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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

Milly Johnson – The Wedding Dress

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I decided to read this as it combines my favourite author with my current occupation – weddings!

Unfortunately, I kind of wish I hadn’t read the set of three short stories. It carries on from White Wedding, and although I wanted to know more about the characters when I finished reading that, I think this book was a little bit of a disappointment.

Not in writing, Milly Johnson doesn’t disappoint like that, just that the three short stories were really short, and I finished each of them feeling a little rushed and still hoping for more. I’d hoped that the stories would give me a bit of closure, but I kind of felt deflated. It would have been nice if each story was longer, or just a little more fleshed out, I think this would have made me much happier.

My main problem however, was in the editing of the book, there were a fair few obvious mistakes that left the book feeling less than professional. I’d love to be an editor, getting paid to read books (yes, I’m sure there’s more to it than that), but when a wrong person’s name is used, it just leaps off the page at you (or at least it does to me).

For a 99p ebook, it wasn’t bad, just not what I was expecting!

Milly Johnson – The Barn on Half Moon Hill

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The Barn on Half Moon Hill is a 99p e-book that Milly wrote to raise money for Claire Throssell, a woman whose children tragically died in a fire started by their dad. There’s a fundraising page if you want to read more.

I went into the book knowing it was only short (85 pages), and that I was probably going to finish up yearning for more (as always with a Milly book), and I wasn’t wrong. When I got to the last page, I was dying for it to go on further, but maybe there’s more of a story to be told, who knows?

Cariad Williams has been writing to movie star Franco Mezzaluna (half moon, geddit?) since she was a small girl, but he’s never written back to her. She’s convinced that he isn’t getting the letters, but she can’t stop writing. She’s told her obnoxious flatmates that he is her boyfriend (not that they really believe her), but the story looks like it will unravel when it’s announced that he’s going to open the new attraction at Winterworld, the Christmas theme park where Cariad works.

She writes one desperate last letter to him, before her mind goes into overdrive thinking of how she can get away from the terminal embarrassment that’s bound to be coming her way when her flatmates are finally proved right that she was lying.

But little did she know that Franco has been reading and saving all her letters, they’ve been like a lifeline to him. And there’s a reason he hasn’t written back to her, one that nobody knows. So when Franco arrives at Winterworld and he knows how she is, Cariad is able to spend one splendid day with the man of her dreams. And as they both reveal secrets about themselves that no-one else knows, it soon becomes obvious why these two people were fated to meet.

As I said at the start of this post, I was dying for more when I turned the last page, but I understand why this was only a short story. I can only hope that Milly might give us a sequel so we can spend more time with Cariad and Franco. A lovely, heart-warming and uplifting book whose only fault is that there aren’t enough pages!

Milly Johnson – Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage

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IMG_20160623_145804I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages, and it finally came out last Thursday. And for the first time, I went to meet Milly Johnson to get my copy signed! I was the second person in the queue and so excited to meet her, and she was just as lovely as I thought she would be!

We start the book with Viv, driving into a lovely (albeit extremely foggy) village called Ironmist, looking for her new job at Wildflower Cottage, an animal sanctuary. Viv is a very mysterious character, we find out that she doesn’t like animals, so it’s weird that she’d accept such a low-paying job in the sanctuary, even if it is just an admin job. To begin with, we’re left completely in the dark as to her true motives for being in Ironmist, and she remains an elusive character until much further through the book.

When Viv arrives at the cottage, she meets a lovely lady called Geraldine, who is completely attached to the cottage, but also seems to have secrets of her own. And she hears all about the owner of the sanctuary Heath, imagining him as a grumpy curmudgeonly old man. And it turns out that while she might have got the personality right, he’s most definitely not old, he’s a gorgeous young man, and it’s only his stroppy personality that stops Viv from falling head over heels for him at first sight. Well, that and whatever is her actual reason for coming to Ironmist. It doesn’t seem like she’s set on putting down roots here, just get what she wants and leave.

As well as Viv, we also follow the lives of Viv’s mum Stel and her group of friends, who call themselves the Old Spice Girls. Stel is a hopeless romantic, seeming to fall instantly in love with anyone who pays her attention, no matter how bad for her they turn out to be. But when she falls for Ian, the gardener at the hospice she works for, it looks like her luck has changed, he seems perfect!

But one thing we learn from Stel and her group of friends is that you might think that someone’s life is perfect, but you can only see what they let you see, and you don’t know what they’ve been through to get to the life they’re living now. As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Everyone has secrets and it’s up to them when they choose to share them, all you can do is be a good friend until they’re ready.

I found this book completely gripping, full of romance, mystery, suspense, drama, friendship and of course, a gorgeous location! If I wasn’t on so many painkillers at the moment after my recent hospital stay and still falling asleep all the time, I would have devoured this book in one sitting!

I’d definitely recommend this book to any Milly fans, and anyone that loves a romance with a twist, it was a lovely, lovely book, probably my favourite Milly book so far!

My favourite quote came from the first page of the book, it really struck a chord with me:

“It looked both beautiful and weird; but then weird was good sometimes.”

Review: Milly Johnson – White Wedding

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Milly Johnson - White WeddingWell it’s been a long time since I started reading this book, over six weeks in fact. But I’ll blame that on Game of Thrones since this book was abandoned in my bedside drawer while I went on a fantasy epic.

But after finishing Game of Thrones, and realising that I was going to a wedding last weekend, what a perfect time to pick this up again. Except not really, since I was hoping for a beautiful wedding to get me in the mood and nothing seemed to go right for these poor three girls.

Pretty much straight away you get a good idea of the personalities of the three ladies and where you think their story is heading. And although I may have been right in all three instances, there were some twists and turns along the way to keep it interesting.

I did find it hard to feel any empathy for either Max or Violet. I felt a connection to Bel, I really liked that character. But Violet was a bit wet for my liking (although understandably so) and Max was just way too stuck up and out there to be someone that I would like. But even though I couldn’t feel for the characters, I still couldn’t wait to read more about them to find out if I was right about their happy endings.

I did find this a very easy read, nothing too taxing for my poor brain, which was just what I needed after GoT. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite of Milly’s books, although I think I did it a disservice by reading it in two parts such a long time from each other, so maybe a re-read would make me feel better about the experience. Although with the length of my to-read pile, that isn’t coming any time soon!

3/5

Review: Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner

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Milly Johnson - The Teashop on the CornerI’ve loved Milly Johnson ever since I first read The Yorkshire Pudding Club in a random set of books ordered from The Book People, and I can’t see that love diminishing any time soon, quite the opposite in fact! I could honestly read Milly’s books all day every day, although my poor to-read shelf wouldn’t be very happy about it if I did!

I read a lot of tweets in the build up to the book launch, which ramped up my excitement for the new book. I would have loved to make it to the actual launch event, but sadly I had to work. Next time, I’ll be there no matter what!

I knew just from the title of the book that it was going to combine two of my favourite things: books and tea, but the teashop sounded more delightful than I could have imagined; with all the lovely classic book themed stationery on sale, it sounded like my idea of heaven! If it actually existed I don’t think I’d ever want to leave, and that’s without meeting the lovely owner and her patrons who very quickly become treasured friends.

The book had everything I wanted from a book; happiness, romance, surprise and an (eventual) happy ending. Of course the happy parts wouldn’t be quite so happy if there weren’t sad parts to balance them out (after all, nobody has a perfect life), and this book contained plenty of that too. Each character is battling some demons in their life, things that have left their life in turmoil and in need of a fresh start. And some seem to be battling things that they’re not ready to talk about yet, although in true-to-life style, nothing can stay secret forever and facing up to the truth comes sooner than expected.

I wish I’d saved the final chapters of the book until I got home curled up with a cup of tea, rather than reading it at my desk on my lunch break at work and trying to hold in the tears. I felt a little emotionally battered at the end, put through a wringer and spat out the other side.

Milly has a knack of writing characters that I can instantly relate to. Not because I’ve been through the same things that they have, but because their life and their situations are written so intricately that you feel like you know each and every one of them personally.

I also love the fact that Milly is from Yorkshire and proud (just like me), and she uses Yorkshire front and centre in her books, unlike some authors who pander to the city-masses and set their books in London. Yorkshire is such a beautiful place, why would you want not want to use it as a backdrop for such a fantastic story?! It definitely wouldn’t have been the same if it had been set in a big city, the Yorkshire village backdrop is perfect for the characters who converge in the teashop.

Usually when a book is written from more than one perspective, I have characters that I prefer to read, and sometimes a character who I tend to read more quickly because I just want to get back to the others, but I didn’t find that at all, each character had something in them that made me want to get to know them more. As I said before, I really wish that the teashop existed, although if it did I’d be bankrupt within weeks with all the lovely book related items that are on sale!

I’m probably gushing a bit too much now and I should probably stop, but I have nothing but good things to say about Milly Johnson and her latest book. Time to dig up the back-catalogue and pick up the few books that I have left to read!

5/5

 

Review: Milly Johnson – Here Come The Boys

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Milly Johnson - Here Come The BoysOh how I wish this book had been longer. It was released a couple of weeks ago as a short story ebook in the run up to Milly’s new book which is released very soon.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad book by Milly Johnson, and this one was no exception. I love her style of writing, I love the fact that she’s a Yorkshire lass and brings Yorkshire into her books, and I love the characters that she creates.

This book was only 100 pages long, but I feel like it could have been three times as long and been even more amazing, it would have been the perfect summer holiday read. As it was, I read it in less than an hour.

I really hope that the characters are developed further for a full book, as I loved the eventual chemistry between the two. I feel that they could be a right pair, perfect for a full length book of their exploits, particularly how Selina manages to get rid of Zander and move on with her life like Angie always thought she had.

I really can’t wait for Milly’s new book to come out. I still have a couple of her books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet and I can see them moving to the top of my ‘to-read’ pile, reading perfection!

5/5

Review: Milly Johnson – A Spring Affair

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20131214-122735.jpgI’m a self confessed lover of Milly Johnson. What’s not to like, a down to earth Yorkshire lass who writes fantastic books. I’ve actually never read her spring/summer/autumn/winter books, so when I was at Barter Books in Alnwick and I saw the Spring and Autumn ones, I couldn’t resist. I’ll have to hunt down the Summer and Winter ones very very soon!

The story begins with lovely Lou Winters in a dentist’s waiting room. She picks up an old dog-eared magazine and stumbles across an article about clearing the clutter. It hits her in a rather strange way, and she decides that she’s going to hire a skip and get rid of all the stuff that has accumulated in her house during her marriage to the tyrannical Phil. To call him a control freak would be an understatement, constantly playing games to undermine Lou’s self esteem and make her feel worthless, so that in turn she feels grateful to have him as a husband.

But when the skip turns up at her door, so does a bounding great dog called Clooney, along with his handsome rugged owner, Tom Broom. Lou falls for him instantly, but she’s still loyal to Phil, so nothing happens except for a great deal of embarrassment on Lou’s part.

All the clearing out that Lou is doing has an impact in other areas of her life too. For a start, the physical exertion of lugging things down from the attic and up from the cellar gets her in the best shape of her life. She starts to thing about how she needs to clear out her life, and not just her home. A chance encounter with her old friend Deb brings back up plans they had to open a coffee shop together, but their relationship was torn apart a few years ago, for reasons I won’t divulge here to spoil the plot, so can they reconcile their hopes and dreams once more? Or will history repeat itself once again?

I absolutely loved the way that this book was written. A lot of books of this genre tend to have one chapter of Lou, one chapter of Phil, one Tom, then one Deb, etc. etc. I find that this can sometimes get a bit in the way of the flow of the book because you find yourself broken off at what seems like the most inopportune moments. But with this book, the switchover of characters wasn’t necessarily at the start of a chapter, and it just seemed to flow really naturally. I loved the way that we didn’t just get the story from Lou’s point of view, but we could also see what a piece of work Phil was, in his own words. And boy, is he a piece of work. I’ll not go any further now, because I really would suggest that you get yourself a copy of this book and devour it in the same way that I did!

5/5

Review: Milly Johnson – It’s Raining Men

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Milly Johnson - It's Raining MenIt’s been some time since I last read a Milly Johnson book, but I recently started following her on Twitter and I found out that her latest book came out on the 1st August (with a launch at Meadowhall which I really wish I could have gone to). I’d usually wait and go out to buy it in paperback, but this weekend the kindle version was discounted to 99p on Amazon, so I decided to buy it there and then and cracked on with reading it.

I had to seriously slow myself down to stop from staying up until 3am and reading the entire thing in one go. The storyline of the book initially seemed to be quite predictable, three best friends all having relationship problems go on holiday and meet three brothers, all differently charming (well sort of, in a way), and lo and behold, they all fall in love and live happily ever after.

But I forgot that this was Milly Johnson I was reading, and she’s definitely not predictable. Every chapter had a new surprise waiting for you, which is partly the reason I couldn’t stop reading. And the strange character of Raine, who is not quite the lovely old lady that you initially think, created a lovely fairytale element to the story which was unbelievable at first but then brought everything together perfectly.

I was shocked when at (what I thought was) the end, Lara, Clare and May all leave Ren Dullem and it seems like everything you wished would happen has been left behind. But then I turned the page (or rather, pressed the screen), and there were 3 more chapters left!

The town of Ren Dullem (Reine de la Mer) sounded like the perfect place to go on holiday, a lovely Yorkshire seaside town, if a little strange, with hardly any women and shunning anyone from the ‘outside world’. And the house they stayed in with the hidden underwater lagoon sounded like perfection. If only it was real, I would be staying there like a shot!

I have to say, the end of the book was everything I hoped it would be, although not what I imagined would actually happen. I think the book would make a perfect film, and I really hope that there will be a sequel!! Time to dig out my old Milly Johnson books for a re-read!

5/5