Book Review: One Lucky Summer by Jenny Oliver

I’ve long been a Jenny Oliver fan – and not just because one of her back catalogue features my name as the main character (charity auction bid from my husband) Her summery books are always great fun – but somehow I’d been sent this on NetGalley and it had passed me by – but what a perfect book to read on my summer holiday, and if you like the sound of it, then it’s out already.

Here’s the blurb:

“The best kept secrets are waiting to be found.         
With an air of faded splendour, Willoughby Hall was an idyllic childhood home to Ruben de Lacy. Gazing at it now, decades later, the memories are flooding back, and not all of them are welcome….
In a tumbledown cottage in Willoughby’s grounds, Dolly and Olive King lived with their eccentric explorer father. One of the last things he did was to lay a treasure hunt before he died, but when events took an unexpected turn, Dolly and Olive left Willoughby for good, never to complete it.
But when Ruben uncovers a secret message, hidden for decades, he knows he needs Olive and Dolly’s help. Can the three of them solve the treasure hunt, and will piecing together the clues help them understand what happened to their families that summer, all those years ago?”

This was a lovely, quick, fun read – I devoured it in a day!

It’s quite an ensemble piece and you’re invested in everyone’s lives. Whilst there is the standard summer romance you’d expect – it’s much more than that – looking at loads of different relationships. Siblings, parental, extended family, unexpected child, colleagues, childhood sweethearts etc etc – and all sat with the beautiful backdrop of Willoughby Hall.

The treasure hunt aspect was also fun – although I wouldn’t say as central as the blurb suggests – but still intriguing.

My only complaint is I want to find out what happens to the gang next!!

It’s only 99p on Kindle – and totally worth less than a cup of coffee.

Book Review: The Summer We Ran Away by Jenny Oliver

The Summer We Ran Away

I’ve long been a Jenny Oliver fan – even before my name featured as a character in one of her books – so always keep my eyes peeled on NetGalley for her work – and saw this one, which comes out in June 2020.

Here’s the blurb:

“It was meant to be the party of the summer…

In Cedar Road, everyone is preparing for Lexi’s ‘White Hot’ summer party. For one night, parking squabbles and petitions are put aside as neighbours sip Prosecco under the fairy lights and gather by the hot tub to marvel at Lexi’s effortlessly glamorous life with Hot Hamish.

For Julia, it’s a chance to coax husband Charlie out of his potting shed and into a shirt so they can have a welcome break from the hellish house renovation they’ve been wrestling with. And it’s a chance for Julia to pretend – just for a night – that her life is as perfect as Lexi’s.

But when, during the party, one of Julia’s WhatsApp messages falls into the wrong hands and reveals her most intimate thoughts, things reach boiling point…
And when all the neighbours know exactly what you’re thinking, there’s only one thing to do.

Run away.

It’s going to be a summer Julia will never forget…”

The book starts on the evening of Lexi’s summer party.  Lexi is an ‘influencer’ and Julia’s neighbour – and Julia is desperate to be part of Lexi’s ‘in crowd’.  I initially felt a bit sorry for Julia – who was trying so hard to seek Lexi’s approval – when Lexi was clearly a complete cow.

(As an aside, I also wanted to buy Lexi a t-shirt from Paper Press Ireland that I recently got my teenage daughter which says ‘Being famous on Instagram is the same as being rich in Monopoly.  Calm Your Tits’.  Check out their slogan tees – they are EPIC.  Anyway – back to the book!)

The build up to the scene where Julia’s WhatsApp message is read by the wrong person is cringeworthy – you can just see where it’s going to go – real squeaky bum time!

And I actually much preferred the book after Julia had escaped from the party.

Her relationship with Amber (who I pictured as an Angelina Jolie-esque, don’t give a shit type person) develops really well, and the descriptions of France were brilliant and really evoked the feeling of being at an antiques market.

I also liked the fact that despite her disastrous time at the party – Julia is still desperate to know what has happened there by stalking social media – it really is an evil drug sometimes.

Using social media to stalk features later in the book too – and knowing who to stalk (sometimes not the actual person you’re bothered about – but someone close to them #skills) is great.

As well as Julia’s relationships with family and friends (I love the phonecalls with her parents – perfectly written), Amber’s relationships with her son and people from her past and present are also fundamental to the book.  Julia and Amber are incredibly different people. but it all segues together really nicely.

I enjoyed the ending and how lots of storylines were all tied together.  It also makes you think about priorities – especially at this weird time in the world.

As with all of Jenny Oliver’s books it was funny, warm, heartfelt and a lovely read.  I actually think this is my favourite so far (I suspect I say that every time?!)

I would definitely recommend you pre order it now so you get a nice surprise in June!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC.





Book Review: The House We Called Home by Jenny Oliver


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!!!




Book Review: The Summerhouse by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

I have long been a fan of Jenny Oliver’s books – my husband even bid at a charity auction for my name to be a character in one!  They are escapist, funny and easy to read.  Jenny had tweeted that her new book was available on Netgalley (To quote their home page “We help readers of influence discover and recommend new books to their audiences. If you are a librarian, bookseller, educator, reviewer, blogger or in the media, get started right now by signing in or joining for free.”) I decided to sign up, given I review so many books on my blog now, and thankfully I was accepted and so could download a preview copy for free straight to my kindle.


Here is the Amazon blurb:

“Every Summer has its own story…

For Ava Brown, the backdrop to all her sun-drenched memories – from her first taste of chocolate-dipped churros to her very first kiss – is her grandmother’s Summerhouse in the sleepy Spanish seaside town of Mariposa.

Returning for one last summer, Ava throws herself into a project her grandmother would be proud of. Café Estrella – once the heart of the sleepy seaside village – now feels more ramshackle than rustic. Just like Ava, it seems it has lost its sparkle.

Away from the exhausting juggle of London life, Ava realises somehow her life has stopped being…happy. But being back at the Summerhouse by the sea could be the new beginning she didn’t even realise she needed…”

The book starts with a bit about Whatsapp – and I think it’s the first book I’ve read which even mentions it – so you can see it’s totally up to date with it’s references, which I love!  Whatsapp / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook feature throughout the book – just as they do throughout most people’s lives – and I really liked that.

The descriptions of Spain are wonderful – and made me want to hop on a plane pretty smartish – and the food descriptions, as ever in all Jenny’s books, are fabulous.  You can almost taste the food.

Ava is a central character that you’re rooting for – and the dynamic of her relationships with family (present and absent), older people in the village and romance-wise are all beautifully explored. I liked the multi-generational aspect of the book a lot.

It was a perfect, easy, escapist read – that would only have been better if I’d been reading it on the beach!

I have to say this is my favourite Jenny Oliver book now and had me proper sobbing at the end.  I would love to know what happens to all of the characters in the future – so fingers firmly crossed for a sequel???

I was trying to work out which category in my Reading Challenge I could fit this into!  Firstly I thought maybe ‘A book by an author who uses a pseudonym’ as I though Oliver wasn’t Jenny’s real surname (I checked with one of her best friends, and I was right!!) but then also it could be ‘A book with one of the four seasons in the title’ – but that’s questionable.  Even in the book it is discussed whether it’s summer house or summerhouse!  The layout of the front cover would suggest the former, but the content the latter – so who knows.  It can be one of those books that would fit a couple of categories, and I can move it during the year dependent on what else I read!!




Book Review: The Sunshine and Biscotti Club by Jenny Oliver

The Sunshine and Biscotti Club

First things first, I must confess an interest in this book.  Back last October, at a charity auction, the author Jenny Oliver had donated a ‘money can’t buy’ prize of being a named character in one of her future books.  My wonderful husband bid lots of money for fabulous causes (Brain Tumour Research and Birmingham Children’s Husband) and I was the lucky winner! I had no clue what the book was going to be about, just that Libby Price would be in it – and that it would be out in May 2016.

I then got to read the blurb on Amazon:

“The ovens are pre-heating, the Prosecco is chilling…and The Sunshine and Biscotti Club is nearly ready to open its doors.
But the guests have other things on their minds…
Libby: The Blogger
Life is Instagram-perfect for food blogger Libby…until she catches her husband cheating just weeks before her Italian cooking club’s grand opening.
Evie: The Mum
Eve’s marriage isn’t working, but she’s not dared admit it until now. A trip to Italy to help Libby open The Sunshine and Biscotti Club might be the perfect escape…
Jessica: In Love with her Best Friend
Jessica has thrown herself into her work to shut out the memory of the man who never loved her back. The same man who’s just turned up in Tuscany…
Welcome to Tuscany’s newest baking school – where your biscotti is served with a side of love, laughter and ice-cold limoncello!”

So not only was Libby Price a named character – she was the main character – excitement overload. The blurb also contained one of Libby’s friends being called Evie – which is one of my daughters (interestingly I found out from one of Jenny’s friends that this was a typo in the blurb, and throughout the book Evie is Eve – but then so is my Evie, legally!) However, there was also an unfaithful rotter of a husband – thankfully not called Mark, which might have been a bit distressing!!

I was very excited on publication date to receive some flowers through the post from Jenny Oliver and Carina (the publishers) and a copy of THE BOOK!

I read the first sentence to my husband: “As the church clock struck midnight, Libby Price was attempting to haul a double mattress up a flight of stairs on her own.”
His response – “well, that’s obviously fiction, you’d get staff to do it”.

So off I went to see what this Libby Price was all about!

I was instantly sucked in to her Tuscan world and what she needed to do to get The Sunshine and Biscotti Club up and running in a slightly dilapidated hotel left to Libby by her Aunt.  It also brought about  the intertwining lives of her old friends who all rallied round to help her. The descriptions of Italy were wonderful – you could almost taste the limoncello – and the scenery –  the hotel itself, the surrounding countryside and the blokes – were perfectly described!  Each chapter was told from the point of view of one of the female leads – who all had very different lives now, years on from when they were first mates.  I have to say because my reading isn’t devouring a book in one sitting any more (the joy of 4 kids!) I dip in and out – and sometimes I had to go back and re-read to remind myself who everyone was – particularly the male characters, as there seemed to be lots of them, and I don’t feel I got to know them as well as the female ones.

Whilst the book was a lot about friendships it touched on other topics – particularly the Instagram perfectness that many people portray on social media, which isn’t their real life at all.

At the end of the book you’re fast forwarded a full year.  I have to confess to feeling a bit short changed – I wanted to know what had happened in the intervening period (I don’t like missing out on the goss!) It concluded nicely – but with enough’what’s going to happen next?’ to make you want a sequel – or to want to go on holiday there yourself!

This is a perfect summer read – even more perfect if you’re sipping on limoncello and nibbling on a biscotti in the sunshine whilst reading it!

Definitely far more perfect summer read then reading about this Libby Price’s exploits anyway……..







Book Review: Four Weddings and a White Christmas by Jenny Oliver

Four Weddings and a White Christmas

I had forgotten that I’d pre-ordered ‘Four Weddings and a White Christmas’ upon finishing the previous in the series of Cherry Pie Island books ‘One Summer Night at the Ritz’ – so it was a very welcome surprise when it popped up on my Kindle last week – and perfect timing, as the husband and I were away for a childfree break.  Although it did feel a bit strange reading about snowy festive scenes whilst lying on a sun lounger in 40 degree heat!

So here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Hannah’s holidays are normally spent nibbling chocolate coins with her daughter and praying she’s not too old for a stocking on Christmas morning. But this year, she’s been offered the dressmaker’s job of a lifetime: creating a one-of-a-kind a gown for her friend Annie’s Christmas wedding on the picture-perfect Cherry Pie Island.

Many mince pies and one hot-pink organza dress later, Hannah is set to snuggle back into her old routine…until she discovers that there are three more weddings to come – and not a dress in sight!

Four themes, four brides and four parties spent avoiding chef Harry Fontaine, whose cynicism is as much a wedding day guarantee as confetti and cake. Hannah has her work cut out for her! Yet, with a sprinkling of snowflakes and Christmas magic, it could be that this is the year when miracles really do happen…if Hannah will let them.”

I don’t recall having met Hannah before in any of the Cherry Pie books (but am happy to stand corrected if that’s not the case?!) but she was a lovely new character, and the whole book centred around her – both her personal and professional lives as a dressmaker and single Mum.  It draws in the characters from the previous books like you’re catching up with old friends – although would work as a standalone book too, but might be a bit confusing if you don’t already know all of the people, as there are A LOT of people involved.

The book follows Hannah through her dress commissions and the very different weddings they are for. As well as being on Cherry Pie Island – there are also brief jaunts to France and to New York – which are always fun.

I really liked Hannah’s feisty daughter – reminded me of little girls in this house!

As ever with Jenny Oliver, it was a lovely, easy, fun read – and great to catch up with the characters.  My slight concern is that there wasn’t the option to pre-order the next book, which there has been with all of the other Cherry Pie Island books before – so is this the final chapter???? (I really hope not.)

Book Review: One Summer Night at the Ritz by Jenny Oliver

One Summer Night at the Ritz

“One Summer Night at the Ritz is the enchanting fourth story in Jenny Oliver’s delicious Cherry Pie Island series.
For Jane Williams, balmy August evenings are usually spent swimming in the river or lounging on her house boat on Cherry Pie Island. But, this summer, a set of tragic wartime diaries has changed all that.
Now, Jane’s heading for an appointment with Will Blackwell, one of the world’s most infamous hoteliers, in the heart of London’s West End. And, standing under the spectacular twinkling lights of The Ritz, it’s safe to say she’s feeling a tiny bit out of her depth…
But Jane’s about to discover that, sometimes, the bravest steps can lead to the most magical summer nights!”

I have just devoured the 4th in the Cherry Pie Island series in one afternoon!  I have loved the previous books in this series, and this one was no different.  It’s a stand alone book – but with clever nods to the previous books throughout – and the scenes being set for the next.

I’ve never stayed at The Ritz – although have had breakfast there – and the book really gives the feel of the old fashioned glamour of it – and describes London beautifully.  Jane is a lovely character – and you’re rooting for her throughout the book. She also makes me feel less bad about my falling apart Birkenstocks!

I enjoyed the fact the story takes you off Cherry Pie island – but brings you back to familiar ground as well.

As always, a lovely, funny, feel-good, escapist, easy read.

On a geeky, pedant level (both being my forte!) there is a grammar error in the first few paragraphs (story where it should be storey, as we’re in England not America) and about six times during the book there are typos, where an additional letter features in front of a word where it shouldn’t.  I know this doesn’t affect the story overall – but it does grate with me.

** carefully checks I haven’t written ‘effect’ or ‘great’ **

I’m slightly gutted we have to wait until October for the next instalment – although as that’s going to feature Christmas weddings, I guess it’s closer to the festive season.

Oh – and Jenny Oliver has very, very kindly donated the chance for the winning bidder at a charity auction in September that I’m helping to organise to be a named character in a future book – so who knows, one of us could be a guest at one of the weddings maybe?!?  (Obviously I will  blog about how you can bid for this once the auction site is up and running!!)

But for now – why don’t you catch up on the beginnings of the Cherry Pie series?

Book Review: The Vintage Ice Cream Van Road Trip by Jenny Oliver

The Vintage Ice Cream Van Roadtrip

I recently read the first in the Cherry Pie series – and loved it – so when this popped on to my Kindle (got to love pre-ordering) it had to be devoured before I started anything else!!

Here’s what Amazon had to say about it:

“Welcome to Jenny Oliver’s brand new Cherry Pie Island series! There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming…

If you were to ask Holly Somers how life is going at the moment she wouldn’t have a clue how to answer you… On the one hand she’s embarking on a retro-fabulous road trip in her vintage ice cream van all the way from Cherry Pie Island to the South of France. Plus, she’s sharing the journey with Wilf Hunter-Brown (quite possibly the most attractive man she’s ever met!)

On the other? Well, apart from being unsure as to whether the rickety old ice cream van will actually make it to the Riviera, she and Wilf had a one-night fling a few weeks ago. Even worse, it seems there’s an unexpected little consequence of their impromptu night together. Life on Cherry Pie Island definitely hasn’t equipped Holly with knowledge of the best way to tell a super-rich entrepreneur with a womanising reputation that he’s about to become a Dad!

Despite the heat of the Provencal sunshine you’d think you’d be able to keep cool inside an ice cream van – but the temperature is definitely rising. And with time running out to tell Wilf the truth, Holly’s dream roadtrip is fast becoming a nightmare on wheels! There’s no denying that this will be a journey to remember. When it comes to sundaes, Holly has always been partial to the more traditional flavours – but something’s telling her that this could be the time to take a chance and try something new…”

It was lovely! Like the first book in the series it wasn’t a highbrow doorstop of a book – but was a great, quick, escapist read.  As with all of Jenny’s books – the food descriptions were amazing – and she really evoked the feel of France.

Whilst the main characters in book 2 were different to book 1 there were enough cross references for you to still feel involved with life back on Cherry Pie Island.

I’m already excited about book 3 (and subsequent books!!)

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………

Book Review – The Parisian Christmas Bake Off by Jenny Oliver

I’ve read Jenny’s other books and really enjoyed them both (The Little Christmas Kitchen and The Vintage Summer Wedding) so expected to enjoy reading this – and it was another bargain download at less than £2.

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off

Amazon say this:

“Welcome to the most celebrated patisserie competition in Paris – ready, steady, bake!

Watching snowflakes settle on the Eiffel Tower, Rachel Smithson’s cosy English village feels very far way – as, thankfully, does her commitment-phobic ex, probably already kissing someone else under the mistletoe. But Rachel hasn’t come to Paris to mope she’s come to bake. Hard.

Because the search for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice is about to begin! And super-chef judge Henri Salernes is an infamously tough cookie. But Rachel isn’t about to let her confidence (or pastry) crumble. She’s got one week, mounds of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and towers of perfect profiteroles to prove that she really is a star baker.

As well as clouds of flour, and wafts of chocolate and cinnamon, there’s definitely a touch of Christmas magic in the air… Rachel hasn’t come to Paris looking for a fairy-tale romance, but the city of love might gift-wrap her one anyway…

Not even a dusting of icing sugar could make The Parisian Christmas Bake Off a more perfect Christmas treat!”

I am possibly one of the few people in the entire country not to watch The Great British Bake Off – but I didn’t let that put me off – and I’m glad I didn’t.  It was a lovely read – and the descriptions of the food were amazing.  I’m just glad I read it before my January detox as I would have been drooling even more!  I read it over Christmas – which was very apt – but not essential!

My only slight disappointment is that I’d read The Vintage Summer Wedding first – and this was actually written first – and some of the characters follow through, so I knew who Rachel would end up with because of that.  So – if you haven’t read either – definitely start with this one first,

I really hope we get to find out more about the residents of Nettleton in the future (pretty please Ms Oliver!!)