White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley

HI guys, and happy Tuesday –  very unexpectedly FREE Tuesday for me. We have a black ice, it’s impossible to move without ice skates, and let’s forget about driving a car. I love my car, and I love driving but today it’s no fun at all, the schools are closed and my boss called me to tell me to stay at home. I like such surprises 🙂 And to make the day even more better, I am absolutely, super dooper excited to welcome you to Cathy Bramley’s blog tour today! I love Cathy incredibly and I couldn’t wait for my stop to share my review of “White Lies and Wishes” with you!

White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley

 

51lyldrcjrl-_sx319_bo1204203200_Publisher: Corgi

Publishing Date: 26th January 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

What happens when what you wish for is only half the story…?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

Rating: 4/5

Reading a Cathy Bramley book is like settling down after a stressful, demanding day, like doing something you love to do – her stories are like an unicorn mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and glitter on top – warm, inviting, making you feel welcome. So it is probably not a surprise for you to hear that I was waiting impatiently for the author’s new release – “White Lies and Wishes”, no? I thought so. I’ve read all Cathy’s books, fell in love with her writing and she’s at the top of my favourite authors list, and I am sure she’s going to stay there for ever and ever. I can’t get enough of her stories and I always repeat: Cathy, please do keep them coming!

This story was a bit different to all the other storylines in Cathy Bramley’s books because it follows not one main female character, but three – three women who unexpectedly meet and become friends. There were moments that I had a feeling I’m reading a book by Lucy Diamond, as she is the champion of writing stories about surprising friendships, and Cathy Bramley has also managed it brilliantly. The women meet at the funeral of their mutual friend’s husband and funeral here or there, but there was one scene that had me in stitches – actually the one when all three met for the first time. There is Jo Gold, who’s running a failing family shoe business but she’s determined to save it. Then there is Sarah Hudson – a new mother who’s juggling coming back to work, baby and staying at home husband. Sarah is a woman with ambitions and the thing she wants most right now is to become a partner in the firm she’s working for. And there is Carrie Radley, married, not working and over – eating her problems. All three of them quickly bond and decide to put together a wish list of things they want to achieve till September – Jo wants to overcome her fear of heights, Sarah wants to be a partner in her firm and Carrie wants to wear a bikini in public. But – are they really truthful? Will they manage? Are those really they real wishes? Will they stay friends?

Now. The characters. I’ve never before had problems to love Cathy Bramley’s immediately and stay like this for the whole duration of reading the book. However, this time, I had some problems to warm to them, to fell for them and to get them. If they bonded so well that they decided to be BFFs, then why hide their real wishes? Also at the beginning they were mostly a bunch of unhappy, moaning women and only after getting to know them better, seeing how they tick and what inspires and drives them, I started to feel more comfortable in their company – however, I still had a niggling and troubling feeling that they are really not honest, with themselves, with each other and with us. Carrie was like enigma, and the dynamics between her and her husband were really weird, and I couldn’t see where they were coming from. Sarah seemed to know what she wants but I all the time had the feeling that she really doesn’t. I think that Jo was the most believable one of them, with her ideas and determination and eventually showing her weakness. And the relationship between them was not as open and friendly as you would expect. I guess it just takes time to trust each other and maybe they just expected too much from their friendship at the beginning?
But my issues apart, the characters were – as always – brilliantly written. Cathy Bramley has made it her hallmark to write the most believable, relatable characters. She can easily get into their heads and tell three different stories in an engaging, light – hearted way. Jo, Sarah and Carrie could be – in fact – any of us, and when reading you can easily nod your head, sigh and tell them you know what they’re feeling because you’ve been there as well. In the end the girls overcame their reservations and it was great to see how much support there is in the air, how they support each other.

The book was very uplifting in tone. I found it great that the girls decided to go for they dreams and weren’t afraid to dream big, even though they hide their true dreams at the beginning. The story also wonderfully describes family and friend’s relationships, shows how hard it is sometimes to cope and basically, tells us how it really is – that life is not only a bed of roses, that you must be prepared to fight for yourself, even if it’s not so easy.

It wasn’t my favourite Cathy Bramley’s book of all time, sadly, but nevertheless it was a gorgeous story about new beginnings and friendship and it for sure will give you a fix of the author’s warm and inviting writing and her gift to write feel – good stories. Altogether, “White Lies and Wishes” was an easy to read book, uplifting story about trials, tribulations and finding courage. It is full of mishaps and misunderstandings, with a romance element to it (of course! And I found it great and captivating, as well as despairing because you’ve seen those two belong together, only they haven’t seen it! Aaaargh! I’m telling you…! But you can trust Cathy Bramley to create a great atmosphere and sparkles). Even though I find Cathy’s previous books better, I still enjoyed this one and I am sure that the readers won’t be disappointed with this lovely story about gaining confidence. Highly recommended!

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How to Win Back Your Husband by Vivien Hampshire

How to Win Back Your Husband by Vivian Hampshire

 

33287092Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 18th January 2017

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

Number of pages: 218

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

The uplifting, feel-good romantic comedy you don’t want to miss!
It’s not over until he says, ‘I do’…

Nicci is throwing a party: she’s getting divorced! The only issue? She isn’t ready to give up on her soon-to-be ex-husband, Mark – and she has thirty days to win him back!

Everyone makes mistakes but Nicci’s was just a little bit bigger. All she has to do is convince Mark that their love is worth fighting for…

Against the odds will Nicci and Mark be able to forget their past, remember their vows and say ‘I do’ to another trip up the aisle?

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Cate Woods and Fiona Collins.

Rating: 1.5/5

So guys. I’ve requested this book because the title had immediately caught my eye, and also the synopsis promised it’s going to be the uplifting, feel – good romantic comedy that I don’t want to miss – just something I was in need of – and the cover, so beautiful blue…! When starting to read it I was really thinking yes, just what the doctor ordered.

However, very quickly everything went belly up. The first scene with the cake was relatively funny but that was all. To be honest, I’ve never even smiled when reading the story, let’s forget about the promised “feel – good romantic comedy”. I had a feeling that this whole book is one long whinge, grousing and unhappiness. The characters, Nicci and Mark, spent all of their time thinking they don’t want a divorce but doing nothing, only inner – monologuing. And well… It’s not easy, but let’s talk about Nicci herself. She was acting selfish and childish and probably we should admire her for admitting her mistake to Mark but the only thing I felt to Nicci was indifference and I really didn’t care what’s going to happen with her. she shouldn’t have made this mistake in the first place, right? Maybe it was brave to write a novel centred around such character and such thing, I don’t know, as it could go two ways I think, and for me it just went the wrong way. And also, all the characters felt flat and under – developed. I also couldn’t understand what adding some of the characters should bring to the story, like the old customer of Mark, and really, the birthday party that he attended made me roll my eyes and skip this chapter. Actually, I skipped a lot of this book, only skim – reading it – it just didn’t keep my attention.

I didn’t mean to sound harsh but it is really hard to sing this novel praises and it is probably true that when you have nothing nice to say, than better say nothing – I just think that I should justify my poor rating. When I start reading a book I am full of hope and I can’t explain how disappointed I am that I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I thought. I had great expectations for “How to Win Back Your Husband” and I am incredibly sad that this book didn’t work for me. However I can see that people are enjoying it more than I did, so please don’t feel dispirited and give this novel a go. I will for sure try the author’s next story.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney / Blog Tour

So you lovely folk, today I also have a review of “The Girl Before” by JP Delaney. Every now and then there comes a book that you have a feeling is going to be a perfect read for you, and it was like this with this book and me – I’ve spotted it and I KNEW that no matter what I have to read it. I was incredibly lucky to get a review copy and to be a part of the blog tour, and I am really happy to share my review of this exciting and unique read with you all.

Please, be sure to check out #TheBloggerBefore : Go Book Yourself.

33545258The Girl Before by JP Delaney

 

Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 26th January 2017

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price?

For all fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comes this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller which takes psychological suspense to the next level

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Following in the footsteps of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Girl Before is being brought to the big screen. The film is set to be directed by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.

Rating: 5/5

When choosing a book to read I often follow my gut feeling, especially when it comes to the authors that I don’t know – although JP Delaney is a pen name for a best – selling author, and when reading “The Girl Before” I was looking for any hallmarks but I didn’t guess the real name – and when spotting this book I just had a feeling that this could be THE read. And well, yes, it turned out that I should trust my gut feeling as the book was totally engrossing and kept me glued to the pages. “The Girl Before” was a provocative, incredibly smart story about controlling and manipulations, making reader to ask who is reliable there and whom shall we trust.

Now. “The Girl Before”. We can start debating who the hell would go and live voluntarily in a house with 200 stipulations including no pets (no way), no children, no cushions, no curtains, no personal things on the floor, no books (hello?). And yet they signed on the dotted line. The house itself is an example of minimalism and the latest and best home technology, adjusting itself to the weather, temperature and probably the mood of the inhabitants. Originally designed by Edward Monkton as his family home but there was an accident on the site when his wife and his young son died. Also, he is the one who, after interviewing the prospective renters, is to decide if they’re going to live there or not. Weird, no? Who in their right mind would go for something like this? I wouldn’t, and I don’t want to go into this debate, but I thought that it is a brilliant and unique idea and premise for a book. For me the book sounded unique, not like others books that I read, and the only thing that didn’t work so good for me was the end, that sounded too Disney-like and somehow didn’t sit with the book. However, this is probably the only thing that I’m going to criticise. There were maybe some things that made me feel uncomfortable, just like building the house on the grave or some scenes with abuse – both human and animal – but nothing that would make me cringe.

The story alternates between Emma (Then) and Jane (Now), and the chapters were short and dynamic and it also made the story flow and reading much quicker. It was also the writing that makes this book so outstanding. It is sparse, but it is incredibly hooking and just beautiful – we can say just like the house! It just feels like the house, to be honest, white and with no barriers or unnecessary things and beautiful in its frugality. The way the stories of Emma and Jane mirrored made me feel a little claustrophobic and insecure, to be honest, it brought a lot of tension and changed my perspective more than once.
I loved how the story was divided between the two points of view. Both of them were in the first person but I’ve never had a problem to see who’s speaking. Duh, the chapters did have titles with the name of the characters! I also liked the way both stories were interwoven and how quickly and effortlessly they picked up when the other has just finished. Really, as the chapters flip back and forth the similarities between the women and their lives started to feel suspicious and somehow creepy, and it was obvious that eventually I’ll start to suspect Edward as well.

I think the characters there are not created to be liked by the readers. Their decisions didn’t help to warm to them, and it is not that I had problems with the characters but I did think that both the women, Emma and Jane, were incredibly naive. There were thousands of warning bells that they chose to ignore and the way they meekly agreed to be controlled by both house and Edward was remarkable and odd. I mean, allowing a man to control your diet and exercise? No, thank you. It was even more surprising that they were like lambs because they were both relatively troubled women and they should know better.
The house on One Folgate was like a living and breathing character itself, to be honest. I really started to believe that the house is trying to destroy the ones it doesn’t approve of, that it controls the lives. It was truly extraordinary how the author managed to create this special, claustrophobic atmosphere of this place.

It is not a book that is destined to make you scared or look over your shoulder. It is a book that is destined to make you feel tension and suspense, keep you in the dark and play with your mind. It is a slow burner, this novel, but with this kind of book it shouldn’t be different – well, you can’t expect the biggest twist to be explained on the first pages, right. No, you’re expecting it to grow slowly in tension, to change tracks, to pull wool over your eyes, and “The Girl Before” just does it. However, as the circle of suspects was very limited in the novel, the end didn’t come as such a BIG surprise, although the last quarter of the story truly meddled with my mind and made me change my opinion about some characters.

Because of the slow pace it takes some time for the book to really pick up, and it happens when Jane discovers that someone died in the house before, and it also takes time for Emma to start to feel afraid. However, even with it taking time, for me it was engaging, interesting and unusual read. The way the story developed was very masterfully and skilfully plotted and organized and I absolutely admired this feeling of dread that the author smuggled onto the pages.

This is a story about secrets, lies and appearances that can often be deceiving. It is one huge rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs and there was something very special in it and I didn’t want to put it down. It is an engrossing mystery, even if the characters are not too likeable – but they don’t have to be in this kind of story. It is good enough that they are multi – layered, they are very complex and I think that no matter what, we never know if they’re telling the truth or if they’re hiding something. It was a thought – provoking, addictive and a clever read, multi – layered with many surprises and I highly recommend “The Girl Before” to you.

Tomorrow head to : Everywhere and Nowhere for the next stop on the blog tour!

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Corpus by Rory Clements / Blog Tour

Hi guys, happy Thursday! We’ve almost done it to the weekend, yay! In the meantime I have a very exciting blog tour for you today – “Corpus” by Rory Clements. The book sounds incredibly intriguing and it already has raving reviews – I personally can’t wait to start reading it! It is already on my bookshelf, but what with time – lack and life generally getting in the way I haven’t started it yet – but am so looking to it! I am sure that after reading the extract that I have a pleasure to post today you’ll be wanting to read it as much as I do!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

1936.26859967

Europe is in turmoil.

The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland.

In Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror.

Spain has erupted in civil war.

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within weeks, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

In a London club, three senior members of the British establishment light the touch paper on a conspiracy that will threaten the very heart of government. Even the ancient colleges of Cambridge are not immune to political division. Dons and students must choose a side: right or left, where do you stand?

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson…

Set against the drumbeat of war and moving from Berlin to Cambridge, from Whitehall to the Kent countryside, and from the Fens to the Aragon Front in Spain, this big canvas international thriller marks the beginning of a major new series from bestselling author Rory Clements.

Berlin, August, 1936

CHAPTER 1

The man was grey-haired, about fifty, and carried a black briefcase. He

wore black trousers, a brown linen jacket, white shirt and striped tie but

no hat. He might have been an office worker, except for the white socks

and brown, open-toed sandals. White socks and sandals. In the middle of

a working day, in the traffic-mad tumult of Potsdamer Platz, in the centre

of Berlin. He was standing beside her at the edge of the pavement, waiting

to cross.

Nancy Hereward turned her head and caught his eye. She stared at him

hard and he looked away. She felt like laughing, but her mouth was dry

and she had a terrible thirst. Surely, if he was following her, he wouldn’t

have made eye contact? Nor would he have dressed so distinctively. If

you were tailing someone, you had to meld into the crowd, not stick out.

A gap opened up between the trams, the buses, the cars and the horsedrawn

carts, and he made a dash for the other side of the road by way of

the clock tower island. Nancy waited.

Ahead of her, a policeman with white gloves was directing the onrush

of vehicles. To her left , two young women in sunglasses were examining

postcards at a newspaper kiosk. They wore flat slip-on shoes and shortsleeved,

calf-length summer dresses, one polka-dot, the other floral,

revealing healthy, tanned forearms. Through the fog of her brain, Nancy’s

first thought was that they must be tourists like her, but they seemed too

confident for that, and their shoes were not designed for tramping across

miles of an alien city. She caught the soft burr of their spoken German.

Their easy sophistication marked them down as bourgeois Berliners, not

provincials.

Nancy realised that she was doing the same to everyone she saw;

assessing them, deciding who they were, what they might be concealing.

Suddenly everyone looked like plainclothes officers. She had an urge to

confront everyone in the crowd and demand of each of them, ‘Are you

secret police? Are you secret police?’ She pulled her sun hat down over

her hair. Her hands were sweaty and her dress clung to her body. She

clutched her slim shoulder-bag closer to her side and walked on.

It was late afternoon but the heat of the day had not yet relented. She

and Lydia had taken the U-Bahn from the Reichssportfeld station at

the Olympic Stadium in the west of the city and had spent two hours

shopping and sightseeing in the broad avenues and boulevards around

Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden. Now she had slipped away and

was alone, the map of the streets she must walk down memorised.

The city was full of thousands of tourists, here for the Olympics and

all the fun surrounding the games. No one is following you. She said the

words under her breath. She gripped her hands into fists, then released,

then gripped again. She took deep breaths to calm herself and increased

her pace, trying to make herself look businesslike, less foreign. Less

interesting…

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rory2bclements2bcolourRORY CLEMENTS won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award in 2010 for his second novel, Revenger. He is the author of the John Shakespeare series of novels which are currently in development for TV by the team behind Poldark and Endeavour. Since 2007, Rory has been writing full-time in a quiet corner of Norfolk, England, where he lives with his family.

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The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond

The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond

 

33388406Publisher: Macmillan

Publishing Date: 26th January 2017

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

Number of pages: 480

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

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

 

Synopsis:

Number 11, Dukes Square, looks just like the other houses on the Brighton seafront: a Regency terrace with elegant sash windows, a winding staircase, and post piled up in the hall for its tenants. It might be part of the city’s history, but it’s also a place of brand new beginnings.

Georgie has followed her childhood sweetheart to Brighton but is determined to carve out a career for herself in journalism. Throwing herself into the city’s delights is fun and exciting, but before she knows it, she’s sliding into all kinds of trouble . . .

Charlotte’s in the city for a new start, hoping to keep her head down and somehow get over the heartbreaking loss she’s suffered in the past. But Margot, the stylish old lady on the top floor, has other ideas. Like it or not, Charlotte must confront the outside world, and the possibilities it still holds.

A terrible revelation sent Rosa running from London to start again as a sous chef. The work is gruelling and thankless but it’s a distraction at least . . . until she comes up against the stroppy teenager next door who challenges her on her lifestyle choices. What if Rosa’s passion for food could lead her to more interesting places?

As the three tenants find each other, it’s as if a whole new chapter of their lives has begun. The House of New Beginnings is a moving and uplifting novel from bestselling author Lucy Diamond.

Rating: 5/5

Oh yes, guys, it was a high time for a new Lucy Diamond’s book – I’ve been already experiencing Ms Diamond withdrawal symptoms, to be honest, missing her warm and inviting writing style and gorgeous stories about strong women. When I’ve seen the title of the new book – “The House of New Beginnings” – I really didn’t have to read the synopsis to know that it’s going to be a gorgeous novel about taking chances and starting afresh. And guys, this cover…! THIS COVER…! Better let’s not start on this beautiful, sparkly, eye – catching cover…

When starting a book by Lucy Diamond I know it is going to introduce me to some lovely, strong female characters. The author’s incredible strength lies in writing about people that easily could be our friends, neighbours, family. This time we have three main characters – Rosa, working in a hotel’s kitchen, chopping onions and avoiding flying knives, Charlotte whose marriage didn’t get through a tragedy and Georgia, following her boyfriend who’s just got a new job in Brighton. Of course, there is so much to the girls than meet the eye! They had some very complicated pasts and they all want to start afresh – even Georgia, who sees the move to Brighton as a chance to start a new career. What the girls have in common right now is their new address – they live in the same house, Number 11 Dukes Square, but soon they all are going to cross each other’s paths…

As always, the characters are incredibly well written. Lucy Diamond has this gift to create warm, realistic, not over – exaggerated characters, people that we root for and we can so easily relate to, as we could easily find ourselves in similar situations. This is what makes Lucy’s writing so exceptional, I think, that she writes about normal, everyday things but makes it in a special way and she doesn’t overweigh the readers with only sadness but wonderfully compensates the most tender and serious moments with happy and funny ones. I can’t say that I had a favourite character in this novel because I loved them all, from the very beginning. Their stories were so different, but they had something in common as well – they were all looking for happiness, for finding their way even when it seems that all the odds are against you. Rosa has been badly hurt by a man she’s trusted and her reaction was to run away, so she left her job, house, friends and moved to Brighton, and instead in the glamorous world of PR she is working in the hotel’s kitchen – training to be a chef, as she herself ironically states. It was clear that she is wasting her time in this kitchen, with the bully chef, guys, and my heart went to her. I couldn’t watch how she was flagellating herself because of this what’s happened in the past, she deserved so much more, she had so much to offer!
Charlotte’s story was heart – breaking and you really wanted to make things better for her. There is nothing worse than have your heart broken in a way Charlotte had and her sadness was so understandable. She was so honest and so believable in all her feelings and things she’s been doing, so realistic with her uncertainty and shyness and I loved to see her blossoming, coming out of her shell and finally not forgetting but accepting.
Georgie was the youngest of the three women and her biggest problem was leaving her best mates for few months when following her boyfriend Simon to the lovely Brighton. She didn’t have such problems like Rosa and Charlotte although she was very talented in complicating her own life. She was lovely, full of great sense of humour girl, although I wanted to roll my eyes at her sometimes and mostly I wanted to tell her, hey girl, you are great, you don’t need to hang on Simon so much.

And yet all the women, that have already hit the lowest point of their lives, were still dreaming and hoping of something better. And, what’s more important, with each other’s help, or with help of other great women, they eventually plucked up the courage – and it was beautiful to see how, throughout the story, they were – yes, they had so many downs on their ways – but they always picked themselves up and looked forward. It may all sound too pompous or serious, guys, but of course it isn’t – Lucy Diamond delivers (again!) a down – to – earth, light – hearted and uplifting story.
Even the background characters, that come and go – and even the ones that are not so significant, like Paul (oh my word! How much I laughed!) – they add so much to this story, and the book wouldn’t be the same without them. They also bring some twists and turns and that made the reading so hooking and so interesting and really, some of the surprises that were their doing were so unexpected. They were all very true to life and the author brought them so effortlessly to life – just like the setting, the house itself and all the events that happened when all the three women were living at Dukes Square. Lucy Diamond’s descriptions are colourful and vivid but she doesn’t need to write thousand words to describe a thing, she just finds the best words and ways to describe them in a way that has us glued to the pages. There was not a flat moment in this story, guys, and it was a real rollercoaster ride of feelings and emotions with a great dose of brilliant humour – Lucy Diamond at her best!

Truly, “The House of New Beginnings” is a brilliant read about new beginnings (sic!), friendship, dealing with grief and betrayal, finding your own feet – full of uplifting messages and hope. And the dishes that Rosa creates, oh my word, guys…! They sounded so, so delicious! I wouldn’t hesitate to become a regular at her diner! I found myself really engrossed in the book and the different storylines and the characters that – at the beginning – didn’t know each other, were working together perfectly and I kept my fingers crossed for them all. The story is not rushed, but it has a lovely pace to it that allows you to enjoy all the small and big things in the characters’ lives. And having created such brilliant characters the author doesn’t have to push on fireworks, an extravagant plot but this what she writes about is lovely and down to earth and I often found myself nodding my head with agreement at the characters’ way of resolving their problems. Another winner from one of my favourite authors and I can’t recommend it highly enough! Make sure you have it on your wish – list!

A Year at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

A Year at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

 

32944218Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 29th December 2016

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

Number of pages: 3517

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The perfect escapist read, for all fans of Cathy Bramley and Scarlett Bailey.
When sisters Nessie and Sam inherit a little pub in a beautiful country village they jump at the chance to escape their messy lives and start afresh. But when they arrive at the Star and Sixpence, it’s not quite what they imagined – it’s pretty much derelict, ruined by debts, and it’s going to be a huge job to get it up and running again. But they are determined to make the best of this new life and they set about making the pub the heart of the village once again. Their first year at the Star and Sixpence won’t be easy, though nothing worth doing ever is.
But when the sisters’ past comes back to haunt them, they start to think that the fresh start they needed is very far away indeed…

Rating: 4/5

So guys, this time I haven’t read the story when it was published as series but patiently, verrrry patiently waited for it to come out as one, big, gorgeous paperback – even though I am not against novels being published in instalments. There was really no reason why I wanted to read it as a whole, I just felt I can wait. I’ve already heard many good things about this book and I was really looking forward towards reading it, and let’s be honest for a moment, I immediately fell in love with this gorgeous cover as well.

So the story introduces us to sisters Nessie and Sam who have just inherited a pub in the countryside from their father – father that they haven’t seen or talked to for many, many years. However, they both decide that it’s time for something new, they both had some changes in their lives and so they soon find themselves running an idyllic pub and everything it involves – first of all, learning everything about running the pub, that’s it, and then all the amendments, power cuts, staff problems, winning the villagers over but also dealing with their own skeletons!

There are plenty of characters introduced to us in this novel, and there is this lovely feeling of community there as well. This is Little Monkham, a little village, where everybody knows everybody else and there is always one lady keeping all the strings in her iron fist and knowing why, where, who and with whom, and it was brilliantly captured in this novel – I totally bought it, even though I must have rolled my eyes once or twice, I was more like Sam there, taking things more with a pinch of salt but eventually accepting that some things will be done whether she liked it or not. But let’s come back to the characters – there were many of them but with this being a relatively long book it wasn’t so confusing or overwhelming. I loved some of the names, for example Father Goodluck, it’s a lovely name, isn’t it? The blacksmith Owen, cellar – man Joss Felstead… All the characters had their own stories to tell and they were really great developed, full of details, happy and sad moments and it was great that the author here and there was taking a break from the pub and the central characters of Sam and Nessie – even if they were lovely heroines! I love books about families, going into details about relationships between – this time – two sisters. Sam and Nessie were so different but both brilliant women and despite all those differences they loved each other and they were there to support each other. The dynamics between them were portrayed in such an effortless and realistic way, it was not only bed of roses but the girls had their misunderstandings, which only made the read much more realistic.

The author has nailed it with all the seasons or events perfectly and I’d love to spend a Halloween or summer fest at Star and Sixpence. Especially when a sexy celebrity is an added bonus! The blossoming romance aspects were full of twist and turns, there were more of them as on a winding road to be honest. The never ending will they/won’t they between Nessie and Owen could be annoying, as it took so much time and their attitude needed a lot of patience from the reader, but it was also incredibly sweet and innocent and it worked for me this time. I think it is because sometimes you just know that the characters are DESTINED to be together, so you’re willing to give them this little more time, even though you want to bang their heads together most of the time. No hard feelings!

I loved the sense of friendship and community in the story – it was so overwhelming that I immediately felt a part of this book, a part of Little Monkham. For such a small village it offered so much, starting with games of cricket, through wedding of the year to pub quizzes, with the pub always in the centre, and it all sounded so down to earth and so idyllic. There is so much love in the detailed descriptions of the pub, the author brought this place to life so effortlessly and I could easily see in my mind the interior or make myself comfortable and warm at the fireplace.

My only “but” is that some things were started, mentioned and then forgotten, or only shortly mentioned again. I know it did probably work well when the book was published in parts but in a story like this I like all the ends to be wrapped up and to know how exactly the situations were resolved, like for example this with Sam’s unfortunate affair (it’s nice to know that the person was rightly punished but I’d love to know what exactly happened), or Nessie’s ex – husband Patrick who so tamely agreed to Nessie’s decision, even though it looked like there was still a lot of fight to be done. There were moments that it felt too chopped and the things that were big and significant for the plot felt reduced.

“A Year at the Star and Sixpence” was a lovely, romantic, humorous and heart – warming novel, a great adventure with some really well developed characters. The world created by Holly Hepburn was inviting and warm and the story of the supposedly haunted pub, its locals and two sisters facing challenges in restoring it and bringing back to its glory allowed me for a few hours of a great escape. All the holidays, seasons and the small traditions were so lovely and captured with so much feeling. It is really a perfect book to snuggle up with in front of the fireplace, with a mug of hot chocolate. I found myself involved in the sisters’ lives and adventures and rooting not only for them but also for all the other characters. There is all I am looking for in a book – laughter and sadness, lovely, awkward romances, suspense and tension, adorned by believable, easy – going characters. Looking forward to reading much more from Holly Hepburn! Highly recommended!

The Vets at Hope Green: Escape to the Country by Sheila Norton

The Vets at Hope Green: Escape to the Country by Sheila Norton

 

32880549Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 19th January 2017

Series: The Vets at Hope Green #1

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

Number of pages: 328

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

PART ONE of a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals. Perfect for fans of Appleby Farm, Ivy Lane and Alfie the Doorstep Cat

Working as a receptionist in a London vets, Sam is living far from her idea of a simple life. She’s always broke, rents a tiny flat and is constantly arguing with her boyfriend. But the worst part is that her career is going nowhere. She wants to be a vet, but the most contact time with the animals she has is a quick hello when she books in their next appointment.

Something’s got to give, so when her parents suggest visiting her Nana Peggy in a small quiet picturesque village, she agrees, thinking a bit of R&R could do her good.

But rest and relaxation may not be the order of the day. Poor Nana Peggy’s lovely dog Rufus is unwell, and Sam can’t help but grow fond of him. With the help of Joe the local vet, a charming yet strangely distant man, Sam sets out on looking after him, despite her London life trying to call her back…

Rating: 4/5

I haven’t read a Shelia Norton books before, am not really sure why? If her other novels are so cosy and lovely written as “The Vets at Hope Green” than I’ve missed tons and am going to make up for this as soon as possible. Moreover, I love animals so this novella being about vets could work really well for me. Well, this is what I hope for, at least 🙂 And, as it turned out, it was a great introduction to the series, a feel – good, quick read. Tad predictable, tad too sweet but overall a nice, cosy novella, offering you a few moments of relax, rest and escapism.

Our main character, Sam, always wanted to be vet but right now she’s working as a veterinary receptionist in London. She’s dating Alex – they’ve been together for a while but Sam starts to think that this relationship doesn’t have a future – that is, until something happens that makes her to think everything over. A visit to her grandmother couldn’t be planned for a better moment, then – Sam is hoping to recharge her batteries and make some important decisions in the countryside. Long walks with her grandmother’s spaniel Rufus, sea air, Nan’s company is all what she needs right now. What she doesn’t need is problems and a new village vet, Joe Bradley…

The story ends, of course, with a cliff hanger, as it well can be expected in a series, and naturellement it made me want to read the story further. Moreover, I fell for the characters and I like Sam very much – I found myself keeping my fingers crossed for her, admiring how she dealt with the stressful situations, how she was around other people and animals. You could feel she has a big heart made of gold. There was some jumping to conclusions on her side, I suppose, as I think that one of the plotlines is going to turn a little differently than she thinks, but let’s just wait and see. Joe, on the other hand, the enigma vet in the town, was driving me crazy – he may be good around animals, and it is something already, right, but his hot/cold blowing was incomprehensible for me and it annoyed me a little. I am guessing there must be a perfect reason for him being like this but as yet it was not revealed. So patience, my friends, patience.
I also loved the setting of this novella – the gorgeous, coastal countryside of Hope Green in Dorset where everybody knows everybody else, and the feel – good community spirit was visible there. Heck, when people say how sorry they are because your dog has just died, they must be lovely folks to live around, right? No wonder Sam felt immediately at home there – I felt immediately at home when reading it!

So yes, it was a very promising start to the new series, methinks. What is great is the fact that as much as I am guessing how some things are going to develop there is also a lot of potential and the story can really go in multiple directions. It was a light, easy, sometimes too far – fetched, yet interesting read and I am looking forward to reading it further. It was not a story full of twist, turns and fireworks but it is clear that it was not meant to be like this, and sometimes it’s great to read such an easy, light novella. There is this overall feel – good factor to it, cosy atmosphere and even though it looks predictable, it didn’t bother me so much. Looking forward to part 2!