Book Review. In Just One Day by Helen McGinn

ISBN 9781800483620

Pub date 5 Aug 21

Star rating 5


In Just One Day

Flora has always adored her brother Billy. Born just eighteen months apart, their childhood was spent like two peas in a pod – no one could separate them. Now, as adults, they remain the best of friends. And as Flora is immersed in family life, Billy is always there to lend a hand.

But, in just one day, everything changes.

In just one day, Flora’s life falls apart.

In just one day, Flora has to learn how to live again.

From the nostalgia of seaside Britain to the breath-taking beauty of Venice, in tears and laughter, join Helen McGinn for this emotional, uplifting and joyful story about love in all its guises. But above all, this is an unforgettable story of one little girl and the brother she adores.


This wonderfully written book grabbed me by the heart from the beginning. A story of love and strength in the face of tragedy, highlighting just how important family and good friends really are.

Flora, the main character finds herself in a life changing moment that she struggles to cope with. Her heart is truly shattered. She is in such emotional turmoil that I really wanted to give her a great big hug. For me this is a sign of outstanding characterisation, Flora is brought to life so totally that I felt every emotion that she had to go through.  

The relationship between Flora and her Mother is strained at best and Flora finds herself holding a secret that she wishes she hadn’t stumbled upon regarding her father. The one main stay in Flora’s is her brother Billy, they adore each other and are there for each no matter what. Billy of course, is the apple of his mother’s eye. Flora decides she must confront her Father about what she knows then tragedy strikes the whole family that changes everyone’s lives forever.

 Firstly, they are dealing with her husband’s redundancy and the potential loss of her much-loved job in a wine shop, which actually turns out to be the best thing for them both, just as life feels good and Flora can immerse herself in her love of fine wine a tragic event occurs that changes Flora’s outlook on life and she struggles with her heartbreak.

I loved every single page of this beautifully written book. A rollercoaster of emotion that had me laughing, crying, crying a bit more, and ending on an overwhelming feeling of joy for Flora and her Husband Johnny. The descriptive style of the wonderful countryside was very reminiscent of old family seaside holidays. I felt like Flora had become a firm friend. I held my breath for her, sighed with relief for her and truly felt heartbroken for her. I think I can safely say I adored this book, its characters and the fabulous descriptive writing draws the reader in. The sumptuous wine descriptions are wonderful, you can almost taste it. A book that I would recommend to everyone.

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Author Bio –  Helen McGinn is a much-loved wine expert on TV and in print and an international wine judge. She spent ten years as a supermarket buyer sourcing wines around the world before setting up her award-winning blog (and now best-selling wine book) The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. She is the drinks writer for the Daily Mail and regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen and This Morning. Helen lives in the New Forest and Boldwood are publishing her debut women’s fiction title in Spring 2021

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Book Review “Bound By the Scars We Share” by Vivien Churney

Star Rating : 5 Stars

This incredible Debut Novel gripped me right from page one. A harrowing story following the two main characters, Zoshia and Grace during WW2 and beyond. This is the story of the trauma both women endure throughout their lives despite being worlds apart. Zoshia is a young, strong minded Jewish girl who loves playing the piano and dreams of becoming a concert pianist. Her family have to go into hiding and Zoshia decides she must help Jewish children escape the Nazi invasion. This colours her entire life and leaves with a never ending feeling of “why me”? Grace, an English girl living in Lyme Regis. She adores Ballet but she lives with a cruel father and Grace yearns to escape, only to find herself in the worst situation that she could have ever imagined.

The chapters deal with each character in turn, which I really enjoyed. I felt like I grew to know each character inside and out. I have to admit to a few tears. The cruelty both women see and endure is absolutely heart-breaking. There is a lot of sadness with lives that at times seem impossible to live. Both Zoshia and Grace endeavour to lead good lives and try to fill it love and laughter despite all the dreadful situations both have found themselves in.

The final chapter really brought everything together. No loose ends or “but what about so and so” questions. The ending is spot on and leaves you, as a reader with a sense of relief and eventual happiness for both Women, however long the journey, they both endured it with a fierceness that can only be admired.

I loved every single page of this incredible book, not a word wasted.

Publisher : Matador

Publish date : 7th May 2021

ISBN : 9781800469167

Reviewed By : Niki Preston

#netgalley #matador #boundbythescarsweshare

Book Review “Reprieve” by James Han Mattson

Star rating: 4 stars

After finishing this book I still can’t decide if I seriously enjoyed it or found it lacking. Unfortunately the plotline does not live up to more enticing blurb, which I read and immediately thought “ooooh this sounds right up my street” However the book spends much time meandering about with the past lives of the characters that eventually leads them to take part in a full contact Haunt, in an escape room type scenario at Quigley. it is definitely a quirky horror genre that explores difficult topics including racism, LGBQT, hate , death and revenge, although non are done in a very in depth manner.

Once the action began in each of the cells, that became increasingly more gruesome, I was hooked. I felt the writing began to pull me in and it was as though I was in the cells with them. I found myself thinking ” oh for heavens sake someone shout the safe word” The safe word is “Reprieve” but no one calls out. They are either totally paralysed by fear or determined to get into cell 6 and win the $60,000. It is not to be and murder occurs. Was it part of the game play? was it real? The Characters really don’t know.

The flow of the plot is constantly interrupted by either the court room discussions, which give the game away or chapters going back to the characters past lives. I would have preferred more focus on the actual horror action within the cells as this is excellent and there certainly needed to be more.

The disrupted flow is a bit off putting but I have to say that I enjoyed more of the book that not, hence giving an overall rating of 4 Stars.

#reprieve #netgalley #jameshanmattson #Bloomsburypublishing #goodreads #instagram #bookwormnjp #review

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (UK and ANZ)

Publish date: 5 Oct 2021

ISBN: 9781526635563

Reviewed by: Niki Preston


Audio book Review “Out, Mouse!” by Valerie L. Edgar

Star Rating 5 stars

I listened to this audio book today with my Granddaughter, she is 7. At first she wasn't too sure about listening and initially found the narrator a little hard to understand. She thought he spoke a little too fast. However once she was used to listening she really enjoyed the storyline. She wanted to write a letter to a mouse just in case there were any in her house. The story made her laugh and it was a joy to listen to it together. 
I would highly recommend this audio , especially if you have a little one who is reluctant to read. This audio book about the old man Finn and the letters he writes to help mice move out of his house to somewhere better will really fire their imagination and its a great way to spend time enjoying a love of books together.

Thanks to #netgalley and #whistleoak or the #arc #valarieLEdgar #outmouse

Publisher: Whistle Oak

ISBN: 9781733593342

Publish date: 12th May 2021

Reviewed by: Niki Preston

Book Review “The Final Girls Support Group” by Grady Hendrix

Star Rating : 3 stars

What can I say about The Final Girls Support Group? I found it quite hard going and struggled with the first half of the book. I found the characters quite confusing and they melded together creating confusion between the characters and it took me quite a while to work out which character was which.

The premise of the book, which is in the Horror Genre concentrates on the final girls who have all survived horrific attacks and in horror movie style hit the headlines and then disappeared into nowhere once interest in them dies down. They form a Final Girls support group that has kept going over 20 years with a therapist who seemingly helps them through their issues.

After my confusion in the first half of the book the second half does pick up the pace and concentrates on Lynnette Tarkington and her quest to save the final girls who are being targeted all over again. However I found some of the horrific attacks she then endures quite unbelievable and instead of being drawn into this slasher movie novel I found myself being totally unconvinced by the events.

The book is well written and I’m more than sure if the slasher movie in book form is your go to genre then this will probably satisfy you, especially if Grady Hendrix is an author you have read before, you will enjoy this book. It just wasn’t for me, hence 3 stars.

Publisher : Titan Books

Publish date : 13 July 2021

ISBN : 9781789096064

Reviewed by : Niki Preston

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Book Review “Over my Dead Body” By Jeffrey Archer

Star Rating : 5 Stars

Well what can I say about this new novel from Jeffrey Archer? Enthralling, riveting and nearly brought me to tears. A real rollercoaster read emotionally. I quickly developed an intense dislike for millionaire art dealer, Miles Faulkner. A sign of a truly well written character that evokes such strong feelings in the reader from the off.

Up and coming Met officer, DCI William Warwick heads up a new closed case squad, solving crimes that nobody seems able to solve. Warwick is joined in the unit by ex undercover Ross Hogan, who still wishes he was undercover and has a tendency to go off on his tangent, solving things in his unique way.

Faulkner has been pronounced dead but Warwick feels something may not be all that it seems as Faulkner’s unscrupulous lawyer still appears to be representing his dead client, why?

Can this new squad solve the four murder that have been tasked with. Can they figure out what Faulkner’s Lawyer is really up too?

I finished this superb novel in a couple of days. Reading until my eyes hurt because I just didn’t want to put it down.

I would certainly recommend this gripping read. Definitely one to pre order.

Publisher : Harper Collins UK, Harperfiction

Publish Date : 14th October 2021

ISBN ; 9780008474294

Reviewed by; Niki Preston

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Book Review; “Under A Greek Moon” by Carol Kirkwood

Star rating; 5 stars

A debut Novel by TV presenter, Carol Kirkwood of pure romantic escapism that draws you in with her beautifully descriptive style. The central character Shauna O’Brien is a typical Irish lass, all red flowing hair and emerald eyes. Her life takes us through, love, lies, drama, heartbreak and back again. It is a love story with a difference with heart wrenching moments for Shauna that make the reader truly believe in her character and you find yourself laughing and crying along with her. I even found myself telling her off for doing some of the things she does.

This is a classic boy meets girl story, a bit formulaic but its a formula that works and Carol Kirkwood’s writing style really brings to life the magical Greek Island, Ithos. The setting sees Shauna find and lose love. It shapes her future life that is not with out its heart break. Shauna is a stoic character that you definitely warm too and you just want the best for her.

A wonderfully romantic summer read. If you enjoy strong characters , a love story and happy endings then this book is certainly for you. I would highly recommend this debut novel. It is not my usual genre and I thoroughly enjoyed every drama filled page.

Will Shauna’s love for the handsome, wealthy shipping magnet Demetrios ever become what she her heart desires? You will have to read this fantastic Debut Novel to find out.

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Publish Date: 08 July 2021

ISBN : 9780008393403

Reviewed by: Niki Preston

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Book Review. The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin.

Star rating… 5 stars

Set in the 1970’s amidst the ganglands of Glasgow. this book was actually an unfinished manuscript by William McILvanney. It was discovered by his wife after his death and the publishing company approached Ian Rankin to ask if he thought he could finish this unfinished, and thankfully yes he did and what a superb job he has done with it.

The book is the first case for William McILvanney’s well known and much loved Detective Jack Laidlaw, who is a law unto himself and certainly not a team player. He likes to get results but in his own way, on his own.

After the death of Bobby Carter, right hand man to gang leader Cam Colvin, gangland rivalry threatens to escalate and it quickly becomes a race against time and Laidlaw’s seemingly incompetent boss to solve the grisly murder.

Written with good strong characters and a plot that has many twists and turns. it definitely keeps you on your toes. I figured out the killer a few minutes after it’s apparent that Laidlaw has realised who it is. To me this is the sign of a seriously well written book, leading you to the obvious conclusion without any blindingly obvious clues along the way. You have to piece the clues together and this really makes you feel invested in Laidlaw’s character and you unravel the plot with him. I loved every minute of this book. It kept me wake into the small hours reading “just one more chapter”

I would highly recommend this book. If you are a lover of crime novels, Ian Rankin and great Scottish Crime Drama then this is a must read for you.

Publisher: Cannongate

Publish Date: 02 September 2021

ISBN: 9781838854102

Reviewed by: Niki Preston

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Book Review “The Blind Light” by Stuart Evers

Star rating = 4 stars

From friendships to love, lies and deceit this book, although a slow burner has it all. Covering 60 years of British history it’s a book well worth reading. the characters are strong and you certainly have a affinity for them and the twists and turns that leads to the ultimate betrayal; a broken promise.

The book revolves around two central characters, Drummond, known as Drum and Carter. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War and the very real threat of a Nuclear Strike. Drum and Carter meet during their time in national Service, in The catering Core. Their lives become entwined from then on with Carter always being the driving force in Drum’s life and the decisions he comes to make, from marriage and children to moving to a farm right next door to Carter.

Both men go on to marry and have children. The threat of Nuclear War weighs heavy on Drum in particular and he becomes obsessed with Carters bunker in which he believes both families will be safe from any strike. An incident that occurs in the bunker leads to family separation and angst all round.

I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for something a little different. A thought provoking read that gives an in depth view of how ones decisions can rule and change your life forever

Release date: May 2021

Publisher : Pan Macmillan Picador

ISBN: 9781529031003

Reviewed By: Niki Preston

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Accessible gardening, What’s it all about? A guest blog for Michael Perry, Mr Plant Geek.


Accessible gardening, what’s it all about? The Two Fingered Gardener


As a disabled gardener I have written about accessible gardening many times, after all it’s what I do. However, I have become increasingly frustrated by the things that I read. The term accessible gets bandied about as a current buzz word but usually by writers who have no idea what it actually means to be truly accessible. Can you really make a garden entirely accessible? Yes, I believe you can, after all mine is. It has to change as my disability changes but with a bit of forward planning it certainly is do-able.

Accessible raised beds.

Now here is the biggest bug bear for me. Just putting a small bit of decking in a square around an area of garden does not a raised bed make. (in terms of accessibility) Raising the garden by a few inches makes hide nor hair of a difference to a gardener who finds bending difficult, is a wheelchair user or like me, one who has many different issues that requires sometimes sitting to garden, sometimes standing and sometimes just needing to be outside for my general wellbeing. Accessible raised beds should come in all shapes, sizes and heights to encompass us all. After all, find me a gardener who, at times doesn’t suffer with aches and pains, especially back pain. Making a garden with areas containing beds that require less bending, digging and manual heavy gardening is good for us all.

So many times, I find myself shouting at “Make Over” programs where the lucky recipient is a wheelchair user and lovely raised beds are immediately installed as a brilliant answer to their needs. Never once consulting that gardener as to how and where they can garden. Placing a solid bed that you can only sit sideways at isn’t the best way to garden. Twisting to reach the bed, leaning to reach plants at the back of beds that are far too wide is just frustrating. Consulting the actual person as to what would make their garden accessible rather than appeasing the big companies who just want to get their product on the TV would be much more beneficial. Encouraging disabled people to get out in the garden and experience the many health benefits far outweighs a gorgeous raised bed that is not fit for purpose. If garden companies wish to call a product accessible then please make sure it really is. Consulting someone like myself who actually tests products and uses them all the time could make a huge difference to an ever-changing demographic in the gardening world. People are living longer. The health benefits, not only physically but mentally are finally being realised more widely and even being subscribed by doctors in some cases. Companies need to start recognising how gardeners are changing and start realising just sticking “accessible” in front of a product and whacking up the price isn’t good practise, nor is it encouraging for disabled gardeners.

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When I go out in my garden I feel instantly uplifted. It is a place for me to forget my painful body and just be me. My garden does not judge me and think “she looks funny, with 2 fingers” it just rewards my loving care and attention with vibrant colour, herbs, veg and fruit. It gives me a huge sense of pride in my achievements and a feeling of calm and peacefulness. I have learnt to ignore weeds that I can’t control as much as I’d like. To sit and enjoy my garden as much as I work in it. Sitting in every corner allows me to garden a bit then sit for a while, admire the smells, birds, bees, frogs before gardening some more to the next seat. All my seating is different to allow for my needs. Sometimes I need an upright chair, sometimes one to put my feet up and of course a swing chair to relax with a drink at the end of a good days gardening.