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How to Keep a Secret 

Book Blurb

the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.
Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.
Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?
Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite…
Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.
Available here 

My review 

When Lauren’s husband dies suddenly and she’s forced to move from London back to Martha’s Vineyard it’s not only her secret that she takes with her. She’s accompanied by her daughter, Mack, who’s bringing along a secret all of her own. 

Brought up in the isolated holiday community of The Vineyard we are quickly immersed not only in her new life, living back with her mother, Nancy, but that of her sister. 

Jenna has a secret all of her own too, one that threatens her marriage, one that threatens everything. 

Sarah Morgan has long been a favourite author, ever since her early days writing medical romance for Mills and Boon (Harlequin) . But with this, her latest, there’s a change in both storyline, writing content and style. There’s a previous unforeseen depth to her writing that shifts her up a gear and with How to Keep a Secret she’s created something very different – a powerful testament to the threads woven between sisters, mothers and children; a three-dimential work with a crowd of secondary characters to add both light and dark textures to her work. 

 In a way I have to say I think she’s brave – there’s bound to be readers out there that will feel they’ve bought into something only to find it’s not what they expected. But, as with all things in life, as we grow older we develop and mature. What you get from an eighteen-year-old writer is going to be very different to what you get from someone in their middle year’s. This is a divergence, a change but in this case not an unhappy one. I look forward to her next offering…

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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The Lido


Book blurb 

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.

Available here 

My review

As an all-year-round sea swimmer I was interested to see what the writer made of such an addictive hobby. Just like with The Lido, our local (sea water) Bathing Pools came under threat, not from builders but disuse and disrepair and, just like the story, it was only through the hard work of the locals that it is useable again. This is a pleasant light read that ticks all the boxes. It’s nice to see the friendship developing between Kate and Rosemary, one young and one old. If you liked last year’s Chilbury Ladies Choir you’ll love this. 

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The Wedding Date 

Book Blurb 

One ex.

One wedding.

One little white lie.

When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…

1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.

2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.

3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)

So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.

Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.
But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!
As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…
Available to buy here 

My review

So I wasn’t going to watch the wedding. I had too many other things to do which was why, two hours later, I was still glued to the screen and in need of an additional wedding fix. 2 minutes on Amazon and I walked away with The Wedding Date, a LOL Romcom by Zara Stonely. This has all the elements I like for a romance novel. An ordinary heroine with problem hair and low self-esteem. A drop dead gorgeous bloke and a situation that would do Jane Austen proud. Throw in a disfunctional dog, obnoxious ex and a Scottish setting and I’m in book paradise. I read this pretty much in one sitting and am delighted to see it racing up the Amazon charts. 

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Ten tips for writers

There’s been a few post I’ve spotted recently about advice for writers so I thought I’d join the party. However my tips may be a little different to the read everything, write everyday sort of thing…

1, The most useful and the way to get away from all those irritating post-it notes.

2, The first draft. Throwing words on the page any old how. The second, stripping them back to something worth reading.

3, Writing can be the unhealthiest of professions. Move, anyway you like…

4, If your muse disappears clear your mind and go and do something different. You’ll find the words will come back all on their own. 

5, Employ an editor. It may be something you don’t want to hear but, if you’re serious about writing, it’s a must. 

6, Write the same but different. That’s what publishers are looking for. A new take on an old idea. Now that’s all your getting because if I had any more I’d write the book myself. 

7, Before you write a word create a social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

8, Every so often save a back-up copy any way you like. Laptops break. Viruses attack, coffee gets spilt.

9, Roget’s Thesaurus is your new best friend. Never use two words when one will do. 

10, I’ve said this before on another post. You’re writing a book not a doorstop. Know the length of other comparable works in the same genre and use that word count as a guide. 

11, And just because I can… tip number 11 ( Thanks to Deborah Carr for this one). When it’s sunny and you can’t see your screen change your page colour to black and your word colour to white – it really does work. 

Happy writing 

Jenny x

Jenny O’Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey. She’s an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a 2016/2017 RoNA judge.  She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She’s also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings – two of which you’ll always find in her books. 

Her books are available on Amazon here

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Guernsey Mâche (Not a typo) 

If you’re a Guern you’ll have heard of Gâche, an enriched yeast cake laden with fruit and Guernsey butter. You’ll also have heard of Gâche Melée, a totally different apple pudding, traditionally full of suet. They are both a delight and are frequently on our table. Both are calorie-filled so I thought I’d try something different. A fusion of Gâche and Gâche Melée to come up with something a little more healthy = Guernsey Mâche. 

So what’s different? 

I still have a yeast cake filled with dried fruit but instead of all that butter I’ve substituted puréed apple… and the result? 


The recipe

Dried yeast mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar and 100 mls warm milk, leave until yeast activates.

Add to 500gms bread flour. Add puréed Apple (2 medium cooking apples, skinned, chopped and cooked in a little water) and 50 gm fat (marg or butter, preferably Guernsey). Add 1/2 mug mixed fruit. Knead, leave to prove. Place in prepared loaf tin, leave to prove again. Bake in hot (210 C) oven for 30 minutes.

I didn’t add any spices (it’s just not done 😉) but a little cinnamon and nutmeg would be lovely. 

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The Little Cornish Kitchen, Jane Linfoot 

Book Blurb 

With an exiting new life in Paris, Clemmie Hamilton isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that the cosy apartment by the sea, which her grandmother left to her, is under threat from neighbour and property developer, Charlie Hobson, Clemmie realises she can’t abandon her home in its time of need.

With her childhood friends encouraging her, Clemmie decides to turn the apartment into ‘The Little Cornish Kitchen’ – a boutique pop up pudding club raising money for the repairs to the building in an effort to stop Charlie once and for all. But when Charlie and his easy charm won’t seem to go away, everything soon becomes even messier than the state of Clemmie’s Cornish kitchen.

My review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is I think the fifth book I’ve read by Jane, although I may be falling foul of losing count 😂. I loved her last book so much, the wrap up to the Little Wedding Series, which I can heartily recommend. 

There’s always a risk, of course, when a writer says goodbye to such well-loved characters. Will the next book be as good? Will the next group of characters hit the right reader spot? 

OMG I loved this. Jane has a talent to get right down to the funny bone almost right from the start of any of her novels and I was helpless with laughter over the mermaid sketch. Clemmy is a delight and the fact she lived in Paris an added twist. In fact, there’s a sliver of Rachel Khoo and The Little Paris Kitchen here, one of my favourite TV cookery programmes from a few years ago. This added with romance is pure genius. Charlie is the ideal male lead; surly but with the dark brooding look that a romantic hero demands. But more importantly I want a cat called Pancake. There’s lots here for everyone and I think Jane has dug deeper with this work. There’s a new depth here. Lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing in a will he, won’t he sort of way. 

I have, probably erroneously, a view of Jane baking in her country kitchen, Aga on the side, with animals scattered about as she hums her way through the housework before settling down to a little bit of writing. This homely, country loving feel is what I get from each of her books; the country idyll that quite a few of us strive for in between the mad rush of work, kids, food shopping and other interruptions. The perfect life…

Available to pre-order all over the place… 

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The Lost Letters of William Woolf ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Lost Letters of William Woolf, pre-order here


Book blurb

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simplyto ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?
William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

My review

Okay, so I didn’t know what to expect before I read this. The cover caught my eye and then the title. I’ve read books about missing, found letters but I was interested in this take on a popular trope. I was drawn in from the first page; the characters, the words, the colour and I read in two sittings.

The writing is strong and fluid. The idea well-plotted and the characters chiselled to the bone. I loved that the novel spanned both England and Dublin, my home town. It was delicious having a mental walk, back down memory lane as we follow William on his quest. This is a book primarily about relationships, a tricky subject at the best of times and William is having the worst time of his life. 

An easy 5 🌟 and in competition for my best read of 2018.