to be a part of her social circle.
The storyline moves between different time frames and although I have read plenty of books that are written in dual time frames for some reason I found myself constantly losing my way and having to look back to see what time frame I was in as it would jump back to when our protagonist was young then back to the present day then back to a few weeks before and the back to present day again and I just couldn’t get to grips with this but I haven’t seen this mentioned in other reviews so it is obviously just something that personally I couldn’t get to grips with.
There was still something about the storyline that still kept me intrigued and determined to continue reading and I think that was the suspense and also the sinister feel to the storyline. Our protagonist Natalie is not a character people will warm to, she craved acceptance and status, she was frustrating and childish but I was very curious about her character.
I was very suspicious of the friendship between Natalie and Lara but as the storyline moved along I found I was suspicious of quite a number of characters as they all had something about them that was a little off and I couldn’t work out what their intentions were.
I did find the storyline unpredictable I did think I had worked out what was going to be revealed but I had drifted down the wrong path.
Despite my struggles with the structure of the book I did still enjoy the storyline and it would have easily been a 4 star read for me but the structure did effect the flow of the book for me so this is the reason I have given the book a 3 star rating but I still recommend you to pick up this book as you may not have the same trouble I had keeping up with the time frames.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me this book in return for an honest review.

Distress Signals: An Incredibly Gripping Psychological Thriller with a Twist You Won't See Coming
Distress Signals: An Incredibly Gripping Psychological Thriller with a Twist You Won't See Coming
by Catherine Ryan Howard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and unpredictable, 6 May 2016
istress Signals is Catherine Ryan Howard's debut novel and she has delivered a twisty, gripping read that will keep you guessing right until the very last page.

When Adam's girlfriend Sarah jets of to Barcelona on a business trip and fails to answer any of his calls or texts he begins to worry but when she isn't on the flight home that is when he knows something is really wrong but when her passport arrives in the post with only a note inside saying I'm Sorry -S that is when the dread kicks in.

Determined to get to the bottom of what has happened to Sarah, Adam sets out to uncover the truth.

The storyline is told from three characters points of view but mainly focuses on Adam. We also hear from Corinne and Romain and at the early stages of the book I couldn't work out what they had to do with the storyline but as the book progresses their characters are then weaved into the main storyline.

I haven't read a book like this in a long time where I had no idea where the storyline was going and what was going to be uncovered. As I collected the clues and evidence along with Adam along the way I found the constant little twists taking me down a different path each time so I was completely in the dark the whole way through so this author sure knows how to create an unpredictable storyline with a buzzing mystery all the way through.

There was no safe place to put this book down, I found myself eager to just read one more chapter to see what else Adam would find. Romain's character had me battling with my own thoughts because on the one hand he is a very troubled character and because of some of his actions I felt like I should despise him but I actually found I was a little sympathetic to his character because I felt like he was only the way he was because of his mum.

I was so wrapped up in this storyline although I have to say this has rather out me off of the cruise my husband and I had been looking at. I am excited to see what this author is going to deliver in her next book because this really was a creditable debut

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