19 November 2019

A Time of Green

I love Eleanor Watkins' books and this was no exception. It's the fascinating story of twelve-year-old Juniper and her great-grandma June.

June has recently been diagnosed with dementia and Juniper is determined to learn her great-grandma's childhood stories before it's too late.

As a young child, June was one of many evacuees sent out of London during the bombing in WWII. She found herself on a farm in Wales. At first, she hated it: the mud, the cold, the animals, an outside privy, and a family who were all strangers to her.

A Time of Green is the delightful account of how June settles down and finds her feet on the farm. She especially enjoys the cold mud of winter being exchanged for the vibrant greens of spring. June has some exciting adventures. She and the family work alongside German POWs and Land Girls, and there is all excitement when the American GIs arrive in the village, not to mention an escaped POW....

I really enjoyed this Young Adult book and am happy to award it 4*.

15 November 2019

A Secret Garden

This is the first Katie Fforde book I've read. It was light, easy, chick-lit reading. I liked that it wasn't sexed up.

The main characters are Lorna, a middle-aged single woman who works as a gardener, and Philly, who is in her early twenties who runs a plant nursery. Neither are particularly looking for love; Philly is busy with her plants and Lorna has a secret crush on her childhood friend Peter. But Peter is head over heels with new-love Kirstie who he met online and is much younger than him.

As the title suggests, the book is set around a particular garden though it does not appear until well over halfway through the story.

I found it a very gentle read and I generally prefer a bit more substance. I'd like to try another Katie Fforde book before making up my mind about this new-to-me author.

I've given this book 3*.

07 November 2019

It's Always the Husband

I don't think I've ever read a girlie whodunnit/psychological thriller before but, having discovered It's Always the Husband I'm keen to find more in this genre. Particularly if they are written by Michele Campbell.

The book follows the lives of three university/college students: Aubrey, Jenny and Kate.

Aubrey comes from a poor family and feels she always has to work extra-hard to succeed. She is thrilled to be accepted by Jenny and Kate, both of whom have a higher social standing than her. Aubrey idolises Kate, who introduces her to partying with alcohol and drugs.

Jenny is well-off, sensible and ambitious. She is jealous of Aubrey's relationship with Kate; Jenny is always the one to come to Aubrey's rescue when the partying goes awry. Yet Aubrey clings to Kate being her very best friend and seems to take Jenny for granted.

Kate is the spoiled, rich, party girl who feels unloved and unwanted by her father and stepmother(s). She appears fun-loving and reckless but has a deeper, darker side to her.

The storyline kept me gripped. I tried to guess the victim and the murderer from the first page but completely failed on both counts. There are lots of twists and turns. I found it hard to put this book down.

I'm very happy to award it 5*.

31 October 2019

Molly and the Cat Cafe

Molly is a cat and this book is written from her perspective. I'm not a cat person but I enjoyed reading this charming story. (It even gave me confidence to stroke a strange cat and understand that when they arch their backs against your hand, it means they're responding in a good way.)

Molly loves her elderly owner Margery and they live a happy, uncomplicated life together. But it is short-lived. Margery declines into dementia and is moved into a home, leaving Molly alone.

Margery's son arranges for Molly to be taken in by a friend who owns three cat-unfriendly dogs. Eventually Molly has enough of being neglected by the dogs' owner and bullied by the dogs and runs away.

Bedraggled and half-starved, Molly eventually finds Debbie who is a newly-divorced mother trying hard to make ends meet by running a rather run-down cafe. Life is hard; Debbie's teenage daughter Sophie is angry and unsociable and appears to hate Molly.

Outside the cafe, is an embittered old woman who is determined to make life even more difficult for Debbie and Sophie by getting the cafe closed down. But she reckons without Molly, who is an astute feline with a strong sense of justice.

Molly is a lovable and - oddly believable - furry main character. I couldn't help rooting for her in all her adventures. Several times she took me by surprise.

I enjoyed this book and am happy to award it 4*.

24 October 2019

Red Cabbage Blue

I was avidly waiting for this third book in the Dr Mike Lewis series written by Annie Try - and I wasn't disappointed. I loved it and think it may be my favourite of the series.

Adelle is a fascinating young woman who, out of a fun challenge in her teens, will now only eat blue food, wear blue clothes and dyes her hair blue. She even wears blue make-up.

Her latest in a series of psychologists is Mike, but he is different. He sees Adelle the person rather than Adelle the client. I particularly enjoyed him politely shutting her somewhat controlling mother out of the room at their very first session. One way to win over the client!

I found it interesting to be a 'fly on the wall' in their therapy sessions. As Adelle gained in confidence with Mike, the reader learns more about her, why she has made the decisions she's made and how things hidden in her past have helped shape the person she is today.

There are twists and turns in the plot that kept me hooked. Just when I thought 'aha, I've got it', there was another twist I hadn't foreseen.

Intertwined with Adelle's story is Mike's personal life. I found myself muttering at the book as I was reading, desperately wanting him and his wife to make a go of it after a period of separation.

Red Cabbage Blue is a book where the reader can't help but care about the characters, wanting things to work out, looking for a happy - or at least a positive - ending. I have to say it kept me hooked up until the very last page.

I loved this book and unreservedly give it a 5* rating.