“You me everything” by Catherine Isaac (review)

(Warning, spoilerish)

I went into this book with a lot of anticipation. I had read very good things about it and was eagerly awaiting the moment we left for our holiday in the Lakes so I could get stuck in. (So then finding out on Twitter that this is the authors’s favourite place, made it all the more special 😊).

The story starts with Jess and the impending birth of her child. She is waiting nervously for the arrival of her partner who turns up a little too late. We then jump forward 10 years to see that Jess is preparing to go to France with her son, evidently to meet up with her estranged partner.

The narrative then flits between the present as Jess and her son William arrive in France, the history of Jess and Adam’s relationship and also revisits some childhood memories from Jess.

The tension between Jess and Adam is palpable from the start. We get a picture of Adam from the mind of Jess. An unreliable cheater, who has no relationship with his son and has let Jess down one time too many.

Other characters, their friends from university also arrive in France adding different dynamics to the story as well as some of the other guests at the holiday cottages, one of whom has a thing for Jess… There’s also the complication of Adam’s current girlfriend who works at the holiday accommodation.

The book touches on tragedy and sadness involving Jess and her mum. We see from the outset that she is unwell in a home, largely being taken care of by her husband (Jess’ dad). This illnesses is explored and some of these heartbreaking moments brought tears to my eyes.

The revisiting of Jess and her childhood gives us a glimpse of the close bond between Jess and her mother which is obviously very special and explains the reasons behind the decisions Jess is currently making in her life.

As the relationship in the present time between Adam and Jess is brought to the fore once again in France, the strong emotions of the story envelope you. You are caught up in the heartbreak, deception, forgiveness and ultimately the love.

This is such a beautiful and heartbreaking story filled with the expectation that all is not lost. It had me hooked from the first chapter. Its exploration of relationships and how they can be restored was what I enjoyed most about this book. It illustrates throughout that things aren’t always as they first appear. This is a book that I encourage you to pick up- you will fall in love with it as I did.

This beautiful book has stayed with me and probably will do a for a while yet.

100%, wholeheartedly recommend.

Until next time,

Jo

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“Together” by Julie Cohen (review)

This book has been on my radar for a while. I tweeted Julie a while back asking when the paperback would be available in the UK and snapped it up a few weeks ago as soon as it came out. It has also now been selected as a Richard and Judy Summer 2018 pick.

Firstly, the cover. OMG. It’s beautiful. It has birds, it’s turquoise and it’s shiny. Need I say more? You can check out my boomerang to get the full effect.

On to the main event…

This a love story interwoven with joy, miracles, heartbreak and so much more.

The book begins with an upsetting start. There’s no denying Robbie, who we are quickly introduced to, has come to a heartbreaking decision and decides to act. In this way you see the end of the story first and are instantly drawn in to ask what events have led up to this moment. It leaves you wanting more.

The history between the central characters Emily and Robbie is then revisited. We go back in time a little, then a lot, then back again. I sometimes find flitting back and forth between time periods confusing, but this was easy to follow and kept you hanging on to see the cause and effect of the dramatic events that are unfolding.

From the offset there is no denying the deep love Robbie and Emily have for each other. You as the reader are swept up in it and then left intrigued as to this big secret they seem to be hiding. It did remind me of the relationship in “The Notebook”- a deep bond blossoming from young love.

There are buried secrets in this novel and different threads of it leave you guessing as to what Robbie and Emily seem to be hiding. There is a big focus on family connections and relationships in this book which I really enjoyed. The relationship Emily seemingly has with her parents and sister is broken beyond repair. The question is, why?

The final event, the reason behind it all… I never saw it coming. I won’t say much more, you’ll need to read to find out!

I enjoyed this beautiful love story and I would definitely recommend it. I would say though that it left me feeling a little heart-broken so make sure you have a lighter read on stand-by next (…or an episode of Friends. You know, whatever floats your boat.)

Until next time,

Jo

(Photo credit: Orion publishing)

Rafferty Lincoln Loves… (Review)

I first heard about this book from a fellow blogger @LisasNotebook and was immediatey intrigued.

I saw Lisa tweet about it and I have to say it was the cover that caught my eye. I was then amazingly given the opportunity to read the book, by the author Emily Williams, in exchange for an honest review. I found out that this was a charity book where all proceeds go to the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre who rehabilitate and retrain retired racehorses.

That in itself makes it a winner already!

The book is aimed at older YA readers and adults and follows a group of teenagers who inadvertently find themselves stumbling upon a lost racehorse and end up taking care of him.

There are lots of threads to the story which is told the through the eyes of 17 year old Rafferty Lincoln. His crush on fellow school mate Liberty is the main thing on his mind and the horse (affectionately named “Minty”) ends up unexpectedly bringing them together. We soon learn Rafferty has a difficult home life and the relationship with his Dad is strained. We then get glimpses into the stories of the rest of the group, Liberty and her seemingly stand-offish attitude and her need to ‘look cool’ in front of her friends, her younger brother Will who Rafferty ends up really getting along with and then poor Dexter, the quiet shy child, often bullied at school and always disappearing for days on end.

The book touches on different themes that are very relevant to young people today. Homes with broken families, peer pressure, bullying, gossip and ultimately tragedy. Rafferty is an endearing character whose life seems to spiral out of control after Minty appears bringing about lasting change for this unlikely group of friends. The escapism and fun they find through looking after Minty and spending time with him is interspersed with the sometimes all-consuming reality they face when they go back home.

I did enjoy this book. Having been a bit of a horse-rider growing up, I immediately warmed to Minty who is an important character in this narrative through which the lives of these characters become entwined. You get a bit of a glimpse into what it takes to look after a horse- who knew there are a ton of different brushes to groom them with, not just a hoof pick?!

The storyline was strong and kept me reading, and I can definitely see why it would appeal to a YA audience. There are lessons to be learnt from it especially with the subject of bullying and not looking the other way when it happens.

I would definitely recommend this. It was fun and heartwarming yet dealt well with serious issues facing young people today.

If you want to find out more, follow Emily here on Twitter.

More information on the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre is here.

Until next time,

Jo.

March round-up

Hi again,

These are the books I read in March. Again I did not read as much as I wanted to but honestly I am so excited about the next few I have on my TBR pile, so that will definitely be remedied in the next few weeks.

Going forward now, I think I will be posting each review as I go instead of monthly ones. That way I intend to post more and keep you engaged with my blog.

First up is Secrets, Lies, and Crawfish Pies by Abby L. Vandiver. Thanks to NetGalley and Henery Press for approving me for an advanced reader copy of this book.

This is the first in a series due out in paperback in June. It focuses on Romaine Wilder, a doctor, who has to come back to her childhood home in Texas due to some events in her romantic life. She ends up having to help solve a murder mystery that happens almost as soon as she arrives in the town. Along with her Aunty, a very larger than life character, and some of the other townsfolk, they start to piece together what has happened to a “John Doe” who has been found murdered.

I liked this book, it was an enjoyable read and it sets up events nicely for following books. There was a nice mix of characters and I felt myself getting quite exasperated along with Romaine with her quite annoying Aunty Zanne!

If you want a feel-good cosy read with some mystery thrown in, this is it. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series as and when the other books are published.

Next up is “Sky Song” by Abi Elphinstone. A children’s book filled with magic, wonder and adventure.

There is a kindgom Erkanwald, once peaceful, but now under the evil power of a fallen star, who has made herself queen. We follow the adventure of Eska and Flint as they battle for good to overcome the evil. Their journey is filled with excitment, self-discovery and bravery and it hooks you in from start to the nail-biting finish.

I cannot recommend this book enough. From the first page the enchantment and magic captures the reader. The imagery of the icy kingdom is stunning, the folklore and battles draw you in as does little Eska, the young heroine. It’s actually a real encouragement to young people about the gifts they all have inside of them and being brave.

Also can we take a moment to appreciate that beautiful cover?? It opens up into a map and everything…

There was so much hype about this book when it first came out and I can see why. Teachers were tweeting about buying it for their whole class and I can see it continues to capture these little ones’ (and big ones’) imaginaton. I’m so glad I finally got to read it and it’s firmly staying on my bookshelf to read to my little one when she’s older.

That’s all for now but new reads are currently happening and reviews on the way in the near future!

Until then, take care.

Jo

Beauty faves

Hi there,

If you are reading this, thank you so much for your support. I’ve had a lot of followers on this blog recently and an increasing number on Twitter as well and I’m so very grateful.

I started this blog with intention of writing about books but not soley keeping to that subject. Hence the title of my blog “…and lovely things.”

A review of my March books is on its way imminently but I thought I would write a post about the beauty products I’ve been using this month.

Skincare and beauty is something I’ve always been into. I find it relaxing and I’m a sucker for a new beauty product. Becoming a mum was a bit of a shock to the system and it fell by the wayside for a while but when little one goes down for the night, I do like to pamper myself a bit. I’m a proper hoarder and when I was working full time I liked to treat myself. Now that I’m not, I intend to revel in those more expensive treats already in my collection and make them last for as long as I can!!

I usually have quite dry/dehydrated skin but lately I have been breaking out a little especially along my jawline. My hormones are still raging from pregnancy and I think it’s to do with that.

This L’oreal Paris Pure Clay detox mask is a real life saver. Every time I use it my skin feels less congested and softer. It definitely does ‘what it says on the tin’. It draws out impurities like a magnet and really clears everything out.

Similarly the Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack is also very good at clearing out impurities and again makes my skin feels so soft. I alternate between these 2 masks each week. It’s quite fun putting on a green face mask too and I’ve often scared my husband with these masks (mainly after I lie in bed with them on next to him for a while and he doesn’t even notice. Then he finally looks up and then bam! Mwhahahaha).

When you’re a mum, you are constantly washing your hands so I’ve been trying to apply this Mixa hand cream when I can. I got into this brand after watching A Model Recommends a while back and have tried some of their other products too. Cheap but effective.

Lastly, the old faithful, Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. This is mostly always in my possession as it’s such a good versatile product. It’s great as an overnight lip balm, works wonders on dry cuticles and can soothe stressed patches on your skin. I managed to get hold of this limited edition a while back which is sooooo pretty. I love the packaging. (Update: just checked and Fragrance direct have this discounted at the moment!)

I hope you enjoyed this slightly different post. Stay tuned for my March reading round-up!

Until then, take care.

Jo

February round-up

Hi everyone,

As promised here is my round up for February. I didn’t read as much as I wanted to for aforementioned reasons but the ones I did were good’uns! 😉

First up is “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep” by Joanna Cannon. Set in 1970’s Britain, it’s a story of a neighbourhood and its residents who have many secrets. Its told from the perspective of ten year old Grace.

I loved that Grace has the main voice in this book. Her innocence and curiosity bring the story to life and I love her relationship with her best friend Tilly. Together their voices bring humour and light-heartedness to the seemingly dark secrets that lie beneath the facade of this quiet neighbourhood. The mystery of Mrs Creasy’s disappearance, the main plot of the story, has a sub-plot running alongside as these two little heroines decide that in order to find her, they’re going to “look for God.’

I found the scenarios in the church and the way they asked questions of the neighbours on how they perceive God really humorous. Having a church background myself, it’s a real reminder of how we use language that people find hard to relate to. Grace and Tilly’s interpretation of the Bible reference to ‘goats and sheep’ was pretty honest and very funny.

I loved the feel of this book and the cast of different characters. I found it slightly confusing at first as it was a little difficult to remember who everyone was and how they were related to one another, but there is a handy guide at the front to help.

I really liked this and would recommend it if you like quirky British humour.

Next up is ‘Our Song’ by Dani Atkins. I must confess this is a re-read after I ‘shopped my bookshelf’. I was reminded of this book as Dani Atkins new book “While I was Sleeping” is coming out in July and Twitter is already buzzing in anticipation.

The story follows four friends David, Ally, Charlotte and Joe. The story goes back and forth between the present and their uni days and engages you almost immediately with dramatic events that unfold in the present at the very start of the book.

You soon realise that past events have a had a major effect on these characters lives and why they have ended up where they are today.

My heart was with Ally almost from the beginning of the book and other readers will probably agree. Dani makes the narrative easily switch between time periods, and leaving you wanting more at the end of every chapter. It’s a beautiful love story with an outcome you might not expect. It leaves you quite emotional and very much impacted.

I’ve read this twice now so I must love it! I would whole-heartedly recommend this book, and it’s reminded me to purchase Dani’s other existing books. Of course I am very excited for her new release in July!

What were your February reads? Any recommendations?

Until next time,

Jo

Life update

Hi all,

Thank you for bearing with me on this blog. I know I haven’t posted in a while.

There’s been a run of sickness in this household with either little one being ill or us! It’s been quite draining with a lot of sleepless nights.

I will endeavour to finish my current book in the next couple of days and do a belated “What I read in February” post.

Do you ever look at your TBR pile and feel a bit overwhelmed? That’s me…
So many books to read including:

° The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

° The Muse – Jessie Burton (which I started a little while ago and need to get back on)

° The Summer of Impossible Things- Rowan Coleman

Which books are in your TBR pile?

Anyway, in the meantime here’s a picture of some pretty books from my collection.

Thanks for your patience!

Jo

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