It’s not all about the crime …

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Okay … so it is mostly about the crime … But I do read other stuff too. And to prove it, here are some of my favourite non crime reads from 2017. I can do sensitive too you know 😉

Second Chance Cafe UK smallThe Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square – Lilly Bartlett

A feel-good story that’s as scrumptious as your favourite slice of cake!

Emma’s new café will be perfect, with its gorgeous strings of vintage bunting, mouth-wateringly gooey cakes, comforting pots of tea and quirky customers who think of each other as friends.

It’s a long road to get there, but as her business fills with freelancing hipsters, stroppy teens, new mums and old neighbourhood residents, Emma realises that they’re not the only ones getting a second chance. She is too.

But when someone commits bloomicide on their window boxes, their milk starts disappearing and their cake orders are mysteriously cancelled, it becomes clear that someone is determined to close them down.

Will the café be their second chance after all?

I really enjoyed this story, the second in the Carlton Square series, which sees now harassed mom of twins, Emma open up her dream cafe in the same square which played host to her wedding. But it’s not all plain sailing and someone seems determined to stop the cafe before it has a chance to bloom. Funny and touching, my review can be found here.

BDBHThe Big Dreams Beach Hotel – Lilly Bartlett

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

A second entry for Lilly Bartlett, with its quaint seaside setting and the intrinsic Britishness of the characters, this book has me smiling and chuckling from first to last. Romantic and charming you will fall in love with the characters in this book. My review can be found here. Even quoted on Amazon for this one!

CAHCChristmas at Hope Cottage – Lily Graham

In the little village of Whistling, with its butterscotch cottages and rolling green hills, snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is coming, and Emma Halloway is on her way home.

When twenty-eight-year-old food writer Emma Halloway gets dumped then knocked off her bike, she’s broken in more ways than one, and returns to her family’s cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Emma hasn’t been back in some time, running from her crazy relatives and her childhood sweetheart, Jack Allen.

Emma’s grandmother is determined to bake her back to health and happiness, as the Halloways have done for generations. Surrounded by old friends and warm cinnamon buns, Emma starts to believe in her family’s special talents for healing again. But then in walks Jack with his sparkling hazel eyes, stirring up the family feud between them. 

As the twinkly lights are strung between the streetlamps, Emma remembers just why she fell for Jack in the first place… and why a Halloway should never date an Allen.

The infuriating new lodger, Sandro, doesn’t believe anyone should have to choose between love and family. With a little bit of Christmas magic, can Emma and Jack find a way to be together, or will Emma find herself heartbroken once more?

SO this book combines the two things I just don’t do. Romance and Christmas. But hey, it was a highly entertaining read, so many things about it that made me smile, and a story which really is magical. My review can be found here.

TSDThe Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old

Meet Hendrik Groen. An octogenarian in a care home who has no intention of doing what he’s told, or dying quietly. To that end, he creates the Old-But-Not-Dead Club and with his fellow members sets about living his final years with careless abandon. Such anarchism infuriates the care home director but pleases Eefje, the woman who makes Hendrik’s frail heart palpitate. If it’s never too late to have fun, then can it ever be too late to meet the love of your life?

I remember Adrian Mole. I’m that old. While I really enjoyed reading that as a kid, I loved reading Hendrik’s diary as an adult. There is so much poignancy, humour and emotion packed into these pages, I was chuckling over my coffee one minute and wiping away a tear the next. My review is here.

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The Summer House – Jenny Hale

Some summers will stay with you forever…

Callie Weaver and best friend Olivia Dixon have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast.

Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s property empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy, but as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks.

Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets… secrets that stretch across the island, and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor. 

Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm it unleashes, or can true love save them?

A wonderfully hopeful summer tale of family, love and trust, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were believable and I really wanted Callie and Luke to come good. Whether they did … You’ll have to read to find out. My review is here.

WAHCWe’ll Always Have Christmas – Jenny Hale

An enchanting story about the magic of Christmas, the importance of family, and the joy of falling in love during the most romantic season of the year…

Christmas has always been a special time for Noelle Parker. Winter evenings spent with family and friends, drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies at her family’s cozy bakery have shaped her love for all things festive. But this year everything is changing…

The beloved bakery is facing closure and Noelle needs a miracle to save Christmas.

Determined to raise funds for the family business, Noelle sets about revamping the bakery while juggling a surprise new job, caring for the elderly and cantankerous William Harrington in his luxurious, sprawling mansion.

As Noelle melts the frostiness of the house with cake baking, snowball fights and glittering decorations, she helps William to reconnect with a romance that has spanned decades and unexpectedly finds herself falling for his grandson – the gorgeous but mysterious Alexander Harrington

In the countdown to Christmas, can Noelle save the bakery, reunite a family and create some magical memories of her own along the way?

Family, forgiveness, hope and cookies sum up the tone of this book. I loved the sense of family, both good and bad, which flowed through the pages, and the gentle way in which Alex made friends with Noelle’s son. It will have you cooing over your cocoa and gingerbread. My review can be found here.

LMBLittle Miss Busy Surviving Motherhood – Roger Hargreaves

Little Miss Busy hadn’t always been so busy. She used to enjoy lazy weekends and leisurely lie-ins. But then she had kids. Now her life is a constant juggle of demands and pressure to be the perfect mum. How does Little Miss Busy do it?

The perfect book for anyone who has ever faced the trials and tribulations of the wonderful and exasperating world of parenthood.

MGMr Greedy Eats Clean to Get Lean – Roger Hargreaves

Mr Greedy loves to eat, but when everyone around him seems to be juicing and exercising, he decides it’s time to make some changes. Will Mr Greedy get lean with the help of his friends?

The perfect book for anyone who’s ever tried to kick start their life with a diet which promises a new improved you.

Do not judge me … 😉 These books are brilliant. Little MIss BUsy – Any mother ever will identify with this one. And Mr Greedy’s tip for dieting success pretty much echoes my own. Classic. My review can be found here.

BHBBehind Her Back – Jane Lythell

In a TV station run by men, how do the women make themselves heard?

Liz Lyon is a television producer at StoryWorld, the UK’s favourite morning show. Her job is stressful and demanding, but she is determined to show her teenage daughter that women can succeed.

Then a new female colleague joins the station. In this predatory climate of toxic masculinity Liz and Lori should be helping each other. But when Lori starts secretly building her power base with the bosses, Liz is desperate to know what’s going on behind her back…

An alarmingly believable look behind the scenes at a major TV show, this book had me intrigued and enraptured from the off. With a brilliant lead character I really wanted Liz to get her due. Fabulous book –  my review is here.

AITAlice In Theatreland – Julia Roberts

It’s 1976; a summer of soaring temperatures and the year nineteen-year-old Alice Abbott’s life changed irrevocably… 

Alice’s childhood dream of seeing her name up in lights seems close to fulfilment when she attends an audition for a new West End show but first she must impress theatre impresario, Richard, a man with an unhealthy penchant for innocent young dancers. 

Befriended by Gina, an experienced dancer who is determined to protect her new friend from the sleaze behind the glamour, and attracting attention from the male lead in the show, Peter, a former pop star who she’s had a crush on for years, Alice’s star seems to be ascending until she accepts Richard’s impromptu dinner invitation. 

Alice’s apparent naivety places her in peril, but is she really as innocent as she appears, and just how far will Richard go to protect his guilty secret?

I loved the setting for this book. Theatre is my other great passion after reading and everything about this book rang true, drawing on the authors own experiences in the spotlight. A twisted story which combines romance with a little bit of intrigue, my review can be found here.

So there you have it. Some none crime recommendations for you. I am planning to try and mix things up more next year. Who knows. I may even succeed.

Happy Reading All

Jen

 

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