The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

Synopsis from Amazon:

It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

What an extraordinary book. The narrative is all letters. It is through a letter that Juliet, an author struggling to find something to write about after WW2 discovers about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. She receives a letter from Dawsey about a book of hers he has, and from there their correspondence blossoms. Soon there are several members of the Society writing to her and she learns how the group came about and how they have helped each other through the Nazi Occupation of the Island. She is drawn to the place and eventually ends up living there; where she finds her writing mojo, forms lasting bonds and finds peace and love.

I loved this book. Even though it is written in letters it is very easy to read. I liked that it was all written in letters, it gave a more personal feel as people were free to express their feelings to their friends. I found the story to be extraordinary – what a genius idea for keeping sane during a war. I just love the idea that books can bring people together and can form lasting bonds between people.

I loved all the characters. It was a joy to watch Juliet find happiness, she was a lovely person to read about. And the Literary Society were a group of great people. Dawsey is a strong, solid, reliable man, and I fell in love with him. It is interesting that even though we never meet Elizabeth we hear all these wonderful stories bout her and her heroics, how she brought everyone together and helped them out in times of need, and I found myself wanting to get to know her. And when we discovered what happened to her I could have cried.

I was attached to this book and the characters. It wasn’t a quick read, but lovely. Well worth reading. I felt emotions along with the characters and didn’t want the book to end. One of the best books I’ve read recently. This is a must read.

10/10

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PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

ps i love you

Synopsis:

A wonderfully warm and heartfelt debut from a stunning new talent. Everyone needs a guardian angel! Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He’s left her a bundle of notes, one for each of the months after his death, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed ‘PS, I Love You’. As the notes are gradually opened, and as the year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on. With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing — and being braver than ever before. Life is for living, she realises — but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you.

Holly is lucky; she found her soul mate when she was young. Except she is unlucky – he dies young of a brain tumour. Her life is ripped apart. What is she going to do? Her husband has dead. Yet her mother is holding a letter for her, one from Gerry. There is a note for every month of the rest of the year, which will help her carrying on living.

This is a well written, touching book. To lose your u at a young age must be horrendous, and that is how Ahern writes it. It is so sad, very heartbreaking. Ahern looks at what losing your spouse does to you, how relationships change, who are your real friends, and how you can keep going. I loved the idea of notes, and everything Gerry set up for her to help her. What a lovely thing to do. It was so beautiful that he was there supporting her through these few lines a few. Ahern’s writing is gripping and draws you into the story. I felt the emotions Holly was feeling, and could have cried along with her.

I don’t think I have a favourite character in this book. Everyone was well written and I liked how they developed over the year. It was interesting to see how Gerry’s death affected everyone. It was good to see how Ahern remembered the other characters and incorporated their grief in the book too.

It is important to note that not all the book is sad, and there are moments of joy, fun and laughter. Ahern looks at a range of emotions and the rollercoaster of grief.

I really enjoyed this book. It is chick-lit, but it explores a hard issue. It did not take long to read this book – it was just a good novel.

9/10

31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell

cover-dreamstreetSynopsis from Amazon:

Leah and Toby have lived across the street from one another for years without meeting … and Leah has been itching to peek behind the front door of Toby’s eccentric house, always packed to the rafters with weird and wonderful tenants. When fate finally lets her in, Leah finds that Toby needs her as much as she is surprised to realize she might need him. Sometimes life needs a helping hand and with a sprinkle of romance and their own special magic, Toby and Leah’s dreams show the glimmer of a chance of coming true. 31 Dream Street is a wonderfully warm and insightful novel that will capture the imagination and soothe the soul.

One ordinary day Leah is going about her business when she notices the old man from across the street lying face down on the ground. She goes to investigate and discovers he has died. She runs to the eccentric house for help and meets Toby, the owner. This is their first meeting and a friendship is quickly born. Time spent together brings Toby out of his shell, helps him make some decisions about the house and enables him to befriend his tenants. It also has Leah re-examining her life. This death has been the beginning of many changes….

I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable book. I have read Jewell’s Thirty-something and Ralph’s Party, and enjoyed both, so I had high hopes for this novel, and I think I enjoyed it even more than the other two. This is pure chick-lit, but a wonderful read. It is over 400 pages long, but I read most of it in a day. It is engaging, humorous and a great read.

I loved Leah and Toby, but they are not the only characters whose stories are told in this book. Toby’s tenants are introduced as well and woven into the story. They have their own chapters so we can get to know them as well. This adds to the story, making it more enjoyable as you want to know what is going to happen to the house mates, as well as wanting to know about their past.

Jewell looks at the illness Cystic Fibrosis. She examines the disease through a conversation and looks at how it can affect people’s lives, as well as fears of those first encountering the illness. She also describes how this can negatively affect relationships. I think this was very well written and dealt with.

The only thing I did not like about the book was the swearing. I found there to be too much of it and it spoiled the book.

Overall, a great chick-lit book, highly recommended.

8/10

The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

the chocolate run

Synopsis from Amazon:

Amber Salpone thinks in chocolate – talk to her for three minutes and she’ll tell you what kind of chocolate you’d be. In fact, most days, if she was asked to choose between chocolate and relationships, there’d be no contest. At least chocolate has never let her down. Unlike her family. Growing up in the Salpone household has taught Amber to avoid conflict – and love – at all costs. So, when she does the unthinkable and has a one-night stand with womaniser Greg Walterson, her uncomplicated, chocolate-flavoured life goes into meltdown. Especially when Greg announces she’s the love of his life – and Amber finds it hard enough to decide if she wants plain or Fruit & Nut …Meanwhile, her best friend, Jen, seems to be launching a bid to become Bitch Of The Year and Amber’s family are making unreasonable demands. Amber has two choices: to deal with her past and the people around her, or to go on a chocolate run and keep on running …

Amber is not a chocoholic – if you ask her – she is just a chocolate sniffer, needs chocolate to think, and compares everyone to chocolate. It is her constant in life, her safety net.  But running for chocolate is not going to help her this time. She has been off relationships for 18 months, and has loved it. Yet she is falling for Greg, the womaniser. As she pursues this line she realises that her best friend is being turned into skinny, selfish, horrid person, who Amber doesn’t know, or want to know. The some dark secrets come out – not only does Amber have to confront her childhood fears, but she must make choices about friends and lovers.

I really enjoyed this book. This is the second book by Koomson I have read and liked it so much I have bought a third novel. Koomson is a great writer. She is exciting and gripping. I didn’t want to put the book down. The story flows easily off the page and incredibly readable.

I loved the characters. Koomson writes in a way that you feel how Amber feels – so when she was sad you were too; when her heart broke, so did yours. I really liked Renee and Martha her work collegues – they were funny but good people – great friends to have around.

This is chick-lit, but anyone who likes a good story of friendship, love and family should read this book.

9/10

The Teahouse on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

the teahouse on mulberry street

Synopsis from FantasticFiction:

The old tea house on Mulberry Street in Belfast hasn’t changed much over the years. But it’s about to bear witness to some significant transformations Daniel Stanley might make the most glorious deserts in the whole of Ireland, but he won’t support his wife Penny’s desire to have at least one bun in the oven. And the owners of Muldoon’s Tea Rooms are just two of the people inside hoping for change. Struggling artist Brenda sits penning letters to Nicholas Cage and dreaming of a better life. Sadie finds refuge from her diet and her husband’s infidelity in Daniel’s famous cherry cheesecake. Clare returns home from twenty years in New York, still cherishing the memory of the one night she truly loved and lost. And Penny herself discovers a secret from the past and a sexy estate agent very much in her present. They all want their lives to change but are they willing to face the consequences? And the possibility that you might not always be able to have your cake and eat it.

This was another author I had not read before and found her to be OK. The book is a bit disjointed. The characters don’t really mix – all of them led separate lives which did not connect.

However, I enjoyed the story. I found it interesting to discover what would happen to Penny as she tries to change her unhappy life, Sadie plots revenge on her cheating husband, Clare pines for and hunts down the love of her life and Brenda as she paints and longs for Nicholas Cage. There were more characters that I can’t even remember much about. There was just a little bit too much going on and it didn’t come together neatly.

All that said, I did read to the end and wanted to know what happened. Maybe the ending wasn’t too convincing but then that didn’t spoil the story too much.

This is an OK chick-lit book.

7/10

Head Over Heels by Jill Mansell

head over heels

Synopsis from Amazon:

Jessie has kept the identity of her son Oliver’s father a secret for years. She’s stunned when she discovers that the man in question, actor Toby Gillespie, has just moved in next door. The truth’s about to come out.  One glance at Oliver, and a little mental arithmetic, and Toby has the situation sussed. Meeting the son he never knew he had is the shock of a lifetime. It’s a shock, too, for Toby’s wife, the beautiful Deborah, though she seems to take it in her stride. Would Deborah be so relaxed if she knew just how close Toby wants to get to the mother of his firstborn? As the attraction between them flares up again, Jessie just can’t see her way to a happy ending. But no one is quite what they seem, and there are more surprises to come…

This is the first Jill Mansell novel I have read, and I enjoyed it. The story stars Jessie, who for 21 years has kept the identity of Oliver’s father a secret. But that is revealed when Toby Gillespie, a celebrity shows up. He quickly works out that Oliver is his son, but that does not bother him nor his wife. However, what Deborah does not realise is that Toby is still in love with Jessie. But Deborah has secrets of her own – as do most of the people in this seemingly quiet village…

This was a gripping chick-lit novel. Mansell’s style of writing draws you in. You connect with the characters and want to know what surprises are in store. Some of them were predictible but others came as a surprise – Bernadette’s being one of them.

This is another book that I have read recently that has slated men. In this book they were playing away from home and expected their women to do everything for them.

The more I read of this book the more I wanted to find out what would happen. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any chick-lit lovers.

8/10

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

knit two

Synopsis from Amazon:

Old Yarns
It is five years since the members of The Friday Night Knitting Club bonded during divorce, job loss, romance, birth – and the sudden death of their dear friend, Georgia. But the Walker and Daughter knitting store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is still going strong.

New Patterns
Drawn together by their love for Georgia’s daughter, Dakota, and the sense of family the club provides, each knitter is struggling with new challenges: for Catherine, finding love after divorce; for Darwin, newborn twins; for Lucie, being both single mum and carer for her elderly mother, and for Anita, marriage to her sweetheart over the objections of her grown-up children.

A love letter to the power of female friendship and, of course, knitting, Knit Two is entertainment with heart.

This is the sequel to the wonderful Friday Night Knitting Club. It is five years on and there have been some big changes. Georgia died, leaving Peri in charge of Walker and Daughter – although Peri really wants to expand her pocket book business. Lucy has made a name for herself as a producer, but her daughter Ginger is a handful. KC is now working in law, but is still single. Catherine is also single, and stuck in a rut. Darwin has twins, and is struggling with how to raise them. Anita is all set to marry Marty, but her sons are adamant she mustn’t. And Dakota, Georgia’s daughter is 18 and ready to take on the world, making huge, life-changing decisions. All this combined makes for interesting Friday nights knitting together in Walker and Daughter, when Lucy gets the chance to film a music video in Rome. So half the knitting group are off to Europe. Secrets are revealed, plans are formed, and friendships are forged – all until disaster strikes back in New York…. Could this be the end of Walker and Daughter…..?

I was skeptial about how this book would turn out as Jacobs killed off the main character, however, this book was just as good. The fact Georgia is dead is addressed, and we see how friends are still grieving and what her friendship meant to them individually and as a group is very well written. This sequel allows Jacobs to explore the other characters more deeply, which I think made the book. I loved all members of the group – such an odd mix of people but still they form a strong bond together, and it was nice reading about that.

It must be noted that with the odd exception, men are not greatly portrayed in this book. Nathan, Anita’s son, is manipulative and conniving, and James is dominant and stuck in his ways. I found myself disliking both of them as I read the book – although a book that sparks a reaction, whether negative or positive is a good book in my opinion.

I do have one complaint: I felt some areas of the story were too conveniently concluded. Anita’s story for one – it was too neat, a touch unpredictable really. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. It is not a fast read, but it is a good read.

9/10