Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Chick-lit, Christmas
Rating: 4 out of 5

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn’t be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don’t seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe – with its increased demand for her delectable creations – begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another…

I really enjoy Jenny Colgan books, and this was no exception. They are light-hearted, predictable, enjoyable chick-lit; which can leave you feeling warm and fuzzy! I had this version as an audiobook, and it was very easy listening. I was quickly drawn into the story, and found myself using every available moment to listen to it.

This book is the second in the Cupcake Cafe series. In the first book Issy opens a new cafe – The Cupcake Cafe, and we see her following her dream to make it a success, and fall in love with her bank manager Austin at the same time. We are now a year on, and fast approaching Christmas. But all is not as merry as it should be as Austin is in New York, probably being scouted for a new job out there. Will he go? And will Issy go with him?

It seems hard to know where to start with this review – it was just a good read! It won’t take you long to work out the storyline, or even the ending, but I found that didn’t bother me. I liked the characters and I liked the settings. I also like the concept – a novel set in a cupcake cafe, plus this book contains recipes – yummy!

My favourite characters were actually the children. I thought Lewis, Pearl’s 4 year old, was adorable. He was kind-hearted and good natured. He seemed to brighten up the room when he entered, and in many ways he reminded me of my little boy. I liked Darny too – Austin’s little brother. He was 11, and he had lost his parents when he was 4 and had been raised by Austin. He was very clever, a bit misunderstood and he pushed all the boundaries. Yet he had a soft side, he really was just a vulnerable little boy. I thought both these boys were very well written.

As I have said, this book is fairly predictable, but that didn’t spoil the story for me. I found myself being drawn in – I felt like I was there in the cafe with them. I knew what the outcome would be, but how would we get there? And I loved the setting – New York! I loved it when we went in autumn a few years ago, and it sounded magical at Christmas. This book was the right length for me. As much as I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t have wanted too much more “will they, won’t they”. The only ending I was dissatisfied with was Pearl’s, but who knows – Colgan might write another in the series which resolves that! This book has all the elements expected in a chick-lit novel. It has romance, drama, friendship and a look at family life (plus cupcakes!). This book isn’t a disappointment.

This book was fun, it was an easy read (or listen) and it was enjoyable. I can’t say it left me feeling particularly Christmassy, but I do keep thinking about that gingerbread recipe, I definitely need to try it! (It can be found here). This is a genre I really enjoy. It may not be life-changing literature, this book probably isn’t a classic, but I was drawn in and hooked. I am rating this book 4 out of 5.

Share on Facebook

Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5

Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse…

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…

From an author who has described all of Henry’s queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a medieval killer.

This is number 4 in the Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory, and the star of this novel is Kateryn Parr – Henry VIII’s six and final wife. Shortly after her second husband dies, she is summoned to court to marry the King. The problem is, he is a very dangerous man. He has killed two wives, watched one die in child birth and divorced two others. If he gets bored of you, he can get rid of you, no questions asked. Kateryn has to be very careful in all she does. However, she is ambitious. She wants to see reform to the church, she wants to study and she wants to write. Plus, she is in love with another man; but if this knowledge gets out she could die.

I think I have enjoyed all the novels by Philippa Gregory that I have read, and this one is no exception. It wasn’t my favourite though. There were times when I felt the storyline was a bit slow and I found myself losing a bit of interest. However, the ending made up for it. It was dramatic and tense. It is common knowledge that Parr survives the King, but I found myself desperate to know she does it, as he is not happy with her all the time. The drama and suspense was really good. There were elements of this story I didn’t like though. I didn’t find the sex scenes added anything to the story. They were a bit too descriptive for my liking, and too frequent.

As a Christian, I did find the church debate throughout the book really interesting. Henry VIII made the Church of England, and placed himself at the head of it, when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. As an old man though, he was still thinking of the changes he could make the church – does he make the country Catholic again, or does he go down the Lutheran way of thinking? Kateryn was a reformer, but not all of Henry’s advisors were, and she found herself walking a difficult and potentially dangerous path.

I wasn’t a massive fan of Kateryn. She was quite arrogant and proud. However, she was the only queen to unite the Tudor children, so she should be commended for that. I really didn’t like Henry. He was a mean, vindictive and untrusting man, who would kill you without any thought. Goodness, you wouldn’t want to be in Parr’s position – having to marry him because he is King, then spending all her time trying to stay alive. There were scenes in the book I didn’t like much either – particularly how Henry punished Kateryn.

I am rating this book 3 out of 5. As I have said, there were times in this book I lost interest, but overall, this was a good read. I didn’t know much about Parr, so it was an education for me. I also found the theology debates really interesting. The outcome of this book was obviously not a surprise, but it was a good read nevertheless; and I will be looking to read the other books in the Tudor Court series.

Share on Facebook

Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5

A shivering of worlds.

Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.

This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.

As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.

There will be a reckoning…

This is the final book in Terry Pratchett‘s amazing Discworld Series. This is one of my favourite book series – so many characters, so many adventures, so much humour. These books are well written, they are hilarious, there is always danger and adventure, and the characters are fabulous. There are 41 books in this series, and I am pleased to say I have read them all!

I really enjoyed The Shepherd’s Crown. This book had all the elements I mentioned above. This novel is the 5th book in the Tiffany Aching mini-series, which also features the witches, Granny Weatherwax and Granny Ogg. Tiffany has found herself in the position were she must save the Chalk from the fairies, who are getting set to attack. She must keep her wits about her, round up the witches, plus the folk of the Chalk, and get set for battle.

As ever, this book was entertaining from the start. Pratchett never fails to draw me in and keep me hooked. He uses characters I love – I was pleased that Death had a cameo in this novel, he is one of my favourite Discworld characters – and he writes such good stories! In other Discworld novels, other reviewers have felt that there is too much going on in the story; I didn’t feel this was the case with The Shepherd’s Crown. We had the story of Tiffany, and her rise as a witch on the Chalk, we had the story of Geoffrey, the man who wanted to be a witch, and his work alongside Tiffany; and of course there is the elves storyline. All three worked well together and brought us to a great climax – the battle for the Chalk.

I have read other reviews about this book which mention that Pratchett died before this novel was completed, and that it is obvious in places that he hadn’t quite filled out some of the story. To be honest, I didn’t notice this. I was excited that there was a final book, grateful that I was able to go back to the Discworld one more time and I just enjoyed the story.

I was reminded somewhat of Julia Kagawa’s Iron Fey series when we were in the world of the fairies. This is another series I enjoyed so this isn’t a criticism. The stories are very different, but as I was reading it there were moments when I was transported into Kagawa’s world.

This book ticked all the boxes for me. It was entertaining, gripping, humorous and enjoyable. This is an excellent fantasy novel. It didn’t feature all my favourite characters – I really like the characters based in Ankh-Morpork, such as the Wizards – but I found the Nac Mac Feeble really funny. However, if you have read any Discworld novels, you will also see the sadness in the pages. This is a goodbye to the Discworld series, and to Terry Pratchett. I am rating this novel 4 out of 5, and I am gutted there won’t be another Pratchett novel.

Share on Facebook

Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction, legal-thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes matters into his hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life…and then his own.

I have read a few novels by John Grisham and have enjoyed all of them. This is the first novel Grisham wrote, back in 1989. This is also the first book in the Jake Brigance series. The second novel is Sycamore Row, which was published in 2013.

It is hard to summarise this novel without giving too much away. The opening chapter was a tough read – two drunk white men get their hands on a ten-year-old black girl and have their way with her in the most awful way. She is left to die, but once found and cared for, she is able to identify her attackers. They are taken to court, where on their back to their transportation, they meet her father, who is armed. The rest of this novel follows Jake Brigance, who is tasked with trying to save the father from the ultimate punishment – the death sentence – in a district were racism is still rife. He also has to try and protect himself, as the Klan are keen to see the end of the white lawyer who defends a black man.

This wasn’t a quick read, and there was a lot of legal jargon I didn’t even try to follow, but this is probably one of the best books I have read this year. The first few chapters were horrendous to read – what happened to that girl was awful beyond words. I found it quite difficult to read, and it unsettled me every time we were reminded what happened to her. Once we were past the opening though, I found myself gripped. I’m not sure “enjoy” is the right word, but in want of another word, I did enjoy this book. I found myself in a moral dilemma. The father needed to pay for his crime, but he was avenging his daughter. I couldn’t decide if I wanted him sent to jail or let off completely. The jurors has the same problem, and I’m still not sure I am pleased with the outcome.

I wasn’t really bothered by the main character, Jake, but I don’t feel that this was a novel where my opinion of the characters mattered. Some of them were entertaining, some of them I disliked, but that didn’t make or break the story for me. The focus of the book was the trial, not whether I liked Jake or the decisions he made in his personal life.

This is a story that is hard for me to comprehend. Growing up and living in England, I have very limited experience for racism, especially not on the scale of the American white/black divide. It was eye-opening and shocking to see the depths that this racism extends. This novel isn’t that old, and yet the Ku Klux Klan feature heavily in the story, terrorising any white person who associates with a black person. I am just shocked that this behaviour, these attitudes exist in any form in the world today.

Like I said, this is one of the best books I have read this year. It isn’t for the faint-hearted – the opening chapters are truly awful, and really upsetting; but once past that, this is an excellent read. It is well written, there is suspense and drama. There was a load of legal stuff I didn’t understand, but that didn’t spoil the story. This is a great legal thriller, with the ultimate twist: what happens to the Dad? I am rating this book 4 out of 5, and would highly recommend it. I am looking forward to reading Sycamore Row, the second in the Jake Brigance series.

Share on Facebook

Books 21-25 in 2015 are:

Erica James – The Dandelion Years
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is one of my favourite types of books, by one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy Erica James novels, and this one was set in both the present day and during WW2. I love books with a dual timeline! This story was interesting, gripping and touching – plus it was set in Bletchley Park, which I found really exciting. My review is HERE.


Amanda Hocking – Wake
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. I really enjoyed her Trylle series, so had high hopes for this new book. This is young adult, fantasy literature, which I almost always enjoy. This book is darker than Hocking’s Trylle series, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. That said, it wasn’t a boring or bad read – I read this book in two sittings! My review is HERE.


Marina Fiorato – The Glassblower of Murano
Rating: 3 out of 5

The Glassblower of Murano is one of those books which has been sitting on my bookcase for a few years, so I added it to my Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to report that I have now read it! This is another book which has a dual timeline; present day and the 1600s. I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I thought I might. I didn’t find the storyline terribly exciting and I wasn’t overly keen on any of the characters. My review is HERE.

Amanda Hocking – Lullaby
Rating – 3 out of 5

This is the second novel in the Watering series by Amanda Hocking. It continues the story of Gemma, and her entanglement with the sirens. Again, this instalment is darker than the first, but as this is a young adult book it doesn’t get too bad! I am enjoying this series. The storyline is gripping, I like the characters and the books are exciting. I have the last two novels to read, and I am looking forward to them.


Beth Redman – God Knows My Name
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the second time I have read this book, and I have loved it each time. Beth Redman looks at our identity in God. She talks about how God knows us, made us, and how we don’t have to feel shame or regret in His presence. This is a great read, full of truth and encouragement about who we are in God, and who God is to us. This is a must-read in my opinion.

Share on Facebook

As I am behind in posting updates about the books I have read (see previous post!) I have decided to attempt to do block updates to catch up.

Books 16-20 in 2015 were:

Harriet Evans – A Place For Us
Rating: 3 out of 5

I hadn’t read a Harriet Evans novel in a long time, although I have several lined up. I saw that this one was available at the library so I snatched it up. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I found it quite long, and sad. The book looks at family, mental illness, secrets and affairs. It wasn’t a particularly easy read and one that I came away from feeling a bit down. I will read more by Evans, but this one isn’t one I would highly recommend.


John Green – Paper Towns
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the second John Green novel I have read. I loved The Fault in Our Stars so had high hopes for this novel. I found it a bit of a let down – well, I found the ending a let down. This is a story of friendship. A girl goes missing, and a group of friends – led by her neighbour – seek to find her. I liked the tension, I liked reading about the friendship group, but ultimately I didn’t really like the girl they were looking for and I didn’t like the outcome. I finished the book feeling a bit deflated. I will probably watch the film when it comes out though!


M. C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet
Rating: 4 out of 5

This is also the second M C Beaton novel I have read. I am thoroughly enjoying the Agatha Raisin series. I find them entertaining, gripping and easy reads. The crimes are never too gruesome, and there is something about Agatha that amuses me. This novel didn’t let me down. In this instalment, she investigates the murder of the vet that no one liked. It was a fun read. If you like light-hearted crime novels, this is for you!


Rowan Coleman – The Memory Book
Rating: 4 out of 5

Man, this was a sad book. This was recommended to me by a friend (a fellow book lover), and I did really enjoy it. But goodness me was it a sad read. This novel looks at dementia, but in early age, and the effect it has on the family. It was a hard read, a bit of a tear-jerker, but one that I enjoyed. There was also a little twist, which I hadn’t seen coming, but was a bit heart-warming. This is a novel I would recommend.


Debbie Macomber – 1022 Evergreen Place
Rating: 3 out of 5

As you know, I like a Debbie Macomber novels. They are quick, easy reads – definite Chick-Lit. This, of course, fit that bill perfectly. This is the 10th Cedar Cove instalment. As I am reaching the end of this series of books, I am finding them to be a bit same-y. That said, I liked the storyline about the WW2 letters, that brought a new element to these stories. If quick, girly reads are your thing, you will like this series books – but don’t read them all in one go!

Share on Facebook

I’m sorry I have been quiet. Six weeks ago I gave birth to our second child (our first daughter, so exciting!), so I haven’t had time to post on here. I doubt I will complete my TBR challenge, but I am on course to finish my Goodreads challenge. You can see what books I have read this year here. Hopefully as our little Bean grows, I will have more time to post on here.

Share on Facebook

Addition: E-book
Genre: Christian, non-fiction
Rating: 2 out of 5

A practical guide to parenting that starts with the differences that the Gospel makes in the lives of those doing the parenting – most Christian books ignore this aspect.

I decided to read this book as a group of Mum’s from my local church were reading through it together, and in the hope I might make it to one of the mornings, I decided to read along with them. Sadly, I didn’t make it as I was working each week but I still read the book. It is a hard book to review as I haven’t read many parenting books and everyone has different theology, but I will have a go! This review is more personal than for other books because it addresses my love for God, my theology and decisions on parenting we have made in our marriage.

This book is advertised as a practical way of parenting whilst focusing on the Gospel. The first few chapters were full of the good news of Jesus, and it was an encouraging read. But then Farley started to get “practical” and I discovered I disagreed with most of what he said. I disagreed with his parenting style and his theology. Oddly, I seemed to agree with his opening paragraph of each chapter e.g. that the husband is head of the home (he will be the one who will stand before God and give answers about our family and our decisions) but I didn’t agree that wives are secondary when it comes to parenting. I don’t want to get into a theological debate, but God created man and woman differently, with different roles, but one is not more important than the other. I disagreed with a lot of this theology e.g. “Father’s do not provoke your child to anger” – I don’t think this is meant just for Dad’s, but he said it was. In fact, he believes all references to parenting in Scripture are just for fathers – this surely isn’t right. And I also disagreed with how he disciplines. We don’t smack our children in our house, and I don’t think that should be the first go-to when disciplining children. I found this book hard to read – he seemed to be saying that the most important person in the house is the man, that women are secondary but shouldn’t work as that will damage their children and that we need to break our children’s self-will, even though he said that is a gift from God. I left most chapters confused by his thoughts, and then strongly disagreeing with them! Interestingly, speaking to a few friends who have read this book, they also have disagreed with a lot of what Farley says.

I found the writing style hard to follow at times too. He was wordy, and not always clear. Another problem I had, was it felt like a large chunk of the book were statistics or quotes from other parenting books. It didn’t seem like a lot of what he said was based on the Bible.

From this book, I am grateful for the reminder that the Gospel is the centre of everything, and how we parent should reflect that. I want to teach my children about Jesus, and I want to love them and serve them well. This book has helped me to think about parenting, my beliefs and sparked conversations between me and my husband about parenting, which can only be a good thing (even if I did disagree with this book!). I don’t think I would recommend this book, but I am thankful for the way it has helped me consider parenting and how we raise our children. I am rating this book 2 out of 5.

Share on Facebook

Addition: Hardback
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch–“Scout”–returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past–a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.

This is the much anticipated sequel by Harper Lee, to my favourite book: To Kill A Mockingbird. What a book to follow – a classic, a much loved book, a book studied in schools and so on…so does Go Set A Watchman match up?

This novel follows Jean Louise – Scout – who returns home for a short visit from New York. The North is very different to the South – and attitudes of the South, even those of her family, come as a big shock to Jean Louise. This book explores racial tension, the North/South divide and family relationships.

I hate to type this, but…I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as I hoped I would. For me, this novel does not match up to To Kill A Mockingbird. I found it really lacked a story, plus key characters. There was no Boo Radley – he wasn’t even mentioned. Jem has died, so only appears in Jean Louise’s memories and Calpurnia is also just a memory. I found it hard to adjust to Scout being Jean Louise, a woman not the tom boy we all loved. I found her Aunt really irritating too! Atticus doesn’t actually feature much in this story – although a lot of Jean Louise’s self-discovery revolves around him, he is fairly absent in the story. I was surprised that the wisdom Jean Louise eventually sought was from her Uncle Jack, not Atticus.

As for the story, or lack of, I found this read more like an essay in racial tensions than a story. The book was wordy and I found a lot of it just wasn’t interesting. I also didn’t follow all of what Lee was saying. As I reflect on this novel, I find myself wondering what the point of the book was. Nothing was really concluded in the end. I found the trips down memeory lane enjoyable, but quite random and they didn’t add much to storyline.

I am rating this book 3 out of 5, firstly because I did finish this book. Secondly, there were parts of it I enjoyed. As I have said, I liked the memories, which meant Jem could re-enter the story. I also like the banter between Jean Louise and Hank. But it wasn’t an easy read, and some of it was really dull. This book isn’t as good as To Kill A Mockingbird, which is a novel I just love. I have come away from this book disappointed.

Share on Facebook

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Rating: 4 out of 5

What if compassion was not an emotion that evoked a response,
but was a prize to be won?

57142 has only ever known the reality of Outside, the place where he has to glean a lonely existence from the discarded rubbish of Tropolis.

Everything changes when he receives the crimson Post. It invites him to the competition that is the Compassion Prize offering wealth, happiness and a place in Tropolis if he succeeds.

How could he refuse to enter?

This is the third novel by Katy Hollway, and is completely different from her other two books, which are part of the Remnant Chronicles. This novel is not part of this series, it seems to be the beginning of a new series of young adult books.

This is a young adult, dystopia novel. 57142 lives in the Outside, surviving off the scraps from Tropolis, until he is selected to enter The Compassion Prize. This gives him the opportunity to compete against 19 others for a live in Tropolis for him and his family. This novel reminds me of both The Hunger Games and the Divergent series for the following reasons:
1. The idea of the very rich city and the very poor outside sectors
2. Competing for a place in a different, better society
3. The public in the city voting for their favourite contestant
That said, this novel does take a different look at this type of society. Hollway starts to unpack the idea that compassion and charity can be outlawed, and the effect this has on live. There are no friendship, no trust and no communities. It is a stark look at how important compassion is. How do you survive in a world like this? Is it possible to build friendships and escape this sad existence? Is being rich and fortunate enough to live in the city actually worth it? I really liked this different take on the dystopia novel.

I found this book really drew me in. I was hooked right from the first page and would have easily read it in one sitting had I been able to! I really liked the characters. They displayed a whole range of emotions, and despite their faults and lack of understanding, I was drawn to them and wanted to see what would happen. I also liked that they weren’t all inward-looking. Some were gentle and caring, despite what life has thrown at them. They were realistic and likeable.

I liked the storyline too. The tension built really well throughout the book. I found the novel easy to read and really easy to get drawn in to. Hollway creates a world and scenes that aren’t hard to imagine. There is drama, adventure, fear and a lovely study into friendship and trust. This storyline is so different from Hollway’s other novels, yet it was such a good read. Hollway is displaying that she has a wide range of writing talents, and a vivid imagination. This book draws you in – the more I read, the more I wanted to read and find out what happened. I am hoping this is the start of a new series by Hollway as this was a great read.

I am rating this novel 4 out of 5 because I really enjoyed it. This is a great, dystopia novel. If you like novels by Suzanne Collins, Lauren Oliver and Veronica Roth than this book is for you!

The first three chapters of this book are available to read to Katy Hollway’s blog.

Share on Facebook