Shiver by Allie Reynolds / Blog Tour

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

 

 

Publisher: Headline 55707640. sy475

Publishing Date: 21st January 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.

How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.

When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.

The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.

In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

Rating: five-stars

 

Milla accepts the invitation to reunion in the French Alp, thinking it comes from one of her former friends – ten years ago they were all there, in Le Rocher, training and preparing for the British Open competition in snowboarding. She hopes to spend the weekend catching up with Curtis, Brent, Heather and Dale. Not with Saskia – as she went missing those ten years ago and her body has never been found, and not with Odette, who has an awful accident during the competition and ended up a quadriplegic. When they arrive to the resort at the top of the mountain, it turns out that it’s almost stranded – there is nobody there, there is no staff, it’s dark and deserted and the lift stopped working. The „icebreaker“ game goes awry when they realize someone knows their secrets and from then the things go out of hand – they know they’re trapped. Tension rise when they start to ask each other who has invited them there? Who can you trust? What really happened to Saskia? Can it be that she… lives?

The story is told in alternating timeliness and I find it a great idea – I couldn’t wait to see what happened in the past and then I couldn’t wait to see what is happening in the present. Actually, it was the first book in a very, very long time where I wanted to sneak a peek at the end, to see who did it – because why they did it, this I could understand, really. We get to know the group now, ten years after falling apart when one of the group members mysteriously disappeared and has never been found. The characters haven’t seen each other after that and nobody knows how this re – union is going to turn out, but I think nobody guessed what’s really going to happen, starting with their mobiles going awol and the ski lift not working. It’s so cleverly constructed and you can see that the author knows what she’s writing about, that the snowboarding world is close to her heart. And really – I will never again watch skateboarding competitions in the same way, knowing what really happens behind the scenes.

The characters. Oh my. None of the characters were actually so completely likeable – all of them had flaws and while flaws have made them this bit rougher and authentic, they all made many very dubious and immoral decisions. Actually, the female characters were, in my opinion, portrayed worse as the male characters, and I don’t mean their descriptions and development because they were absolutely brilliant, but I mean their personalities. While the boys/men were mostly fair players, the girls were awful. Really. You couldn’t trust them, you couldn’t leave them alone in each other’s company, the catfight was overwhelming and they simply played dirty. It pained me a little to see this, because, you know, sisterhood, we should support each other etc but competition probably is in our blood, we can’t help it – and Allie Reynolds, consciously or unwittingly, has brilliantly captured all of this. I’ll be honest – I couldn’t stand Saskia so I really didn’t feel sorry after her disappearance; however I must not be a monster as I started to feel sorry for her after reading what has really happened. Ouch. Still, I couldn’t help thinking that she deserved it – I hope it doesn’t make me a bad person. Actually, let’s be honest, all of the characters had their reasons to want Saskia gone, right?
The author slowly peeled off all the layers of this story, keeping us guessing, deducing and wondering – all of characters had secrets that they kept for 10 years and eventually they are forced to tell the truth – I love the complexity of this plot and I really liked the curvy way that led to the reveal. Saskia going missing seemed to haunt the characters, but it also looks like she has haunted them when she was present as well. There is always a person like Saskia in the group, plotting, dishonest, not playing fair but with huge personality and people attracted to her like bees to honey.

Standing ovation to the author for the way she has chosen her main protagonist, Milla. Yes, I admit, there were perhaps moments that I missed on a different point of view, but altogether I think it was a masterstroke in giving Milla free hand in telling the story – she was enigmatic, however I also wasn’t sure if I can completely trust her and in the end I was always on edge with her, wanting to believe her but not being completely sure I can – it turned out to be a perfect solution and way to tell this story. It was so easy to fell for Milla – ten years ago she dreamt of becoming a professional snowboarder and representing Britain internationally and you kept everything crossed for this young, naive and full of hope girl who had to fight for her dream, not having the resources and support. But the more you got to know her you could see there is the darker side of Milla, that there is so much more to her than meet eye at first, and I loved this mix.

There were great dynamics between the group and their friendship/not friendship was really well captured. There was easiness and honesty in their relationships and they behaved like real young people. It was interesting to see the difference between them and how they changed in those 10 years, how Saskia’s disappearance changed them and their lives.

I loved how the author used the nature, environment and setting to play a character in the book as well, making it so chilling and also atmospheric.The more you read, the more addictive the book becomes and you won’t be able to put it down. The short chapters do help – they are sharp, straight to the point and leaving you on a cliffhanger – absolutely brilliant. The pace was quick and the tension was there, until there came a moment that the story slowed down a bit somewhere in the middle but it was a minor slip and nothing that we have to worry about as the book quickly returns to its fast pace filled with action.

You have everything in this book: a group of people who used to be friends, keeping secrets, a deserted resort high on a mountain; tons of snow; no possibility to contact the outside world, what with the mobiles going missing asap; lights going off and on, doors that lock behind you, knives that go missing and the overwhelming atmosphere of being observed…
„Shiver“ was a brilliant debut novel, a captivating read that kept me on my tenterhooks and had me guessing all the time. It was really well plotted, intriguing and different and really well written, the author already has way with words. It is full of secrets, lies, competition and dark ambitions and simply everything works in this book. The author knows how to build suspense, really, I wasn’t able to put the book down. Highly recommended!

 

 

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Murder on the Menu by Fiona Leitch

 

Murder on the Menu by Fiona Leitch

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 55844446._sy475_

Publishing Date: 15th January 2021

Series: The Nosey Parker Mysteries #1

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 286

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Cozy Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The first book in a NEW cosy mystery series!
Still spinning from the hustle and bustle of city life, Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is glad to be back in the Cornish village she calls home. Having quit the Met Police in search of something less dangerous, the change of pace means she can finally start her dream catering company and raise her daughter, Daisy, somewhere safer.

But there’s nothing like having your first job back at home to be catering an ex-boyfriend’s wedding to remind you of just how small your village is. And when the bride, Cheryl, vanishes Jodie is drawn into the investigation, realising that life in the countryside might not be as quaint as she remembers…

With a missing bride on their hands, there is murder and mayhem around every corner but surely saving the day will be a piece of cake for this not-so-amateur sleuth?

The first book in the Murder on the Menu cosy mystery series. Can be read as a standalone. A humorous cosy mystery with a British female sleuth in a small village. Includes one of Jodie’s Tried and Tested Recipes! Written in British English. Mild profanity and peril.

Rating: four-stars

 

„Murder on the Menu“ is the first book in the Nosey Parker series. Nosey’s actual name is Jodie but, well, yes, she’s nosey, by nature. Recently divorced and having left her job as a sergeant in the Met Police, Jodie and her daughter return to Penstowan, where Jodie wants to start a new career as a caterer. However, already with her first catering job, things go awry – instead of wedding, there is a body in the car park and a missing bride. Jodie has promised her daughter to stay out of trouble, and she’s desperate to keep her promise, but… well… what can go wrong when she also starts to investigate? Especially as the DCI Withers is so annoying and doesn’t want to say a word about the case?

The book started absolutely promising and hilarious but then it slowed down a bit and started to drag on, feeling repetitive. In the middle part we can talk less about a natural humour as it felt a little too forced for my liking, as if the author has tried too much and it went wrong. However, altogether, I liked this book, it had a lovely setting and the comedy – error – style was so very enjoyable. I am actually already looking forward the rest of the series as it started so promising. There is some delicious food, murder or two, disappearance and lightness, a perfect recipe for a lovely cosy mystery.

The characters were so lively that I was expecting to raise my head and see them in my living room. They were well rounded and interesting and at the end I even warmed to DCI Withers – he has a soft side to him, no matter how hard he tries to hide it, so there. Jodie’s nosiness was exceptional, but she was also determined, loyal and truly funny and she really wanted to help – DCI Withers too, right? So when she finds herself needing to help her old friend, she does everything to prove his innocence, even if sometimes she annoys some of the officials. Yes, DCI Withers. I seem to mention DCI Withers often, don’t I? Oh well, there is a reason to it, believe me, mmmmmm (swooning a little). I adored the support circle around Jodie as well, all the background characters had her back and they themselves were a real joy to read about.

The writing style was very approachable and made for a quick read, flowing easily, also thanks to the witty banter but also the descriptions were really nice. The author has easily transported me into the characters’ world and to the Cornish countryside – I think she has this rare talent to showing rather than telling, hope you know what I mean! The plots intertwined seamlessly and led to a satisfying end. I liked how the author kept the mystery going, now and then adding a new body and red herrings, keeping the pace right and questioning all the characters and I really didn’t know, till the end, who did what and why. There were twists and turns and unexpected curves, especially at the end, and the way Jodie was investigating was very entertaining.

Take a Chance on Me by Beth Moran

 

 

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 56300535._sy475_

Publishing Date: 4th February 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 356

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Meet Patrick Cooper – desperately down on his luck, and head-over-heels in unrequited love with his best friend Bridget.

Meet Bridget’s sister, Emma Donovan – eternally single maker-of-cakes for many a happy couple, whilst never making it down the aisle herself.

Emma has four younger sisters, all of whom are married or getting married, and an Italian mother who can’t understand what is ‘wrong’ with her eldest daughter, who seems to be stranded on the shelf. Despairing of her own ability to find a suitable husband, Emma agrees to be part of a compatibility project to get married at first sight.

Meanwhile Cooper is struggling to get over his crush on Bridget and seems destined to stay firmly on the shelf too. Perhaps it’s time his fate was taken out of his hands…

Is happily-ever-after just about daring to take a chance, or do you need some extra magic to make love last?

Join Beth Moran, Cooper and the Donovan sisters on this life-affirming and uplifting tale of love, family, friendship, and risking it all for happiness.

Rating: three-stars

 

„Take a Chance on Me“ introduces us to 5 Donovan sisters – 3 of them are married, one is about to get married, and Emma, the oldest one, is still single. She’s not desperate to tie the knot, however, eventually, after one date that went wrong too many, she agrees to blind marry a man in her sister’s neuroscience project. She doesn’t know the man, the man doesn’t know her, it is the Compatibility Test matched them together. And they should stay married for at least one year. She knows that there are so many things that can go wrong, but maybe, just maybe, could it potentially work?

I didn’t get quickly into the book, and it already was the first alarm bell as it has never happened with Beth Moran’s book before. I was confused with the subject, for a moment I thought it’s going to be some kind of a sci – fi story, to be honest, and till the end I didn’t warm to this idea, it didn’t sit with me so completely. What also bothered me was the huge number of characters – there were simply too many of them to follow because the book wanted to tell stories of them all and it was too much. I didn’t have a problem with the multiple points of view but I had a problem with the fact that there weren’t main characters in the end, the book didn’t know on whom it wants to focus – there were so many problems, subplots and threads and in the end all of them felt a bit too superficial – maybe focusing on one sister would be a better idea, and then writing another book about the other ones. Yes, I felt a little lost and uninspired, it all felt too choppy and not too well intertwined.

Beth Moran has already got me used to her brilliant characters. Sadly, this time, I didn’t feel like caring for any of the sisters. Not sure why but I couldn’t so completely got into their stories and into their heads. There are 5 of them and in the end I didn’t feel as if I knew them enough. Also, the author gives a lot of detail about them, their lives, challenges and their own families and it is really not easy to see what the main point of the book is. Emma is the oldest one and she’s not married, which seems to be a huge problem for her mother, especially as the youngest sister is just about to get married. Each of them have to face many obstacles and problems in their lives that are sometimes really heart – breaking, but they are always there for each other and in the end this is what counts. Mamma was sadly very annoying, though Papa Bear was a lovely character.

I have to say – sadly – that it was my least favourite book by this author. This one has, somehow, lost this magic and sparkle, it didn’t feel like reading Beth Moran’s book, it was sad. I was not so sold on the idea of this scientific experiment where you blindly agree to marry someone you have never met. But, despite all my problems, I stuck with the book, as I really love Beth Moran and her stories. In the end I started to appreciate the unique plot, although it was a bit too late to save the story. Nevertheless, the novel had it moments and one of the strongest messages is about family, about staying together no matter what. The „SisterApp“ was a brilliant idea and really, always when I read books that feature siblings in them I wish I had more than one sister – their antics and meddling in each other’s lives was so lovely written, there was this overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance and I liked it so much.

Three Single Wives by Gina LaManna

Publisher: Sphere 55888530._sy475_

Publishing Date: 7th January 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 

Synopsis:

THE GRIPPING NEW MYSTERY FROM THE USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

‘Twisty and entertaining’ HEAT
‘Keeps you hooked’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Divinely original’ PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

None of them came to book club with a plot to murder . . .

So when the discussion unexpectedly turns to the appropriate revenge for a philandering husband, nobody takes it seriously. It’s all hypothetical and anyway, what woman hasn’t dreamed about killing the man she loves occasionally? That doesn’t mean she’d actually do it.

But the very next day a man is dead.

And now three women have some explaining to do . . .

Rating: four-stars

„Three Single Wives“ is a mystery/thriller introducing us to Eliza, Anne and Penny, friends from a book club, and a murder. During one of their book club meetings, after one or two glasses of wine too many, they discuss ways of a perfect murder – how would they get rid of a cheating husband. Hypotheticaly, of course!
However, next morning, one of the women’s husband is found dead. Oops. What’s more, it turns out that all three of the friends have secrets, they told lies or have a motive to have killed him. It looks like the question is not why was he killed but which one of them did it. Or maybe all of them?

I was immediately drawn into the story. Immediately. The plot was intriguing and the narrative was interspersed with transcripted details of a court trial, and I must admit that those were probably the best bits, showing the real faces of the characters, showing them as they were: strong, not afraid, big – mouthed, clever and sharp, I simply loved their interactions with the lawyers. Also, we learn about their past and their backgrounds, about the way they became close friends and that they are hiding tons of secrets that are really dark and dirty! They were complex and well written and there comes a moment when you start to suspect all of them, not knowing who you can trust.

The characters were very strong personalities with their own distinctives voices, all different from each other.Eliza is the high flyer and the successful one, with great career in publishing and who loves his husband Roman. I think there was so much more to Eliza than she wanted to let us see and that there was a soft side of hers that she tried to keep hidden and this made her such an interesting and deep character. As well as the other ones, to be honest. Anne is Eliza’s best friend, even with those two leading such different lives, Anne staying at home and a mum to four children, her husband an LAPD detective. Penny Sands is the youngest one and comes from Iowa to LA hoping for her own American Dream to come true and risking everything for it to happen. So different, yet the same, and their paths eventually cross. And then boom, and someone is dead – killed.

It was a fast – paced and twisty mystery filled with mind – games and challenges. There is a lot happening in the story – the characters face many challenges, there are difficult circumstances to overcome such as affairs, betrayals, lies and blackmails. And the author really knows how to write such a story, keeping us in dark and suspense and adding many twists and turns on the way and you simply want to keep reading to see what’s going to happen. The writing style is flowing, it’s chatty and engaging and easy to follow yet the plot is really tight and make you all the time guess what has happened and who did it. I actually guessed the „who“ probably at the same moment as the character. So much to my detective skills. They’re non – existent. But also thanks to them, or rather thanks to their absence, I was absolutely taken by surprise and I enjoyed the end – it was unexpected, full of tension and actually very logic.

„Three Single Wives“ is a multi – layered story and Ginna LaManna really knows how to unpeel the layers. At certain points I truly suspected everyone, going back and forth with my suspicions. It was an entertaining, juicy, pacy and humorous mystery that kept me glued to the pages. It will leave you thinking that, yes, somebody was murdered, but no matter how flawed the characters, you will think they should get away with it, really. Thought – provoking and spicy, just what the doctor ordered, I really enjoyed this book. Recommended!

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 51qkbaxj-zl._sx346_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 7th January 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

 

Synopsis:

‘I want you to remember something, Nat. You’re small on the outside. But inside you’re as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won’t go far wrong in life.’

A compelling story perfect for fans of The Doll Factory, The Illumination of Ursula Flight and The Familiars.

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

Rating: five-stars

but-i-needmy-girls

„The Smallest Man“ is set in 1600’s England and follows the life of Nat Davey, a 10 – year – old boy who’s life is about to turn very special. Nat, you know, is small, yet he didn’t stopped dreaming of growing and being like a normal boy. However, he soon realises that it’s not possible and he starts to feel useless. His father also realises that and decides to sell Nat – to the highest bidder, as it turns out, despite Nat’s mother’s pleas and protests. Blessing in disguise, he finds himself in London, being a gift to Queen of England. Knowing better, Nat decides to do the best with his new life and slowly starts to form a friendship with the Queen, who is as lonely and misunderstood as Nat is. But times are turbulent and there is the threat of the civil war, as King’s politics are tearing the country apart. Where is Nat’s journey going to throw him? To the enemy’s territory or maybe it’s going to spare him?

Googling the painting the author talks about in her book made the whole reading experience even much more real and poignant. The look on Nat’s face (he’s going to stay Nat for me, sorry!) will stay with me for ever and it was that moment when I really relized, oh my, you were real. Nat, you see, was inspired by a real character – Jeffrey Hudson, court dwarf to Queen Henrietta Maria and there are two kinds of books telling us fictional stories about real characters – those that either absolutely pull it off or those that absolutely misfire. „The Smallest Man“ belongs to the first category where the author beautifully and in a very captivating way brought him back to life, telling a story filled with courage, sadness, bravery and hope. As there are not many information about Jeffrey Hudson, Nat is a work of fiction but I think Frances Quinn couldn’t create a better character.

The first part of the book, telling us the young Nat’s story, was, in my opinion, much better than the two other parts that focused more on him growing up and him falling in love. They were also brilliant, don’t get me wrong, and I simply adored the whole book, but somehow the author has so beautifully captured his younger years, it talked to me on many more levels and was, for me at least, much more interesting. Because Nat’s years as a child were so poignant and beautifully written. Seeing him realise that things that we normally take for granted are so often unavailable for him made my heart break but then he un – broke my heart again with taking life and matters in his hands and achieving this what seemed impossible. Seeing him standing up to bullies, seeing how honourable he was made me feel so proud for him. Also, Nat discovering that he is valued as a person was the most fantastic subplot of this story.

The book was wonderfully researched, filled with many details about the times it was set in. The author has brought the times to life again, describing the period of the English civil war, the conflict between Parliament and the King and it was a huge joy to read it. It was very vividly described and rich in details, especially the second half of the book that focused so strong on the civil war and Nat accompanying the Queen trying to obtain money, soldiers and equipment for the King.
But the book is not only Nat because the other characters had made the story living and breathing as well. They were fabulous, and no matter how background they were, they all had their own perosnalities and distinctive voices.

Starting this book I was prepared for it to be written in the language of 17th century but here I was for a little and nice surprise. The language used was rather modern , however it worked brilliantly and made the story even more readable. The writing style is refreshing, quick, captivating and sublime. The pace is so right, the story flows and – be warned – it’s not easy to put the book down. The author seamlessly merged facts with fiction and it’s really hard to forget that hugely it’s historical fiction.

I loved this book. I loved Nat and his determination to be accepted for what he was, for the way he was – stubborn, passionate and wise, for the fact that he was much more than just Queen’s dwarf and that he himself realised this – being clever and intelligent he quickly learnt things and soon realised the mind games of politics at the Royal Court. But I also adored Queen for seeing him as much more than only her dwarf and for giving him a chance, for listening to him. Yes, they both profited from each other’s company but I had a feeling that this also a real, genuine friendship between them, and respect. He was so pure, genuine and honest, our Nat, and really, whatever you do, let him enter your life, he’s going to leave a mark in your heart and you won’t be able to forget him. His narration and perspective are clear and strong like a church bell and it’s so easy to find yourself mesmerised, there is simply some kind of magic in his words.

This book was a perfect mix of historical fiction and authentic events and characters who jumps off the pages, taking you on a brilliant journey through the times and letting you into their lives. It was a story with difference, showing what’s really important – friendship, loyalty, staying true to yourself and looking beneath the surface. It’s about strength and bravery, about taking chances. I loved this book, I loved Nat and characters surrounding him. It’s an unforgettable book that will stay with me for long – my first read in 2021 and already one of the best I have ever read!

The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain

The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain

 

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 50707707._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st October 2020

Series: The Nigtingale Square #3

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

***The sparkling new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain!***

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her childhood dream of becoming a gardener ever since. When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start. But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya’s family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .

The Winter Garden  is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley and Sarah Morgan.

Rating: four-stars

 

Freya loves her job as a gardener, however after her best friend and mentor Eloise has died nothing is well anymore. Suddenly, after the country estate she works at and loves so much, has been taken over by Eloise’s greedy relative, Freya finds herself looking after a new job and a place to live. Once she’s lucky and quickly finds her new spot at Prosperous Place where she’s responsible for creating Winter Garden and then Winterfest to celebrate the festive season. She meets there amazing people who quickly become her friends, but not all of them… She and Finn seem to rub each other the wrong way – as they must work together for the garden, will they be able to overcome their differences?

“The Winter Garden“ is the third book in the Nightingale Square series but what is lovely is the fact that the characters from previous books play a huge part in this story as well, so it’s really like getting back with old friends. However, if you haven’t read the previous books, it’s also not a problem as there are new characters introduced to us and the book follows their lives and shenanigans as well. It introduces us to Freya who I really liked, though at the beginning she felt a little… meh. But then she gained her confidence again and she was like a different person, funny and sharp. Both Freya and Finn, another new character to the series, were so passionable about their jobs, though Finn, no matter how handsome, was annoying with his broody and moody approach, blowing hot and cold. It was really frustrating to see how they both kept jumping to conclusions instead of communicating with each other and the intervention was long overdue.

There was finally life in the characters and the banter between them was lively and realistic. There was a hidden depth to it that was surrounded by light humour. The descriptions were lovely, full of details but not overdone so that the book didn’t feel too wordy – thanks god! – but it just let me easily get into the story. I am not a gardener, I have two left hands when it comes to plants, planting, flowers – sadly – but I still enjoyed the descriptions of the garden and the brilliant ideas the characters seemed to bandy about. And there was this lovely festive feeling to it – I’ve read the book over Christmas time and there wasn’t a better read that could have kept me a company under my Christmas tree. Yes, there were moments that everything felt a bit too easy and the things looked as if they’ve solved them by themselves and the „bad“ characters were a bit overdrawn but it was still a nice, enjoyable read about new beginnings.

The author has for sure captured the community feeling, I’m not sure if sometimes it wouldn’t be too much for me personally, having people around me all the time and always being willing to take part in another project. I don’t know, did they feel obliged? Well, it was simply too fairy – tale, the fact that everybody were able to put their private lives on hold to take part in Luke’s new projects. But well, as long as they’re happy… And as much as I liked it, it was simply too perfect, so detached from real life, and the problems that from time to time arose felt superficial and really not important – but I’m guessing that was the premise of this story that simply wanted to let us escape for a few hours.

The story touches upon so many things – there is a new love, a little drama, creating a garden, crafting workshops, rescue dog, many, many Christmas markets with mulled wine and lovely ideas for presents, an overwhelming community feelings, new beginnings…, but the author has managed to brilliantly interweave all of the threads together, creating a heart – warming and relatable story. A lovely, Christmassy read.

How to Lose an Ex in Ten Days by Lottie Lucas

How to Lose an Ex in Ten Days by Lottie Lucas

 

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 54173312._sy475_

Publishing Date: 19th November 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For a fresh twist on How to Lose An Ex in Ten Days!
This funny, warm-hearted romantic comedy is perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk!

A family wedding, a new love, an ex with unfinished business…

With her sister’s wedding just days away and gorgeous Nate D’Angelo finally returning her long, lingering stares across the newsroom, things are slotting into place for journalist Belle Delphine. But suddenly her ex – the one who left her at the altar – is back and haunting her every step … literally!

With Ed on a supernatural mission from above Belle’s past clashes spectacularly with her present and everything starts going wrong. Now she’ll have just to ten days to lose her ex, save the wedding and win the man of her dreams!

Rating: two-stars

 

Belle Delphine is a 26 years old journalist. 6 years ago she was left at the altar and the sad true is that she has never recovered. She hasn’t dated since – actually, since it happened, she’s been living in denial, going through the motions, living together with her older sister and her best friend Tess. However, lately, there is something happening – she might have been developing feelings to her co – worker Nate but, of course, she doesn’t dare to ask him on a date.
But then Nate ask her on a date! Could it be beginning of something new and fresh for Belle? Maybe it could but then an unexpected encounter completely turns her entire world upside down.

So till around approximately half of the book it was a steady, a bit dragging on, average read. And then THIS happened. And I really absolutely didn’t know what to do with this THIS. Because, you know, well, the synopsis MIGHT HAVE hinted at something but THIS was so huge and honestly, until now I still don’t know what to do with it. You know, it was not a bad book, it was just a… book, a chick – lit, light – hearted and then THIS happened, and it didn’t impress me, to be honest. I mean, I like a story with a bit of magic in it, in the right dosis of course, but this what I got in „How to Lose an Ex in Ten Days“, well… I’ll be honest with you – I wouldn’t request this book if I knew what it was about.

I am also not sure what does the title want to tell us. Why in ten days? It sounded so promising, I loved this title, and the synopsis was also brilliant, and I was expecting something so exceptionally humorous and uplifting, and it’s probably my lost expectations that hurt me so much. But back to the title – yes, I admit, I must have missed something about those ten days as I’ve been skim – reading this book. Eventually. I truly wanted to give this story 3 stars but it wouldn’t be fair as I think I’ve read half of it. I’m sorry.

I couldn’t so completely got into the story. I had a feeling it doesn’t know what it wants to be and what’s the most important thing in it. The main character, Belle, was one of the most indecisive characters ever and I couldn’t warm to her, couldn’t get into her head, and not knowing what makes the character tick makes the relationship between me – the reader, and the character not easy. The only character that had personality and was a bit outstanding compared to the rest was Belle’s friend, Tess.

The romance aspect also didn’t work for me because there was actually no romance aspect! I mean, how can you go offended and in a huff with a girl not telling you something about her past after one date? ONE DATE? I mean, really? How unsecure, patronising and chauvinistic are you, Nate? This whole problem seemed much too forced and unrealistic, which made the whole reading experience forced and unrealistic. Apologies if it sounds harsh but that’s the way I felt when reading the story. I didn’t buy the relationships and was not invested in them – and I mean both Belle’s relationships. We really don’t know why she has agreed to marry Ed – we are told there is a history between them but that’s all, and it’s not enough. There was no chemistry between her and Nate, no closeness and trust, it was only a bit of flirting, furtive looks and tons of misunderstandings. Hello?

Nevertheless, do not feel put out by the cynic that has written this review (moi. Yes). There was a lot of potential in the writing and I liked the writing style and maybe it’s a case of „it’s not you (book), it’s me“, maybe I’m just not the right audience for this story. However, I’ve seen many reviews telling the same as me, so maybe it could serve as a hint for the publisher, that letting us know in the synopsis what we’re getting into would be a much better move, would be doing this book a favour. However, I really appreciated the author writing about forgiveness and grief, about trusting yourself and moving on from past.

Confessions of a Forty – Something F##k Up by Alexandra Potter

Confessions of a Forty – Something F##k Up by Alexandra Potter

Publisher: Macmillan 50359667

Publishing Date: 31st December 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 512

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

Nell Stevens’ life is a mess.

When her business goes bust and her fiancé with it, Nell’s happy ever after in California falls apart and she moves back to London to start over. But a lot has changed since she’s been gone. All her single friends are now married with children, sky-high rents force her to rent a room in a stranger’s house and in a world of perfect instagram lives, she feels like a f*ck up. Even worse, a forty-something f*ck-up.

But when she lands a job writing obituaries, Nell meets the fabulous Cricket, an eighty-something widow with challenges of her own, and they strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they begin to help each other heal their aching hearts, cope with the loss of the lives they had planned, and push each other into new adventures and unexpected joys.

Because Nell is determined. Next year things are going to be very different. It’s time to turn her life around.

A book for anyone who’s ever worried life isn’t going to plan, Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up by Alexandra Potter will make you laugh and it might even make you cry. But most importantly, it will remind you that you’re not alone, because we’re all in this together.

Time to fall in love with your life.

Rating: four-stars

Nell has it all, hasn’t she? At least she thought she had it all: gorgeous boyfriend, living in the sunny California, running a business together. But now she finds herself in the UK again, single, with no job and no place to stay. Moreover, all her friends are married now and having their own families, and even her younger brother is going to be a father! Where did it all go so wrong?
Nell gets a job writing obituaries and rents a room from Edward, who has a list of rules longer than his arm, and so she’s now flat – sharing in her forties. To tell that Nell has hit rock bottom wouldn’t be an understatement – but then Nell meets Cricket and slowly starts to realise that age is just a number and that perhaps not only this what’s left behind is perfect – maybe you should simply start appreciate what you have right now?

I am a forty – something… OK, not exactly a f##k up but sometimes I feel like this. I really felt this book is about me and Nell is talking about me and sometimes yes, I recognized myself in Nell. This book made me laugh out loud, laugh bitterly, nod my head with understanding, roll my eyes, generally speaking – totally and absolutely agree with Nell. She was brutally honest, telling things how they really are – they’re not always perfect but that’s life, so there, so simply make the most of it. There were moments that I thought Nell could be me or I could be Nell. I truly adored her character, she was normal and real and genuine, and even when a bit on the low side with her feelings she was still hilariously funny.
The group of Nell’s friends couldn’t have been better captured, the author has really got the essence of how it is to have your own family and what – different kind of problems, but still problems – life as being a part of it brings. It may seem that you have it all together and under control but whatever people tell you, don’t believe them! Really, those background characters have added so much depth and dry humour to this story.

It was totally different in style to Alexandra Potter’s previous books which I find brilliant and, I’d say, that this must be her best book yet. She has a great way with words and she brings the characters to life, giving them distinctive voices and personalities, and making them relatable and believable. Sadly, some parts of the book work only as a filler and I really could live without them, as they made the story drag on. But what confused me most was the end. I read it and thought, what the hell…? I think I know what the author wanted to achieve writing it like this, what was the message but it simply didn’t sit with me at all.

Nevertheless, “Confessions of a Forty – Something F##k Up” is an addictive, hilarious and brutally honest story with real characters. It’s a book that I truly needed in my life, it has lifted my spirits and showed me I am not alone! It’s light – hearted but with depth that I perhaps didn’t expect but all the more appreciated. And it taught me to make things how I want them, no regrets. It’s so very human, and probably this is why it feels so close to life and heart. Highly recommended!

The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin

The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin

 

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 55928524._sy475_

Publishing Date: 12th November 2020

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea #3

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.
They’re are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.
When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?

Rating: three-stars

 

Hannah Swan is an eco – consultant and her first assignement is to assess the green credentials of Crystal Waters Hotel in Porthgolow. Enter Noah, a freelancer, who’s there to help Hannah make a success of her first case. Their first meeting though is less than warm and now Hannah wonders how will they get along? Whatever, she’s determined to enjoy her time in Porthgolow, and there is also this niggling feeling that… perhaps… she has already visited this place as a child?

„The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas“ is the third in the Cornish Cream Tea series but you can read as a stand – alone. Next to characters that were already introduced to us in the previous books, there is also a new group. Hannah is passionate about all things green and so she loves her job as an eco – consultant and she’s determined to make Daniel’s hotel, Crystal Waters, as green as possible. Noah is a freelancer there to help Hannah with this project and I must admit that he has tested not only Hannah and her patience but also my own. This blowing hot and cold of him was annoying and not quickly understandable and his terse responses were truly out of place sometimes so no wonder that sometimes Hannah was afraid of saying anything. It took a lot of time to warm to him, to be honest.
The characters were well developed even though I had a feeling they are a bit too superficial – there weren’t surprises to them and I’d love them to be a bit more complex. Nevertheless, they fitted well in with the original ones.

The highlight of the book must have been the tea bus appearing – I love Gertie and it was lovely to see that she’s doing good and is still such an important point of Porthgolow. And of course food on offer there is absolutely extremelly mouth – watering and each time I read about the food festivals or food markets on the beach I wish I was there! It was also great to see Charlie and Daniel featuring on this story, to be honest I think they are really much more interesting than Hannah and Noah – well, at least their stories are flowing nicely.

But I had a huge problem with this book. As it was initially published as a four – parts series it felt like a never ending story – it dragged on and on and nothing was really happening there. I’d go so far and say that there was very little plot and it felt very forced. It makes me sad because I adore Cressida McLaughlin and she’s a great storyteller but this time the book simply didn’t deliver and was, honestly, annoying predictable. The author has tried, of course she has, but sometimes less is more and the subplots felt so forced and, sadly, they didn’t grip me.

Overall it was a nice, light and easy read. For sure it is so much needed escapism, uplifting and with lovely descriptions. It was full of warmth, with a bit of drama and mystery, lovely heart – warming and festive read and I am truly sad that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I’m going to. Nevertheless, it’s always a joy to read a new story by Cressida McLaughling and I am already looking toward her next offering.

No Room at the Little Cornish Inn by Nancy Barone

 

Publisher: Aria & Aries 55522991._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th November 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 250

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 

Synopsis:

Rosie Anderson was hoping to whisk her young son Danny away for a lovely Christmas with family, far from the hustle and bustle of her life in London. But then her boss at the head office – aka Susan the Sacker – suddenly assigns her to go in incognito and save a tiny inn in Cornwall from being closed permanently. Rosie doesn’t know why The Old Bell Inn is performing so badly but it’s on her to sort it out!

Hours in the car later, Rosie arrives at the inn to find she’s been double booked – there are no rooms left. And she isn’t there for more than a minute before she’s butting heads with the manager, Irishman Mitchell Fitzpatrick. He seems to dislike her on sight, so it’s confusing that he seems to get on so well with Danny… But if he’s as terrible as his reputation, Rosie will have to be the one to fire him.

This really isn’t the Christmas Rosie was dreaming of. But maybe, just maybe, it could be a whole lot more…

A sweet and uplifting Christmas romance, No Room at the Little Cornish Inn is perfect for fans of Philippa Ashley, Holly Martin and Jenny Hale.

Rating: three-stars

Single mum Rosie can’t wait to spend a few Christmas holiday days with her son Danny, away from her job, only with her family – this is what she needs at the moment. However, Rosie’s plans for a quiet Christmas are cancelled when her boss from hell gives her a last – minute assignement. Hoping for promotion, Rosie simply can’t turn it down and so she has to go to a tiny inn in Cornwall belonging to the hotels chain Rosie is working for. Things are not good at The Old Bell Inn and she has to find out why and to fire the inn’s manager, Mitchell Fitzpatrick. And so, next to incognito investigating what’s wrong with the inn, she has also to deal with her son’s father, suddenly turning out of blue. And then there is this little magical inn and perhaps Mitchell isn’t as grumpy as she thought at the beginning…? With Susan breathing down her neck will Rosie be able to see what’s really important?

This is another book that started brilliantly and I thought, yesss, I have a winner on my hands. The first part was brilliant, funny and like a comedy of errors, and the introduction to the characters was really promising. But then, so around the middle, I started to feel I am reading another book as nothing really fitted anymore.
The name Rosie is spoiled for me now, guys, as Mitchell probably liked it so much that he had to repeat it in every single sentence. „Rosie, are you going to the toilet, Rosie?“. „Rosie, do you want to blow your nose, Rosie?“. Rosie, Rosie, Rosie, it sounded somehow incredibly patronizing when he talked like that and I don’t ask my husband „Joseph, are you read to eat now, Joseph“? Aargh.
And it pains me that another very promising story didn’t deliver at the end.

Rosie was, at the beginning at least, a totally normal, likeable character that felt so relatable with all her unsecurities and trying to be the best mum to her 8 – year – old son. She was very open and didn’t keep secrets from the reader, we got the whole program about her feelings, emotions, thoughts and doubts. But then I started to feel tired with Rosie’s insecurities and her being so weak – it was annoying and frustrating that she wasn’t able to say boo to a goose. You also won’t want to hear the same things again and again, especially about her annoying ex. But she also was really great, what with staying true to her cause of helping Mitchell and his staff. Later on I started to call some of her decisions into question. Her son was another thing that bothered me totally and absolutely. You know, I also have an 8 – year – old daughter and either Rosie’s son is 8 going on 80 or my Sophie is underdeveloped. The way he was speaking gave me a migraine, there was not a bit of child in him and 8 is not an age when you continually tell your mum that you want her to be happy.

And apologies, but the romance aspect also didn’t work form e, I had a feeling that I missed something really significant, like, the whole development of it?

Altogether, it was a cute and light holiday read with a nice storyline, a bit of drama, curves and bumps and blossoming romance.