Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior @HazelPriorBooks @PenguinUKBooks @TransworldBooks #bookreview #feelgoodfiction

Away with the Penguins written by Hazel Prior, publisher Transworld Books, is available NOW in ebook, audiobook, hardcover and paperback format.

Book Blurb

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.


It was my birthday recently and my brother and sister-in-law and myself have started gifting books instead of cards to mark the occasion. I asked for this book. I’d heard so many good reviews about the book that I added it to my wishlist a while back and I was so pleased to have received it.

Away with the Penguins might just be my favourite book ever!

Hazel Prior has written a story that is perfect for these uncertain times we are currently experiencing but I do feel it is also a story for anyone at any time. Throughout the book I felt inspired, compassion, thoughtful and heartened. This is a story of an octogenarian lady who is very cranky and set in her ways but when you get to know Mrs McCreedy her layers of character are slowly stripped away. Your heart will break for this once bright, vivacious young girl who has felt loss like no other and has loved with all her heart. The fractures of her heart became so deep she felt she could no longer let love in until one day she decided to go and help the plight of the penguins on the opposite side of the world!

Mrs McCreedy’s journey of enlightenment to Antarctica sounded epic. But this old lady had another journey to contend with and that was revisiting the past. A past she has kept locked up for so long.

Hazel Prior has written a wonderful story that will charm and delight the reader but you will also feel the emotional tug with the past revealing itself. I also felt humbled that a small species of creature, the Adelie penguin, have their own routines of life and their survival is extraordinary. I was captivated by this side of the story and now feel compelled to know more about the Adelie’s.

I honestly didn’t want this story to end and feel quite bereft now. I would love to see this story turned into a movie, it would just be perfect.

About the Author (details taken from the author’s website)

Hazel is an enthusiastic and experienced harp-player based in Somerset and Exmoor.

She is also an author. Her two novels, published by Penguin Random House, are described as ‘quirky’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘life-affirming’. AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS was chosen by Richard and Judy for their Book Club this year, as well as being a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.


Twitter: @HazelPriorBooks


Mrs McCreeedy loved her tea, especially Darjeeling, so I paired reading this novel with a gorgeous 2nd Flush Darjeeling SFTGFOP1 from Batch Tea Co. For more details of the tea please check out the link below:

Darjeeling 2nd Flush SFTGFOP1 Tea – Batch Tea Company

The Perfect Dress by Louisa Leaman @louisaleaman @TransworldBooks @katiecregg #blogtour #bookreview #ThePerfectDress #contemporaryromance #vintagevibes

the perfect dress

The Perfect Dress written by Louisa Leaman, publisher Transworld (an imprint of Penguin Random House) is available in ebook from 17th October 2019.  The paperback is due for release in February 2020.

To pre-order:

Book Blurb

Fran’s wedding dress shop isn’t like any other. A treasure trove of history, filled with gowns from every decade for every type of bride. But not as you’d expect.

Something bold for the shy and retiring.
Something simple for the woman who is unafraid to stand out.
And something dazzling for the bride who wouldn’t normally dare to be different.

No matter your expectations, you’d never guess your own perfect dress. But Fran knows… she feels the wisdom woven into every gown, a gift from the previous owner waiting to be handed down to the next bride.
When Fran finds a dress that seems to be perfect for her she can’t wait to know its complex history which starts with her getting to know the son of the previous owner…

Blog Tour Poster Perfect Dress

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Louisa Leaman’s debut novel: The Perfect Dress.

I really enjoyed this contemporary romance by Louisa Leaman it had an almost ethereal quality to the storyline but when the past from both Fran and Raphael’s lives catch up with them can they let go of the hurt and heartache and learn to let love in again?

The storyline had a magical feel to it centred around the owner of a vintage wedding dress shop in London.  Fran has been around vintage inspired clothing since she was a young girl to when she helped her mother who was a dressmaker for a theatre company.  Loving the history surrounding the clothes Fran felt compelled to share her love and opened up her own wedding dress emporium called The Whispering Dress.

Fran specialised in finding vintage dresses from house clearances, auction houses and sometimes they were just donated to her.  Fran brought the dresses back to life by repairing any damage, cleaning and she sought great pleasure in researching the history of the last wearer of the dress.  Fran believed the dresses could talk and release their own energy, she tried to match this vibe to the next bride-to-be bringing a totally bespoke, unique service to her brides.

However, when Fran came upon a rare 1950’s designer dress in a house clearance she felt a darkness within the dress but also felt drawn to it’s energy.  There was also something about the son of the late owner of the dress and Fran couldn’t stop thinking about him, even though their first introduction didn’t go as well as hoped.

Raphael Colt was the heir to a philanthropist family who now had the position of responsibility for the foundation that his grandfather and father had built up.  There was a sadness and anger within Raphael and when he saw Fran with his mother’s dress he saw a glimpse of the past he’d tried so hard to keep hidden.

I loved reading about the history of the dress design and also the previous owner of the outfit it was quite fascinating to learn about the provenance of why a certain style of dress was perfect for the wearer and occasion.  I appreciated the author’s interest in the arts and in particular collections and exhibitions from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, it left me with a thirst to visit this museum and see for myself some of the designer dresses from long ago.  The Perfect Dress is a romantic contemporary story that fills you with a Disney-esque feelgood glow.  I can’t wait for more from Louisa Leaman.

About the Author

The Perfect Dress Louisa Leaman©MaryRichardsonLouisa Leaman was born, raised and now lives near Epping Forest. She studied Art History at Leeds University before becoming a teacher working with children with special needs. After winning the Times Education Supplement’s New Writer’s Award, she turned her hand to writing books for children. Louisa currently writes content for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, but has also been published in the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent and The Times Educational Supplement. Her interest in the arts is often inspiration for her plots and her first book, The Perfect Dress, was inspired by the V&As large wedding dress collection and fulfils her dream of writing romantic fiction. When she isn’t busy writing or rearing her three lively children, she paints portraits, takes long walks and spends far too long browsing vintage clothing shops.


Twitter:  @louisaleaman

Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks blogtour book review

call of the curlew

Call of the Curlew written by Elizabeth Brooks, publisher Doubleday (an imprint of Transworld) is available NOW in ebook and hardcover format.

To buy link:

amazon UK:


Product Details (as per amazon page)

Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh.

One snowy New Year’s Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

New Year’s Eve, 1939. Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new parents at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. Her new home sits on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. War feels far away out here amongst the birds and shifting sands – until the day a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh. The people at Salt Winds are the only ones to see it.

What happens next is something Virginia will regret for the next seventy-five years, and which will change the whole course of her life.

Call of the Curlew Blog Tour Poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of this debut novel by Elizabeth Brooks; Call of the Curlew.  This is an outstanding debut and I look forward to lots more from this author who I believe is one to watch.

This is a sweeping story spanning two periods.  The story starts off in the present time, a bleak December 2015 when 86 year old Virginia Wrathmell is preparing to say her goodbyes to the house and it’s memories that she’s shared and have haunted her soul for seventy-five years.  We then travel back to December 1939 when eleven year old Virginia takes her first steps down the lane towards her new home with her adoptive parents Clem and Lorna.  Her new home, Salt Winds, was on the edge of the marshes of Tollbury Point and Virginia was warned about the danger of the uncertainty of the land.

From the dark, quite striking cover with glimpses of light and warmth which perfectly sets the scene for the story within it’s pages.  The author’s style of writing kept me fully engaged with the storyline and I was quite captivated.  This area of land surrounding Salt Winds had almost two personalities.  There was a calm, stillness to the vista and with the vast array of bird species it must have been a joy to just take time out to just watch the natural beauty and it’s wildlife.  However, the eeriness that the marshes held sent chills threw me and that ever presence of danger was always there lurking behind the shadows.

There was a strange complexity to the relationship between Virginia’s adoptive parents and young Virginia became a different child to each respective parent.  She adored her father Clem and was a little perplexed by her mother Lorna.

Salt Winds was quite isolated but when the conflict of war disturbed their lives one fateful New Year’s Eve 1939 Virginia’s new life was to change dramatically.  Fears of loss, betrayal, anguish and fear for her own life during this period were to stay with her.

Fast forward to 2015 when a mysterious visitor to Salt Winds provokes many emotions in Virginia that she tried to keep hidden within the walls of the grand house that now feels so cold and desolate.

I was totally transfixed with this evocative tale spanning two lifetimes.  I loved the time back in 1939 with young Virginia but the darkness that Virginia experienced was heart-breaking and left me quite angry at times.  I wanted to scream and shout but I think that a particular character had a rather unhealthy strong control over them.  There is darkness to the story but there is much, much more.  There is a joy and warmth woven within the storyline and you feel a sense of hope emerging.

A deeply captivating debut novel.

To learn more about the author please do visit the following pages:





Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella book review

surprise me

Surprise Me written by Sophie Kinsella, publisher Bantam Press, is available NOW in ebook, hardcover, audiobook and audio cd format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years… and panic sets in.

They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me – anything from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to photo shoots – mishaps arise with disastrous and comical results.

Gradually, the surprises turn to shocking discoveries. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all…

snake clipart

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of  this book.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied.  However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

Sophie Kinsella is one of the top bestselling women’s fiction authors around at the moment.  You can always guarantee a read to bring out many emotions in you and Surprise Me didn’t disappoint.

Dan and Sylvie are happily married with their five year old twin daughters.  When their Dr gives them a clean bill of health during their routine insurance renewal he also gives them another diagnosis which alarms Dan and Sylvie slightly and makes them re-evaluate their marriage.  A mutual agreement is made and Project Surprise Me is born!  However, not all surprises are suitable, appropriate, some are quite unorthodox.  With both Dan and Sylvie competing to think up the best surprise for their respective spouse the project soon starts to get out of control.

Whilst project surprise me is in full swing Sylvie’s job is at risk.  Sylvie works at a stately home in London that is open to the public.  Sylvie and her colleagues soon realise they have to bring the administration of the stately home to the 21st century and funds need to be found swiftly to keep the house open.

When Dan becomes very distant Sylvie’s imagination runs wild and she is very concerned for the future.

This was a lovely story about love, life and relationships.  A story that is full of fun and is highly entertaining.  However, when the storyline takes some twists and turns and the surprises leave Sylvie with a dread, a dread that makes you question your past and a dread that makes you question the person you trusted and respected the most.  Life takes on a new direction for Sylvie, one that she can’t turn back on and one that fills her with renewed vigour.

Entertaining, enthralling and Sophie Kinsella certainly surprises you!

To learn more about Sophie Kinsella and her work please do visit the following pages:





Falling by Julie Cohen book review

Falling Julie Cohen

Falling written by Julie Cohen, publisher Transworld Digital is available NOW in ebook, paperback and audio download format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Can you imagine keeping a secret so devastating, you couldn’t even tell the people you love?

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build.

Lydia’s could bring her love – or the loss of everything that matters to her.

Grandmother, mother and daughter – three women whose lives are falling apart. But one summer’s day, a single dramatic moment will force their secrets into the open.

Can they save each other from falling?

falling leaves girl


The word ‘falling’ can mean many things.  Falling from a height, falling down.  Falling in love, falling out of love.  Falling in value.  This story by Julie Cohen had my emotions falling hopelessly in love with the storyline, with the ups and downs of the character’s lives.  When the drama and intensity increased my emotions took a nose dive which left my heart beating fast.  A very gripping moment that took me a while to calm down from.

The three main characters:  Mother-in-law Honor, Daughter-in-law Jo and Grandaughter Lydia have all experienced the emotions from falling.  Some of the complexities surrounding their own ‘falling’ were kept hidden and it wasn’t until a traumatic ordeal that the three women could then open up about their own stories.  I was so gripped by the storyline I felt like I was in a little bubble feeling the tension, the heat, the spark and the sadness between the women.

A beautiful, insightful, uplifting story that shakes your emotions but leaves you feeling remarkably hopeful.  5/5*

To find out more about Julie Cohen and her books please visit the following links:


The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeline book review

the confectioners taleThe Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine published by Transworld Publishers is available NOW in ebook format and paperback.

To buy links:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Religieuse confection

I’d like to thank the publishers and netgalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

I adored this book, foodie romantic fiction is one of my favourite genre’s so when I read the synopsis I was hooked already.  The story is set in two time frames; 1909/1910 Paris and 1988 England.  We are first transported to 1988 when Petra, the granddaughter of the late historian, author and critic J.G. Stevenson, is angered by the news of her grandfather’s life to be criticised and ripped apart by Simon Hall, biographer.  Simon Hall hints of a scandal he has unearthed which deeply unnerves Petra even more.  Her grandfather was like a father to Petra and she couldn’t bear to think of any misgivings in his past.  Petra discovers an old photograph of her grandfather with two other people.  On the back of the photograph are just two words, ‘Forgive me’.  Petra is desperate to unravel this mystery before the biographer does.

Back in 1909 we are introduced to Gui and Nicolas, two young men looking for work in the rail yards.  A brief encounter with a young woman enchants Gui and he couldn’t get the image of her out of his mind.  Gui by chance happens upon this young lady again and finds out she is Jeanne Clermont, the daughter of the owner of Patisserie Clermont. Gui realises that they are both from different worlds, himself from a poor working background, Jeanne from a well to do family with a reputable business.  Gui is also captivated by the stunning, exquisite creations from the patisserie and soon falls in love with both the art of the confection and the beautiful Jeanne.

What follows is a wonderful story of forbidden love, betrayal, secrets, discovery of an artform in the wonderful creations of French patisserie.  How Laura described the creations made by the chefs sounded exquisite and breathtaking and very delicious.  I loved Gui’s character.  He was a very strong and determined character but also had a lot of faith and compassion.  I enjoyed the throwbacks to the early 1900s Paris, hard times for many struggling to survive.  These times sounded very dark and I believe Gui’s discovery of Patisserie Clermont was like finding a ray of sunshine in between all this darkness.  I felt for Petra, I’m sure I too would feel so enamoured to find out the truth behind her grandfather’s life.

A wonderful, mysterious love story 5/5* story.  I look forward to more from Laura Madeline.

I’d like to share one of my favourite snippets from the book:

confectioners tale snippet

To find out more about Laura Madeline and her books please visit the following links: