The House of Hopes and Dreams – Summer Reading Challenge Week 6

How is the 6 weeks over already?!

Over the 6 weeks I have read 9 books and completed my first 24 hour readathon. There are reviews for each of them in my previous posts as well as a post about my readathon experience.

I have finished the challenge reading a book by the same author as I did in week 1. This time it was The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley, which just like the first one I read was brilliant and I will be definitely be reading more of her work. A full review will be posted below.

Here is an overview of the books I read and the rating I gave them out of 5 stars.

• The Little Teashop of Lost and Found Trisha Ashley ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳
• Chasing the Sun Katy Colins ꙳꙳꙳
• Wilde Like Me Louise Pentland ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳
• Wilde About the Girl Louise Pentland ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳
• The Wedding Girl Madeleine Wickham ꙳꙳
• The Gatecrasher Madeleine Wickham ꙳
• Dashing Through the Snow Debbie Macomber ꙳꙳꙳꙳
• Happier Thinking Lana Grace Riva ꙳꙳꙳꙳
• The House of Hopes and Dreams Trisha Ashley ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳

I have really enjoyed taking part in this summer reading challenge and it has inspired me to not only start this blog but also to set myself some more reading challenges, the first will be another 24 hour readathon in October.

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The House of Hopes and Dreams
Trisha Ashley

In The House of Hopes and Dreams we meet Carey Revell who unexpectedly inherits Mossby, the Revell family home and Angel Arrowsmith a stained glass artist who has been living contentedly with her partner.

Both their lives are turned upside down and Carey comes to friend Angel’s rescue and they both move into the rundown Mossby where they set to restore the building but they continue to discover more secrets that the house holds.

This book is full of warmth, fantastic characters, twists and turns and a deep family secret to get to the bottom of.

As with other Trisha Ashley novels I have read, you get completely absorbed into the Angel and Carey’s stories as well as the legends that surrounds Mossby.

There are a host of supporting characters, some more involved than others, but they all bring another layer to the story.

Needless to say I loved it and will be reading more of Ashley’s novels.

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Summer Reading Challenge Weeks 4 and 5

Weeks 4 and 5 of the summer reading challenge not only saw me read the books for each week but I also took part in my first 24 hour readathon. During week 4, before I took part in the readathon I read Wilde about the Girl by Louise Pentland, the second book in the ‘Wilde’ series. During week 5 I read two shorter books, the first was Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber and the second was a book I was sent by Lana Grace Riva about mental wellness Happier Thinking.

We are now on the final week of the summer challenge (where has the time gone!) and I am reading The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley having enjoyed one of her books in week 1 of the challenge.

Here are the reviews for the books that I have read in the two weeks.

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Wilde about the Girl
Louise Pentland

I enjoyed Wilde Like Me so much that I couldn’t wait to head straight back into Robin Wilde’s world with Wilde About The Girl and it didn’t disappoint, I would even say it was better than the first book.

In the second instalment we pick up where the first book left off with Robin seeming to have got her life together and things on an even keel. This book sees plenty of trials thrown Robin’s way with plenty of twists and turns along the way with plenty of fun and laughter thrown in to.

Like the first book this is full of strong female characters, Robin’s daughter, Lyla, Auntie Kath, Lacey, Natalie and the school mums and we are introduced to more great characters throughout this book.

I was absolutely hooked and didn’t want to put it down or for it to end! Louise has a great writing style which makes her books so easy to get absorbed into right from the beginning. You laugh, you cry and everything in between.

Louise has made Robin such a realistic character, that even though I am not a parent myself I can still completely relate to her, her struggle of dealing with and overcoming ‘The Emptiness’.

This book is just great and I really hope there will be a third instalment to Robin’s story.

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Dashing Through the Snow
Debbie Macomber

This was an easy-read short novel with a Christmas theme that had a fun lighthearted story to it.
The main characters Ashley and Dash are both fun and warm and their journey to Seattle from San Francisco is plagued with problems. However it is a fun journey for the reader to follow and has you laughing out loud in places.

There are some bits to the story that seem a bit far-fetched but it doesn’t spoil the read.

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Happier Thinking
Lana Grace Riva

This was a great little book with advice on helping to improve mental wellness. The book offers tips on trying to improve your outlook on life and ways to deal with difficult situations if you suffer with your mental health.

The tone of the book helps in the message it is trying to give, as it feels like you are being offered the advice from a friend rather than being instructed by the book.

This book doesn’t offer all the answers if you are someone who suffers with mental health but it does try to give advice on changing your way of thinking and is a good place to start in taking small steps in your own self-care.

I felt that this book was a bit repetitive in places and there wasn’t much diversity in the advice being given, however it is a handy little book to keep referring back to.

Book Reviews: Madeleine Wickham

I was given these to Madeleine Wickham books by a friend who had read them and knew I was a fan of Sophie Kinsella (they are the same person) so had been looking forward to reading them. However I was disappointed with both, I found them both difficult to get into and I both seemed slow and they didn’t hook me and make me want to keep reading. I enjoyed The Wedding Girl more than I did The Gatecrasher.

Below are the individual reviews for each book.

The Gatecrasher

I am a fan of Sophie Kinsella and I picked this book up as I was expecting to read something similar, however this was not the case.

I found this book difficult to follow, slow and it didn’t get me hooked. Like another Madeleine Wickham book I have read I found this difficult to get into and that there are a large number of characters whose viewpoints all tell the story, swapping between them all, making the story difficult to follow and very slow. I didn’t find any of the characters warm or relatable either which meant I didn’t feel like I had much engagement with the book.

I didn’t enjoy this book, the second of Wickham’s books that I have not enjoyed and therefore will not be in a rush to be reading anymore. There is such a contrast between Wickham and Kinsella’s writing styles (they are the same person) so if you are a fan of one you may not particularly enjoy the other.

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The Wedding Girl

I was quite disappointed with this book. It felt quite slow at the beginning making it difficult to get into, but the pace did pick up part way through making the second half of the book easier to read, although it still didn’t hook me in.

This book is about Milly, who is four days away from her wedding day to Simon, but nobody knows that she is already married and her past is about to catch up with her.

There were a lot of characters and the story was written switching perspectives between them all. This made it difficult to keep track of who you were following at the time and hindered the movement of the story.

Most people will know Madeleine Wickham as writing as Sophie Kinsella, however the writing style is different and the book has a different feel to a Kinsella book.

Although the story itself seemed good the style it was written in meant that I didn’t enjoy reading this book.

Rays of Sunshine 24 Hour Readathon

As part of the summer reading challenge, last week I took part in my first ever 24 hour readathon in aid of the Rays of Sunshine charity who make wishes come true for children with serious or life-limiting illness.

I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to take part but I was excited to be involved. I had chosen three books to read in the 24 hours, this was less than others I know but I wasn’t sure how many I would need, so as well as having decided my target was to read those three I also had more books available if I was to get through them.

The three books I chose were, The Gatecrasher and The Wedding Girl both by Madeline Wickham and Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber.

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I had planned to start my 24 hours at about 5pm on the Thursday and to have a nap beforehand but that didn’t end up happening and I started later, at 7pm and because of everything that had been going on I was absolutely shattered and really struggled to get into the book I chose to start, The Gatecrasher, so much so that I only got halfway through during the first 12 hours, and I definitely kept nodding off.

I decided to stop reading the first book as I was struggling with it and started on the next one and I chose The Wedding Girl and again it took me a while to get into. I had a trip to the hairdressers Friday afternoon which was a nice break from reading but also meant I lost an hour. My aim was to finish The Wedding Girl but as I struggled at the start of that it took me a while to get into and there I was about 100 pages short from finishing it in the 24 hours.

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What did I learn from completing the 24 hour readathon? I would have found the experience a lot easier and more enjoyable if I had chosen better books (ones that are on to read list/pile rather than ones I was given) and if I had done it at a less busy time (when I set the date life wasn’t supposed to be so busy). Also have a nap before you start!

That being said it hasn’t put me off and now I know what to expect and how to deal with the experience I shall definitely be setting myself the challenge of doing another one again this year, probably sometime in October as there’s not so much going on then.

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Since the readathon I have completed both the Madeline Wickham books and will post a blog later this week with reviews for them.

Summer Reading Challenge Weeks 2 and 3

For weeks two and three of the Summer Reading Challenge I have been making full use of my local library. The books I have read are Chasing the Sun by Katy Colins and Wilde like Me by Louise Pentland.

This is the beginning of week four and I am reading Wilde about the Girl the second part of Robin Wilde’s story by Louise Pentland. Also as part of week four I will be completing a 24 hour readathon to raise money for Rays of Sunshine starting on Thursday 16th-Friday 17th. I will be documenting this on my Twitter page (@Kelly¬¬_S_Thomas) and my Instagram (@kelly.s.thomas) so make sure you check them out from Thursday.

Here are the two reviews for the books I have read in weeks two and three.

Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun
Katy Colins

I picked this book up as a fan of Katy Colins and thinking that this book was a stand-alone. It is actually number four in ‘The Lonely Hearts Travel Club’ series, none of which I have read but think I would have enjoyed this more if I had done.

Despite this it was still a fun read, perfect for the summer. I did feel like there was a lot of the back story missing from not having read the previous books, like the relationships and connections between the characters however this didn’t stop me from enjoying the book, I loved the story and seeing how Georgia’s story ended, it did take a little while to get into the story.

Set in Australia it had a great backdrop to the story. I would definitely go back and read the first books to see how Georgia’s story started.

Wilde like ME

Wilde like Me
Louise Pentland

I love Robin Wilde!

Robin is a single mum struggling to get through day-to-day but is determined to change that. We follow her and her daughter as well as a cast of other great female characters on that journey. It was great to read a realistic outlook on parenthood (or what I would imagine the reality would be like), but also on life. We all have days where we struggle to get out of bed in the morning let alone carry on with life like normal. This story shows this real struggle as well as overcoming it and that having a great support network can make such a great difference.

This book was great. It is a fun read that has you laughing out loud. One of the best books that I have read this year and book two is out now to carry on the story.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found – Summer Reading Challenge Week 1

The first week of the summer reading challenge is completed and I am suffering with a serious case of book hangover.

A slow start to the week as I was away racing meant that the end part of the week I was fully engrossed in my first book of the challenge, The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley, to complete it within the week.

Why the book hangover? Well because it was great. The first few chapters felt a bit slow but after that I was completely hooked and couldn’t put it down. Find a full review below. Highly recommended to read accompanied by a cream tea.

A key part of the challenge is to promote local libraries, and as I only work part time I don’t have the money to buy the number of books I read or that I want to read so ever since I was at school I have been a frequent visitor to my local library.

I paid a couple of visits this week, the first was to collect a book I had reserved for in a couple of weeks’ time. This was the first time I have used this service that is available, and it’s great. The reason I had reserved this book because I am being sent the second book in a series and had not read the first, which is the one I had reserved. On my pile of books to read I have a couple that are one in a series but I haven’t got the first ones so I will be using this service again for the same purpose.

The second time I went into the library was to look for a book for week 2. I will be going away on Friday for a long weekend, so wanted a shorter book that I would be able to read and return before then so I could take a new one with me. I have chosen Chasing the Sun by Katy Colins, another that was on my list books I want to read and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found
Trisha Ashley

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found sees Alice, a baby discovered abandoned on the Yorkshire moors and we follow her story to when she returns to Yorkshire in her mid-thirties ready to settle, setting up her own tearoom and searching for her birth mother.

From being abandoned at birth, Alice’s life takes on a similar pattern throughout and when her fiancé is killed in an accident she uses the money she was left to start up somewhere new, deciding on the place she was found. Here Alice uses her baking skills to set up her own tearoom, whilst also writing fairytales with a twist as a novelist.

We see her trying to balance these two professions as they take off at the same time as well as trying to discover who she is and where she belongs. The balance of juggling these two jobs as well her search for self-discovery and the hope that Alice’s story brings makes her one of the most relatable female heroines that I have read about.

We meet many characters along the way, especially the Giddings family, who take Alice in when she moves to Yorkshire, who are all strong supporting characters that bring an extra dimension to the story.

It did feel quite slow for the first few chapters as you learnt of Alice’s past but from there I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down. It was full on many twists and turns and a few surprises along the way. Between each chapter there are also snippets from Alice’s birth mother’s view point, this adds an extra twist as you go through trying to work out who it is.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is a modern fairytale with love, laughter, family, friendship self-discovery and hope.

The Summer Reading Challenge

From Saturday 21st July I will be taking part in a 6 week summer reading challenge, ending 31st August.

There are three key aspects to the challenge and they are:

  • 6 books in 6 weeks – this is pretty self-explanatory, I will be reading 6 books over the 6 weeks.
  • 24hr readathon – I will be doing my 24 hour readathon starting on Thursday 16th August going through to Friday 17th. This will be in the name of charity, Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity, who do wonderful work making ill children wishes come true. Here is a link to the Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rosreadathon
  • Promotion of local libraries – I will be using my local library to get most of the books for this challenge and I will also be posting about why our local libraries are so important and my experiences.

I have also picked my favourite summertime read, this will be a feature on the Janay Brazier blog (https://janaybrazier.blogspot.com/) so make sure you check that out on Tuesday 31st July from 8am to see what I have chosen.

The first book that I have chosen for the 6 weeks are The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley.

So stay tuned for a summer of bookish fun!