Tag Archive | humour

A Home in the Sun, Sue Moorcroft

A Home in the Sun, Sue Moorcroft

A Home in the Sun by [Sue Moorcroft]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction

Ahhh, boo, hiss, spit. That awful outdated category AGAIN. One day..please?

Anyway, wow what a read. Sue is one of the few authors I’ve found that can juggle so many threads in a story, and weave them neatly into an engrossing tale. Often when I read books with multiple threads they feel disjointed, too busy, but here its just perfect, opens up parts of the characters that would otherwise be hidden.

Judith, divorced from the awful Tom and found new love in Malta. Her life is happy she thinks, her stepson who she adores, brought up since he was nine, often visits, and she lives with the gorgeous Giorgio. Slight hiccup due to the heavy religion and legal issues in Malta, but they’re in love and work round it. Then as things do, it all falls apart and heartbroken, she sadly can’t face her life there and comes back to the UK. That starts another fabulous thread, but Malta is still there in the background.
Adam is renting her UK house, he’s also divorced ( what a deliciously horrible woman his ex is, I do love characters like that, they add so much extra!) and lives with his son, who in his early 20’s. Adam also had past issues to deal with, the divorce, a horrible accident, trying to run his business, and of course now Judith wants her home back….
I really felt for Adam over his disability, I know from disabled friends his experience wasn’t unique – it happens way more than we would like to think. I was lucky, my husband never made me feel “less that” after my leg amputation, but many marriages break up as partners can’t deal with it. We put way too much emphasis on “perfection” IMO.

I just loved the way the story played out, the little things, Fingers the snake ( fabulous), when Judith went to throw some weed found down the sofa into the fire….Judith’s mum and the care home staff ( yes, Lovie/Love instead of names gets used all the while in these places. I just wish all care homes were like this one.) Judith’s sister Molly, and her husband – what is it with those males, so sexist. Sadly there are a lot of them about it seems.
I loved that Malta and the people there were always in the background, I wondered if perhaps Giorgio’s actions were a product of what had happened, how depressed and upset he was, how much he was keeping inside.
I understood Kieran and Bethan, I had similar issues at the same age, and my parents reactions were pretty much the same as hers. All these little things, all these multiple plots, wrapped up into a wonderful story that once more kept me reading “just one more chapter” til it was far too early in the morning to be reading but I needed to know how it ended!

Stars: Five, Its a wonderful mix of drama, tragedy and lightened with some very real humour.

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers

Isn’t it Bromantic?, The Bromance Book Club is back … it’s time to find out more about our favourite Russian! Lyssa Kay Adams

Isn’t it Bromantic?, The Bromance Book Club is back … it’s time to find out more about our favourite Russian! Lyssa Kay Adams

Isn't it Bromantic?: The Bromance Book Club is back ... it's time to find out more about our favourite Russian! by [Lyssa Kay Adams]

Genre: Romance

Vlad, I think we all adore him. He’d got a lot of hidden depth, he’s supportive, emotional, loves animals…and his wife. Yep, at the end of the last book we met Elena, and discovered Vlad has been married for six years! How do his best mates not know that? How do we not know that? So many questions.
Its a fun read, as usual the boys kind of bumble through, correcting each others mistakes, using romance books as their guide. Wish more blokes would do that!
Vlad has stayed away from them for months, making excuses, avoiding them, almost ashamed to admit he loves his wife, but she wants to go back to Russia. He’s been waiting so long for his happy ending, and when he finally cracks the lads are determined with their help he’ll get it.
Its a fun read, so much going on that actually at times I felt there was almost too much happening. The whole Elena’s father mystery and repercussions was just a bit too much for me. It fitted but I think it would have been better without it almost, or to have that as a very thin background story. But…that’s just me.
As always the characters are fab, Vlad and the lads, their wives and girlfriends, The Losers, Neighbour cat and Neighbour dog, and my favourite – The Cheeseman. Oh I loved the idea of the underground cheese movement! I loved the book within a book too, and how the lads used past books to analyse and help Vlad not only with his romance with Elena but the romance book he’s writing. Of course its full of those double entendre lines too, that made me smile so much.
I’m so glad Vlad finally got to the bottom ( smirk) of his digestive issues….made me laugh in earlier reads but he needed to get it sorted for him and everyone around him.
It has a kind of manic, slightly rushed ending but as ever all ends well, the guy gets the girl and everyone is happy. That’s what I want, I like some angst along the way but a HEA is why I read romance.

Stars: Four, another fun read. I was half in love with Vlad before, now its all the way 😉

ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers.

A Good Day for Chardonnay, Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay, Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram) by [Darynda Jones]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I saw Darynda’s name and requested. I adore the Charley Davidson/Grave series, and stupidly didn’t realise until part way through this that there’s an earlier book. I think if I’d read that I’d have got “into” this story much quicker, instead of trying to puzzle out who’s who and how they fit it. Darynda does give enough info that I could work out the gist of earlier events, but I think I’d have got more from this if I’d read that one.
I reread the CD/Grave series recently and enjoyed the earlier books even more now I know how the story goes. I’m a fan of rereading good ( to me) books and adore a whole series to go through.

Anyway, what a great cast of characters. Sunshine reminds me so much of Charley, that same quirky sense of humour that appeals to me, the way she does the right thing regardless of personal cost. It always ends right, but via a somewhat tortured route, and brings in some chaotic events.
Levi ( swoon) feels like Reyes ( swoon again!!) and Aurora could be Amber. They share so many characteristics. I really enjoyed the story, a mix of humour, sensitivity, dangers and the pathos of growing up.
I adored Cruz, and the relationship between him and Aurora, he was so protective. And of course Sunny’s Parent talk, Mr Penis and the Devils Doorbell had me in stitches. I could just imagine poor Aurora’s face.
Under the humour and zany actions though are real events, dangers, bad, greedy people and then a bit of heartbreak at the end with Cruz’, beautiful poem and the way he read it. That gave me a tear.

Its a series I’m going to continue with, less pressuring in a way that the Grave books, no supernatural baddies popping up but of course humans can be pretty nasty too.
And book one is definitely going on my list of reads too. I think I know most of the background but I’d like to see it play out in real time.

Stars: Four, though I do think if I’d read book one it would have been a five. Its a great read, solid mix of plots, life events and humour.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job: The most feel-good romcom of 2021 soon to be a TV series by [Lizzy Dent]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction

I’ve read a few like this and found them great fun, and hey, with Covid dominating our thoughts fun and fluff is much needed.

I really didn’t like Birdy at first, she seemed careless, selfish, and ready to possibly drop her best friend in it, to “borrow” the job for which she knows Heather has worked incredibly hard. Sommelier – Heather has spent years working at it, studying, building a steadfast reputation, and yet her supposed best friend is ready to risk her career, risk her losing all that?
Yes., Birdie is in a hole, but thinking she could just step into Heather’s shoes was naïve to say the least, selfish in my eyes.

As the story moved on I did come to understand Birdie a little better, and see that she had a good heart, though I still felt she did a horrible thing to Heather.
There were funny moments, serious problems, heartbreaking sadness, and the food…..wow, that was some of the best part, visualising that. One of the best parts, one that showcased Birdie’s talents, was the big food/wine event she presided over. That was just perfect.

The romance. I expected more, and TBH its really just a potential romance for the most part of the book. I’m not sure I was wholly convinced either.

Its a fun read if you can get past the issues of betrayal of her friend, and of course risking the whole hotel’s renovation that hinges like all businesses, on getting the money in.

Stars: Three, an OK read, made me laugh at times but I was irritated by Birdie’s actions too much, with her lack of concern for others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman, Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman, Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman: The most uplifting book you’ll read in 2021 by [Julietta Henderson]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult),

Wow, a book to make you laugh and cry in the same moment, its a real bittersweet read.

I loved it, for a debut book its a real cracker, something that kept me fully engrossed. There was so much detail, and at times it was so emotional that I read it in breaks. Its not a book to race to the end to see what happens, but one of those where you need to savour the journey, to enjoy each moment, each even as they happen.

Jax, poor, poor Jax. The kid everyone but Norman and Sadie see as a problem. The naughty kid, the one who’s always in trouble. Sadie tells Norman ( and I’m sure she told Jax too) that he makes it hard for people to like him, and yet when it comes to Norman he’s so full of patience, so full of help, ideas, of ways to bolster up Norman.
Lets face it, most kids are cruel and when like Norman you have a very obvious skin condition you can just imagine how hard it is for him. Actually adults can be cruel too, I’m sure Jax deflected as many comments off them too.
Even though Jax dies very early in the book, he’s still there, alive in Normans head, giving him confidence, reminding him all the work they’ve done “ Timing Normie, Timing”.

There’s a host of incredible characters here, some turning out to be not what they first seemed, events that could be so wrong but which turn out just right. Sadie thinks she’s a bad mum, and I guess when it comes to organisation, housework, the mundane stuff she’s not the best, but as a mum she’s perfect, just who Norman needs. He never once doubts her love, she’s always there for him, never says “ not now, I’m busy hoovering” She’d probably say “hoovering, ah well, that can wait til next month”
She adores Jax too, not just for the support and confidence he gives Norman, but for himself. She sees the boy behind the naughty facade.
When they come up with the trip I was thinking What? Seriously? And yet it works, with the help of the wonderful Leonard and his passion for learning via adult education classes.

Its a fabulous read, fun events and characters mixed with tragedy and sadness, and it felt so real, so vivid and true. Though real life probably wouldn’t pack quite so much in one go! The laughter about Norman and his scales dropping off on the hotel bed-sheets ( he’s the one laughing half the time), and that decamping at speed after the Chinese medicine stained towels, with the aid of Adam and the mobility scooter kind of sums up the story. Its sad, its funny, its real. The encounter with James was so funny, I could just visualise James and little Norman brazening it out – and it was the perfect set up for Norman and his confidence, to put him on the track of his future. Dave Allen, like Norman I adored his comedy, and slow burn stories was clearly Normans future.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, full of a perfect sad/sweet/happy mix. I laughed even as I was feeling so sad for poor Norman, and he’d want me to stick with the laughing.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Home on Folly Farm, The perfect uplifting romantic comedy for 2021, Jane Lovering

Home on Folly Farm, The perfect uplifting romantic comedy for 2021, Jane Lovering

Home on Folly Farm: The perfect uplifting romantic comedy for 2021 by [Jane Lovering]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

I love Jane’s books. On the surface they’re a cute, HEA story but when you get into them there is so much more. This one is set in rural Yorkshire, small sheep farm, and was so well described I felt I was there, alongside the characters. It covers so much, teen pregnancy, depression, drug taking, coping with the loss of children, so many interwoven subjects, and all handled sensitively, and in such a way that they don’t drag the story down, don’t depress the reader but made me want to know more about the characters. And it’s full of quiet, subtle humour like this “ a bit like being haunted by Reebok” in relation to Thor and his trainers….you have to look for some of it or you’ll miss is, its so cleverly done.

I loved Dora – but then we’re seeing her via her own voice, so of course events are skewed to her perspective. I hated Cass to begin, in fact for the greater part of the novel, but again as we see at the end I’m viewing her through Dora’s perspective, not exactly unbiased. Nat, lovely, lovely Nat, quiet but firm, brilliant tutor, and not just to Thor. And of course that brings me to Thor, who was a fabulous character. I loved seeing his transformation from sullen, bored, preteen to excitable, normal twelve year old boy.

The sheep rustling scene is one that will stay with me, Thor and his Vlog followers, gang of teens dragging their parents out of bed at 4am for an adventure, and to rescue web famous lambs Flick and Knife – yep, Thor named them. I had tears running down my face, had to keep rereading as the words blurred, it was hysterically funny.
I hate when a book promises “ you will laugh out loud” because I find that rarely delivers, but this scene, well, it was just what I needed in these grim Covid days. An unexpected bonus.

Its a fabulous story, with so much real life packed in, so much abut human psyche, how we react to others, become whats expected. By the end I felt I really understood the characters, and could see events with a different eye. The same things happened, the same results, but the characters weren’t the dislikable, selfish ones I thought, but had reasons for acting that way and when Dora understood that it really improved her life and relationships too. The months on the farm transformed all of them, they all ended in a better place.

Stars: Five, a gem of a read, Jane’s wonderful writing, delivering another perfect story, pathos and humour, love and disasters, all in one great novel.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Man I Didn’t Marry, Anna Bell

The Man I Didn’t Marry, Anna Bell

The Man I Didn’t Marry: the new emotional and hilarious romantic comedy you need to read in 2021! by [Anna Bell]

Genre: romance, women’s fiction

And yep, that outdated category once more. Its 2020, not 1820! men write romance, men read romance…..

So, everything is wonderful in Ellie’s world, she had a perfect husband, man of her dreams, her best friends brother who she had a crush on for so many years. She never expected that he’d fall in love with her. She felt, still feels, that he’s far above her, that she’s nothing like the leggy beauties he used to date.
They have a beautiful daughter and she’s now pregnant with their second child. And then one Saturday morning when he’s gone in to work, she gets a call from her mother in law. Max has returned there and is acting very strangely.
He’s somehow lost the last five years of his life, has no memory of Ellie other than his sisters friend, and doesn’t realise he’s a father. Has forgotten his sister is gay, that his parents are separated. What a nightmare.
Of course the questions are numerous but the main ones, why did it happen, and when will he recover, have no answer. Its could be hours, days, years in rare cases. Poor Ellie is devastated.

Ellie has joined a group of other pregnant mums. Over the next few weeks they are a great support to her, though at first I really wasn’t sure about some of them, especially the well meaning but steamroller approach to everything lady, Annabel (I think that was her name..) Her best friend too, Max sister, the one he has forgotten is gay, reconnects properly with Ellie and really helps her. As is often the way, although they were still friends, they’d lost that closeness and through these events they found it again.

Max is a real jerk at first, back to his wandering eye, man whore ways, even when Ellie is trying to recreate their dates to jog his memory, and I so felt for her. Who wants your Adonis husband flirting constantly when out, especially when being heavily pregnant makes you feel not the most attractive. My heart broke for her at that point, so hard to take, it really brought home just what she was going through.
Fortunately that stage doesn’t last long, he’s still in a bit of denial there and confused, which is understandable, but as he comes to accept what everyone is telling him he changes his behaviour, tries really hard to be the man he should be, husband and father, even though its difficult when he has no memory of that man. He slowly gets closer to Ellie, comes to see her in a different light to his sisters friend, appreciates her for the woman she is now, and the attraction between them pulls at him and makes him work harder at being her husband. He realises what he’s in danger of losing if he doesn’t and though at first husband and father isn’t what he wanted to be, it scared him, slowly he realises that its exactly what he wants, where he should be at this part of his life. Ellie discovers to her surprise that he’s now not her Max, but actually a more considerate Max, active in helping her as a father, in appreciating her as his wife, showing his feelings.

Then just when things are going really well, when they’ve finally reconnected in a big way there are some major issues. His parents have hidden their separation from him, and when he finds out that – well, a very funny section there but he’s angry, angry that those he trusts now his memory is gone have been lying to him. Poor Ellie, she gets caught up even though she was against keeping it secret, but she didn’t feel it was her place to reveal it. And then on top of that another massive secret comes out. Ellie is devastated, and I can understand that. Can they find a way past it?

The things that have happened make Ellie look at her perfect marriage, and as with the new, improved Max she finds that actually there were things that weren’t right, that she wasn’t giving her all to marriage either. Pulled into motherhood it’s easy to let other things slide, no-one ever expects how all-consuming new babies can be.
Although what happened was an awful thing, getting through it gave Ellie an inner strength and allowed her to see herself as others did, that actually she was a beautiful, confident, intelligent lady, and well up to being wife of Max the Adonis. Not the lower standard, lucky lady that he chose her image she had of herself. I was really pleased about that.
Max too has learned from the experience, learned whats really important to him, learned that he shouldn’t take things for granted, that marriage and family need input, effort to get the best out of them.

I really wondered if Ellie could get past this last big secret, its a huge problem, and I understood exactly how it played on her fears, how she’s always felt. Yet I could see how much Max loved her, how she was his life, and I was desperate for them to find a way through.

Stars: Five. Its a great read, a mix of humour and poignancy, romance and practicality. I loved it.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Friends With Benefits, An absolutely uplifting, feel-good romcom, Lisa Swift

Friends With Benefits, An absolutely uplifting, feel-good romcom, Lisa Swift

Friends With Benefits: An absolutely uplifting, feel-good romcom by [Lisa Swift]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction.

Two gripes to get off my chest before I start.
One, the usual. Women’s Fiction – just why? Men read romance, men write romance, its 2021 not 1821!
Second thing, I hate when a book tells me how it will make me feel. This isn’t as bad as the “ you will find this hilarious/ side splittingly funny” type title additions, but tbh titles should be just that. Nothing more, apart from a series number of trilogy installment so the reader knows more about where the book fits.

So, the book. I’ve enjoyed several of Lisa’s stories, they’ve not yet been five star reads but a solid four, feeling very real. This book is just like that.
The characters and situations feel real, and the plots are ones I could see playing out in many family lives. I loved Lexie, Theo and Connor. And Tonya, the step mum in law kind of connection – she was wonderful, I want to be her.

As usual the romance takes times to progress, then hits some hiccups, but this book covers more than just the Lexi/Theo romance, and delves into Connor, his life and loves. That part was really well done, he’s an incredibly mature young man, and my heart broke for him at times. Its tough being a teen, without having had your mum die when you were a kid, your dad skip off to work abroad, but thankfully Lexie has been “mum” to him for so long that he’s happy to rely on her, and he can talk to “uncle” Theo for the male side of things.
He’s angry with his dad, and I could understand that. Darryl really was a first class jerk. And then Lisa expands on the past and has me, despite myself , feeling sad for Darryl. I still didn’t like him but I did understand him more.
Lexie is devoted to Connor, won’t date because she doesn’t want to bring strangers into his life. Plus she knows it will make Darryl even more difficult to deal with. I loved her, she treats and sees Connor as her child, and why not? She’s been mum to him for a long time. Connor adores her too, though of course it doesn’t stop the usual teen issues…
Theo was Darryl’s best friend since they were kids, but he really made things difficult for him when he closed down the business they shared without warning, skipped off with the money he had and left Theo in the lurch. He doesn’t take that out on Lexie and Connor though, stays their support and in their lives. Even more now he and Lexie share the cafe.

Its a fun read, delving into what makes people the way they are. First off Darryl seemed a jerk, Theo the consummate playboy, love ’em and leave ’em type, but when we learn more about them its easier to understand why they are that way. There’s some sizzling sex, lots of humour but married with some darker emotions too. Overall its one I really enjoyed, but I’m not sure I’d reread.

Stars: Four. Fun read, with some real depth to it.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Say Hello, Kiss Goodbye, Jacquelyn Middleton

Say Hello, Kiss Goodbye, Jacquelyn Middleton

Say Hello, Kiss Goodbye by [Jacquelyn Middleton]

Genre: General fiction (adult), romance

This is one of a series of connected books, each are stand alone romances, but feature characters from earlier reads.

I really enjoyed this story, what I love is that like my favourite of these reads, London, Can You Wait? the part where the romance falls apart last ages, really wrings every bit of drama out, when you know both are so in love but circumstances and personal fears keep them apart. Its a good section of the book, chapters long rather than the too often two or three pages, and that works for me. I adore drama, love to wallow in the sad bits, really feel the emotions.

Of course as well as a cracking, drama filled story this covers so many other things. The waste in society, where we throw away so much. Leia uses old and unwanted fabrics to create her one off and small run creations, Tarquin restores and updates old buildings to give them new life. I love that, I’m very much a fan of reusing and updating, I hate that we have become a disposable society, when parts of the world would love to have what we discard without a second thought.

Then there’s Leia’s sister, in a wheelchair. Being someone in a wheelchair myself I loved her drive for more accessibility, for us to be seen, for our views to be recognised as valid. 25 years on from the Disability Discrimination Act and sometimes I feel so little progress has been made. There are still brand new businesses where access is limited or non existent, still transport that we can’t use, still homes and holiday places that claim to be disabled friendly but aren’t. Still folk who feel that being in a wheelchair seems to affect our brains, that we cant have opinions worth considering. Then depression and the stigma that surrounds it, is included in the story. That was well handled here, and sadly so very true. And there’s Saz’, Leia’s sister, issues with clothing, with nerve pain that were so very real, I’ve had those problems, and of course before becoming disabled I never gave a thought to it.

Having all those things in the story would make you think its a grim read, that its very negative, but its not, its full of vibrancy, positivity, uplifting and fun. Somehow Jacquelyn has taken these serious issues and woven them carefully into the story, making the reader think, but without bringing the feel of the read down, keeping the humour and fun to the forefront.

What most amazed me about the story was how I felt about Tarquin. From earlier books he appeared a very shallow, couldn’t care less type of guy, just out for sex and fun, ignoring any real feelings. I didn’t really like him. Then with Alex in the last book I got a glimpse of how he might be, and here learning so much more about him I just fell in love with him. I was so cross with Leia, so angry, and yet I understood her reactions, her reasons. I was rooting for them to be together, but of course if she had given in earlier I wouldn’t have got that lovely, long drawn out, sad drama section.

At the end of the book the notes are full of really interesting bits of research and anecdotes that went in to the creation of this book. They are well worth reading.
And Jacquelyn, I fully understand grieving for a pet, for most of us they are family and the grief we feel when they are gone, especially when we expected many more years, affects us and how we deal with life.

Stars: Five. A fabulous read, great characters, it’s of fun, filled with drama, with emotion and of course what made it great for me, with real life, real people like me.

ARC supplied by publishers

Christmas Wishes, Sue Moorcroft

Christmas Wishes, Sue Moorcroft

Christmas Wishes: From the Sunday Times bestselling and award-winning author of romance fiction comes a feel-good cosy Christmas read by [Sue Moorcroft]

Genre: general Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Romance

* sigh * women’s fiction, I seem to have been moaning about this genre for ages now. Its 2020, men write romance, men read romance, lets stop with the sexism.

Anyway, its Sue Moorcroft, an author I only discovered recently and I adore her writing style. This book was the usual well plotted, cleverly laid out story, that kept me reading right to the end. ( Sometimes I get impatient and skip bits when authors waffle…doesn’t happen with “good” – for me – books)

I loved the characters, loved when Hannah first met Nico again and thinks he’s fallen on hard times. She tries to help him by taking him for a meal, and it turns out she chooses the worst place for him 😉 How easily good intentions have the wrong result.
Albin, Hannah’s boyfriend was deliciously wicked, one of those folk you’re happy to thoroughly dislike, he was cold, calculating, cruel, and I wondered what Hannah ever saw in him. I guess he presented his best side to her then. I like a character like his in a novel, it adds to the drama. Manipulative described him well, and also Nico’s wife and mother in law. Its a treat to get some truly unpleasant characters in a novel 😉 Set against that Hannah’s family were lovely, close, accepting and encouraging. I adored Nan Heather, a loving and practical lady. There were a mix of other characters, some really lovely, tenants of the new shopping courtyard, others were not so much, like the owner of said place.

Its a fun story, hot and cold in that neither Hannah nor Nico really know whats happening to the other, and their attraction is there but the action hampered by misunderstandings and bad timing.
The real star of the show for me was Maria, “ Yozee! Snow!” Poor little girl. Sadly there are many like her, with unwilling or incapable parents, and Nico showed just what a big and caring heart he had.
The happy ending comes but there’s a long and angst filled journey to it – perfect for me. I love the drama of some angst and heartbreak….

Stars: 5 A fabulous romance, with realistic characters and a heartbreaking story line at times.

Arc via Netgalley

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