Book Review: The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe by Jenny Oliver

I have been a big fan of Jenny Oliver’s previous books – and so was excited that she was publishing more – and this time a whole series based on fictional Cherry Pie Island! I have always loved her characters and so have wanted to know what happens after the book finishes (unlike Gone Girl where I didn’t give a toss about any of them!) – and so thought a series would be excellent.

The Grand Reopening

The first one is entitled ‘The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe’ and this is what Amazon says about it:

“Home, Sweet Home….?
There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming…
When Annie White steps back onto Cherry Pie Island, it’s safe to say her newly inherited Dandelion Café has seen better days! And while her childhood home on the Thames-side island idyll is exactly the same retreat from the urban bustle of London she remembers, Annie’s not convinced that Owner of The Dandelion Cafe is a title she’ll be keeping for long. Not that she can bear the idea of letting her dedicated, if endearingly disorganized staff lose their jobs. Plus café life does also have the added bonus of working a stone’s throw away from millionaire Matt and his disarmingly charming smile!
One (shoestring budget) café makeover, a few delightful additions to the somewhat retro menu and a lot of cherry pie tastings later, The Dandelion Café is ready for its grand reopening! But once she’s brought the dilapidated old café back to life, Annie finds herself wishing her stay on the island was just a bit longer. She always intended to go back to the big city…but could island living finally have lured her back home for good?”

I REALLY enjoyed it. It’s a light, easy read – but funny, warm and you really care about the characters.  As with her other books there are excellent points of reference that really ring true (this time my favourite being a white Dolcis shoe box in a drawstring black Dolcis bag!!).  As with Jenny’s previous books, her descriptions of food are amazing – you can almost taste the cherry pie and its accompaniments!

Annie’s relationships with her family are complex – but you are always in Annie’s corner.

And as I expected – I do want to know what happens to Annie next!

I had read the blurb for book 2 before reading book 1 (book 2 should be winging its way to my Kindle today – yay!) and so could see the seeds being sown for the characters that feature in that.  I am also hoping we continue to keep in touch with the characters from book 1 – but I will report back on that later!

This is not high brow, prize winning fiction (but hey, we don’t want to read The Goldfinch every day – in fact, most normal people don’t want to read The Goldfinch ever!!) – but it’s fun, escapist reading – which sometimes is just what is called for.

I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series as they are published.

And I really fancy some cherry pie………

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Colour – The Photo Gallery Week 227

The prompt this week for The Photo Gallery is ‘Colour’ – and I knew straight away I wanted to use this photo taken on our summer holiday last year.

I love the colour of the chocolate (hey, I just love chocolate, as the size of my bum will attest!)

I love the colour of the pink flower on her hat (or actually her sister’s hat that she’d borrowed, hence the fact it’s too big!)

But most of all I love the colour of her perfect little rose bud lips.

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I suspect there are going to be some very colourful entries this week – so do pop across and see how others have interpreted ‘colour’.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Operation Teddy Bear

I am not blogging as much as normal at the moment, as pretty much all spare waking minutes – and some sleeping ones – are being taken up with Operation Teddy Bear.

Builder Bear!
Builder Bear!

I’ve mentioned before about taking bear selfies and it would still be GREAT if you could do them and share on social media with the #opteddybear hashtag – and if any of you are / know a celeb – please rope them in too!! Join the motley crew of Olly Murs, Sir Alex Ferguson, Angela Griffin et al!

Also – there’s still time to donate teddies! All the details of Bear HQ and drop off points are on the Operation Teddy Bear website and Finlay’s Journey on Facebook.

And if you don’t have teddies to donate – then good old fashioned cash is also appreciated – here’s the Just Giving page link.

Please help the inspirational Finlay break a Guinness World Record and raise loads of cash for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Brain Tumour Research.

Thanks everyone, from me – and the rest of the #opteddybear team – and most importantly, Fin.
xx

Book Review: Second Life by S J Watson

Second life

Earlier in the year I read ‘Before I Go To Sleep‘ by S J Watson. I liked it – but it had been hyped by friends before I read it – and it wasn’t as amazing as I’d expected. I went into this, SJ Watson’s next book, without any preconceived ideas apart from this fairly vague Amazon blurb:

“She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger.
She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything.
She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control.
She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin.
She’s living two lives. She might lose both . . .”

Again SJ Watson is writing as a woman (he’s a bloke) – this time as Julia.  She obviously has her historic demons (it is revealed fairly early on that she’s an alcoholic – and I felt these parts were described incredibly well, it even made me go properly on the wagon for a bit!!) The story is based about the fact that her sister has been murdered in Paris – and Julia’s attempt to uncover what has happened.

I can’t really say much more without giving away huge chunks of the plot – it twists and turns brilliantly with lots of things interlinking.  Sometimes it is a bit far fetched – but not so much it makes it totally unbelievable.  The use of social media / the internet / apps makes it seem very up to date in setting – and all of this makes some of the coincidences less coincidental.

I have to say there were times when I was shouting at Julia to tell someone else the truth – but to actually be in that situation must be so difficult, and reasonable behaviour may well go out the window.

As with Before I Go To Sleep it picks up pace towards the end and gets more and more exciting – but still the ending is a total shock.  I can’t say any more than that!!

I really enjoyed it – much more than Before I Go To Sleep – and would definitely recommend it.

Spring – The photo gallery week 226

Way back in Autumn I said I would take the same 2 pictures out of my front and back windows each season, to keep a record of the changing views.

Today the prompt over at Sticky Fingers is ‘Spring’ – and it was a GLORIOUS day and so photos were duly taken. Let’s be honest – they may well beat ‘Summer’ knowing what British weather is like!!

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They are so bright and hopeful.  I also like the fact you can just about see the St George’s flag flying from the church (not sure why?  An Easter thing??)

But I also realised that I never posted the ‘Winter’ photos? Whoops! So here they are – doesn’t it look cold and frosty!

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Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Should we reside in Waitrose in Highgate?!

I am a big fan of the Facebook account ‘Overheard in Waitrose’ and the Twitter account @highgatemums – to the point that I think my 4 children should perhaps reside in said supermarket in North London (not the Highgate in Birmingham nearer where we live – that’s very different – and doesn’t have a Waitrose for a start!!)

So – basically, it’s kids being up their own arses that both things highlight. Hey – we can even do sub-categories:

TRAVEL

The eldest, when 5, was learning about modes of transport – she was asked at school if she’d been on a bus ‘Yes, that’s what takes you from the airport to the plane’!

4 year old, on Monarch flight to Faro in Portugal last Summer  ‘Mummy, why doesn’t my chair turn into a bed, and why haven’t I got my own TV?’

Same child told me this Easter hols ‘Mummy, do you know, we are going on holiday JUST IN THE CAR – not on a plane?’

SPORTING

Son, when off to see his then 9 year old cousin playing football, wouldn’t eat his breakfast before we left home, commented ‘It’s ok, I’ll just get some chips and nuggets in the Box when we get there’ – having been spoilt at Villa Park didn’t quite grasp the concept of Hampshire Under 10s in a local park.

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3 year old, wailing ‘Mummy, the wifi is down and I can’t watch Netflix’

Children, when being called through for their dinner at our holiday home in the Lakes this week,  ‘But WHY can’t we pause the TV?’

EXCEPTIONS

So, sometimes, the kids do remind me that we’ve kept their feet almost on the ground:

The eldest, recently, ‘Mum, I’m not sure this Waitrose Ardennes Pate is really ‘essential’?!’ …………

Show Me Your Teddy Bear – The Photo Gallery week 225

From the outset I need to declare an interest in this week’s theme! I’ve known Finlay since he was a baby – and am heavily involved in organising Operation Teddy Bear – to the point that I’m dreaming about teddies!!

Actually I blogged about Fin last year – when the Gallery theme was ‘Spectacular‘.

Since then Fin has continued with his treatment – and living the life a 10 year old boy should with school, fun with family and friends, and some of his favourite sports.

He’s also passionate about raising money for both Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Brain Tumour Research – which we are supporting with Operation Teddy Bear – as well as trying to get in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The support from people far and wide has been astonishing – from donations of teddy bears and cash – to #opteddybear selfies on social media – from people who know Fin – and others, including some celebs! We’ve still got almost a month until the event on May 3rd – so any support that you can give would be massively welcome. The Just Giving site is here.

I’m off to scour the charity shops of the Lake District for teddies whilst we’re away for Easter!

So – here are the Price family with their #opteddybear pictures:

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And the construction company we own also managed some ‘Builder Bears’!!!

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Please pop across and see other people’s teddy bears:

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Girls – The Photo Gallery week 224

Last week the prompt over on the Sticky Fingers blog for the gallery was ‘boys’ – and so, unsurprisingly, last week I wrote about my boys – and this week it’s the turn of my girls.

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After we’d had our eldest daughter and then son – and some pretty traumatic births – we decided enough was enough and husband had the snip. As people were all too keen to point out ‘you’ve had one of each, why would you want any more?’ (Why do people say that?!?)

Fast forward 4 years and I’m WEEPING in the M&S school uniform section buying my ‘baby’ his school trousers and decided I’d quite like another baby (well, actually 2, as my OCD couldn’t cope with an odd number of children!) Husband was more than happy to oblige – and 6 weeks post op we were pregnant with baby number 3, and 16 months after her baby number 4 arrived too!

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So girls massively outweigh boys in this house – there is A LOT of pink!  They are already all their own characters – and seem to be getting feistier with each Miss Price iteration.

The eldest is BRILLIANT with her little sisters (most of the time!) and in return they look up to her massively (as I would like to think my sisters do to me?!?).

The little two being so close in age is great – and they play beautifully together (they also fight like cat and dog – but we’ll gloss over that for now!)  The fact they are both girls makes it very different to the older kids relationship. I am one of 3 girls – but throwing an additional brother into the mix really changes the dynamic.

I used to love the American TV programme ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and the dynamics between all of the siblings – and I look forward to that playing out in our family in the future – definitely different to just ‘sisters’.

So these are my girls – pop over to The Gallery to see other peoples’ girls…….

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery