The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy. While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, he – or she – has left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

    Rosa makes up her mind to give it a go: to put everything she has into getting the shop up and running again in the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed – and who among the following will work secretly to see her fail?

    There is a handsome rugby player, a sexy plumber, a charlatan reporter and a selection of meddling locals. Add in a hit and run incident and the disappearance of a valuable engraved necklace – and what you get is a journey of self-discovery and unpredictable events.

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, will slowly unravel the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also bring her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

I love it when you get a book and you read it in one day, you know the kind, where you don’t want to put it down because you want to know the ending but at the same time you don’t want it to end at all?

That’s what I had with this book.

I knew I had to be a part of the blog tour for The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay, having read Love Me Tinder by Nicola and loved it, I knew that I had to read this one.

Nicola has a great way of writing her characters and their stories she makes them believable, you want to follow their story.

Rosa is no different, you want to follow her story and you want to see her get her happy ending. You join her on her little rollercoaster ride of life and you want to stay on until the end.

I loved all the characters, I loved the story, it had romance, it had heartbreak, it had great friendship, it’s everything you could want in a rom com and I want a Josh in my life.

Of course I can’t forget Hot the little sausage dog, so adorable, I want one too!

So if I could just have Josh and a Sausage Dog called Hot, oh and move to Devon, I would be very happy, thank you.

I would highly recommend giving this book a read, if you like your romance with a little drama, heartbreak and intrigued then this is for you.

I said it last time and I will say it again, I will definitely be reading more of Nicola Mays books.

You can purchase The corner shop in Cockleberry Bay here: – Amazon US – Amazon UK – Amazon CA – Amazon AU

About author

Award winning author Nicola May lives in Ascot in Berkshire with her rescue cat Stanley. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks and enjoying a flutter on the horses. Inspired by her favourite authors Milly Johnson and Carole Matthews, Nicola writes what she describes as chicklit with a kick.

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The secret letters of Gertie and Hen by Imogen Hunter

“The secret letters of Gertie and Hen” was thought provoking and moving. Although it states on the programme that it is a fictional story and the characters are not based on real people, the war was very real and there probably were people who went through similar experiences to what is in this play.

It made me think of what past generations had to go through and in some countries what families are still witnessing now, things that I can’t even begin to comprehend.

The writing is clever and the acting was raw and emotional, after only 4 days of being workshopped I think everyone involved can be very proud of what they have achieved.

I liked the two points of view, I liked that it is documented through letters and that these letters are written by children, Gertie in Berlin and Hen in London.

It gives it this innocent, naive point of view but as the war rolls on, you start to see a shift in the writing of the letters as Gertie and Hen have had to grow up quickly, they have had to witness things that no child should they have to, and do things that no child should do.

This play tackles everything from the political to friendship, love and loss.

Two girls who were friends but are now seen as enemies through no fault of their own.

My favourite part would have to be the underground scene. The air raid siren had been sounded, the bombs were falling all around and then, the sudden change in music, the screaming, the darkness, fantastic change in the atmosphere, it sent chills through me.

It truly is a thought provoking and wonderful play, with the acting and writing doing justice to the emotion that is needed to be portrayed.

If I were to nit pick, I could say that the accents dropped in and out and were not consistent but after only 4 days rehearsal I think that this can be forgiven.

The actors play many different characters with different accents but not once did I feel lost. It all made sense and you always knew who was who.

The play officially opens in November at The New Wimbledon Studios but I was lucky enough to have been invited along to a special preview evening and I’m glad I went.

I will definitely be going back to watch it again.

Emotional, moving, heartbreaking, and I loved every second.

Big thanks to Imogen and Jen for inviting me along to the preview night.

If you would like to know more please visit the website below:

The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas

The Watcher

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

The book I read before this one was about the war also but not from this point of view, I have read many a book about the war from the British point of view but never from the German.

I found this fascinating and can’t believe I have never read any books like this before.

We have a family trying their best to come to terms with the effects of war but all in their own way without letting anyone else in.

Max is left scarred and damaged from his experiences, Erika doesn’t know how to help or what role she plays in her husbands life anymore or how to handle the guilt of her actions while he was away. Then we have their little girl Netta, who is suppose to be seen and not heard, like all good children should be but yet she hears and sees all and is probably the most scarred by everything.

It’s frustrating to read but in a good way, the author describes these characters and situations in such a way that it makes you want to grab the characters and shake them, especially when it comes to the little girl, I just want her parents to see what affect it’s all having on her, and just when you think it can’t get worse and they can’t be more lost you finally you start to see each character turn a corner, you see Max realise how much he has hurt his family, you see him start to shake himself out of this bubble of war he has been trapped in.

You see Erika realise what her husband has been through, what she has put herself through and finally you see her realise what they have put their child through. As a reader you feel relief that things are finally starting to come together.

It’s cleverly written and takes you on a emotional and at times frustrating journey but like the characters you come through it and you feel the relief. It can be dark in some places but that represents the time period that this book is set.

The writing to me does well to represents the emotional toll being a POW has, not only on that person but on the family. It also shows just how much mental health was not understood back then and how far we have come today.

It’s a world where for years all they knew is war but now that is gone, how do they go back to normal?

As for who “The Watcher” is, well that would be telling.

As for the murder, there will be no spoilers here.

It’s a good read that has some dark moments, definitely one for anyone who likes drama and suspense mixed with family heartbreak in the aftermath of war.

If you would like to buy The Watcher you can purchase it here:


About the author: Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published.


The keeping of secrets by Alice Graysharp

The Keeping of Secrets

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Growing up I was always told stories by my grandparents on what it was like to grow up during the war.

My grandma left education at 15, worked in the local butchers and grocers making deliveries from early in the morning to then being an ARP warden in the evening.

I remember her recalling one memory of the time a bomb was dropped in the woods next to her house but instead of being upset at the bomb she was upset it had ruined her day of cleaning.

“I had just done all the dusting for when mum arrived home, then this bomb dropped and it looked like I hadn’t touched a thing!” It’s this keep calm and carry on attitude that I love the most but the story that made me intrigued to read this book was of my Nan, who was evacuated to wales as a little girl with her older brother, and she would tell me tales of where she stayed and it fascinated me.

To be uprooted from everything you know and to put complete trust in stranger to keep you safe is a crazy thought this day and age.

So when the keeping of secrets came up for review I leapt at the chance, I can’t begin to imagine what everyone went through, I only have the stories, I can’t relate to the fear, the hunger, the not knowing where the bombs would drop next or if my son, brother, uncle, husband would come back safe.

The keeping of secrets is written so wonderfully, from the point of view of evacuee Pat that you can almost smell, hear, feel the threat of war. You see her live through it all and see that even with everything going on, she is still just a young girl trying to figure herself out, which is something we can all relate too.

It’s a love story mixed with family life dealing with war. I throughly enjoyed reading this book written by Alice Graysharp, it wonderfully descriptive and lovingly heartbreaking.

It really makes you feel like you are there, you get to see the war through a characters eyes with no censorship.

I recommend anyone to have a read, it really helped put into perspective (for me anyway) just how greatful I am for what past generations have done for our country so that we can have our today.

What our families of generations past had to go through (and some are still going through today) it really does bring a tear to the eye. So when I’m sitting down listening to my grandpareants tell their stories, I will listen and I will not forget and I will be grateful.

I loved that it got me thinking about my family and it made me love them more (if that’s possible).

Alice Graysharp has written a wonderful book with such emotion and detail, I don’t know who couldn’t love it.

It’s about a girl with secrets trying to live her life to the best she can with literally a war breaking out around her.

If you would like to purchase the book for yourself you can find it here:


About the author: Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.


Times and places by Keith Anthony

-Ten years after his daughter Justine’s death, an anxious Fergus embarks on a cruise with his wife.  On board, he meets a myriad of characters and is entranced by some, irritated by others and disgusted by one.  These turbulent feelings, combined with a sequence of bizarre events, only lead to his increased anxiety.

In a series of flashbacks, Justine enjoys an ultimately short romance, a woman concludes she killed her and an investigating police officer is drawn into her idyllic world.  Fergus, haunted by poignant memories, withdraws in search of answers.

Back on the cruise, Fergus reaches breaking point, fearing he has done something terrible.  By the time the ship returns, his world has changed forever.

“Times and Places” spans Atlantic islands, the Chiltern countryside, Cornish coasts and rural Slovenia, all of which provide spectacular backdrops to a humorous and moving tale of quiet spirituality.-

In Times and places we join Fergus and his wife Sylvie as they embark on a cruise, throughout this cruise we see them go through a range of emotions from guilt, joy, sadness to finally acceptance.

We are following a couple who are still trying to come to terms with their daughters death 10years on.

We also go back and forth in time, reading not just about Fergus’s story but also his daughter Justine’s, as well as some new characters introduced along the way.

We read about Justine’s time leading up to the day she died. This for me this was tough reading as it really makes you think, you really don’t know what is around the corner. The writer really makes you think, Justine had her whole life ahead of her, she was happy knew where she was headed and as you are reading you already know how her story is going to end, it brings a sense of sadness but also perspective, life is short, don’t waste it!

This book is a journey of emotions mainly written through a father’s eyes but every now and then we go back and see it through others perspectives.

Everything is linked and everyone has a story to tell.

It’s a very spiritual journey, the writer has a great way of making you feel for all the characters in the book. It is a book that has definitely given me food for thought.

I particularly like Fergus’s internal battle when it comes to dancer Hannah who he meets on board the cruise ship. She reminds him so much of Justine that he doesn’t know what he is suppose to feel or how to act, he knows it’s not her but also he likes that it makes him feel closer to his daughter.

I also loved to read about the relationship between man and wife (Fergus and Sylvie) they have been through, their marriage is portrayed as a strong loving relationship, they know each other inside out, sometimes not even having to say anything to each other. Together they get through, together they heal.

This book is an easy read with a lovely story and message throughout.

I could write so much about the characters and the journey the writer takes you on but I really think it’s something you should read for yourself.

This book is very much about emotional battles and trying to find a way to put your life back together after it has been shattered into a million pieces.


To win a signed copy of Times and places, click the link below:

Or if you would like to purchase Times and places, you can get it here:

About the author

Keith was born and brought up in the Chilterns, to where he returned after studying French at university in Aberystwyth and a subsequent spell living in west London.  He has a love of nature, both in his native Buckinghamshire countryside, but also in Cornwall and wherever there is a wild sea.  

Keith has been lucky enough to spend time living in France, Spain, Belgium, Serbia and Croatia, as well as being a regular visitor to Germany, and languages were the only thing he was ever half good at in school.  Since graduating he has worked in government departments, but between 2005 and 2008 he was seconded to the European Commission in Brussels and, thanks to a friend from Ljubljana he met there, has travelled regularly to Slovenia, getting to know that country well.  

Keith’s other great love is music and he plays classical and finger picking blues guitar, though with persistently limited success.  He has always enjoyed writing, including attempts at children’s fiction, and in 2016 he began work on his first full book with “Times and Places” the end result: an accessible, observational story, mixing quiet spirituality with humour, pathos and gothic horror, and setting it against a rich backdrop of the natural world.

East of Coker by Andy Owen

East of Coker is not my usual reading material and that is exactly why I love reviewing books, you get introduced to so many different genres. Sometimes it’s doesn’t work out but sometimes it does. In this case it definitely did.

I really liked reading East of Coker, it felt so raw and real, I believed every word.

To be able to write from the perspective of a solider(s) view and for it to hit home what it actually is they went through (are still going through) takes some excellent writing skills. I know I will never truly know what they have experienced but this book definitely came close to showing me. I think it helps that the author himself has experience in the army, so could put some of himself and his experiences into the writing.

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Living in the past by Jane Lovering

Beautiful, wonderful, everything I could want in a book.

I loved the characters, the story telling, the romance and the time travel.

It wasn’t confusing, I find that sometimes no matter how hard a writer tries, when it comes to time travel it can get messy.

Not this book, it was easy to read, easy to follow and the characters were easy to love.

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