Christmas at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples

Christmas at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples

 

31309400Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 22nd September 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 260

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

A perfect, feel-good romantic novel to curl up with this Christmas. A story of new beginnings, love and friendship. Perfect for the fans of Jenny Colgan and Lucy Diamond.

Ellie Browne has left behind her high-flying job in London to return to the charming Buckinghamshire village of Little Leyton. Working shifts at The Dog and Duck and running her own doggy-day-care business, Ellie’s looking for a much simpler way of life and a good old fashioned Christmas.

But Little Leyton’s landscape is changing; Johnny Tay, Ellie’s ex, wants to pick up where they left off; sultry property developer Max Golding, has moved into the village and is ruffling feathers; and rumour has it that the pub, which holds a special place in Ellie’s heart, might be sold. Suddenly, life’s looking a whole lot more complicated…

Can Ellie juggle her emotions and commitments in time to celebrate Christmas?

 Rating: 2/5

I haven’t read any Jill Steeples’s books before so I was really happy to start “Christmas at the dog and Duck” – the synopsis sounds so promising, and the gorgeous Christmassy cover caught my eye immediately. However, it is this kind of book that in fact only ends at Christmas, and it felt everything but Christmassy to be honest, which for me personally was not a problem.

So the story follows Ellie, who’s just opened her dog – walking business, and it also centres around The Dog and Duck pub where she also works her shifts. Quickly, I started to have a feeling that I’ve read it before, there was nothing fresh or new that took me by surprise. It was a very predictable read – and the business with the dog walking was done before by Cressida McLaughlin, and dealt with in a much better way in my opinion. Also, there was one thing that bothered me incredibly and I was so short of putting the book away and never picking it up again, and it is the refugees problem. There are so many mixed emotions around this subject and I just think that a chick – lit fiction is not a place to deal with it, and I just had a feeling that the author wanted to score something with it putting it in the book. Moreover, it was mentioned, there was one or two scenes in Calais and what? And nothing. No changes done, nothing significant happened, nobody was saved so why put it in the book at all? I’m sorry if it sounds harsh or if I am offending somebody’s feeling but those are my feelings.

Each character mentioned in the book, even the most background ones, those that entered the scenes for a moment, needed a very long and very detailed introduction including how they look like, what they wear and what they do, and I was asking myself, why? Do we need it? For me it also seemed that the author didn’t really know what she wanted to write about. There are some ideas and some sub – plots and they started and then ended abruptly and a new idea was introduced to us, so we have the charity thing, then suddenly there comes the situation with the pub, then Ellie wants to give up her dog business…

There was also something in this story that annoys me personally so much – when the characters interact, I need them to really talk, to reply to each other immediately. I don’t like it when there is a page or two of inner monologue or weighing up the answers between a question asked and a reply as it really makes me to forget the question, and it was the case here. So many words – and yes, I DO know it is a book and that books consist of words, hello – but words that I could do without.
I’d really love to give this book more stars, as the writing style was really lovely, but taking into consideration that I mostly skim – read it, I just can’t. We just didn’t rub together, me and the book, however I would love to try other books by Ms Steeples.

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin – Blog Tour

Huhu, guys, long time no speak, ha? Joking 🙂 I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to a second blog tour today, this time for Holly Martin’s new book “Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky”. I love Holly, I love her novels and this gorgeous story didn’t disappoint me, I truly adored the descriptions and the place it is set. Don’t worry that it’s not winter yet, as the author will easily transport you to the beautiful Juniper Island – you can start your Christmas countdown already!

 

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

 

31423829Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 22nd September 2016

Series: A Town Called Christmas #1

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 322

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

Rating: 4/5

OK, to be totally honest it WAS weird to read this lovely, Christmassy book on the hottest day in September since 70 years (at least this is what they said on the radio) but no worries, guys. Even with the sun shining stronger than during the whole summer, Ms Martin effortlessly transported me to the beautiful town called Christmas and frankly, each time I came for a breath and looked around I was surprised to see there is no snow and was looking for my Christmas tree. I think Holly Martin is one of the best when it comes to describing places, to being able to transport her readers into her imaginary world and to feel a part of the characters’ world. Therefore I am promoting Holly to Queen of Christmas stories – she can probably describe this season in the best possible way!

Holly Martin belongs to those authors whose books I read without having a look at the synopsis first, simply because I know that I am for a real treat. So I didn’t know what to expect when starting reading “Christmas under the Cranberry Sky” and I was totally surprised by the gorgeous setting and the fantastic idea of placing the story on the Juniper Island, in a town called Christmas – already the names are gorgeous, inspiring and inviting and it is official that I want to live there. Holly absolutely sold this place to me, with the ponies running free and terrorizing the town (but in a sweet way, no? Just imagine those little Shetlands, with their wild manes looking at you askance – GORGEOUS!), or the reindeers with festive names, or The Stardust Lake Hotel itself – it’s decided, I’m moving there! Holly has put a lot of thought to create this place and following her descriptions of all the places I felt as if I am looking at the place through a webcam, such vivid and realistic they were. To say that she brought this place to life would be an understatement, to be honest, she has just created a real fictional town. I think that my favourite part was the Christmas market with all its shops – there was so much care put into every single shop that we visited, the items were described so closely and accurately and with a lot of heart and feeling and I. Want. To. Buy. Those. Things, Holly! And try the many different flavours of the chocolate fountain! There were probably as many shops as there were villagers and I’d gladly read a book only about them and the lovely, beautiful, well – thought and original things they were selling.

However, I do have one teeny tiny “but” and this is the romance in this book. It just didn’t work for me. Holly Martin follows the same formula in all of her books and it works for her, which is a great thing, because why change something that is a success and has thousands of fans out there in the world, but personally I am waiting for something new from Holly, something fresh. The romance element was very predictable and yes, already from the beginning you know how it’s going to end, and I must admit that even though I was sure who is going to end with who, I was hoping for a twist or turn that would make a different ending, so that THEN I could have say WOW. So predicting the end of this story I was tired with the never – ending will they/won’t they, with the hot/cold attitude.

Next to the fantastic descriptions of the setting, the characters also made the book. Not all of them, I admit, but Piper for example was great. She had a really crappy past and I admired her, truly admired, she is a girl that deserves a standing ovation, that she got off safe and sound from all this mess and that she achieved something in her life and not slipped as a drug – addict or something. She also had the best job in the world, probably – travelling the world, staying in the most beautiful places. Yes, there was a disadvantage, as she didn’t have a place to call home, but she seemed really happy with the situation, and she was able to see things that I can only dream about seeing *jealousy alert*. She was great with people, she didn’t have any problems to make contacts with them and I loved how quickly she found a common ground with Wren, Gabe’s daughter – they were the best duet in the world.
I didn’t have any problems with Piper (maybe this little one. I know you can feel insecure and hurt and feeling like there is no one you can trust, but not having a boyfriend for twelve years? Having sex only once in your whole life??? Puh – lease!) but I sadly had some with Gabe. I don’t know, I’m not sure why, but somehow for me he was not the right one for Pip, she has deserved someone who was not so whiny and so uncertain, and Gabe really seemed not to know what he wanted. Sure, I know where he was coming from, what with his little girl needing a routine and stability, but this blowing once hot, once cold was for me unacceptable. He behaved like a child, all the time changing his mind, and he demanded from Pip absolute trust while he himself didn’t trust her. Hello? It was really like going in circles with him.

But altogether I truly loved this novel. It is a second – chance romance, it is about overcoming issues, it is about trust and forgetting about the crap past and looking into the bright future, and I loved how optimistic it is and when I came to the end I really didn’t want to part with this lovely Island. Already looking forward to reading the second book in the series, but in the meantime I highly recommend “Christmas Under the Cranberry Sky” to you!

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

1pxoic

Nice Day for a White Wedding by A.L. Michael – Blog Tour

Hi guys, good morning! We are starting early today with a review of “Nice Day for a White Wedding” by A.L. Michael as a part of a great blog tour. There is also a brilliant giveaway to enter – good luck!

n2bd2bfor2ba2bwhite2bwedding2bfor2bjenny

 

Nice Day for a White Wedding by A.L. Michael

 

29912901Publisher: Carina

Publishing Date: 22nd August 2016

Series: The House on Camden Square #2

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 187

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins…

Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.

These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?

 

Rating: 4/5

“Nice Day for a White Wedding” is a second book in The House on Camden Square series, and even though I haven’t read the first book, I didn’t have any problems to get directly into the heart of this story – I’d say it could easily be read as a standalone book. There were some flashbacks into the past but to be honest they only roused my curiosity what happened then, so I’ll be for sure reading “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” sooner rather than later.

The story follows Chelsea. It very quickly becomes clear that she’s broken free from a very bad background and has made a success out of her life. She’s escaped the estate and now lives in London, has a great job and a successful boyfriend, and she wants very much to forget about her past – so much that she keeps it a secret whenever she can, even from her boyfriend. However, it is not only the estate that she’s left but her two younger brothers who need her, so will she be able to keep her past always a secret? Especially as Kit, her boyfriend, has just proposed and it’s time to get to know the families… With this end in view the two travel to Lake Garda to meet Kit’s family and it is so clear from the very beginning that there is a huge difference between their backgrounds and life styles and the question is, will this engagement, that was off to such a rocky start, survive?

I didn’t have problems to warm to Chelsea. Sure, she was stubborn but she had her reasons and I really admired her for the fact that she was consequent and when she had a goal she worked toward achieving it. Thanks to the flashbacks into the past we quickly learn what it was that made Chelsea to be like she was and what happened to make her change her mind. She worked hard for what she has now and it was really not a wonder to me that she wanted to keep her independence for herself. Even though her mother was not the easiest person and didn’t make it light for her daughter, Chelsea still supported her family, not only financially, and seeing how much she cared of her brothers was really touching.
On the other hand, I wasn’t so sure about Kit. At the beginning he seemed OK, but then it is amazing how some people and different surrounding can change a person, no? I really wasn’t sure which face of his is the real one, and probably this was my biggest problem with him, because I wasn’t sure if I can trust him. As long as Chelsea and Kit were alone together, everything was perfect, it only changed when the lovely (NOT) Jemima entered the scenes. This relationship seemed so real and so genuine, and then they went to Lake Garda and well, it wasn’t like this anymore. And I partly blamed Kit for this. But it was interesting to make the relationship between Chelsea and Kit so different because of their backgrounds. It was not only bed of roses, it was full of problems, especially when Kit’s family, and his dragon mother, entered the scenes. But it made a difference from all the other bookish romances and it was not so straightforward, which only added tons of meaning to the story, and it sounded really realistic.

It is a story about family bonds, asking if blood is really thicker than water. A story about growing up and seeing what’s important and what’s not. Story about differences and how to overcome them. It was a funny read with many poignant moments, touching upon some important issues. It shows how secrets and lies can affect our lives. Judging on a title I’ve expected a light – hearted romance, however this book is much more emotional and there is much more depth to it than I expected. It moved at a good pace and there were some beautiful settings, which only made the book even more enjoyable and vivid.

GIVEAWAY!

This giveaway is for an Italian themed goodie bag that Andi is preparing herself which has lots of goodies in it – like processo, biscotti and other italian themed yummies!YAY!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

ctbakpfweaqr6az

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith – Blog Tour

Hi guys, and very happy Wednesday! Today I am very happy to invite you to my stop on Fiona Veitch Smith’s blog tour for her new release “The Kill Fee”, that is the second book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series – but it can easily be read as a standalone, no worries here. I love the times the book is set in so it was an extra bonus for me, and the story itself was fresh and original – just have a look at my review.

 

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith

 

30897440Publisher: Lion Fiction

Publishing Date: 16th September 2016

Series: Poppy Denby Investigates #2

Source:  Received from the publisher  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Poppy Denby, Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian Art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov Royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Faberge Egg in the collection is stolen. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers. Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Faberge Egg, a Russian Princess called Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg – and the other treasures – should all be restored to the Russian people. Poppy, her editor Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But, soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect…The race is on to find both the key and the egg – can they be found before the killer strikes again?

Rating: 3.5/5

I’ve wanted to read Fiona Veitch Smith’s book for a long time already, as I have heard brilliant things about “The Jazz Files”, her debut novel – I even have this book on my shelf, only haven’t found time to read it yet. So when the opportunity to be a part of a blog tour for her new release “The Kill Fee” came, I didn’t hesitate for long and with excitement started to read the book. It is set in 1920s, and I love to read books set in those times. Even though it is a continuation of Poppy Denby’s adventures, it can absolutely be read as a stand – alone novel, as it is a new case and new investigation.

Poppy could be a great character, it’s only I had a feeling that there is much to less of her for a main heroine. The story focused on so many things and Poppy entered the scenes from time to time and I just had a feeling that I don’t know her as well as I’d like to, that I don’t know much about her. However, one is sure, she was again an example of a heroine that was far ahead of her own times and she was determined that nothing will stop her when she set her mind on something.

Thank god, or thank the author, for the list of the characters at the beginning of the book, though I must admit it didn’t help me a lot. There were many characters in this story, MANY, some of them fictional, some of them not, and really, there were so many of them that each time a name was mentioned I needed to turn the pages back to the beginning to see who it is and why – but soon this turning the pages made me tired, to be honest, I want to know who is who and not be forced to all the time searching for a clue, but it’s probably my fault, not the book’s.

I liked the mystery in this story. There were some twists and turns on the way to discover who did what and the author tried to throw a curveball or two. I’d say that “The Kill Fee” is a good cosy mystery, though I personally have expected something more from this book and from such an acclaimed author. However, I of course appreciate the well – developed heroine and the historical background that was really interesting, as it is not only 1920’s London, but also times of the Russian Revolution, of the mystery of the tsar’s family. The book reminded me a lot of Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton series but – sadly – there is Kate and then there is nothing for a long, long time and then, eventually, comes Poppy Denby. The story has just felt too flat to me, not so exciting and not so surprising. I liked a lot of things in this story but altogether I missed this “something” that makes read exceptional, and there were a lot of moments that I was skim – reading, as it dragged too much for my liking.

The author has made an effort to create the atmosphere of the times and to make the setting as realistic as possible, and it worked really well in this story. It was well – plotted, albeit a little on the dragging on side, even though there was a lot happening. I loved the mentions of the small things that made those times, such as music, the food, the gadgets – they are often mentioned, those little details, but they do not overwhelm or overshadow the plot, and Fiona Veitch Smith has truly brought the background to life. Yes, I am in two minds about this book – I enjoyed it but not as much as I thought I would. However, I’ll be looking onto reading “The Jazz Files” as soon as possible and looking forward to any new release by this author.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

the-kill-fee-poster

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

 

29082369Publisher: Headline Review

Publishing Date: 22nd September 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Culture

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 01.06.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Cartes Postales from Greece is an extraordinary new book from Victoria Hislop, the Sunday Times Number One bestselling author of The Island, The Return, The Thread, and The Sunrise. It is fiction in full colour – magical and unique.

‘Victoria Hislop writes so vividly about the Med, you can almost feel the scorching heat’ Good Housekeeping

Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A’s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop’s Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind.

Rating: 5/5

I can’t actually believe it myself but “Cartes Postales from Greece” is my first book by Victoria Hislop – but what an introduction to this author it was! I’ve read this book in one day, which for me is like a world record, not because I am reading so slowly or something but because life always gets in the way. However, this time, I put everything aside as this book has just drawn me in and I didn’t want to put it down for a single second.

This novel doesn’t contain a storyline per se, as it consist of short stories. It starts introducing us to Ellie who is receiving postcards from Greece – postcards addressed to someone other but still coming through her letterbox, postcards signed with “A”. Ellie pins all of them on her wall – they are a real sunbeam in her otherwise grim and cloudy life. But one day, on the spur of the moment, she decides that she will travel to Greece – there is nothing that keeps her in London. On the day of her departure, a notebook arrives – a notebook that she takes with her on her travels and discovers that it is also written by “A”. And here is where the short stories, told by A, start – stories of his travels through Greece, recounts of his meetings with the Greek people and his re – telling the stories that the locals shared with him after offering him a place to sleep and something to eat.

This book only confirmed my beliefs that I want to see Greece. It was like reading partly myths, partly fiction and partly non – fiction and I loved this perfect mix. The stories were so different, funny, sad, heart – breaking, seeming possible or not possible to happen. It deals not only with feelings, relationships, family bonds, tradition but also with the very present state of economy or politics, and the powerlessness and anger of the characters are so realistically portrayed.
What is also so exceptional for this book is the fact that it is full of photos, illustrating the scenes or places that A visits. The photos are beautiful and they helped me to imagine and see the places even better – it was great to not only imagine things but also see them how they really are.
The author has a brilliant way describing the nature, places and bringing all the scents, sunsets to life. You could easily see that Victoria Hislop loves Greece and Greek people and that she very well understands them, their history and their tradition and that she has a lot of respect to all of the above mentioned.

This book is written in the most unusual way and it worked incredibly well for me. It is like reading stories within a story. They are so different and they are about different issues but I think that there are some things that they have in common – there is always a message in them, there is always love and hope and that in the battle of good against evil it is usually good that wins. They are inspiring and they are beautiful, those stories, and they are written in incredibly vivid and descriptive way. I think I can’t say that I have my favourite story as I loved all of them. They are all unforgettable, poignant and so true to life. It was quite emotional, unique book and I am incredibly happy that I was able to read it – it is for sure going to stay with me for a long time and I will be getting back to it. Highly recommended, not only if you love Greece!

Daydream Believer by Lizzie Fayke

Daydream Believer by Lizzie Fayke

 

51wz2bgnz16l-_sx311_bo1204203200_Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Publishing Date: 28th July 2015

Source:  Received from the author  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 476

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Sarah Collin’s world is about to be changed forever by her imaginary boyfriend.
Her dream world collides with reality when she invents Steve, her rock musician lover, in the hope of adding some much needed glamour to her life, while gaining a little respect from her workmates.
As the lie spirals out of control, she finds herself on the Costa Blanca. Could her chaotic holiday actually make some of her daydreams come true?

Rating: 3.5/5

I spotted “Daydream Believer” by Lizzie Fayke some time ago on Twitter and I can still remember how much I adored the cover of this book, which is simply gorgeous! I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the novel and finally I’ve found a little spare time lately to read this book – I was also intrigued by the synopsis and wanted to see if it lives up to my expectations or not.

Lizzie Fayke has created a very strong heroine in her story. No matter what Sarah Collins did, I kept my fingers crossed for her. She is the title Daydream Believer, and finally, eventually she decides to not only dream but also do, and so she finds herself – alone – on a holiday trip to Spain. Even though all the other think she’s at the French Riviera. Because Sarah is – maybe not a compulsive liar – but she has a very overactive imagination. Though, with such a group of co – workers, it was not a wonder! Sarah is also very accident – prone and if something were to happen, you could bet it would happen to Sarah. She was a little like Bridget Jones, so awkward with her love life, fed up with her job and seeing her other friends on Facebook having better lives and relationships and exotic holidays. Sure, she made me feel desperate sometimes, but her believing so much in Steve was also somehow touching and it made me fell for her and I really wanted everything to work for her and everybody to be nice to her and I wanted to fight her corner for her – so nice was she! It doesn’t happen often that maybe I don’t love the character with my whole heart but I’d do anything for them, and it is such a case here.

So, the book started in a great way and I enjoyed it extremely for a long time. However, at some point, I started to have a feeling that I am reading the same and the same, about Sarah being mopped at work and only talking about Steve and telling people she leads totally different life and altogether, it went a little downhill for me. Also, as much as I appreciate that the author wanted to make up to the main character and to punish the “bad” characters, the events happening were too predictable, a little too far – fetched and all the things that happened were so convenient for Sarah, with right people at the right places and with right connections and things happening at the right moment, which made the reading this bit unbelievable and unrealistic. Sure, it was to make the book much more humorous and adventurous and it worked, perhaps it is this old grumpy in me that sometimes comes up to the surface to complain a little. Also the last chapters dragged on too much for my liking, and those were the chapters where everything went into a line, where everything was cleared and where the good ones were prized and the bad ones punished and it was a little too much for me. I like my closure but I also like it to be a little surprising and not so obvious. But altogether, I enjoyed this story, it was light and easy and with a brilliant dose of great, sharp humour.

Altogether, “Daydream Believer” was a simple, not too complex but very entertaining story that I’ve read with a real pleasure. There was a bunch of eclectic but lovely and strong characters, it was full of really comical moments and sweet, if a little too far – fetched, for my liking, romance. For a debut novel, Lizzie Fayke’s writing style sounds strong and mature and it is very easy to follow – maybe sometimes she has tried too much but overall, it was light and she is a great story – teller. It is a not too demanding story about finding what you really want, about founding the courage to fight for yourself and about not letting others intimidate you, and I am sure it’s going to put a smile on your face. Recommended!

Unicorns: Believe in Magic – Sophie’s Shelf

Unicorns: Believe in Magic

 

31565234Publisher: Summersdale

Publishing Date: 9th June 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 97

Genre: Children’s

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 Synopsis:

Who says unicorns aren’t real?

Life’s never dull when you have a unicorn by your side. These sparkly friends bring magic into our lives, from the tips of their magical horns to the swishy ends of their rainbow tails. Enter the awesomely cute world of unicorns, and whatever anyone says – don’t stop believing!

 

Rating: 5/5

Oh guys, this is one of the most gorgeous, sweet and lovely books ever! I am in love with anything Unicorns at the moment, and the same is with my daughter, she can watch “Mia and Me” on repeat and there are unicorns, so when she’s seen this book when it arrived she was SO. INCREDIBLY. HAPPY. She immediately opened the book and started to lookthrough it and for a moment (a moment. But it is VERY important because there are not many moments like this with Sophie) she was speechless. she looked at the colourful, beautiful pages with open mouth and shining eyes and I could immediately tell she was in love. Then she started to call the unicorn in the book Willie (don’t ask me, no idea why) and we read this book every day now.

Which is not a problem, as it is a cute, gorgeous and so optimistic book! It is full of brilliant quotes and my favourite ones are probably “I poop rainbows” and “Unleash your inner Unicorn”, though they are all brilliant, funny and catchy one – liners. The large letters are easy for children who learn to read and the colourful pictures are warm, funny and totally sweet. The book is also very esthetically published and only holding it in your hands makes me feel better. This is a must – read for all Unicorns (and not only) fans! I’m sure you can buy it as birthday present for any girl!

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

 

30187837Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 23rd September 2016

Series: Comfort Food Cafe #2

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

Number of pages: 187

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The brand new Christmas romance from best-selling author Debbie Johnson and the follow up to ‘Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe’.

The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.

 

Rating: 4/5

Christmas is coming earlier and earlier each year, at least bookish Christmas – “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is already one of the few festive reads that I read in September. Not that I’m complaining – I love Christmas and I probably could read Noel – centred books all over the year. And especially if they are written by Debbie Johnson – she has really ricocheted herself to the top of my favourite authors list and I’m sure she’s going to stay there for a very long time, if not for ever.

I think I don’t have to emphasize that “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is a return to our beloved Comfort Food Cafe, as the title says it all. However, this time, even though it is also return of some of the characters that I’ve learnt to love in the previous novel, this story is told by Becca, Laura’s sister. Becca seems much more disturbed and complicated than Laura but she has her reasons! She also hates Christmas, literally hates it, and we quickly learn why as the story begins with showing us a few of Becca and Laura’s Christmases, and those scenes were brilliant, they were like watching a kaleidoscope, and no matter what there was always a Christmas disaster with Becca.. I think she would be a great best friend of Scrooge. But now the biggest nightmare of Becca is coming true – she is going to spend family Christmas, together with Laura, her children and Matt, and the whole team from Comfort Food Cafe! Oh boy…
Why is Becca such a Christmas grouch? What has happened? Is she going to open to her family? Start to enjoy life more? Is the Comfort Food Cafe going to do its magic again? This all, and much, much more is waiting for you in this brilliant, warm, cosy and already festive story. What I like so much in Debbie Johnson’s books is that they so effortlessly combine fun and humour with more poignant, serious issues and I love the way she always deals with those issues, with a lot of understanding and without judging, letting the reader know all the circumstances and judge for themselves. Yes, there were moments that I felt desperate with Becca, she was not too easy – going, she was always kicking herself, and it seemed as if she didn’t want to change, at all, that she’s happy in her shell and I wanted her to stop being like this. She wasn’t moaning or wanted to burden us with her problems, she wanted to deal with them alone, but her being so miserable inside and only showing the world a different face was not good for her and I wanted her to go out of this dark and cold corner, and to fully live. Becca is this kind of person who’s initially not so easy to like but as the story went along she really grew on me, she got under my skin and at the end I was a putty in her hands. Debbie Johnson has made her character really complex and complicated and she brilliantly showed how difficult it is to break off with your old habits, how easy it is to stay like you are just because it’s more comfortable, and how much it costs – and I mean here emotions and feelings – to try to go out of your comfort zone, and this all made Becca only even more realistic and believable.

The story brings us back all the characters from the summer novel, introduces new of them, and focuses more on the characters that we got to know in summer and now have a chance to get to know much better, such like some sexy surfer Sam, mmmm. Sam was so, so funny, so laid – back and easy going, you know, he was the yin to Becca’s yang or whatever it is – I loved their banter and the way they were so honest with each other, they didn’t fake anything, they were genuine with their feelings.

It seems that Comfort Food Cafe is really a magic, perfect place to be when you have problems and I want to go and live there, and eat Laura’s brilliant food. When reading the story I just wanted to be a part of it, to join the gang and to forget about all my worries and sorrows. I think this story can be read as a stand – alone novel but I also think you’d miss out too much on the summer book, and on the whole Comfort Food Cafe charm. Immediately after starting reading this sequel I’ve felt at home, as if I was meeting with good, old friends. Yes, I’d love to hear much, much more from Laura and the gorgeous vet, as well as from her brilliant children, but I do appreciate the turn this story took, the depth and – shortly – I just get what the author wanted to do this time. The story brilliantly mixes fun and seriousness, and Debbie Johnson is truly a champion of writing catching one – liners and hilarious scenes, and you need to read the wedding or the visit at the shopping centre for yourself. Each character mentioned in this book, even so very background one, like for example Willow and her mum, had their place in this story and their presence adds tons of warmth. “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is like a mug of Laura’s hot chocolate with marshmallows – warm, melting your heart and cheering. Highly recommended!

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan – Blog Tour

So there, guys, it’s Friday and the weekend is almost there! If you’re not sure what to read over Saturday and Sunday, than please take a look below at my review of “The Perfect Girl” by Gilly Macmillan – it’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am really thrilled to be able to tell you my thoughts on this controversial, hooking page – turner! Let me know what you think after reading it!

 

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

 

30984608Publisher: Piatkus

Publishing Date: 22nd September 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Thriller, Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.
In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe’s former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Unfolding over a span of twenty-four hours through three compelling narratives, The Perfect Girl is gripping, surprising, and emotionally complex—a richly layered look at loyalty, second chances, and the way secrets unravel us all.

 

Rating: 4/5

“The Perfect Girl” is a story about Zoe, a very talented piano player who’s made one mistake that partly destroyed her life – she was convinced of killing three of her friends in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol and sentenced to nine months in a rehabilitation unit. She was 14 then, now she’s 17, living with her mother, her second husband and his son Lucas, and a new half – sister Grace in a “Second Chance” family. Maria, Zoe’s mother, is desperate that her daughter comes back to living, hence the musical where Zoe is performing together with Lucas. However, during the performance, there happens something that shouldn’t happen and the whole past comes back to Zoe and her family, and ends in a tragic death of her mother.

The death of Maria happened relatively quickly in the story so the main question here was who has killed her. However, the same important thing is how this death has influenced all people involved – Zoe’s new family, her aunt and her husband, and that Zoe feels guilty, as she’s convinced that her mother’s death has something to do with her past. She’s also afraid that people, that her family will think that she was the one to murder her mother – well, she’s a murderer already, right?

What had me so interested in this book is the fact that it is set over a very short period of time, 24 hours to be precise, and I was incredibly intrigued to see how the author pulled it off. Yes, there were moments that it felt a little too flat for my liking, or not too significant, but overall, it was a very tense 24 hours, and the short chapters made the reading even more thrilling and gripping – it just felt as if everything is happening so quickly. However, I didn’t find it as claustrophobic as the author wanted us for it to be. But of course it is not only the 24 hours, there are flashbacks into the past, and they were very necessary for us to get to know Zoe and her history. I found myself totally immersed in the characters’ world, the author and her writing just drew me in and I had a feeling that I am a witness to all of this what’s happening.

The story is told from multiple points of view and it worked brilliantly in this book – they were very much needed for us to get a perspective and to get a chance to hear all involved. The characters are drawn in a brilliant way and they felt like three – D people, like breathing and real persons. I felt incredibly sad for Maria, as from what the author presented us she was coming up as a lovely, friendly, loyal person and devoted mother and she so didn’t deserve this what’s happened to her. I also had a feeling that the author sits deep in the characters’ heads and tells us their deepest thoughts and secrets – there were moments that I really felt like an intruder, especially when Zoe was concerned, as I had a feeling she doesn’t want us to know so much about her, that she’s ashamed and that preferably she’d hide somewhere – hats off to Gilly Macmillan for being able to write with such depth.
Even though the story is told through multiple points of view, I didn’t had a feeling that it’s chopped and it run seamlessly and effortlessly. The short chapters made for a very easy read and I had a feeling that I am getting all the needed perspectives, no matter if it was this of Zoe or this of Sam or Richard, who – we could say – had nothing to do with Maria’s death, but still it was significant and important what he thought. It just made the read much more complex but also much more expressive and interesting than for example writing it only in Zoe’s point of view.

Even with the dragging on moments, the pace of this story was fitted. The book has a well mystery going on – the who – killed – Maria – mystery, and as from the very beginning I was sure that there was no – one from outside involved, it made the reading even more intriguing. However, taking this one character as a killer would be too obvious and far – fetched for me so I started to guess who has done it, and reading the story further and further, through the script and flashbacks to the past, it only confirmed my beliefs. For a thriller the story didn’t horrify me so much and to be honest the ending didn’t come as a very shocking to me, yet I enjoyed it, even though I had my suppositions and suspicions and I was not completely wrong. What I liked though is that the ending was on a more thought – provoking side and it was left for the reader to judge for themselves and wonder if the decisions made were right or wrong. And also for a thriller it was more on the soft side, I think.

“The Perfect Girl” is a story about living the appearances, about publicly showing totally different face to this you have at home. I couldn’t help but cringe at the hypocrisy of some characters, about them thinking only about living for show, about always reminding other people they are worse than them, that they are living their Second Chance. The story deals with many various topics, such as domestic violence, abuse, infidelity, trust issues. It is perhaps not the most compelling and ambitious thriller of all times but an intelligent, complex read that made for a hooking and gripping page turner. It was a book written in a very incredible way, and I’ve no idea how Gilly Macmillan has done it, there is something so very hooking in it that makes you feel desperate to know what’s going to happen and keep turning the pages. It is a story full of secrets and lies. There is enough tension in this book and it just somehow feels so very authentic and is build in a very skilful way, until the truth is revealed. Recommended!

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

blogtour

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

 

31839447Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 8th September 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Just because you can’t remember, doesn’t mean you can’t love . . .

Anna Forster is thirty-eight years old and has started to suffer from the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to an assisted living facility. But best can still hurt. What she also knows is that there’s just one other resident her age at the facility – Luke.

As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to all that’s left. What remains are her feelings for Luke. Before long the pair fall in love, despite the forces that are set against them.

But when a tragic incident occurs, Luke and Anna’s families decide to separate them. There is one person at the facility who can help the pair, but only if she’s willing to risk everything for them . . .

Rating: 5/5

“The Things We Keep” by Sally Hepworth is one of the many books dealing with dementia that I’ve had a pleasure to read. However, mostly when we think Alzheimer’s disease we think about older people. This time though the author tells us a story about 38 – year – old Anna, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer. I must admit, even with my whole knowledge I didn’t know that this disease can afflict even so young people, and I think it hit me so much because Anna is around my age, and I could relate to her on many levels. And also, personally I think that it is one of the most awful diseases and it’s one of my biggest fears, that it can afflict someone in my family.

I haven’t read Ms Hepworth’s previous book “The Secrets of Midwives”, even though it is on my never – ending TBR pile, so I didn’t really know what to expect from her new release. I’ll admit, I started to read “The Things We Keep” a little reluctantly, not sure if I am in a mood for such a story, but immediately, IMMEDIATELY after starting reading it, I was drawn in and hooked and didn’t want to put the book down. It turned out that “The Things We Keep” is incredibly sad story, but it is also incredibly uplifting and full of brilliantly funny one – liners. Well, Anna herself had a fantastic sense of humour, she was so cynical and so intelligent, and seeing her deteriorate made it all even sadder. The author has truly perfectly mixed here sadness with humour, sorrow with happiness.

The story introduces us to Anna, 38 years old, who’s just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. As the disease is progressing quickly, Anna’s twin brother decides that it’s best for her to go to Rosalind House, and one of the reason of choosing this home is the fact that Luke is living there – Luke is 41 and also suffering with a dementia. They are the youngest residents there and they quickly develop feelings to each other. But – are they real feelings? Can people with dementia feel love if they can forget the person next day? Should it be at all allowed to carry on their friendship/relationship? So many questions, so many important and thought – provoking questions there, and what I really enjoyed was the fact that the reader was allowed to see both sides, to see how complicated and complex it was, how awkward the position for all involved.

The characters in this story are unforgettable, and I don’t only mean the main characters, but also the residents of the Rosalind House. I was impressed with the way they all dealt with the difficult things that happened in their lives. At first I was assuming that the book is only about Anna so I was a little surprised when it introduced Eve to us, however there wouldn’t be this story without Eve and her daughter Clementine. Eve is left by her husband to deal with the mess he put them into and after living a life without financial problems she needs to find work, pronto, and so she’s forced to take a job at the home, where she learns Anna and Luke and their story. It turns out that Eve will be much more than a cook in this novel, as she becomes a friend to the home residents. However, I think this is Anna’s voice that is the most distinctive and strong in this story, and the author has done a brilliant job with getting into Anna’s head, into telling her tale with so much feeling and emotions. The way she described Anna and her slow (or quick!) deterioration was incredibly realistic and my heart truly went out to her. The author has also perfectly captured all the changes in Anna, such as forgetting the words, situations, people showing that for Anna herself it was a strange new world. There were confusions and frustrations involved, which is so natural in such situation, and the author beautifully and with a lot of feelings put it into words. And I really appreciate that we were given the possibility to see as many points of view as possible, those of the patients’, as well as their family members or caregivers, and we could agree – or not – with them. She shows not only the feelings of dementia patients, but also how it is for their family, seeing their beloved ones disappearing, but still being able to love and care.

The book alternates between Anna, Eve and Clementine. Yes, Clementine. She must also deal with problems, with ostracism and exclusion and it was heart – breaking to see how brave this 7 year – old – girl is. It is also interesting how the story starts in the past with Anna being first moved to Rosalind House and then slowly moving forward, with Eve’s point of view that starts in the present, when Anna’s disease is already progressed. It shows Anna first as a full of life, sharp woman and takes us on the journey of slowly forgetting words, faces, family, forming thoughts, being disoriented.

“The Things We Keep” is about love. It’s about losing people that you love, through death or through a disease that take their memories away, and I am really not sure what is worse. This is also a very beautiful, poignant love story showing that love knows no boundaries. It is about coping, caring, giving, developing the unselfish side to you. The feelings in this story, the way the characters acted and reacted felt so realistic and genuine and often I was on the verge of tears. It bothered me so, so much that such a young, great, sharp woman as Anna has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and it broke my heart seeing how quickly it develops. It’s truly this kind of book that makes you think, makes you cheer the characters on and fall for them. It is full of emotions, even the rawest ones, and written in an honest way, without beating around the bush, showing how it really is and what people truly feel. I enjoyed every single moment of it – and I highly recommend this book to you!