Kitty’s Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow- a top contender for my favourite cover of 2016

About this book…

New home. New life. New beginning. Love affairs can blossom in the most unlikely places . . .

When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it’s time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there’s an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom…

But just as Kitty is beginning to find her feet, and the possibility of love, the discovery of a long-hidden diary, by a mysterious character called Violet changes everything. Who is Violet and what is her message for Kitty? As Kitty fills in the lost pieces of her family jigsaw and discovers some shocking revelations, will her countryside dream and blossoming relationship fall to pieces? When it comes to life in the country, nothing is ever quite as it seems …

My Review…

This is the first book I have read by this author but after finishing this, the first thing I did was to seek out her other books. Christie Barlow has written a warm, funny and heart wrenching book full of adorable characters, cute animals all living in the sort of village we would love to escape to.
When Kitty is left a flat and Bluebell Lodge by a relative she didn’t even know she had, she looks on it as a fresh start. She knows nothing about chickens or ponies so she is glad to she has her right hand man Tom to help her. But the discovery of an old diary brings heartbreak in the form of an old family secret and an attraction to Tom seems wrapped up in complications. Could Kittys countryside dream turn out to be her worst nightmare?
This was the perfect book for a lazy Sunday afternoon (and I actually read it on Valentine’s day!) and I read it within a couple of sittings. I was desperate to find out why Kitty had been left the farm and how she was going to cope with it all. The descriptions were so detailed that you felt you were there living alongside Kitty and she felt like an old friend. I have never read so much information about chickens before either!!! Not sure I could ever look after them!
This was a bittersweet love story combined with a soul searching for Kitty and I was really sad to say goodbye to her when the book ended. And that cover!!!!! Fabulously eye-catching and perfect for Spring, you can’t help but smile when you see it. In fact it’s my top cover for 2016 so far!
Many thanks to Bookouture and netgalley for providing a review copy in return for an unbiased review.

Available to buy now from Amazon

The Second Chance Shoe Shop by Marcie Steele

About this book..

All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again. 
A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief.

Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network – the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking.

As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet …

My review..

Well I was a bit worried when I got this book to read and review as I am a huge fan of this author’s work when she writes as Mel Sherratt. Her DS Allie Shenton series is one of my favourites for its dark and gritty scenes of city life. But after reading so many crime books recently I decided I needed a break, something lighter, and I really couldn’t have chosen a better book to do that with! This book is the equivalent of a gossip with your friends whilst having coffee and cupcakes! In fact it’s the champagne afternoon tea of chick-lit and I loved it! It’s full of love, loss and more importantly friendship. Yes Mel may have crossed to the “pink and fluffy” side but I, for one, am very glad she did!

The shoe shop of the title is situated in the fictional town of Hedworth where it is managed by the “unlucky in love” Riley alongside her colleagues and friends Sadie and Dan. They have all had personal problems recently but things are about to get a lot worse when the owner of the shop decides to boost sales with a bit of “friendly” competition between the three of them. Riley sees this as her chance to put in place a few changes that she has been thinking about including the use of social media….but could this prove to be the best move of her career or the biggest mistake of her life?

I really enjoyed this book! It felt like I was snuggled up in a big pink marshmallow at times but the sweetness came with an unexpected edge. It wasn’t your usual “happy ever after” where you could predict what happens and who ends up with who-and that’s why I liked it so much. It still retained that touch of real life where the themes of love, loss and friendship were perfectly handled. The use of social media played a bit part in the plotline, using it to give the book a very modern twist. I am still waiting to catch a flash mob myself unfortunately! My favourite character was Sadie, struggling to make sense of her life without her beloved husband whilst making sure her six year old daughter still had a family around her. The scenes where the friends all had their Sunday lunch together were reminiscent of my own in previous years and I just felt relaxed, as if I were in the company of my own friends and family. So if you enjoy your books sweet and light with a few twists and turn along the way then I guarantee Marcie Steele is the author for you!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review so big thanks to Bookouture for that opportunity.

Out on April 8th 2016

Available to pre-order here