Finding Henry Applebee – Celia Reynolds

Here Henry was, once again in a bustling train station, ready to resume where he had left off all those years ago…

Finding Henry Applebee is a charming, tender and uplifting story about unlikely friendships, the power of love – and how it’s never too late to change your life. Perfect for fans of The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Eighty-five-year-old Henry Arthur Applebee has had a pretty good life. But one regret has haunted him for the last sixty-five years.

And so, on an ordinary December morning, he boards a train from London to Edinburgh. His goal is simple: to find the woman who disappeared from his life decades earlier. But Henry isn’t the only person on a mission. Also bound for Edinburgh is troubled teen, Ariel. And when the two strangers collide, what began as one humble journey will catapult them both into a whole new world…

This is a beautiful story about love, never giving up on hope and the unlikely friendships.

Henry Applebee, an eighty-five year old, is making a journey to Edinburgh with the hope of finding the woman who he met sixty-five years previously.

On this journey he meets Ariel, a troubled teen who is making her own journey to Edinburgh in search of answers.

The two build up a comradery on the train where Henry has invited Ariel to join him. On this journey we learn of Henry’s story and the importance of this trip to Edinburgh. A story that crosses decades and is full of love and heartbreak.

The two are joined by Travis on their train journey in the neighbouring seats. Another with his own reasons to be travelling to Edinburgh.

What I loved about this book and this story was that despite the three strangers chance meeting and their own individual stories that their lives become interwoven in ways that you least expect.

The friendship that the two youngsters build with Henry is heartwarming as is the outcome to their stories.

This story shows us that there is always hope.

The Christmas Swap – Sandy Barker

Christmas is coming and best friends Chloe, Jules and Lucy are needing change…so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!

Austrian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England. She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.

Lucy; who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.

And Jules leaved the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.

The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three, and this wonderful festive novel is perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Holly Martin and Karen Swan.

Today is my stop on The Christmas Swap blog tour, thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Sandy Barker and One More Chapter.

I love Christmas, Christmas books, Christmas films….basically anything that gives me the festive feels. And this book delivered exactly that.

A film I absolutely adore is The Holiday, and this book has the same premise which is why I instantly signed up for the opportunity to take part in the tour.

Three friends, Chloe, Jules and Lucy meet on holiday when they were 11 and have remained friends ever since. They are now in their 30s and are all in need of a change. So this Christmas they all swap homes.

The three girls are based from all-over the globe. Chloe lives in Melbourne, Australia, Jules is from Colorado, USA whilst Lucy is from a village in Oxfordshire, England. They each fly off and spend the holidays with each other’s families.

The families all bring completely different dynamics to the story, ones that are completely different to what each of the girls are used to. The families are all brilliant and contrasting. It is an insight into the different types of Christmas’s that people experience.

The chapters alternate between each of the three lead characters and we see the completely different Christmas’s each of them are having in their new locations.

Not only is this book full of festive cheer that each of the families and their individual traditions bring, but there are love interest for each of them. And each of their love interests are brilliant characters.

The relationship their friend’s families are heartwarming, with all the families welcoming them with open arms.

It was great to see each of the relationships develop between the three girls and their particular love interest, Archer, Matt and Will.

This book brings so much fun and laughter as well as festive cheer.

The only thing I did find was that I sometimes struggled to keep check of who was from where and where they were for Christmas. This didn’t however stop me from enjoying the story.

If The Holiday was a success on the screen, then this would be too.

I think my favourite Christmas would be in snowy Colorado. Where would you choose?

What more could you want than a Christmas romance to curl up with this holiday season?

One Family Christmas – Bella Osborne

A big family. A whole lot of secrets. A Christmas to remember…

This year, Lottie is hosting one last big family Christmas at the home she grew up in – just like her Nana would have wanted.

But when her relatives descend on the old manor house, Lottie gets more than she bargained for. Every family has its secrets, but in this family, everybody, has one!

So, between cooking a Christmas dinner, keeping tensions at bay and a stray dog out of mischief, she has plenty on her plate and not just misshapen sausage rolls and a frozen turkey. And then her first love shows up – nine years after he walked out of her life.

Can Lottie make their last family Christmas one to remember…for the right reasons?

Today is publication day for Bella Osborne’s latest novel, One Family Christmas, and it is my stop on the blog tour. Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources, Bella Osborne and Avon for allowing me to take part.

First things first, this book is brilliant! It is full of festivities, a bunch of great characters all holding secrets and lots and lots of fun.

Lottie hosts one last big family Christmas in her family’s old manor house. She knows what it’s what her Nana would have wanted but she isn’t prepared for what she has let herself in for.

As her family descends on her, Lottie is left wondering how her Nana used to pull it off every year. She is faced with drama and disaster and every turn. These all bring so much fun and laughter to the book.

Lottie’s family brings a whole bunch of differing characters who I’m sure everyone can recognise in their own families, especially over the festive period. They all bring a great dynamic to the story.

The different secrets the family are keeping are all revealed and unraveled over the course of the story and they are what brings the comedy to the book. There’s drama and disaster throughout as plans are attempted and failed.

This is the imperfectly perfect family Christmas, that is full of festive cheer and you need to make sure you add it to your to-be-read pile for this Christmas period.

Anyone reading this with the power, you MUST turn this into a film! It will be perfect!

The Winter Garden – Heidi Swain

Will love bloom this winter?

Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.

There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.

Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiraling?

Today is my stop on The Winter Garden blog tour, with thanks to the team at Books and the City and Simon & Schuster UK for the opportunity to take part.

I was thrilled to be taking part, the very first of Heidi’s books that I read was a Christmas one and it was there that I fell in love with her books. So when the opportunity came to get an early peak of this one I couldn’t say no.

The Winter Garden revisits Nightingale Square which we have seen in two previous books, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square and Poppy’s Recipe for Life. This time round the story centers on Freya, a gardener, who, by luck, moves to Nightingale Square to create a winter garden to open in time for Christmas.

During this book we see characters return from the previous two; Luke, Kate, Graham, Carole, Poppy, Ryan, Jacob and more, but we are also introduced to some more including Finn and Chloe.

Finn is living in the studio within the grounds of the garden and he and Freya clash from the start. We see them try to navigate their personal lives and professional relationship.

This book, like the others, all has a wonderful sense of community, and they all welcome Freya, and Finn, into the fold with open arms. They both become an essential part and for Freya she finds a sense of belonging.

The Winter Garden has definitely got me in the festive spirit. I’m left wanting to start celebrating, getting the decorations up, making wreaths and going to Christmas markets.

Although this is the third book that is set in Nightingale Square you can read this as a standalone. But I would highly recommend the others as well as this one as they are all wonderful.

Perfect to enjoy curled up in a blanket with a glass of mulled wine.

Our Story – Miranda Dickinson

Otty has just landed her dream job. She’s about to join the writing team of one of the most respected showrunners in TV. And then the night before her first day, she’s evicted from her flat.

Joe has been working with Russell for years. He’s the best writer on his team, but lately something has been off. He’s trying to get his mojo back, but when his flatmate moves out without warning he has other things to worry about.

Otty moving into Joe’s house seems like the perfect solution to both their problems, but neither is prepared for what happens next. Paired together in the writing room, their obvious chemistry sparks from the page and they are the writing duo to beat. But their relationship off the page is an entirely different story, and neither of them can figure out why.

And suddenly the question isn’t’, will they, or won’t they? It’s why won’t they?

I am a huge fan of Miranda Dickinson, and this book may just have stolen my heart.

This book is full of heart and had me hooked from the start.

Our Story is your typical will they, won’t they story. The characters of Otty and Joe are captivating as well as very human and relatable.

The story is told through both Otty and Joe’s perspectives with the chapters alternating throughout the book. I found myself desperate to know what happened next, needing to read the next chapter to find out what they thought and what would happen next.

Our Story is set around the writing room that Joe has been working in for years and Otty has just joined. By chance the two characters come to live together and you can see instantly the chemistry between them whilst spending all their time together both at work and at home.

I really enjoyed that the book is set around writing and the characters writing scripts for a TV series. I found that this gave a good backdrop for Otty and Joe’s story to unfold. I also enjoyed the fact that I couldn’t predict the ending, I wasn’t sure how there story would play out and it made the last part of the book even more page-turning.

The other characters that feature in the book and the writers room, Fraser, Russell and Rona in particular, I think add great aspects to the story, especially the relationship between Joe and Fraser.

Another wonderful story from Miranda, and I can’t wait for what comes next.

Poppy’s Recipe for Life – Heidi Swain

Treat yourself to a glorious novel full of food, sunshine, love and friendship.

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life, but her dreams finally feel as though they are in reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, and she can indulge her passion for cooking by making preserves and pickles. She may not be close to her family, but she is surrounded by loving friends, and she feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbor, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior suggests.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness. As the garden team rally together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for…

In Poppy’s Recipe for Life we return to Nightingale Square, this time following Poppy.

The first book set in Nightingale Square was, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square where we read about Kate. We were introduced to Poppy in the first installment but we didn’t really know much about her other that she worked in the local greengrocers.

This time round the book is centered on Poppy. She moved to Nightingale Square and we learn about what brought her there.

We meet a number of new characters, Jacob, Ryan, Colin and Lou, who are all great. And we see the return of the Nightingale Square residents that we saw before.

Jacob is Poppy’s new neighbour and is Mr Grumpy. Poppy is determined to help Jacob and bring him out to discover the wonders of the community garden. Through this we learn more about both of these characters.

We are also introduced to Ryan, Poppy’s younger brother. He moves in with Poppy who discovers how troubled the teenager is, and that he is dealing with it a lot of issues. Over the time that Ryan is with Poppy they develop a closer relationship than the one they had. Like with Jacob, Poppy wants to help Ryan, but doesn’t know how.

As with all of Heidi’s books that I have read I absolutely loved this one. It’s like a cosy hug whilst you are reading it, and this one mostly set in the spring/summer months makes this feel like the sun is shining through the pages.

Although this is the second book by Heidi that is set in Nightingale Square, this can be read as a standalone. Later this year (October 2020) we will see the release of The Winter Garden which will also be set in Nightingale Square, and I can’t wait to return.

One Winter’s Night – Kiley Dunbar

A gorgeous uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where magic happens…

It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely.

When best friend Mirren Imrie moved down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness?

And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent?

A romantic, funny and feel good read that will make you smile from ear to ear. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will fall in love with this cosy winter read!

Today is my stop on the One Winter’s Night blog tour. Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources, Kiley Dunbar and Hera Books for allowing me to take part.

In One Winter’s Night we revisit Kelsey Anderson in Stratford-Upon-Avon who we met in One Summer’s Night. The sequel picks up where we left Kelsey in her new life in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

This time the book is set in the autumn and winter and has that extra Christmas magic.

There is the return of some fantastic characters, including Kelsey, Jonathan and Mirren whilst we are also introduced to new characters including Adrian and Blythe. In fact I love Blythe and the advice she gave Kelsey including this one; “Get out there and find your spotlight, Kelsey. Don’t wait in the wings for cues you might miss.” Everyone should listen to Blythe’s advice!

In this book we not only see what Kelsey is up to now, but her best friend from Scotland, Mirren, moves to Stratford-Upon-Avon and we also learn more about her and follow her story in making the move and what happens to her over the months the book is set.

Both Kelsey and Mirren face many ups and downs throughout the book but what I enjoyed is seeing how they faced them, and overcame them.

I love the setting of Stratford-Upon-Avon, I think it really suits the characters and fits the story.

Although this follows on from One Summer’s Night you can read this as a standalone, but I loved them so much that I would recommend reading them both.

This book is full of warmth and is perfect to curl up with this autumn/winter.

Before the Crown – Flora Harding

Before the crown there was a love story…

Windsor Castle, 1943

As war rages across the world, Princess Elizabeth comes face to face with the dashing naval officer she first met in London nine years before.

One of the youngest firs lieutenants in the Royal Navy, Philip represents everything she has always been taught to avoid. Instability. Audacity. Adventure.

But when the king learns of their relationship, the suitability of the foreign prince is questioned by all at court.

He is the risk she has never been allowed to take. The risk not even the shadow of the crown will stop her from taking…

Step through the palace gates and discover a captivating historical novel of royal secrets and forbidden love exploring the tempestuous courtship between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in the wake of WWII.

If you are fans of The Crown and the history of the royal family like me then this will be right up your street.

A relationship that as the public we won’t ever really know the true details but I felt this was a great depiction of the love story between Princess Elizabeth and Philip. With this being fiction it allows us as the reader to use our imaginations as to what we imagine the courtship between Elizabeth and Philip to have been like. This is a well written book that allows you to indulge in this part of history.

The book follows the courtship of Princess Elizabeth and Philip and the obstacles that are thrown in their way but also their differing feelings towards their relationship. The story is told from both of their perspectives.

Earlier this year I discovered the TV series, The Crown, and rediscovered my interest in the current royal family, so when I had the opportunity to read this book early thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter I jumped at the chance. I found this was a great compliment to the series, but this time looking at the early relationship between Princess Elizabeth and Philip, something we don’t see in the show.

As a work of fiction based on a well-documented relationship I found that it to be a good representation of what I imagine to have been the truth. It allows you to use your imagination to what their relationship was to be like.

I highly recommend this novel!

The High Moments – Sara-Ella Ozbek

Scarlett is far from perfect.

She changes herself to please others.

She makes mistakes – over and over again.

She repeatedly goes back to people that have hurt her.

Scarlett has a tricky relationship with her mother and is desperate for people to like her.

She moves to London without a plan, but when she manages to land a job at a modelling agency she thinks that her life is finally on track.

Scarlett soon discovers that the fashion industry is far from what she had imagined and her life begins to spiral out of control. But at least people know who she is. She is starting to become someone.

And surely it’s better to be someone – even if it’s someone you hate?

With a vein of dark humour at its core, The High Moments offer an astute, often stark, look at the fashion industry and the challenges you can face as a woman in your twenties. Fans of Emma Jane Unsworth’s Animals and shows like Girls will love this.

The High Moments has a Devil Wears Prada vibe to it, but don’t read this expecting it to be the same.

Scarlett is the lead characters and I can’t say that I took to her. In the end I found myself more loving to hate her. I found her frustrating especially with the questionable decisions she makes along the way. That being said, I was hooked on her story, turning the page because I needed to know what she was going to do next.

There are aspects of Scarlett’s character that I think many twenty-something women, millennials, will relate to.

Scarlett moves to London looking for a job in fashion and ends up working at a modelling agency. She thinks this is a step in the right direction and that everything is falling into place. What we see following Scarlett in her new role is, what I imagine, the darker side of the fashion industry.

Written in a similar style to a diary we follow Scarlett on her journey in discovering the behind the scenes of the fashion and model industry. She shares her resolutions as well as notes she makes to herself.

Scarlett enters a very ‘rock n roll’ lifestyle with drugs and sex featuring frequently within the book.

The intrigue of what Scarlett will do next and the interwoven web that the models and agents become was the highlight of the book to me. I found myself continuing to find out what will happen next with Scarlett.

Autumn Skies Over Ruby Falls – Holly Martin

Get swept away to the sparkling Cornish coast with the stunning new novel from bestselling author Holly Martin. Autumn Skies Over Ruby Falls is the perfect romantic treat to snuggle up with this autumn.

Clover Philips is exactly where she’s meant to be – back home on Jewel Island teaching dance to the guests at the beautiful Sapphire Bay Hotel that she co-owns with her sisters Skye and Aria. Her life is complete, except for one thing…

When Clover left London she also left behind a devastating betrayal. She hasn’t been able to date anyone since, let alone allow herself to fall in love. What she needs is a casual fling to ease herself back into romance. And as luck would have it, the very handsome Angel Mazzeo is back in town.

The chemistry between Clover and Angel has been undeniable ever since Angel first arrived on Jewel Island six months ago. And though content to be her friend till now, Angel is more than willing to help Clover find her dating feet again.

It should be easy to keep things carefree when love is off the table, but when every moment is magical what started as casual soon becomes something much deeper. Will Clover and Angel find the courage to tell each other how they really feel? And is Clover ready to do the one thing she swore she’d never do again, fall in love?

Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Sarah Morgan and Sophie Kinsella, this unforgettable romance is guaranteed to make you smile and melt your heart.

In the blurb for this book it says ‘this unforgettable romance is guaranteed to make you smile and melt your heart’ and this is exactly what this book did.

In this book we return to Jewel Island as a sequel to Sunrise Over Sapphire Bay. This time it is sister Clover who is the focus of the story.

We knew there was chemistry between Clover and Angel during Sunrise Over Sapphire Bay but we also knew that Clover had a secret that was holding her back. Content with being friends and dipping her toe into dating with Angel it soon becomes clear that things are becoming deeper between them.

You can feel the chemistry between them coming through the page. Neither of them willing to admit their true feelings you spend the book cheering for them to come clean to each other.

Clover’s sisters, Aria and Skye as well as Noah all return in this book as it is set at the Sapphire Bay Hotel. Alongside Clover’s story we see the difficulty that Skye is facing in her own relationship, whilst Aria and Noah are going from strength to strength.

Holly’s writing makes this book a delightfully easy read and perfect escapism.

The book is set in autumn and is full of Halloween events from the start. It makes you want to curl up under a blanket with a hot chocolate. This is the perfect book to read now we are heading into the season.