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The Broken Hearts Book Club

Author: Lynsey James
Published: 12 October 2015
Reviewed: 19 February 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24


Copy supplied by Carina UK in return for an honest review

3 out of 5 Stars

 



Description: 

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The Long Room

Author: Francesca Kay
Published: 07 January 2016
Reviewed: 18 February 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24


Copy supplied by Faber & Faber Ltd in return for an honest review

3 out of 5 Stars

 



Description: 

Set in London in the early eighties, award-winning novelist Francesca Kay’s third novel tells the story of a spy who falls for the wrong woman.

What happens to a man who has his ear pressed to the lives of others but not much life of his own? When Stephen Donaldson joins the Institute, he anticipates excitement, romance and new status. Instead he gets the tape-recorded conversations of ancient communists and ineffectual revolutionaries, until the day he is assigned a new case: the ultra-secret PHOENIX. Is PHOENIX really working for a foreign power? Stephen hardly cares; it is the voice of the target’s wife that mesmerises him.

This is December 1981. Bombs are exploding, a cold war is being waged, another war is just over the horizon and the nation is transfixed by weekly instalments of Brideshead Revisited. Dangerously in love, and lonely, Stephen sets himself up for a vertiginous fall that will forever change his life.

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Four Weddings and a White Christmas

Author: Jenny Oliver
Published: 8 October 2015
Reviewed: 18 December 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Carina UK in return for an honest review.

  4 out of 5 stars  

 


Welcome back to Cherry Pie Island…the most delicious place to spend Christmas!
Hannah’s holidays are normally spent nibbling chocolate coins with her daughter and arguing with her sister about whether they’re too old for stockings on Christmas morning. But this year, she’s been offered the dressmaker’s job of a lifetime: creating a one-of-a-kind a dress for her school friend Annie’s Christmas wedding on the picture-perfect Cherry Pie Island.
Many mince pies and one hot-pink organza dress later, Hannah is set to snuggle back into her old routine…until she discovers that there are three more weddings this winter – and not a dress in sight!
Four very different themes, four demanding brides and four parties spent avoiding chef Harry Fontaine, whose cynicism is as much a wedding day guarantee as confetti and cake. Hannah has her work cut out for her! Yet, with a sprinkling of snowflakes and Christmas magic, it could be that this is the year when miracles really do happen…if Hannah will let them.


Having not realised this was actually the final book of the Cherry Pie Island series, I started reading and instantly connected with the characters and their tales, there’s enough detail given to understand who’s who and who they are marrying etc.  That said, I would like to point out at this stage, this is a really good book, and the story reads perfectly well as a standalone book.
 
Hannah is a lovely character, she’s just finished her degree and making her way in the world of fashion, her mum proudly showing off a picture of her degree show dress lands her with a commission that opens the door of a world she’d never imagined.  After making the wedding dress for her old school friend Annie, there is great interest in her work, and she finds friendships she’d thought she’d lost by becoming a mother.
 
Being invited to so many weddings with the same group of people Hannah is secretly pleased to see that the dishy Harry Fontaine is there.   
Harry runs a restaurant in New York and is rumoured to be very demanding and ruthless, so much so he will throw out diners for not showing the appropriate decorum whilst in his establishment.  He’s also a cynic about family, marriage and love, something Hannah just can’t fathom.  As the pair get to know each other through these chance encounters they both realise there’s a connection there, a pull that draws them together.  Especially at one of the weddings where Harry is cooking the feast with the help of Hannah’s five year old daughter Jemima.  
There is also a nice bit about Harry’s back story, his time with his family explains a lot about why he’s so set in his ways and thinks like he does.  It really gives a good incite into this complex character.  Ultimately, it’s this connection to his family that brings about the change of heart that he has.
 
Without ruining the book for others I won’t say any more about the plot, but there is a lovely feel to this book, you keep reading to find out what happens to the characters, see what wonderful creations Hannah can come up with next and see how much Hannah’s daughter can make you smile and chuckle.  
As for characters, Hannah is so likeable, Harry has his own rugged, grumpy charms, but for me  Jemima steals the show!  She’s just what a five year old should be, funny, clever, and throw in her unerring five year old thinking, well you just can’t help but smile at the things she says.  She really is one of my favourite characters in a book of late. 
The writing style of Oliver’s is great, the pace is steady and flows well, the dialogue is natural and engaging, physical descriptions are wonderful, there aren’t many times that I wish a book had images to go along with the texts, but it would have been wonderful to have seen images of Hannah’s creations, just picturing them in my head had me in awe. 
This is definitely a lovely book to curl up with for Christmas, it’s a genuinely enjoyable read.  

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Romance and Comedy genres.     

I would like to thank Carina UK for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 8th October 2015, a copy can be purchased here Four Weddings and a White Christmas (UK Kindle Version)

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The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Author: Lisa Dickenson
Published: 22 October 2015
Reviewed: 09 December 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK in return for an honest review.

  4 out of 5 stars  

 

At thirty, Claudia’s life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life – and Christmas – alone.

Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It’s also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing’s for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different . . . 

This is the story of Claudia and her twelve dates of Christmas. Hilarious, uplifting and romantic, it’s a story about losing love, finding love, and discovering what’s been there all along. Expect Christmas sparkle, butterflies-in-your-stomach romance and a lot of very funny moments in The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

When her long-term relationship with Seth takes a turn for the worse Claudia fears that this is it, she will be alone forever more, life is over and she’s going to be miserable until the bitter end.  Her best friends Nick and Penny are there to help her pick up the pieces and put her life back together again.  And once she feels ready, Penny knows just what Claudia needs to make her feel better, a date!  Blinds dates aside, Claudia is worried she’s not ready yet, not ready to move on, not ready to decide what she wants from life, what she wants to do or who she wants to be with….or does she? 

Claudia realises that if she wants something she needs to stand up and take the opportunity.  She makes the decision to go on dates, some are disastrous, some are wonderful (especially when a certain man is concerned) and one brings a new friend into her life. 
But there’s one man that keeps appearing and she definitely wants to spend more time with him. 

The dates themselves range from a trip to the Winter Wonderland, to coffee in Starbucks, or ice skating ending in trouble with the Police, but all have their equally funny moments for Claudia.  As the story progresses Claudia becomes more and more adventurous, she finally admits her feelings and for a fleeting moment she finds happiness, but will a silly understanding ruin it all?  I can’t say more about the plot without giving too many juicy bits away, but I will say this, sequins on knickers sounds painful!!

I love Dickenson’s writing in this book, there were times I genuinely giggled out loud or wanted to shout “nooooooo!!”, I felt like I was right there with Claudia at times, seeing the excitement on Nick and Penny’s faces when they were speaking about Christmas or when they were all drunkly dancing at the Ballet Christmas party.  The descriptive writing here is tremendous, there’s great attention to detail and the characters are all so likeable. 

This is definitely a lovely book to curl up with for Christmas, the sort of book you could easily read in a day if you got the peace and quiet to do so and it’s a genuinely lovely read.  

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Romance and Comedy genres.     

I would like to thank Little, Brown Book Group UK for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 22nd October 2015, a copy can be purchased here The Twelve Dates of Christmas (UK Kindle Version)

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Christmas at Lilac Cottage

Author: Holly Martin
Published: 25 September 2015
Reviewed: 19 November 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review.

4 (and a 1/2) out of 5 stars  

 

Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

Penny Meadows is an instantly likeable character, she lives in a beautifully described cottage with views of the town of White Cliff Bay, and shares her home with her loving, if not slightly crazy dog.  By trade she is an ice carver, an incredibly interesting career which adds to the uniqueness of this character, but most significant about Penny is that she’s alone, lonely and would welcome love.
When Henry and his daughter Daisy move to town and rent the annex of Penny’s cottage she is delighted, she hopes for the idyllic friendship she so longs for and hopes that they will hit it off.  Things don’t always go to plan, moving day is stressful at the best of times, and Henry is in no mood for niceties.

As the story progresses, we Penny’s story comes out, the loss, heartache, the passion she has for her ice carving and how much she cares about her little town.  Henry’s story is equally poignant, how he came to be on his own bringing up Daisy and why he’s to fiercely protective of her.  Penny and Henry have a connection that they cannot ignore, try as they might, they cannot resist each other but can Penny forget her past and move on, allowing herself to be loved and love someone in return?

A cleverly written novel, with narration from both Henry and Penny, gives an insight into what both of the main characters are thinking.  It is especially good when it comes to the gruff, grumpy Henry, who can appear quite standoffish when Penny is narrating.  But once he takes over the reins, you begin to understand that his cool exterior is just a façade and he’d trying to hide his feelings.

The pace of the novel is good, short chapters allow you to quickly move through the story, the dialogue is interesting, funny and entertaining.  The characters in this novel are fantastic, the small town attitude is so well described, everyone knows everyone’s business, but not out of being nosey,  but out of caring.  The descriptions of characters are well thought out and give the reader a feel of just how intensely Penny and Henry look at each other, how strange Penny’s dog looks, how smouldering Henry’s eyes are (amongst other things!!). 
I particularly liked Martin’s writing style when it came to several points in the novel where I laughed out loud, or sat smirking away at the situation that characters were in (Penny buying a toothbrush comes to mind, or explaining what had come on TV late at night to Daisy!).

This is definitely a lovely book to curl up with for Christmas, the sort of book you could easily read in a day if you got the peace and quiet to do so and it’s a genuinely heart warming read.  

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Romance and Comedy genres.     

I would like to thank Bookouture for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 25th September 2015, a copy can be purchased here Christmas at Lilac Cottage (UK Kindle Version)

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Wish Upon a Christmas Cake

Author: Darcie Boleyn
Published: 02 October 2015
Reviewed: 17 November 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Carina UK  in return for an honest review.

4 (and a 1/2) out of 5 stars  

 

The most wonderful time of the year?

Katie Warham has just one wish this year…to have the best Christmas ever!

If only she could lock herself away in a cloud of flour and sugar at her cosy little tearoom, Crumbtious Cakes, instead of spending the festive season trapped with her judgemental mother, crazy Aunt Gina and loved-up celebrity brother Karl…

But Katie never expected her ex-boyfriend, widower Sam – and his two adorable children – to turn up on her doorstep. She didn’t think that any man could tempt her under the mistletoe this year, but Sam might just prove the exception! And as the snow begins to fall and Katie puts the final touches to her famous Christmas cake, she begins to wonder, could her Christmas wish actually come true?
Katie and her best friend Ann run Crumbtious Cakes, a small tearoom that has been their shared dream for so many years, it was a way for Katie to move forward after her life fell apart nine years ago following a traumatic loss.  
Now, she has to deal with another loss, her beloved Granny has passed away and now she and the Warham family face their first Christmas without the matriarch.  If this wasn’t enough, Katie knows she will have to face her mother Esther.  She and Esther do not see eye to eye on many things, and Katie fears that her judgemental, over critical mother will make this Christmas hell for her.  But Ann, being her best friends makes a valiant attempt to cheer her friend up, bringing her a slice of their famous Christmas cake (in lieu of a wishbone) to make a wish.
Katie makes it to the Lodge the family are staying at for the Festive period and is startled, shocked and stunned at who she meets when she arrives.  Can it really be him after all these years?  Yes, it’s Sam, her first love, standing there in this wonderfully romantic setting, looking so grown up and handsome.  Katie has to keep her emotions in check, cover her surprise and shock before facing her mother.  Later Katie finds out that Sam is a widower, raising his two children (and dogs) after the tragic death of his wife.  Can Katie resist opening up old wounds and remembering what it was like being in love with Sam, can she avoid physical contact with him to stop her heart skipping?  Might that wish made in the tearoom actually come true?

Second chances are a major part of this novel, can Katie and Sam manage a second chance, will there ever be a second chance for Katie and Esther – will their relationship improve?  Even Ann joins in the theme of second chances with her own dilemma.  All that Katie knows is that she never really fell out of love with Sam and his reappearance in her life has reignited the flames for her, she even feels something towards his children, almost wondering what it would be like if they were hers.    

Family dynamics are wonderfully portrayed, the reader is thrown straight in to the wonderful Warham family, meeting Esther and Charles (Katie’s parents), Karl (her older brother) and his partner Angelo as well as Aunt Gina.  The entertainment of the group being together for Christmas is enjoyable to read, Katie and Karl have a great connection that you can really feel from Boleyn’s writing.  Memories of Granny are well used in this novel to portray what an important character she was for them all, how phrases she used can spark a feeling in someone that kick starts them again.

There were many laugh out loud moments reading this book, comparisons between Santa and Katie were particularly funny (when you get there you will know what I mean, it’s in a conversation with Aunt Gina), so much so, I almost snorted tea!  Little gems like that in the writing really set Boleyn’s work apart from other Christmas reads.  Despite being classed as a romantic novel, this was funny to read to, it was deliciously entertaining to read, and the sort of book you could happily read in one sitting (unless like me you have a toddler that wakes up from a nap and you have to put the book down!).    There’s definitely a feel good factor about this, you desperately want a happy outcome for everyone, you want Katie and Sam to rekindle their love, you want Katie to become stepmother to Sam’s children and for them to have another child together.  You want Katie and her mother to move past the hurt between them and work out things out.  You want Katie’s Christmas wish to come true!

I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Romance and Comedy genres.     

I would like to thank Carina UK for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 2nd October 2015, a copy can be purchased here Wish Upon a Christmas Cake (UK Kindle Version)

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The Artificial Anatomy of Parks

Author : Kat Gordon
Published: 01 July 2015
Reviewed: 13 October 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Legend Press in return for an honest review via NetGalley.

 

5 out of 5 stars

At twenty-one, Tallulah Park lives alone in a grimy bedsit. There’s a sink in her bedroom and a strange damp smell that means she wakes up wheezing. Then she gets the call that her father has had a heart attack. Years before, she was being tossed around her difficult family; a world of sniping aunts, precocious cousins, emigrant pianists and lots of gin, all presided over by an unconventional grandmother. But no one was answering Tallie’s questions: why did Aunt Vivienne loathe Tallie’s mother? Why is everyone making excuses for her absent father? Who was Uncle Jack and why would no one talk about him? As Tallie grows up, she learns the hard way about damage and betrayal, that in the end, the worst betrayals are those we inflict on ourselves.
 
This is her story about the journey from love to loss and back again. 
 
Tallie Park gets a call that fills her with dread, her father has had a heart attack and is in hospital, her cousin urges her to go to the hospital to see him, but Tallie’s not sure she can manage that, not after what happened five years ago before she disappeared from her family.  Can she face them all again?  Can she face their questions?  What will happen if her father comes round?  Can she face him?  
Every family has secrets, and when Tallie finds out hers so many things suddenly fall into place, things make sense to her in a way they never had.  She can understand why no one talked about Uncle Jack, and why her father was so detached and absent.  It also explains a lot about certain characters, some of whom are incredibly eccentric because of past events.
The writing style of this novel is fantastic, the insightful switching between past and present provides snippets of information as to why Tallie is so damaged as a young woman, the heartbreak and heartache she has suffered to get her to where she is in life and it more than explains why she had to walk away from everyone and everything she knew five years ago.  Whilst she’s a very vulnerable character, the author has created a strength in her that you cannot fail to be moved by. 
Tallie’s narrative monologues add a depth to this novel that take it to another level, her stubborn streak shines through and despite making some incredibly bad decisions, her reasoning for making them is clear in her thoughts, something the author has done really well in my opinion.  The tension written into family scenes is intense, you really get a sense of how difficult the Park family are together as they snipe at each other, or they rile each other and don’t always agree on things.  
The story interspersed with medical information was incredibly enjoyable to read, it made this novel stand out more for me, I like a book that can teach me something and this one certainly did. 

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Contemporary Fiction, it also makes a great holiday read.
 

I would like to thank Legend Press for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 1st July 2015.  A copy can be purchased here The Artificial Anatomy of Parks (UK Kindle Version)
 

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A Parcel For Anna Browne

Author : Miranda Dickinson
Published: 24 September 2015
Reviewed: 05 October 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Pan Macmillan in return for an honest review via NetGalley.

 

4 out of 5 stars


The gift of a lifetime? Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn’t exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. 
But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more . . . 
When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift – one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. 
As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her – and her life starts to change. But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?

We first meet Anna Browne, a quiet but friendly receptionist at a London newspaper, when she receives a parcel at work.  Anna is intrigued, she never gets parcels, not even at home so who could be sending parcels to her at work?  This coupled with the upcoming “job swap” scheme dreamed up by management at the newspaper is enough to have Anna wondering what’s going on. 
The beautiful gift in the first package gives Anna the confidence to take on the job swap she was assigned, shadowing the top reporter, who she might just have a slight crush on. 
Anna and Ben work well together, her new found confidence shining through showing her fun loving and interesting personality, and a new friendship between the pair is formed.  
Most people hearing about the package that arrived for Anna advise caution, who could this mysterious benefactor be?  Why did they send such an impressive, expensive looking gift?  What do they want in return?  Could there be a more sinister motive behind the gift?  But Anna looks at it differently, someone has sent her an exquisite gift that she adores and cannot think who it could be but would love to be able to tell them just how much it means to her. 

The office is abuzz with intrigue when more parcels arrive, almost one a week arriving for Anna, no note of who the mystery sender is, but each one containing something so incredible that Anna can barely believe her luck.  As the intrigue builds, the scandals intensify….is it Ben sending gifts to Anna to declare his intentions?  Does Anna have a mystery admirer?  Is she sending them to herself for attention?

With each new parcel Anna grows in confidence, she becomes more outgoing, people notice her more for the new person she has become and she is happy.  It is fair to say that the character blossoms with the arrival of each gift, as well as becomes driven to try and find out who is sending them.  There is also an element of memory attached to a lot of the parcels, they stir memories long forgotten about Anna’s childhood in Cornwall.  Or help her remember times of happiness when she was younger during a troubled childhood.

There is so much I could say about this story, but I really don’t want to give away too much and spoil the book for others.

The way this novel is written is good, the pace is steady and flows well, I found myself almost speed reading at times desperately trying to see if I was right about who was sending the parcels.  The physical descriptions of settings and people are very good, I could almost imagine the settings of the beach in Cornwall, the little shops in London described whilst Anna was on her hunt for her mystery benefactor, but also the descriptions of the gifts and their packaging and how delightfully beautiful they all appeared to be to Anna.  So much so, at times I wished someone would send me a package or two containing a pretty gift!
I very much enjoyed Miranda Dickinson’s writing and  I will definitely be on the look out for more of her work in the future.  

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Chick Lit, it would also make a good holiday read.

I would like to thank Pan Macmillan for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 24th September 2015 .  A copy can be purchased here A Parcel For Anna Browne (UK Kindle Version).
 

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