Book Review: Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies) curated by Scarlett Curtis

Feminists

This book – curated by Scarlett Curtis – had been on my radar, I’d seen some tweets and it had been reviewed in Red Magazine – but I hadn’t actually ordered it.  Then, on October 4th, after Penguin had set up a a pop up stall to sell the book in the flagship Top Shop store on Oxford Street in London, they were asked to take it all down again allegedly upon the instruction of Top Shop supremo Sir Philip Green. A Topshop spokesperson said: “…. we made the decision from a production and creative standpoint to retract the Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies pop-up from one of our stores. We are sorry – this in no way reflects our stance on feminism and we will be making a donation of £25,000 to Girl Up. We continue to fully support the sentiment of the book, Scarlett Curtis, feminism and equality.”  This was before the recent news reports about Mr Green hit the press, post House of Lords revelations, but I think the #pinknotgreen hashtag was searingly appropriate even at that point.

Anyway – in a fit of solidarity with Ms Curtis, I bought a copy!  Here’s the Amazon blurb:

We asked 52 women: what does the F word mean to you? 
The result is extraordinary.
The must-read book for 2018. Follow @feminists on Instagram for updates. 
Curated by journalist and activist Scarlett Curtis, with incredible pieces by:
Emma Watson – Zoe Sugg – Keira Knightley – Gemma Arterton – Bridget Jones (by Helen Fielding) – Saoirse Ronan – Liv Little – Dolly Alderton – Karen Gillan – Alicia Garza – Jameela Jamil – Kat Dennings – Nimco Ali – Beanie Feldstein – Olivia Perez – Amika George – Evanna Lynch – Akilah Hughes – Tanya Burr – Grace Campbell – Alison Sudol – Elyse Fox – Charlie Craggs – Rhyannon Styles – Skai Jackson – Tasha Bishop – Lolly Adefope – Bronwen Brenner – Dr Alaa Murabit – Trisha Shetty – Jordan Hewson – Amy Trigg – Em Odesser – Emi Mahmoud – Lydia Wilson – Swati Sharma
Warning: contains a lot of feminism and some explicit content!

**Published in partnership with Girl Up, the UN women’s foundation, royalties will benefit this amazing charity**   “

It is a really varied book – as you would expect from many women’s own experience of feminism.  Some of it was funny, some tragic, some historical, some forward looking, some educational – and I really enjoyed all of those different aspects.  It was perfect to read one person’s chapter at a a time (yes, it was a ‘toilet’ book for me post bowel surgery……)

Some of it has been horribly misquoted in certain elements of the press.  For example it was said Keira Knightley SLAMMED the Duchess of Cambridge, who gave birth a day after Keira herself, for posing on the hospital steps.  But it wasn’t written like that at all.  In my eyes, Ms Knightley was pitying Kate for having to be on show like that – not saying she was doing womanhood a disservice by doing it.  But hey – why let the actual context of a written piece get in the way of then newspapers stoking up a supposed catfight between celebrity women……

Some of the contributors were a lot younger than me – but I didn’t find that an issue – and I liked the different perspective.

Overall it was a good read – and I’m not sure I could have found a better book for my ‘A book about feminism’ prompt for my 2018 Reading Challenge!

In another review I read it said to give this to every teenage girl you know!  Well, I went for donating my copy to the teenage girl resident in this house.  She reckons she’s far too busy with Year 11 revision to read it – so I’ve just left it in her bedroom – and hope she’ll be inspired to read it in the future.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Confidential

I am part of a Fitbit challenge group – and, thankfully, steps isn’t the only thing we discuss!  We cover a wide range of seemingly random topics for a bunch of 30/40 something women.  Recently we were reminiscing about the Sweet Valley High books that some of us read as teenagers.  Weirdly half of the group were obsessive fans – and half had never heard of them!  The groups didn’t appear to be defined by age or geography – so not entirely sure what prompted the split.  Anyway – one of the SVH virgins has now started reading an original book – and I purchased this book – based 10 years after the original series (of 181 books, according to Wikipedia!) to then share with my fellow fans.

Here’s the Amazon blurb

“It’s been ten years since the Wakefield twins graduated from Sweet Valley High, and a lot has happened.
For a start, Elizabeth and Jessica have had a falling out of epic proportions, after Jessica committed the ultimate betrayal, and this time it looks like Elizabeth will never be able to forgive her.
Suddenly Sweet Valley isn’t big enough for the two of them, so Elizabeth has fled to New York to immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a serious reporter, leaving a guilt-stricken Jessica contemplating the unthinkable: life without her sister.
Despite the distance between them, the sisters are never far from each other’s thoughts. Jessica longs for forgiveness, but Elizabeth can’t forget her twin’s duplicity. Uncharacteristically, she decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to get revenge. Always the ‘good’ twin, the one getting her headstrong sister out of trouble, Elizabeth is now about to turn the tables…”

This is not a literary classic – but it’s fun to read about characters that seem like old friends.  The storyline was pacy – and as I remember from 20 years ago, I occasionally wanted to punch the twins – but it was entertaining and kept me reading.

It’s partly set in Sweet Valley and partly in New York – and there are flashbacks through the last decade to set the scene.  New characters are interwoven with historic ones – but it all flows nicely.

This is not going to set the world alight as a memorable book – but was some fun escapism for a few hours.

I think now, as a grown up mother of 4, I’m happier in my skin and being an Elizabeth (or in my case Elisabeth!) rather than a Jessica – which is what I aspired to as a teenager.

I’ve subsequently read reviews who have picked fault with some of the continuity from the original series – for example, people’s appearance has been described differently, and a teacher has an inconsistent first name – but my memory is so rubbish, I would NEVER have picked up on any of these things! The basics all seem right to me.

I’ve slotted this into ‘A childhood classic that you’ve never read’ in my 2018 Reading Challenge – which I freely admit is stretching the boundaries a bit – but it’s getting closer and closer to the end of the year and I still have loads of gaps!!

The book is now winging its way across the Irish Sea for another friend to be able to reminisce about the Wakefield twins and their family and friends!

 

 

 

Book Review: A Miracle on Hope Street by Emma Heatherington

A Miracle on Hope Street

This book popped up on my Facebook feed a few times and so I hopped onto Netgalley to see if I could get an advanced review copy – and I was accepted.

Disclaimer:  It was only when I read the ‘thanks’ at the end of the book that I found out one of my friends was the editor for the book!!  Thankfully that didn’t colour my judgement as I only found out afterwards.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Remember the true meaning of Christmas with this heartfelt and beautiful novel from bestselling author Emma Heatherington.

Can a single act of kindness change a life forever?

To many people, Ruth Ryans has everything: the perfect job, a beautiful home and a loving family. But as Christmas approaches, Ruth feels lonelier than ever.

Then Ruth meets Michael. A man who she showed kindness to during his darkest moment. That one single act, his miracle, helped change his life forever.

Ruth decides to make this Christmas the most perfect one ever, opening up her home to those who need her help – the lonely, the lost and the ignored.

Actions speak louder than words and Ruth Ryans’ kindness will create little miracles for everyone … including her own battered heart.”

Initially I was a big confused and overwhelmed by the number of different characters – but it soon became evident they’d all written to Ruth Ryans in her capacity as an agony aunt – so that then made sense!  I also wasn’t entirely sure where it was set – not that it matters – but I worked out during the book it was Ireland, but not Dublin, although can’t be more sure of the geography than that!

Once I got into it, I really enjoyed it.  It gave a true festive feel – and whilst it’s out now (I finished it on publication day!) – I think it would be a perfect read in late December – maybe over the Christmas holidays in fact.

You really get a feel for how lonely people can be – and how this is magnified at a time like Christmas.  It also shows how a bit of kindness can go a long way – from Ruth’s initial contact with Michael,  through to her opening up her home to the lonely, lost and ignored.  Each of the characters that write to Ruth are fleshed out and you feel you get to know them as Ruth does – which I enjoyed.

There is a twist in the middle – which I have to say I guessed – but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book. (I won’t tell you what it is, as I hate book reviews with massive spoilers).

Overall I really enjoyed it as a fun, easy, but still thought provoking, read.  I also think it would make a lovely festive film.

I’m not sure I can fit it into a category of my 2018 Reading Challenge – as I’ve already got books in the slots it would fit –  but I’m trying not to get too hung up on that – and read things I want to read as well!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Swim Bike Run: Our traithlon story by Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Brownlee book

A friend recommended this for the ‘a book about sport’ in our 2018 reading challenge.  She’s not a big sports fan – but had really enjoyed this – so I followed suit.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Swim, Bike, Run – The ultimate guide to triathlon by Olympics heroes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

A Number One Bestseller
This is the story of how two skinny lads from west Yorkshire became the best triathletes in the world.
Meet the Brownlees: Olympic Champion Alistair, World Champion Jonny. Brothers, training partners, rivals. They have obliterated the competition and set new standards for swimming, biking and running.
In this revealing, often very funny book they take us inside their world. It’s both a riveting story of the races, the success and the brotherly rivalry, as well as a guide to triathlon with sections on how to swim, bike and run and packed with advice on nutrition, injury, and mental approach.

This book will appeal to readers of cycling and running books like Mark Cavendish’s Boy Racer and Running with the Kenyans, as well as fans of Chrissie Wellington’s A Life Without Limits and Andy Beckett’s Can’t Swim, Can’t Bike, Can’t Run.
‘Sport has two new heroes: a couple of nice lads from Yorkshire’ The Times
Alistair Brownlee, 24, is a British triathlete from Yorkshire. He is the reigning Olympic champion, a back-to-back European champion and a two-time World champion.
Jonathan Brownlee, 22, is also a British triathlete from Yorkshire. He is the reigning World Champion, a two-time World Sprint champion and an Olympic bronze medalist.”

Bizarrely, the weekend before I started reading this, I’d been chatting to a friend whose eldest daughter does triathlons (like the Brownlees, she started as a competitive swimmer and has moved across) and she told be about the wetsuit temperature rules (and that the good swimmer prefer not to wear them) – and exactly the same information was shared within the first chapter or so – it felt like fate!  Given it’s the only triathlon fact I knew, I felt quite smug.

The book follows their lives and alternates between Alistair and Jonny telling the story.  It’s really interesting – even for someone like me who knows little about their sport (although, was screaming at the TV during their 2012 Olympic race – and any other time I’ve watched them #armchairviewer)

Whilst the sport story is interesting – and their dedication to their training – the relationship between them as brothers and competitors is also explored – which is very interesting indeed.

I did really enjoy it – it’s not a type of book I often read – but I kind of felt it finished too soon.  I would like to have known what happened afterwards and more recently (although I appreciate the book was written before their dramatic 2016 race in Mexico where Alistair practically carried Jonny across the line in a world championship race)

I almost felt guilty too – because the one time ever that Alistair has been disqualified in a race was last weekend – as I was finishing the book.  I sort of felt responsible – because I was reading about him and therefore super interested in the results…. #guiltcomplexextraordinaire.

As well as being interesting and informative – it’s also really funny at times – they seem like they would be a real laugh (and they like cake!)  Definitely worth a read.

 

 

 

Book Review: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

One of the prompts in my 2018 Reading Challenge is a book with an ugly cover.  I therefore contemplated reading Fire and Fury due to its very ugly cover:

fire and fury

but I just couldn’t bring myself to!  I kept seeing really positive reviews of Dolly Alderton’s memoir, and decided that was much more appealing than reading about the orange one – so I went for that instead, as there is scribbling on the cover so that can count as ugly?!

Everything I Know About

Here is the Amazon blurb:

“When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Timesdating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.”

And what other authors have said about it:

‘A wonderful writer, who will surely inspire a generation the way that Caitlin Moran did before her’ Julie Burchill

‘If Nora Ephron is the cool aunt you wish you’d had, Dolly Alderton is your favourite cousin. I loved it and I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t; it’s a genuine delight’ Kristen Roupenian, author of Cat Person

I’d already read Dolly’s article in the Sunday Times Style magazine called ’30 Things I’ve Learned About Life At 30′ – which I loved – so I guessed I was going to enjoy her book.

Now, I think I am older than target market (this is becoming a recurring theme in my book reviews.  Do I just need to accept I’m mid 40s?!?) as Dolly was 28 when she wrote it but I really enjoyed it. I also felt that Nina – in the last book I read – should really read it!

It’s sort of autobiographical – but jumps around rather than being strictly chronological.  There are also some hilarious random chapters which are (I am assuming fake) emails about weddings / baby showers / hen do invites – and texts to people – and these were all laugh out loud funny.  Totally should have written LOL to be down with the kids…….

Dolly’s reliance on booze / hard drugs / casual sex is also looked at in detail – so definitely don’t read if that’s not your bag.

What I LOVED was Dolly’s relationship with her friendship group – and especially her best friend Farly.  The friendship changed over the years – but was the one constant throughout the book.  They definitely went through their ups and downs together too – and clearly love each other completely and utterly as friends.

I read it really quickly as I was enjoying it – and Dolly’s writing style is great.  I feel like I want to buy a copy for all of my 20 something cousins!  I also really want a follow up in about 5 years to find out how everyone is doing…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Nina Is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

Nina is not ok

I chose this for my 2018 Reading Challenge as ‘A book by an author of a different ethnicity to you’ because it popped up on Amazon as a book I might like – and I liked Shappi Khorsandi on I’m A Celebrity last year.  As good a reason as ever to read a book?!

Here’s the blurb:

“Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t? 
Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all. 
And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before, then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend. 
But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…”

I think I am slightly over target age for this – but it’s really good.  Whilst I didn’t drink quite as much as Nina as a teenager – I do remember the hungover shame the next morning in my mid 20s.

I like Nina a lot – and her friends.  I feel for her Mum – and wonder how I would cope if that was my daughter.  I also secretly really like Alan her step Dad – when the chips are down he is ace.

The book is brilliantly written with a really dry sense of humour – and just so true.  Little things like Nina kicking her dresser really hard (but not so hard that her jewellery fell off and got all tangled up).  Just very cleverly written.

The descriptions of rehab are also really interesting – and AA meetings / sponsor set up.  I can see the massive benefits – and detriments – of sharing with people going through the same or similar addictions.

It also highlights the issues that social media and smart phones bring to teenagers lives.  Yet again it made me incredibly grateful that my teenage years were in the 90s before the advent of such things.

A number of the reviewers on Amazon have said that every 15-25 year old should read this.  I squirmed a bit at this, as my eldest is 15 and there is quite a lot of sex in the book – but hey, at her age I could probably find you the rude bits in Judy Blume’s ‘Forever’ in a matter of seconds – and she watched bloody Love Island – and this is way more thought provoking than that drivel.  However, I’m sure if I recommend it she won’t read it anyway!

I would recommend this to the age range mentioned above – but also to those of us with kids that age – it is really though provoking.  I will definitely look for other books by Shappi Khorsandi as I really like her writing style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd

The Anniversary.jpg

I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced review copy by Penguin of this new book out in September 2018 in return for an honest review.  Here’s the  blurb:

“Is the one you tried to forget the one you can’t live without?
Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.
But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.
Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.
Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.
Should they fight temptation?
Should the past remain the past?
Or are some loves simply meant to be?”

The book is set in the current time – but with flashbacks to the family tragedy 27 years earlier.  The back story is filled out over time in a way that keeps you wanting to know more. Whilst you find out early on what the result was of the tragic event – you don’t know how and why it happened (and I won’t ruin it by giving too much away here – I loathe reviews that ruin a fundamental part of the story – and I’m pleased the blurb doesn’t in this case).

I really liked Stella and Jack – and you’re routing for them both in different ways.

Their daughter Eve (co-incidentally one of my daughter’s too) is very much stuck in the middle – and I found her a bit annoying at times, but pregnancy can make anyone a bit annoying (I’ve done it 4 times, and I’m sure was annoying every time!!)

I devoured the book in a few hours on holiday – but it felt like the kind of book you want to romp through as it moves at quite a pace – and you’re picking up the history too.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a reasonably easy read – although appeared to have some randomly complicated words in at times – you could almost picture the writer using the synonym feature on her computer to get a fancy pants word as it generally wasn’t highbrow language!!

I don’t think I’ve read anything by Hilary Boyd before – but I will be sure to look out her back catalogue now for other holiday reads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap

The Rules of Seeing.jpg

I was lent a copy of this by a friend – and told it was really ‘different’.  Now, I’m always nervous of ‘different’ having used exactly that word to describe Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ – some of my friends still haven’t forgiven me for putting then through that!  Anyway – I read the book without reading the blurb first – which is always a risk!!

But here it is for you:

“Nova is 32 years old and she is about to see the world for the very first time.
Jillian Safinova, Nova to her friends, can do many things. She can speak five languages. She can always find a silver lining. And she can even tell when someone is lying just from the sound of their voice.
But there’s one thing Nova can’t do. She can’t see.
When her brother convinces her to have an operation that will restore her sight, Nova wakes up to a world she no longer understands. Until she meets Kate.
As Kate comes into focus, her past threatens to throw them into a different kind of darkness. Can they each learn to see the world in a different … and open their eyes to the lives they could have been living all along?”

I LOVED this book – from start to finish.  It’s difficult to know what category to put it in – there is a lot about the physical act of seeing, but also non physical blindness to things going on around you – as well as a romance and thriller aspects – very difficult to pin it down to a genre.

The whole concept of ‘curing’ a ‘broken’ sense is something I hadn’t even considered until a few years ago when a friend’s son was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at birth.  Cochlear implants were an option for him – and as someone with no experience of the deaf world at all, I just assumed it was a no brainer, and anything to make a child ‘normal’ (I cringe writing that now) should be grabbed at.  I hadn’t realised – until my very patient and forgiving friend – explained to me the complexities of ‘curing’ deafness has massively opposing views in the deaf community.  At the age of about 1, my friend’s son did have the implants and is thriving as a funny, feisty, bright, articulate, handsome, loving and loved 6 year old – and his implants are something that will be an intrinsic part of his life forever.

I think this gave me slightly more of an insight into Nova’s operation than I would have had if I’d not even considered ‘repairing a broken sense’ before. Obviously in her case it’s totally different as it’s sight not hearing, and she’s 32 – so has lived without seeing anything properly her entire life to date.  She’s an independent, successful woman working as an interpreter for the police – and the aftermath of her operation plays out for her professionally, personally and psychologically.

Nova’s path crosses with Kate in hospital. I have to say I’d made assumptions about how Kate’s injuries would pan out – and I was totally and utterly wrong! But their lives become entwined in a complex and ever changing way. The support they show each other – in different ways at different times – is beautiful and very real.

Also, being a ‘builder’ in my day job helped me appreciate some of Kate’s geeky architect references, for example the soundproofed new flat – I love it when there are seemingly irrelevant facts that interest me!

Nova and Kate’s relationships with family and friends are fundamental to the story but work really well – you see them as rounded people without any of it being forced – it’s just written really well. I don’t want to give too much of it away – you need to see what I mean when you read it.

This book does make you think about how we ‘see’ – and Nova’s rules of seeing are dotted throughout – some are practical – and some with a much deeper meaning – but all very cleverly done.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

amy schumer

I am trying to tick off some categories in my 2018 reading challenge – and this book by Amy Schumer is a previous Goodreads Peoples Choice winner #yay. My husband and I watched ‘Trainwreck’ a few years ago – and he was surprised how much the Amy Schumer character reminded him of me…… (this is a compliment – I think?!)  We watched some of her stand up and found that very entertaining too (probably I enjoyed it more than him – even though he doesn’t mind a vulgar sex reference much!!)  Anyway – I wanted to find out more about the real Amy – rather than the semi autobiographical one from Trainwreck (and was hoping I wouldn’t be massively disappointed in the whole Greatest Showman / PT Barnum autobiography debacle from earlier this summer)

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy shares stories about her family, her relationships, her career, good – and bad – sex, recounting the experiences that have shaped who she is today: from the riches to rags story of her childhood to her teenage quest for popularity (and boys) to becoming one of the most sought-after comedians on the planet and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights.
Whether she’s experiencing lust at first sight in the queue at the airport, discovering her boot camp instructor’s secret bad habit, or candidly discussing her father’s multiple sclerosis, Amy Schumer proves to be a fearless, original, and always entertaining storyteller. Her book will move you, make you laugh, catch you completely off guard, and answer this burning question: is it okay for a 35 year-old woman to still sleep with her childhood teddy bears?”

First up – I really enjoyed the book.  It’s quite explicit sexually – but that’s not a huge surprise if you’ve seen any of Amy’s previous work!  But it’s also very soul bearing emotionally.  Both as a woman – but also in her role as a daughter.  I hadn’t appreciated that her father had multiple sclerosis – this touched a nerve having watched a family friend – the Dad of one of my best friends – go through this diagnosis and live with MS for 30 years until he eventually passed away a few years ago.  I note from a bit of Google research that Mr Schumer has undergone some stem cell research (mentioned in the closing chapters of the book) and has successfully stood again – which is AMAZING news.

Amy is very open and honest throughout the book – again, as you would expect from her stand up.  I thought it very interesting how she would class herself as an introvert – despite her chosen career.

I loved her relationship with her sister, brother in law and niece – they are clearly a really vital and loved part of her world.  Her relationship with her Mum is more ‘interesting’ and is explored in some depth at different times in her life.

The book also emphasised just how hard she worked for years on end before becoming an apparent ‘overnight success’ – and I hadn’t really thought before how a comic has to be continually working on their act – as she says, it’s not like being a musician where everyone wants the old classics people want new stuff all the time!  (The complete opposite of a Take That concert where everyone pops to the loo whilst they play the new stuff, willing them to sing Relight My Fire so they can do the Lulu bit – or maybe that’s just me?!?!?)

I found the book interesting, funny, thought provoking, emotional and really enjoyable.  And a million times better than the P T Barnum autobiography!!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The House We Called Home by Jenny Oliver

51mrN8h7xSL

I have to confess to being a bit of a fan girl of Jenny Oliver’s (when I met her in real life I was a) a bit drunk and b) a bit embarrassing by introducing myself as THE Libby Price (as she’d named a character after me in a previous book after my husband bid for it in a charity auction!) )  She is a friend of a friend – and I believe this book in hard copy has dedication to the aforementioned friend – but I couldn’t find that on the Kindle version (which is currently 99p – what a bargain!)

Here’s the blurb:

“The house where Stella and her sister Amy grew up never changes – the red front door, the breath-taking view over the Cornish coast, her parents in their usual spots on the sofa. Except this summer, things feel a little different…
Stella’s father is nowhere to be seen, yet her mother – in suspiciously new Per Una jeans – seems curiously unfazed by his absence, and more eager to talk about her mysterious dog-walking buddy Mitch.
Stella’s sister Amy has returned home with a new boyfriend she can barely stand and a secret to hide, and Stella’s husband Jack has something he wants to get off his chest too. Even Frank Sinatra, the dog, has a guilty air about him.
This summer, change is in the air for the Whitethorns…
Warm, funny and gloriously feel-good, this is the perfect summer read for fans of Veronica Henry and Milly Johnson.”

I really enjoyed this from the start.  Stella is having difficulties with a  challenging 13 year old son – and I totally empathise with that! Not that I’ve dumped mine at my parents – yet!

I liked the fact that the book revolved around the extended family – and so there were lots of central characters. Whilst Stella was the one I empathised with most – I liked most of them – although wanted to slap some of the on a number of occasions!!

A chunk of the book is based on competitive swimming – we have good friends who swim in that world (ridiculous pun most definitely intended!) and so I could empathise with some of that too!

Having holidayed in Cornwall and Portugal in the last few months I had some of the locations in the bag already too – which is always useful!  I’m a sucker for any story that includes a pastel de nata reference! #Portuguesecustardtart

I have to admit that a couple of friends had said this was utterly amazing and they had wept through it – and maybe I’m a hard hearted cow – but I didn’t find it that emotional – but I did really enjoy it.

For 99p – you can’t go wrong!

P.S. Whilst I can concur with the Veronica Henry reference in the blurb – this blows any Milly Johnson I’ve ever read out of the water!!!