Take Me Home – Daniela Sacerdoti

What to Expect:

Inary Monteith’s life is at a crossroads. After a stolen night with her close friend Alex, she’s just broken his heart by telling him it was all a terrible mistake. Then she has to rush home from London to the Scottish Highlands when her little sister’s illness suddenly worsens – and in returning she must confront the painful memories she has been trying so hard to escape.
Back home, things become more complicated than she could ever have imagined. There’s her sister’s illness, her hostile brother, a smug ex she never wants to see again and her conflicted feelings about Alex in London and a handsome American she meets in Glen Avich. On top of that, she mysteriously loses her voice but regains a strange gift from her childhood – a sixth sense that runs in her family. And when a voice from the past keeps repeating, ‘Take me home’, she discovers a mystery that she knows she must unlock to set herself free.

This is our second review for Daniela, her last book Watch Over Me was lovely, and this one continues in a similar vein with some sadness and some ghostly elements. It’s also set in Glen Avich again and we bump into some old friends, but it’s not a sequel as such, the main characters are new. It’s engrossing and not very long so I devoured it in two evenings.

Kooks for your Kindle?– A really nice collection of supporting characters, family and friends. Lesley is her best mate, originally Caribbean, and the kind of supportive girl you want around when you lose the ability to speak for months and start seeing dead people. Inary’s brother Logan is the only one who knows about her sight, and is alarmed to hear of its return- but he has plenty of issues of his own, mostly stemming from his resentment of Inary for leaving him to take care of their sick little sister alone. Tyler is a friend of Logan, he’s American; while in town for a project he befriends Inary and becomes quite useful in her quest to solve the mystery.

Inary’s ex-fiance Lewis is the guy we all love to hate, smug enough to warrant a good take-down, even if Inary does have to scribble her cutting comments on a notepad for him to read! Finally the lovely Alex is left behind in London to try and accept that Inary doesn’t want him- can he move on and find happiness at last?

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Inary starts off in a bad place and it’s downhill from there. She’s living in London with good friends but a mediocre job, not pursuing her true passion of writing, and she’s avoiding her family problems back in Scotland. When her little sister takes a turn for the worse she has to return- and face the older brother that was left holding down the fort when Inary ran off with a broken heart three years before. This time she’s the one leaving a broken heart- her friend Alex in London, who finally thought they’d found happiness when she spent the night with him.

It takes Inary time to find her feet back home- not least because of her mysterious loss of voice and the return of her ghostly visions. But she finds the strength to face up to everything, even her own ghosts of (living) boyfriends past, and solve the mystery that the spirits present.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?– It’s refreshing to return to the peace and fresh air of the small Scottish town on the loch, where the height of modernisation is the new coffee shop. It’s very atmospheric, the misty, spooky scenes on the lake are quite terrifying. The locals are back in force, which prove quite suffocating for the very private Inary, but that’s the nature of this small town, everyone knows your life history.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Couldn’t put it down. You can’t not fall for a tale of a wounded young woman facing further adversity and finding strength, but it’s so lovingly written too. Once again I’m amazed that such an eloquent, elegant story is written by the author in their second language, you’d never know. With all the sadness, heartbreak and tragic ghosts you’d think this would be a depressing tale and not remotely frothy, but instead it’s uplifting, romantic, fast-moving and quite positive. Don’t miss it.

Frothy Ranking: 5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for 69p.

US: Not on Amazon, but only $1.70 on Kobobooks.

Secrets of The Lighthouse- Santa Montefiore

What to expect:
“Ellen Trawton is running away from it all – quite literally. She is due to get married to a man she doesn’t love, her job is dragging her down and her interfering mother is getting on her nerves. So she escapes to the one place she know her mother won’t follow her – to her aunt’s house in rural Ireland. Once there, she uncovers a dark family secret – and a future she never knew she might have.
Meanwhile, Caitlin Macausland is mourning the future she can never have. She died tragically in what the village thinks is suspicious circumstances, and now she is stuck in a limbo, unable to move on.
And between the two of them is an old lighthouse – the scene of so much tragedy. Can each woman find the peace she so desperately longs for? And can they find the way to live again?”

What starts off as a sad tale of a Caitlin watching her own funeral and Ellen escaping her own privileged yet empty life, becomes an uplifting tale.

Kooks for your Kindle?– I’ve tagged this under ‘Irish froth’, because although the author herself isn’t Irish, the book is mostly set there and is full of very Irish characters and warmth. Aunt Peg is the main relative, she’s kind and accommodating but doesn’t permit Ellen to remain in denial for too long. She’s also hiding a secret that makes it all the more poignant when she welcomes her sister’s daughter. Ellen’s mother Madeline has become thoroughly English but also horribly snobbish since marrying into the upper classes, she only wants the best for Ellen. So who is Dylan, and why did Madeline leave him behind all those years ago? Ellen is amazed to discover that her Mum also has lots of brothers, although they all blend into one with the exception of overbearing Desmond.

Conor links the two leading ladies, he’s Caitlin’s widower and five years later he becomes Ellen’s great love. He seems like bad news at first, and I thought he would be overly controlling, but thankfully he’s a good egg. However the locals all still view him with suspicion following his wife’s accidental death.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Caitlin is the ghost, still jealous by nature and desperate for her husband’s love after all this time. Her journey is the most interesting, she takes a while to catch on, despite another most enlightened ghostly presence nearby. Ellen seems younger than her thirty-something years, and is a little spoiled, but a bit of Irish pragmatism soon beats some of it out of her. Her decision to run off without telling anyone in order to find herself seems a little childish, but it’s exactly what she needs, even if things don’t turn out remotely as she’d expected.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?– As you might imagine, rural Ireland is lovingly portrayed, with windswept beaches, farmhouses, beautiful castles and a rundown lighthouse. The people are equally well illustrated, the bigger characters having some interesting twists and turns. Back in the UK, we don’t get to know Ellen’s sisters well, they were in background reminding me of the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella. Her mother’s interesting tale is the focus there.

Evaluation of your eBook?– I wasn’t sure at the start of the book, with the first ghostly chapter, but once the real world is established, there are enough mysteries to grab the reader. Unfortunately one of them is blatantly obvious to everyone except Ellen many chapters before the reveal, but there is still reason to stick around. It’s a nice atmospheric misty story with plenty of wise adages thrown around by the older folk mixed in with the modern younger generations. The supernatural element won’t be a surprise to regular readers of the author, I seem to remember a ghost in the last one of hers that I read (to say which would be to spoil that one), but Caitlin’s limbo-like existence is explored in an interesting way here. Few shocks, but a gentle ethereal tale for all ages.

Frothy Ranking: 3.5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £4.75, although recently it was on 99p special so click for the latest.

US: Not on Amazon, but Kobobooks have it for $12.39.

A Stitch In Time – Amanda James

Sarah has suffered a double betrayal: Despite delaying their own baby-making for seven years, her husband Neil has accidentally knocked up her beautiful best friend Karen during a one night stand. Eighteen months later, Sarah is divorced and going about her everyday life as a history teacher when she has a visitation from the kind and mysterious John. Long story short, she is required to make three trips back in time to ‘stitch a hole’ and save three people, who will go on to make three more people (one of whom will be of historical significance) etc, hence the title. Once Sarah’s established that she’s not hallucinating, she is catapulted back to 1940 where her instincts and knowledge help her save a man from the Sheffield blitz. As Sarah’s success as a stitch continues (via the suffragette movement in London and the old American west), her relationship with John upsets the powers that be, and she is asked to complete one extra, highly important mission.

Kooks for your Kindle?– An abundance of varied characters here, from the Downton Abbey style domestic staff in frightful Lady Attwood’s 1913 London home, to the desperate farmers in 1870s Kansas, fighting a plague of locusts. Many of the characters in Sarah’s real life are truly horrible, including one of her fellow teachers, one of her pupils, her ex-husband, her ex-friend and someone she meets through John. But there are plenty of kindly folks and all jump off the page and stick in your head. John is a strong leading man, kind and attractive, although he comes across as being about ten years more mature than he really is, but so does Sarah.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Sarah has been hurt in the past in the worst way, and it does cause her to give up on love at one point, thankfully she doesn’t wallow, and soon gets back into the action. She’s a take charge heroine whose quick thinking saves the day on her missions, paired with her historic knowledge this makes her a great stitch.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The best aspect of the story- the trips back in time- are not large sections of the book, but they are vividly related, right down to the smells and the smallest detail that take you there. My favourite was when Sarah jumped into the extended family trying to make a living and stake their claim in Kansas, just after the civil war. The author has a clear love of history and brings it to life, especially the terror of delivering a baby there.

Evaluation of your eBook?– If you like your romance with a hint of time-travel, or your Quantum Leap with a hint of romance (something I don’t recall Sam Beckett and Al ever having!), there’s something for everyone here, and if you like your fiction to be firmly set in the real world I think you’ll still love it. The author does a fabulous job of taking you wherever Sarah goes, and it’s hard to put it down. The tone was humorous at times, Sarah was at her funniest when a little stressed and unhinged. It was nice to have a few chapters from John’s point of view, he does a good job of concisely explaining the inexplicable without getting tangled up in paradoxes or bothering the space-time continuum.

Frothy Ranking: 4.5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for only £1.97, sometimes on special for 99p, click the first price to check.

US: Amazon for only $2.99.

Last Christmas- Julia Williams

Got some catching up to do here, as this book has been out for a couple of years and there is already a sequel- but there’s no rush. This seasonal English tale focuses mainly on the lives of four characters from one Christmas to the next. City girl and teacher Marianne starts off engaged to too-good-to-be-true Luke, who soon shows his bad side, leaving her finding her feet in a Shropshire village that rejoices in the name of Hope Christmas. Gabriel lives there too, but he’s a returnee, reclaiming his roots as a sheep farmer and making a new home for his young son after his wife abandoned them both. Meanwhile in London, engineer and father of four Noel is feeling increasingly lost as his job forces him to work on an environmentally disastrous project near Hope Christmas, and his wife Cat is too busy to focus on him. Cat however, has problems of her own, the au-pair from hell, a blogging career gone crazy, and a mother showing frightening signs of dementia. Events hop back and forth between the Christmas period one year, and the whole of the following year leading up to Christmas again, where their lives converge.

Kooks for your Kindle?– The author’s strength here is to have created a varied and realistic selection of characters, with a few fun locals thrown in for good measure. I’ve put the book into the ‘Supernatural Froth’ category only because of one character, hope I’m not spoiling the book here, but there’s obviously something special about him. Many of the characters have Christmassy names, Noel Tinsall, Gabriel and Eve among others. Thankfully there’s no Holly, for two of my recently reviewed books had her as a heroine. Cat’s mother Louise was particularly sensitively portrayed as she becomes more and more clouded with dementia.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Most of the characters are pleasingly assertive enough, although Magda the au-pair gets away some stunning shenanigans before Cat gets up the nerve to fire her.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– I seem to have read a few books lately where people give up the cold loneliness of city life to live in harmony in the warm community of a rural village, and there find love and fulfillment; especially among Christmas reads. Hopefully it’s possible for the rest of us who don’t have sheep and funny old folks next door to have a good festive season, or we’re all in trouble! Don’t get me wrong, it does sound appealing.

Nookie for your Nook?– Clean as a whistle, I’d like to say mother-in-law proof, but as there is one unpleasant mother-in-law in the book she might take it the wrong way. Although this one (Angela) does have a rather major personality improvement towards the end.

Evaluation of your eBook?– I found the structure a little uneven, flashing back and forth between two Christmases was fine, but the ‘last year’ period was only over a week or so and the ‘this year’ seemed to be over a whole year. However this kept the pages turning due to a few cliffhanger chapter ends. On the whole a nice warm seasonal read, categorised as ‘Frothy with Substance’ as the subject matter also includes some serious topics; mental illness, dementia, bullying and redundancy. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s not all doom and gloom; it’s a heartwarming tale, quite humorous and the villagers liven things up. It’s a fairly substantial read, long enough to keep you entertained on holiday journeys, and well worth the price (below).

Frothy Ranking: 3/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: £1.99 from Amazon.

US: $3.79 from Amazon.

Christmas Novellas

Mistletoe in Manhattan- Talli Roland

It’s short ‘n sweet and took about an hour to read, but something a little different. Holly is a true child of Christmas, her parents plan Christmas parties professionally, all year round. Holly was born on the big day, and has always indulged her parents obsession. But now she has a chance to prove herself by planning a massive party for a spoiled British actor- in New York.

A contemporary tale of a modern British girl on the loose in New York for the first time; she holds her own against her employer and his assistant, but will she cave in to pressure from her family and her (rather judgmental) new friend or can she cut the umbilical to her Christmas-obsessed parents?  A quick, cheap, read about adventure and family ties.

Only 77p from Amazon UK and 99c from Amazon US.

Bah, Humbug! Heather Horrocks

This is another quickie, only about an hour’s read, but that’s alright because it’s free from Amazon US and Amazon UK! Lexi is a TV homebody, a younger (unincarcerated) Martha Stewart. She gets by as a single mother to her two kids who are both fans of childrens’ mystery writer Kyle Miller. Just before Christmas they move to a nicer house that Lexi can finally afford- to discover Kyle is their next door neighbour and that he tried to hide a gun in their snowman- purely in the interests of research, fortunately. When Kyle turns out to be a lonely man on a book deadline with a sad family history, Lexi takes him on as a Christmas project; healing the problems with his father and brothers, and helping him regain his Christmas spirit. It’s a cute little love story, with interesting characters.

Santa Maybe – Scarlett Bailey

Saving the best for last- this one’s a little longer, at least two hours worth, and highly original. Thirty-ish Amy is woken on Christmas Eve by Santa- a very HOT Santa- and told it’s her turn for a wish to come true: He’s tasked with finding true love for her by the end of the night. As well as delivering all the gifts! There begins a night of travel over continents and time as they examine a past break up, her absent father, the rat-pack party scene in 1956, Bethlehem 2000 years ago, and snowy Lapland (which is not a lap-dancing club, contrary to the expectations of one elf). This book certainly defied my expectations with an original Santa mythology, unusual elves, and the aforementioned young Santa. This book is unusual fun, with some nice banter between the leads, as well as the minor characters.

Sorry, doesn’t seem to be available from Amazon US, but if you can get it from Amazon UK for £1.28, don’t miss it.

Watch Over Me- Daniela Sacerdoti

Eilidh has lost her unborn child and her faithless husband, but is more affected by the former. Worn down by IVF attempts and let down by the rest of her family, she chooses to escape to an aunt in a in a remote Scottish village where she has a fresh start.  Jamie, her childhood friend, is the village blacksmith-turned-artist, raising his small daughter alone.   This touching tale is about finding family and home, in any form, with a little well-intentioned assistance from beyond the grave.

Kooks for your Kindle?– No exaggerated stereotypes here, just a varied selection of real life, well written characters.  Eilidh’s own family are sadly unsupportive and tactless, bordering on cruel at times.  Fortunately most characters in her new life are both interesting and warm.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Eilidh could be forgiven for going into a six month self-pity slump, instead she soldiers on and carves a new life for herself.  It really wouldn’t be possible to criticise a character for a little wallowing and low self esteem after being worn down for years by both an unfaithful husband and a baby tragedy.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– Most people would balk at the thought of living in the middle of nowhere with an aging population and limited shopping, but somehow the author makes it an appealing notion.  The highland village of close-knit, welcoming folk seems a lot warmer than the wintry weather present in the story.

Nookie for your Nook?– Nothing salacious, could be recommended to the Mother-in-law.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Tricky to categorise this one, falling somewhere between ‘Frothy with substance’ and ‘Much more substantial’ on the scale. Slightly too serious for the former, and too easily consumed for the other! The minor ghostly elements fit well with an otherwise real-world story and help with the narrative.  A magical, heartwarming tale of healing after heartbreak.  An absolute bargain too!

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:
Amazon for only 85p and WHSmith for 98p.
Amazon for only 99c$1.44 from eBook, Kobo for $1.44
Kobo for $1.44

Three Wishes- Stephanie Bond

I found this author while searching for cheap eBooks, and uncovered a goldmine by a very prolific lady. Ladden the antiques dealer acquires a mysterious carpet along with a lamp. Not long after this a strange man seems to make things happen for Ladden and his favourite customer Jasmine. Unfortunately Jasmine is already involved with a prominent local figure up for re-election. Three Wishes is one of her shorter books and has a light-hearted supernatural element, which together give the impression of a vacation read. A little suspension of belief never did anyone any harm and it’s a sweet story.

Nookie for your Nook?– Yes, it’s fair to say your sunglasses will steam up by the end of the book.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Other than the two leads and the crack-pot bestower of the titular wishes, there are few other characters, but all with their part to play.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– The male and female leads share the book equally, and while our heroine Jasmine is a little bit timid and similar to the leading lady in Almost a Family, her male counterpart has more to do and is more thoroughly depicted.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The main theme explored is family, he has a large close one and she has none.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Places firmly at the frothy end of the scale, not overly memorable, but a pleasant, fun read. Short and sweet! Recommended for summer holidays.

Frothy Ranking: 3/5 cocktails.

Only 77p on Amazon UK, or 99c at Amazon US.

Ten Years On – Alice Peterson

It couldn’t get any worse for Becca, her husband has been killed in an accident and she subsequently discovers she’s pregnant. In a reluctant backwards move, she moves in with her parents for the duration of her pregnancy. Back in her hometown, she discovers a former college friend of both her and her late husband, leading her to face the events of their past before she can contemplate her future. Despite this, the book is not at all morbid, only poignant, positive and a good medium sized read.

It’s nicely structured for the main part, interspersed with flashbacks revealing the mystery of the conflict of the two leads. Although the book plays out to the expected conclusion, there are some unpredictable hurdles.

Nookie for your Nook?– Not steamy at all, but plenty of love.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Many supporting characters, well depicted and a wide selection, although some seemed overly similar to those in her previous book Monday to Friday Man.

The Bella-Swan-Pitifully-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Becca is reasonably self-sufficient, despite her dire circumstances.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The insight into the world of wine is unexpectedly interesting, but other than that, the characters are the heartwarming setting. There is one minor supernatural element, which might sound out of place, but it fits.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Well written, not totally frothy but easily read. The time jump near the end doesn’t quite seem to work, it’s a little jarring, but doesn’t detract from the overall verdict. Good satistfying character development.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails

UK: Kindle book currently £2.99 on Amazon UK, also on ebook for £5.64 at WHSmith, or paperback at Waterstones for £4.89.

US: Not currently available as a Kindle read through Amazon.com, but can be found at Ebooks for $9.99, Kobobooks US and Kobo Canada for $7.99.