Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara

download Synopsis: Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!

She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.

Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most.

It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…

My rating: 4/5

My review: I love Ali McNamara books but have to say I actually started this book twice and put it down. It has a little bit of a slow start and I think that was my issue initially. However, putting it down and coming back to it was the best thing to do. Once I came back to it I started again and it was an easy read. I think I needed to be in the right frame of mind (anyone else get that?).

Amelia is a single mum who is struggling to make ends meet. She receives a  call from a solicitor who tells her that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Castle by the sea. When she finally realises this is an opportunity she needs to take she finally makes the move and her and her son Charlie take the chance and move to Chesterford Castle.

The additional characters that appear in this story absolutely make it and they include Dorothy and Arthur who live there as Castle staff along with Joey and Tiffany. As Amelia and Charlie settle, Amelia begins to realise that living in the castle although great, also comes with the responsibility of ensuring the castle stays in tip top shape and that people still come to visit.

As a reader you are definitely taken along for the journey and although there is also a ‘ghost’ element to this story (not normally something I like) it was done fantastically and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tom arrives at the castle and becomes the restorer as well as builders who start t covert outbuildings and as time goes on more and more things start to happen which cause Amelia to wonder whether she has made the right choice.

This story although slow to start (for me anyway) ended up being a book I thoroughly enjoyed. Although it seems to be a slight step away from what McNamara normally does it still has her signature style of writing and characters you love. In the end I wondered why I had waited so long to read this and would definitely recommend.

The Summer Of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

51ob7EeMlZL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_Synopsis: One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel. Continue reading

Publication List – Ali McNamara

  1. From Notting Hill with Love… Actually (2010) Actually #1
  2. Breakfast at Darcy’s (2011)
  3. From Notting Hill to New York . . . Actually (2012) Actually #2
  4. Step Back in Time (2013)
  5. From Notting Hill with Four Weddings . . . Actually (2014) Actually #3
  6. The Little Flower Shop by the Sea (2015)
  7. Letters from Lighthouse Cottage (2016)
  8. The Summer of Serendipity (2017)
  9. Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van (2018)
  10. Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay (2019)
  11. Kate and Clara’s Curious Cornish Craft Shop (due July 2020)

Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van by Ali McNamara

Synopsis: When Ana inherits a broken-down camper van from her best friend, she takes the chance for a quick trip to Cornwall – some sea air and fish and chips on the beach is just the tonic she needs.

But St Felix has bigger plans for Ana. She discovers a series of unsent postcards, dating back to the 1950s, hidden in the upholstery of the van. Ana knows that it’s a sign: she’ll make sure that the messages reach the person that they were meant for. And as the broken-down van is restored to gleaming health, so Ana begins to find her way back to happiness.

Kat’s Rating: 5/5 Continue reading

Letters From Lighthouse Cottage by Ali McNamara

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Synopsis: The sun is shining in the quiet little seaside town of Sandybridge. Sandybridge is the perfect English seaside town: home to gift shops, tea rooms and a fabulous fish and chip shop. And it’s home to Grace – although right now, she’s not too happy about it.

Grace grew up in Sandybridge, helping her parents sort junk from vintage treasures, but she always longed to escape to a bigger world. And she made it, travelling the world for her job, falling in love and starting a family. So why is she back in the tiny seaside town she’d long left behind, hanging out with Charlie, the boy who became her best friend when they were teenagers?

It turns out that travelling the world may not have been exactly what Grace needed to do. Perhaps everything she wanted has always been at home – after all, they do say that’s where the heart is…

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: I absolutely love Ali McNamara books and although I really enjoyed this one it didn’t have the same pull for me as her previous work due to one main reason which will be explained further down. Grace is the main character and we meet her as a teenager in the 1980’s. The book is set out in time periods and I must say that first section of being a teenager in the 80s resonated with me and I fell in love with the character Grace. Living in Sandybridge which is a quiet town is hard on the shy teenager but she makes friends with Charlie and Danny.

The book continues on and we see Grace grow up, become an adult and finally become a married woman with a child. What we also get to see is the progression of not only Grace but Charlie and Danny too. It was such a wonderful story to read and I loved the fact that you got to share all three of their journeys. It certainly has a stark undercurrent to this tale, one that shows that you never know what your life has in store for you.

Overall by the time I got to the end of the book I realised that although I loved this, the one element of the story which ruined it for me was the source of Grace’s advice! That’s all I can say without plot spoiling, but I thought it was a little bit too far fetched for it to settle with me. That aside Ali McNamara has once again written a fantastic book, albeit one with a little less humour than her previous works which I had to say I missed. A great read and I will as always look forward to her next one.

The Little Flower Shop by The Sea by Ali McNamara

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Synopsis: The blossom is out in the little Cornish harbour town of St Felix. But Poppy Carmichael’s spirits aren’t lifted by the pretty West Country spring. Inheriting her grandmother’s flower shop has forced her to return to Cornwall, a place that holds too many memories.

Poppy is determined to do her best for the sake of her adored grandmother, but she struggles with the responsibility of the more-shabby-than-chic shop. And with the added complication of Jake, the gruff but gorgeous local flower grower, Poppy is very tempted to run away… The pretty little town has a few surprises in store for Poppy. With new friends to help her and romance blooming, it’s time for Poppy to open her heart to St Felix and to the special magic of a little flower shop by the sea!

Kat’s Rating: 5/5 Continue reading

From Notting Hill With Four Weddings Actually by Ali McNamara

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My Rating: 5/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Released 23.10.14

Synopsis: Movie addict Scarlett O’Brien is finally living the jet-setting life she’s dreamed of – but it all hangs by a shiny, golden thread.

Flying between London and New York, running two businesses, planning her wedding to handsome fiancé, Sean, with best friends Oscar and Maddie – life couldn’t be better.

But then Scarlett meets paparazzi darling, Gabriella Romero, and life suddenly becomes even more extravagant and glamorous. As she begins to experience the other side to being rich and famous, it’s not only Scarlett’s perfect wedding that’s put in jeopardy, but her whole world. 

 **Please note if you would like to read this series in order, please don’t continue with my review as it will inevitably contain spoilers**

Continue reading

From Notting Hill With Love..Actually by Ali McNamara

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My Rating: 4/5

Having never read any of Ali McNamara’s books I had no idea of what to expect. When I read the synopsis and saw some of the comments left I started to look forward to it immensely. Something I should clarify having now read this book though. The book is described as an endearing and romantic fun read. That’s exactly what it is and it’s frustrating when people leave negative reviews because of this. You should always know the sort of book you are about to pick up and that description is perfect for it.

Scarlett our main character is almost obsessed with the movies. She loves all films but romantic comedies are her thing. Her fiancé David is sensible and caring but that’s where it ends. As soon as I started reading I just fell in love with Scarlett. Yes she is slightly ditzy and has her head in the clouds more often than not, but she is very endearing. Her fiancé …is the most boring character I have read about in a while and my empathy was firmly with Scarlett when she compared him to some of her movie idols.

The movie theme is what really made this book and the fact that the films and certain well known quotes are used from start to finish gave it that extra bit of magic. Scarlett also seems to have an extremely bad habit of causing havoc and mayhem wherever she goes. When Scarlett is given the opportunity to house-sit for a friend in Notting Hill she jumps at the chance. With her house-sitting duties comes a whole heap of new friends as well as an annoyingly handsome next-door neighbour.

Now I know that some people may write this book off as being predictable and far too fluffy and romantic, but I say don’t knock it until you tried it. After all Rom-Com films make millions because people sometimes want the predictable fairy tale. This book was a sheer joy to read and took me completely away from reality. It was like my favourite Rom-Com wrapped up in a book. I loved it so much I immediately picked up the second book featuring Scarlett (and boy was I glad I did!). If you want a book which transports you away from the dreary day to day chores, pick this one up. You will be transported to the madcap world of Scarlett and it’s fun from start to finish.

From Notting Hill to New York…Actually by Ali McNamara

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My Rating: 5/5

Having never read Ali McNamara’s book entitled From Notting Hill with Love Actually, I immediately picked up this book which is the second one featuring Scarlett O’Brien. Scarlett O’Brien is a complete addict when it comes to movies, especially the romantic ones. She decides that what she needs is a holiday so decides to visit her father in New York and takes along her best friend Oscar. As soon as she hits US soil you just know that her trip to New York is going to be bedlam.

The first book in the series features Scarlett and her family and friends and I absolutely loved it. However, not wanting to give away any spoilers all I will say is that after the last book it’s clear that nothing is straightforward when it comes to Scarlett. While she is visiting all the big attractions in New York she runs into Jamie and Max, a TV reporter and his cameraman. Other than the fact the Jamie and her seem to both love films, she can’t understand why she has a sudden connection with him. Especially since she is so in love with her boyfriend?

Along with Oscar, Scarlett and her new friends Jamie and Max seem to get themselves into an awful lot of mischief. There are lots of story threads going on in this book which certainly keeps you interested but for me the winning factor was the characters. Although I really enjoyed the first book I enjoyed this one much more. Oscar is hilarious and I had a firm picture of him from the moment I picked this book up. Scarlett’s father, Sean, Jamie, Max, they all added that little something to the story and by the halfway mark I actually felt like I knew these characters inside out.

If you haven’t read the first book featuring Scarlett then it’s not a problem as Ali McNamara gives you enough background. However, I would highly recommend reading it because it gives you an idea of just how crazy Scarlett is. As with the first book it took me no time at all to finish this book and was pretty gutted when I finished it. I just love the fact that you are transported away from day to day life with Scarlett and her friends. This book won’t be for everybody but for me it was an absolute winner. I can’t wait to start reading all of McNamara’s other books.