Evie loves working in the library with her friend Clara and new colleague Aiden – having been introduced to the job by her caring foster mum, Irene. When her birthday rolls around, she decides it’s time to find her birth mother and turns to the Salvation Army for helping in tracking her down.
Meanwhile, she can’t help her continuing crush on author Noah Jones, who she met briefly at a seminar once, and she can’t figure out who dropped off a mystery present of a signed copy of the latest book by her favourite author, Sam Stone.
First up, my immediate reaction with this story was: why are you picking up that abandoned bag on the bus? Have alerts about terrorism threats not reached this city? Or did you not think you should pass the bag on to the bus driver who can drop it into the depot’s lost property? From there on, there were just a few too many coincidences and overly obvious clues for me. But if you can put all that aside, it's still a charming story with a cute heroine that many will adore.
Lizzie’s been married a long time, her children are grown and away at university, and her husband, Henry, barely acknowledges her existence other than to ask when dinner is ready. Then temptation arrives in the form of handsome new neighbour Marcus.
There is so much more to this story than what meets the eye and my feelings for Lizzie changed along the way. I began with a lot of empathy for her and her situation. However once the flirtation with Marcus kicked up a notch, I had a much harder time feeling any empathy for her.
I began to get angry because as cold and distant as Henry was, Lizzie never communicates her feelings to him. He deserved a swift kick but it annoyed the living daylights out of me that Lizzie so quickly considered a fling without even trying to resolve the issues in her marriage!
Also, the Christmas escape to the country is more of an afterthought that occurred near the end of the story after Lizzie’s life is already in shambles. I’m glad I didn’t give up on this story, however, because I was surprised at how it all played out. In the end, I returned to feeling not only empathy for Lizzie, but admiration as well as she takes full responsibility for her actions.
The story flows well and the characters were easy to engage with. I especially liked Lizzie’s friend, Ann, who demonstrates loyalty to Lizzie even though she is going through her own trials. There are some surprise twists that came out of left field which enhanced the story very well.
Although I struggled with a few parts of the story, I recommend this book to readers who are looking for a story about forgiveness and second chances because isn’t Christmas the season of hope? (SB)
This sequel to A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother centres on mother of four Rachel who has adjusted fairly well to her village surroundings and found her place amongst all of the other school mothers, including the overly bossy Penelope.
When I started this book, I had no idea it was the second book in a series so there was a slight struggle as the “getting to know you” bit had already happened. However, the author does an excellent job of bringing the reader up to speed so I didn’t feel I missed out on too much.
The story moved at a decent pace and once I got through the initial confusion, it was very easy to follow and stay entertained. I’m not surprised that Rachel tries so hard to extricate herself from all things Penelope. I absolutely could not stand the woman and was surprised that Rachel spoke to her, much less interacted with her on any level. The author does a fantastic job of giving the reader a good sense of Rachel’s irritation and frustration with Penelope throughout the story and there were some moments that made me roll with laughter. I love it when the villain gets their comeuppance.
I also enjoyed the side relationships with the other couples and though I didn’t care for him at first, Penelope’s ex, Rupert, turned out to be pretty decent.
I really like this author’s voice. She has a wonderful ability of creating characters that are easy to like as well as dislike and stories that draw the reader in so completely, the reader can easily lose themselves between the pages for several hours. I recommend this story to fans of the chick-lit genre as well as readers who enjoy reading about the underdog beating adversity and coming out on top. (SB)