The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

 

32934019Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 7th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 219

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett

When Emma’s boyfriend Daniel pops the question with a ring the size of a small country, she suddenly realises just how different they are. She’s the Eastenders to his Made in Chelsea. She wants a low-key wedding with close friends and family in Uncle Colin’s pub, while Daniel’s mother is expecting a society do that their high-brow guests won’t forget!

How on earth can Emma put together a celebration fit for Lords and Ladies on a shoestring budget? Not to mention the fact her cross-dressing Uncle Barbara wants to be a bridesmaid, her best mate Kelly can’t stand Daniel’s best friend Cressida, and her dad is too proud to accept any help from Daniel’s family towards the costs.

There’s three months to go until the big day. Will Emma’s happy-ever-after end in disaster?

Rating: four-stars

Lately there was a lot of buzz about a new author, Lilly Bartlett, on Twitter, and there was this puzzle solving competition run by HarperImpulse who, actually, is Lilly Bartlett. I didn’t guess, of course, but seeing that it is, in fact, Michele Gorman, made me feel very desperate to read this book. Moreover, this title and the cover of this novel are so good – feeling and I would read this book no matter what. And, as it turned out, “The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square” was a cute, romantic comedy to immediately lift your spirits and make you laugh and feel better.

This is a story about two different world, to be honest, and how well they can work together. The opposites attract, right? I loved to see that after the initial awkwardness Emma and Daniel’s parents found common ground and that the differences in their lives were mostly amusing for them and how much they enjoyed each other’s lives. The wedding dress shopping was of course a brilliant experience for me, less for Emma, I think, as she needed to organize two trips, for example. Also, I loved how laid – back Daniel’s family was about Emma’s extended family in the person of Uncle Barbara – he was absolutely brilliant! Actually, all the characters in this story are so colourful and quirky. They were just jumping out off the pages, so realistic they all felt. This East/West London divide was brilliant, and the difference in life – styles couldn’t be better captured.

I found the beginning a little confusing. I had a feeling there was no introduction, we were immediately thrown into the heart of the story and when mostly it works, here I was a little bit confused and it took me a moment to get my head around and start to feel at home, following Emma and Daniel’s wedding preparation. That Emma didn’t know that her fiancé Daniel not only has posh accent but comes from a very privileged family was this tad unbelievable for me and made me feel a little lukewarm. There were moments that Emma annoyed me incredibly and I just couldn’t get this whole “me”, “alone”, “I’ll do/organize it” thing. It was as if she didn’t trust anybody and felt she’d do everything better. On the other hand, I was very impressed with Daniel’s mother. She wanted to help so badly but was, of course, always refused, and she took it all in such a laid – back way, and it was brilliant. But – it was great to see how inventive and creative Emma and her friends are, especially now, in the times when you just need to click your fingers and have everything delivered to your doors.

This was a lovely, easy story, so light to read that you will be able to devour it in one sitting. Seeing this whole weeding come together was so heart-warming, guys, especially seeing how many people were engaged in organizing this event. This book clearly shows that it is not important HOW, but with whom, that those are people that count and when you are with people you love, everything is going to be perfect. But even with this message in it, it is not a cheesy read, oh no, it is clever, humorous and quirky read, full of bubbly characters and feel – good factor with the right amount of other important issues, such as accepting people as they are, illness and dealing with it.

Find Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt / Blog Tour + Giveaway

Hi there, and happy Thursday. A new day, a new blog tour  and today, guys, I have a review AND a giveaway for you. Hope you sit comfortably – enjoy!

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Find Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

 

34113446Publisher: Tule Publishing

Publishing Date: 14th March  2017

Series: Willoughby Close #3 (find my review of part 1 here and part 2 here)

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

Number of pages: 399

Genre: Romance, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

Harriet Lang had the perfect life, so she’s left reeling when everything is taken from her in one fell swoop. Suddenly, Harriet learns her beautiful farmhouse in the Cotswolds is double-mortgaged, her husband Richard’s been unceremoniously fired—and he’s become a little too close to his young, sexy assistant.

Harriet moves into Willoughby Close with her three children, trying to hold her head up high. With the help of her neighbor and newfound friend Ellie Matthews, Harriet starts to rebuild her life–but dipping a toe in the dating pool feels strange and meanwhile her children are struggling in different ways. She wonders if starting over is really possible…

Then Willoughby Close begins to weave its healing magic on both her and her children, and Harriet begins to see a way forward. But when Richard reappears in her life, wanting to make amends, Harriet must make the painful decision about how much of the past can be forgiven—and what kind of future she is fighting for.

Rating: four-stars

“Find Me at Willoughby Close” is the third and – in my opinion – the best yet part in the Willoughby Close series. Each part introduces us to new characters, so of course you can read the books as stand – alones, however all of the characters were usually already mentioned, and it was also the case with our Harriet Lang. The picture of Harriet that the author has painted was not so optimistic though, she was this kind of yummy – mummy driving a four by four, belonging to those who usually blank you out at the school gates, spoiling her three children with electric devices and ponies. You could think she has the perfect life, right? Well, as it turns out, sort of.

The author, in a very accessible and interesting way, showed in her story how it is to fall, put yourself together and start again. How to learn that money – even if important in our lives – are not everything. I found it really interesting to watch how Harriet’s family was starting to learn actually from the beginning, was given a chance to see that they’re going to survive, that down – sizing doesn’t mean the end of the world, even though it was not the most easier thing for them. I could imagine – you’re used to living in luxury and comfort and then suddenly you had to take a pass on literally all of the things that you took for granted, and it was especially difficult for the children.

Kate Hewitt’s writing style is lovely – it’s engaging, and this time the story was flowing effortlessly. She has written the characters in a brilliant way and I quickly warmed to them all and even though in the previous parts Harriet could appear inaccessible and arrogant, in this novel it was explained why she was like this and I think it was because she so quickly rearranged her train of thoughts and behaviour that made me keep everything crossed for her. It was not easy for her, there were some ups and downs, putting emphasis on downs here, and even when she had her weaker moments, she wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves. Yes, there were moments that I wanted to shake her very hard, as well, the way to finding what she really wants was rather bumpy, and she was mostly so negative, but nevertheless, she was a likeable character. The other characters fade a little in Harriet’s shadow, as the book was really centred around her, and I had a feeling we weren’t given a huge chance to get to know them properly. There are Harriet’s children and I think it’s Mallory that gets the most mentions, and the picture painted of her was not the most optimistic one and I can only hope that she’s smart enough. I was not sure what to think about Richard, to be honest. I could for sure see why he didn’t tell Harriet that they’re in troubles. He seemed backboneless to me, and I was happy that in the end Harriet showed him that they can be happy in a different way.

This story is about learning a lesson or two. It took Harriet some time but she eventually realized that money changed everything in her life, and also that it changed her. She stopped seeing what’s important in her life – she thought it’s popularity, pony club, yummy mummies meetings but then she realized that it’s something very different. A lovely novel about finding yourself again, about adjusting, about finding answers. There are lies, deceits, money and troubles in this novel, a read that I really enjoyed. The sexy vet may be misleading, as there is not a lot of romance in this story, as it is more of a personal development, but it worked for me. Already looking forward to the next part in the series!

GIVEAWAY!

The giveaway for this tour is 1 paperback copy of Meet Me at Willoughby Close, good luck!

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Invisible Women by Sarah Long – Blog Tour + Guest Post

Hi guys, hope you are all doing great. Today I have a great guest post for you from the author of “Invisible Women”, Sarah Long. The book sounds totally like my cup of tea and I am looking forward for it being published in paperback in autumn – right now you can treat yourself to an ebook. She’s writing about Facebook addiction – rings a bell, no? Put your feet high and enjoy!

 

Blog by Sarah Long

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 Facebook Addiction

It makes you unhappy. You are forced to compare your ordinary existence with far more glamorous lives. You‘ve been to the supermarket and put some chops in the oven, while everyone else is on a tropical island or a ski slope, pouting at the camera to convey just how fab a time they are having.

And yet most of us are addicted. We pick up our phones the moment we wake up to check what our Friends have been up to. Marvelling at the person who posted his opinions on Brexit at four in the morning. Four in the morning!! The bragging of the proud grandmother, the international business jetsetter, the manic gardener. All of them shameless show-offs, even though we were taught as children not to blow our own trumpet.

There’s another purpose to Facebook, aside from keeping up with family and friends. Sorry, that’s Friends with a capital F. It’s a buffet against loneliness. You can dip into other people’s lives the way you might have leant over the garden gate in a former age to have a good old nose around.

In my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN, my heroine Tessa is feeling the emptiness now her youngest child has gone away to university. Or ‘uni’ as she has trained herself to call it, not wanting to appear old-fashioned. Every day, she stalks her daughter on Facebook, examining her photos, scrutinising all the boys and wondering which one she may be ‘seeing’ and which one she may have ‘friend zoned.’ She worries that Lola’s looking a little the worse for wear, you do hear terrible stories about Freshers’ Week, and teenagers overdoing the drink and falling into the river.

But it’s not her daughter she should be worried about. Social media is a notoriously convenient tool for stoking up old fires. You never really ‘move on’ from your past any more. Not when your teenage boyfriend can track you down so easily, even though you are now both in your fifties and one of you is married.  When Tessa receives a message from John, her world is turned upside down. Her Facebook addiction brings unexpected consequences in the form of a hot, illicit romance. Or maybe that is what she was looking for all along. If you’re bored with your husband and living life at one remove, as an online  spectator, why wouldn’t you embrace the chance for something as real and insistent as your former admirer who’s come all the way from America to claim you for his own?

 INVISIBLE WOMEN by Sarah Long is published by Bonnier Zaffre

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A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

 

33387208Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 6th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Funny, feisty and all-too-true, A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy is for anyone who loves their family so much they’d just like a weekend away from them.

Fern Carlile has a lot on her plate. It’s a good thing she loves her big, imperfectly perfect family, because she’s the one who washes their pants, de-fleas the dog and runs her own business. A hearty meal is the one thing that brings the Carliles together – but over the course of a year, the various courses also pull them apart.

Around the table sits an eight-year-old militant feminist, a pair of teenage accidental parents, and a cantankerous OAP. Fern’s husband needs an extra seat for his spectacular midlife crisis.

Will Fern’s marriage be over by the time coffee is served? Perhaps she’ll give in and have the hot new dish that looks so tempting. Decisions, decisions . . .

Rating:  five-stars

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Heck, guys, I am really not sure why this book is not being shout about from the rooftops! No matter under which pen name the author is writing, over the last couple of years all of the books by Claire Sandy I’ve read proved to me that she is a fantastic writer with an exceptionally sharp observations skills and her stories are down – to – earth but written with tons of dry humour, and this is what I so love. Also, please don’t ask me which book by Clare Sandy/Juliet Ashton is my favourite because there isn’t one – I love them all just the same! I just can’t get enough of her books, guys, they are utterly brilliant and “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was just the same.

Welcome the Carlile family. Fern’s life is perfect – well, sort of. She has a house, great children and lovely partner Adam and no money problems more, as Adam has written a song that is being played all over the TV. But then, suddenly, Fern and Adam decide to split. The plot takes place within one year, starting in June and ending June next year, at Midsummer supper in Carlile’s garden. However, this one year the things go not as smoothly as usually and the party ends in a disaster. During those twelve months there is A LOT happening in the family – as they say, it never rains but it pours, right, so there is not only the temporarily break – up going to blow the Carlile’s family up – there are many other surprises waiting for the unexpecting adults. Each chapter is titled with a month and a name of a dish that Fern and Adam ate for their anniversary, and really, the dishes were a great equivalent of this what was happening in the chapter.

I loved the characters, from the very beginning, even though I had some problems with Aunt Nora, but quickly I started to love her probably most of all the characters. You need a very short “getting used to”- phase to Aunt Nora but then I couldn’t wait for her to enter the scenes and for her remarks, even though there were still moments that I wanted to shush her personally. Fern on the other hand, well, she was a woman wearing her heart on her sleeve. She was the one keeping the family firmly in control, cooking, looking after the bills, sorting out birthdays’ presents, walking the dog, cleaning, doing the laundry… well, shortly, looking after the family, the close and distant one – truly, your typical woman. But – she was exceptionally well written and even though she was so normal, so usual, it didn’t mean she was boring. On the contrary, she was all but boring. Because of the feeling of normality you couldn’t help but root for her and really, Claire Sandy gave this normality a face lifting and believe me, you will all fall for Fern. The way she was dealing with everybody and everything, with the problems, troubles, twists and turns that life was throwing her way was the way I personally would love to deal with them – she was troubled but she was also as cool as a cucumber and even when she was hot inside she stayed cool on the outside.
So Fern just wants to live her life as it is but – sadly – Adam seems to have other ideas. Oh guys, his midlife crisis made me laugh, roll my eyes, cringe with embarrassment and it was so, so entertaining! Suddenly he wanted a life without problems, he wanted to enjoy his second youth and make use of all this money that wham – bam was there to be spent. There was everything you could expect: younger woman, penthouse, diet, leather trousers and being all “cool”.
The children, Ollie and Tallulah, were brilliant. Especially Tallulah, with all of her feminist views, and this only in the lovely age of 8 years old! Go into hiding, Suffragists! It was sweet and hilarious at the same time, because you could just see in your mind how serious she was, and knowing that she’s actually only still a child made it so ridiculously funny.
This colourful group of eclectic characters was brought to life and they made the book so vivid and vibrant. Just imagine, so many different personalities under one roof! Problems, misunderstandings and arguments are recipe for disaster. I bought them all just as they were, even Fern’s “cleaner” Evka – you need to take them with a pinch of salt sometimes but altogether they worked together perfectly and they made the story unputdownable for me. It doesn’t happen often that I fall so much for the characters, and here they were like my own family to me. This bunch of characters care about brilliant dialogues, hilarious one – liners, and shows all kind of different relationships and dynamics. They’re all so unique and so distinctive.

So yes, I am actually a little bit in love with this book. It was fun and quirky, with brilliant characters, and the author tells about things like they are, with no holds barred. She has written about normal family – with all the ups and downs, function and dysfunction, troubles and successes but she has made this family not only special but down – to – earth. They could have their differences but in the end they all stuck together, they supported each other, just like it should be. “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was full of laugh – out – loud moments, but also there were moments that were much, much more poignant. A cringey, embarrassing moments intertwined with deeper, poignant ones and I loved this mix – it was perfect.
This is a story telling us that there are not perfect families out there, that they all have their ups and downs but that the most important thing is to communicate and be there for each other. It was incredibly realistic read, so fresh in its sharpness and down – to – earth observations of everyday life. It also shows that we should live our life just like we want it to live, without worrying or being ashamed of it. It was really a fantastic read, this kind of book that I’d love to be able to read for the first time over and over again. Highly, highly recommended!

Girl 99 by Andy Jones

Girl 99 by Andy Jones

 

32606696Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Publishing Date: 14th February  2017

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

Number of pages: 318

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When Tom’s girlfriend walks out on him the day before Christmas, he feels humiliated but not necessarily heartbroken. Sadie wasn’t, after all, The One. If we’re being precise, she was number eighty-five.

And so, for reasons that are only mostly wrong, Tom embarks on a mission to bring his number of encounters up to a nice neat one hundred.

Over the course of his quest he sleeps with a colleague, a colleague of a friend, a friend of a friend, a friend of a friend’s wife, the estate agent selling his flat and several more besides.

Everything is going, if not well, then at least according to plan…and then Tom meets Verity. Whether she’s The One remains to be seen, but she’s certainly more than just another number.

Rating: three-stars

Oh guys, you’ve no idea how excited I was to read a book by Andy Jones – finally! I love reading women’s fiction written from a man’s perspective, and I also have both Andy Jones’s previous book on my TBR pile, though have never come to reading them – YET – and so I was truly desperate to read “The Girl 99”.

So this book. Arrrgh, it got me a headache. So torn about this one! It may be a book also for women but mostly I think it was for men – the story seemed to me like a never – ending boastings of a man about his conquests – and it actually was only about taking girls in his bed and crossing them off the list. Just look at me, the pasha, ha! And truly, if it is the way that men think and behave than I am really happy to be a woman. I’m sorry, maybe I just didn’t got the story but this is how I feel, and it has nothing to do with feminism – I just felt like the women were objectified in this story. It might be that the main character is only looking for real love, to find The One but well, for me he’s looking in the wrong way. However, OK, Tom has redeemed himself showing that he also has feelings and emotions, that he’s not the heartless bastard that his best friend wanted to make out of him, and – hallelujah! – he seemed to learn what real love is. Tom was rather prone to putting himself into embarrassing situations and mostly he was rather misunderstood by the opposite sex. Hmm. His journey into the happy ever after was bumpy and painful. I also liked the writing style – it was sharp, the author is a good observer of reality and the story is original.

I liked the fact that there were also other aspects to the story. The author touches upon family dynamics as well in his novel and Tom’s family was really well portrayed. The interactions between Tom and his father and sister were entertaining yet poignant, and the relationships in this family were so well captured and felt so realistic – the author writes as it is. But sadly, there was nothing that wow-ed me in this story and eventually I started to skim reading.
At the end the author mentions that his debut story is about one of the characters that also stars in “The Girl 99”. Well, duh, but it didn’t make me want to immediately read this book. Sadly. I was hoping for much more, for a clever, hooking, unique read but sadly nothing doing.

All in all, “Girl 99” was light – hearted and humorous (though it was not my kind of humour, however it is just my personal feeling and opinion and it doesn’t mean that other people are not going to enjoy this book, which they already do!) book about finding love when you don’t expect it. It is written in a very modern way, full of nowadays remarks, and it is especially visible in the way the characters communicate, as the dialogues are sharp and well – written. Yes, it was not only a story about making it to number 100, but also about finding out who you are and what it is you want for your life, and I appreciate that, and I am really, truly sorry that it didn’t work for me.

Under a Sardinian Sky by Sara Alexander / Blog Tour

Hello, hello, hope you all are having a great Saturday! Also hoping it’s not as cold as rainy as here, bleurgh. However, if it is, I may have a brilliant remedy for you – the book that I am going to review today, as it’s my turn on Sara Alexander’s blog tour, is as sunny as the Sardinian Sky mentioned in the title, it is delicious to read and it is for sure going to brighten a day like this!

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Under the Sardinian Sky by Sara Alexander

 

33650464Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 20th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback 

 

Synopsis:

Set against the beautiful backdrop of post-World War II Sardinia, Sara Alexander’s evocative novel is a sweeping story of star-crossed romance between an American lieutenant and a local girl.

Sometimes a family’s deepest silences hide the most important secrets. For Mina, a London-based travel writer, the enigmatic silence surrounding her aunt Carmela has become a personal obsession. Carmela disappeared from her Italian hometown long ago and is mentioned only in fragments and whispers. Mina has resisted prying, respectful of her family’s Sardinian reserve. But now, with her mother battling cancer, it’s time to learn the truth.

In 1952, Simius is a busy Sardinian town surrounded by fertile farms and orchards. Carmela Chirigoni, a farmer’s daughter and talented seamstress, is engaged to Franco, son of the area’s wealthiest family. Everyone agrees it’s a good match. But Carmela’s growing doubts about Franco’s possessiveness are magnified when she meets Captain Joe Kavanagh. Joe, an American officer stationed at a local army base, is charismatic, intelligent, and married. Hired as his interpreter, Carmela resolves to ignore her feelings, knowing that any future together must bring upheaval and heartache to both families.

As Mina follows the threads of Carmela s life to uncover her fate, she will discover a past still deeply alive in the present, revealing a story of hope, sacrifice, and extraordinary love.

Rating: three-stars

I am the first in the line for a good historical fiction, so when the opportunity to review “Under a Sardinian Sky” came my way I didn’t hesitate for long. This book is set in the 1950’s Sardinia and it includes all of the elements that make a novel really great – lovely setting, interesting background, traditional Italian families and scandal. Hello, I thought, or salve – give me this novel, like, pronto. It immediately transported me into this different era and the characters’ world.

So. This book. It gave me a headache, really. I absolutely loved the writing style, the descriptions and even the characters were nicely drawn, but… Yes, but. But after the initial euphoria that I am so in love with the book there came a moment that it started to feel too flat for my liking, and in the end it just didn’t wow me. After such a promising start I was expecting the story is going to continue like this but – sadly – for me it just went downhill and it didn’t keep my attention.
The story features Carmela, a young Sardinian girl, oldest child in her family, currently engaged to Franco. A very talented girl – a great seamstress who could also speak fluent English, which was very useful, as there were American soldiers stationing nearby, in need of interpreters. And needless to say, this closeness to those Americans was a reason of the troubles that were to come. Introducing here Joe Kavanagh, who felt in love not only with Sardinia and landscape and the Italian hospitality but also with a girl that was promised to another man.
The author introduces us to SO MANY background characters in this story that really quickly I stopped to try to understand who is who and in which relationship they are to Carmela and her family. The names were like a blur, and so many of them were too insignificant to the story in my opinion and I didn’t want to waste my time for them. Carmela herself was a multi – layered character and as it usually happens in historical fiction, she was much ahead of her times, although she valued her family and traditions very much. However, she was brave enough to see what it is she wants from her own life and that she wants much more from marriage than is being promised to her. She wanted to be treated like a human being and not a machine bringing children into the world and cooking all day long. Her story was brought to us through Mina – and guys, please help me here, but why? Carmela was the hugest taboo in Mina’s family, they just didn’t talk about her and yet here comes Mina and tells us her story, and I just couldn’t understand why did she feel this need? It would work perfectly without Mina, trust me, and the end would also work without her – maybe wouldn’t feel so rushed like it felt when I read it.

As much as I appreciated the descriptions of the setting, food and all other things, after the initial fascination I started to feel a little tired with them all. Each thing, event and material used for sewing a dress were described in a very minutiaed, detailed way and sometimes they took many pages, and I just wanted to get back to the thread, to see what’s going to happen. Of course, the author could bring all the smells and freshly cooked food to life but there came a moment that I couldn’t take it any longer. Also, the inner monologues of the characters, especially of Carmela, started to be really tiring – I wanted her to get straight to the point and not weigh up all the pro and cons (yes, you can say a lot about Carmela but not that she was spontaneous – there was not a place left for questions or understatements, she was just over thinking everything and mostly it made me feel desperate), only do!

But altogether, “Under a Sardinina Sky” was a very atmospheric love story, but it also touched upon many different issues, such as deciding what it is you want from your own life, about courage, love and family bonds. The writing was evocative and, my problems aside, it was truly beautiful and atmospheric. I didn’t have any problems to feel a part of the characters’ world, such vivid was the writing. The author has thoroughly researched the era she was writing about, bringing all the traditions and the family bonds so easily and effortlessly to life. A lovely, colourful story about a young woman with a backbone (finally!), about choices and being fearless in following your dreams and your heart. I am already looking forward to reading Sara Alexander’s another novel.

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The Reading Group: April by Della Parker + Guest Post

Hi guys. Today I am finally reviewing the fifth part of  “The Reading Group” series by Della Parker and as a special treat I have a guest post from the author on one of the inspirations behind the series. It’s brilliant, so make sure to read it!

The Reading Group by Della Parker

 

32919832Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 30th March  2017

Series: The Reading Group #5 (read my review of #1,2 and 3 here)

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

Number of pages: 93

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

‘Brims with laughs, love, family and friendship. You will love this heartwarming read!’ Trisha Ashley. Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Holly Martin.

Serena, the ambitious young Headmistress of Poppins Private School, has just begun reading Jane Eyre alongside her friends in the Reading Group. She would never admit it out loud, but she’s half hoping that reality might once again echo fiction. Will she perhaps meet her own Mr Rochester?

That doesn’t stop her from being slightly alarmed when her secretary arranges an appointment with one Mr Winchester, the handsome father of a troubled pupil in the midst of a messy divorce. But when the line between work and pleasure begins to blur, and troubles in her own family come to a head, Serena is left wondering if being a romantic heroine is all it’s cracked up to be…

Meet the Reading Group: five women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don’t forget the glass of red!

Rating: 4/5

“The Reading Group: April” is probably my favourite part of the series right now. I enjoyed it immensely and I think that with every part the characters feel much more developed, complex and the story is this little better than the previous one. In April it is Serena’s story and she’s chosen “Jane Eyre” for the Reading Group, so you can immediately ask – is she going to find her Mr Rochester?

Serena was close to my heart as we both are teachers and I could see that she’s maybe not over – passionate about her job but that she really likes it and that she has heart for her students and her job. I immediately liked her, she was strong – minded but also vulnerable and the way she coped with her life after her husband’s death was just so uplifting, giving hope that it really can be better sometime.

This lovely short story squeezes between the pages many, many issues. It is about family dynamics and feeling unappreciated and under – valued by your own family, it’s about mental health and children being made victims of parents’ misunderstandings. It’s about finding what you want to do with your life and finding peace with grief. Again, I truly liked how the author took elements of “Jane Eyre” and adapted for “Reading Group”. There were moments that the story dragged on a bit and there were moments that some of the events felt too rushed but altogether this novella had the right pace and the right amount of events happening. Altogether, it was a lovely, light quick read that don’t forget about the importance of friendship. Recommended!

GUEST POST:

One of the Inspirations behind the Reading Group

 By Della Parker

I really enjoy writing about friendship.  It’s a theme that runs through many of my books.  In the Reading Group series the focus is on female friendship. I have some amazing female friends. Some of them have been in my life for over forty years and some are newer, but they are all very important to me.  Although I don’t ever transport real people lock, stock and barrel into fiction I do use elements of them and I do write about the issues that affect them.

            Serena, the Main Character of April is a lady who struggles because she doesn’t fit into her family – she has always felt that she is not quite good enough.  I have one or two friends who feel like this – in fact it’s surprisingly common.

            And of course if your family aren’t supportive it makes friendship massively important.

            The Reading Group is about a group of friends who meet to discuss a classic novel each month and discover that – spookily – one of their lives mirrors the plot.

            In April they are reading Jane Eyre and Serena, who’s headmistress of Poppins Private School, is half hoping that reality will echo fiction, as it has before, and she will meet her own Mr Rochester.

This doesn’t stop her from being slightly alarmed when her secretary arranges an appointment with Mr Winchester, the father of a troubled pupil.

It would appear that Mr Winchester has an ex wife who is also rather troubled (or possibly completely deranged!). To add to the drama there is turbulence (as there usually is) in Serena’s own family too. Serena begins to wonder if being a romantic heroine is all it’s cracked up to be…

The A – Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

The A – Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

 

33216522Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 20th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 320

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

‘Funny and poignant – a celebration of life and the enduring power of love’ – Carys Bray, bestselling author of A Song for Issy Bradley.

Rating: 5/5

This book is a big step away from Debbie Johnson’s previous rom – coms. Already her “Comfort Food Cafe” series was a little different, more serious in tone but “The A – Z of Everything” is a totally different level. I admit, it took me some time to get used to the new Debbie Johnson, as I totally love her specific sense of dry humour and I missed it a little lately, but you know what, this book, it is just magnificent, and the way the author writes about feelings and emotions is just beautifully gorgeous. I freely admit, it was hard for me to get into this story as I was all the time looking for a situation that’ll made me laugh out loud and I felt confused why they’re not coming but guys, honestly, my initial disappointment was very quickly replaced with the feeling of feeling my heart in my throat and having problems with swallowing. Sure, this trademark Debbie Johnson’s humour is still shining through the words and situations, and it is written in this typical author’s way, but this book is different. Period. And as much as I felt head over heals with Debbie’s “The Birthday That Changed Everything”, this book follows it closely.

The story is following Rose (Rosehip) and Poppy (Popcorn – brilliant nicknames, don’t you think?) and at the beginning, though I am really not sure why, I had great difficulties to say which one is Rose and which one is Poppy, each time I turned the page to a new chapter and there was the name of one of the sisters I needed to consider long if this is the younger or the older one. Really don’t know why. But only at the beginning. So we know that they were inseparable as children but then something very unthinkable happened and they haven’t seen or talked to each other for years. Heck, Poppy has never seen her nephew Joe and he’s already 16 years old! It takes some time for the “unthinkable” to be explained and while my imagination run wild, I haven’t come up with this possibility. So yes, estranged siblings – that is, till their mother’s friend Lewis let them know that Andrea is dead and that there is a little list of things they should do together – because Andrea’s greatest wish was to see her daughters re – united.

The two sisters couldn’t be more different, and while one of them focused on binge and comfort eating, the other one focused on her career and staying fit. When one of them felt like a doormat, didn’t have any confidence, was overweight and knew it and hated it but did nothing to change it, the second one was full of confidence, was a business – woman, had a great job and state – of – the – art apartment. They were full of flaws but guys – how much I loved them! From the very beginning. Yes, I wanted to shake them more than often, to bang their heads together but I so well could understand them, why they behaved this way, what has driven them to be like that – and it doesn’t happen often that I can get the characters SO WELL.

You know, this book brought out all kind of emotions out of me. I felt furious with the sisters for being so stubborn, I felt sorry for Joe for missing so much of his Aunt, I felt like crying when reading about Lewis’ missing Andrea so much, I felt proud of Andrea being so strong and brave. I could understand Andrea and her wish for her daughters not seeing her so ill and so weak, wanting them to remember her living and breathing and not thinking about her through the prism of seeing her on her deathbed. This story had me laughing and crying, feeling desperate and full of hope. It was so uplifting to see the two sisters finding each other and themselves afresh and heart – breaking to see how much it have cost them.

I loved to read about the tasks! Each of the letters was brilliant and believe me, guys, they were not like A is for apple or W is for watching films. They were thoroughly thought – over, they were complex and they had one thing in common – to bring the girls together. Some of the tasks were incredibly hard for Poppy and Rose, some of them were incredibly hilarious, but the most important thing was, I think, that they worked together on them – sometimes sober, more then often after a glass or two of wine, but together, slowly opening, reminiscing on their past and always having their mum in their memories.

A story that really makes you think twice. It will teach you not to take things for granted and to appreciate the smallest things in your life. And not only things, but people as well, because they won’t be in your life for ever. Novel about coming out of your comfort zones, about forgiveness. The author has done the impossible here, namely she has written a book that is so incredibly emotional on the sad side but at the same time so very uplifting, and I loved this perfect mix. Debbie Johnson can so brilliantly capture all the rawness of emotions, the broken hearts without judging the characters, and I loved this fact – it let me be angry with Rose and Poppy myself. This is really Debbie Johnson at her best, guys. “The A – Z of Everything” is a MUST read this spring and I will be recommending it to all of my friends, and I can start right now, so really, whatever you do, make sure you have this book on pre – order – it’s not a read to be missed and that is for sure going to stay with you for longer. It’s poignant, it’s full of sympathy, compassion and understanding and I can’t stop admiring the fact how much the author has managed to get into the characters’ heads and tell their stories in such a lovely way. Highly, highly recommended!

The Woman Who Met Her Match by Fiona Gibson

The Woman Who Met Her Match by Fiona Gibson

 

33229356Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 20th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

What if your first love came back on the scene . . . 30 years later?

After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.

That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.

But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?

A wonderfully funny novel, perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Joanna Bolouri and Milly Johnson.

Rating: 4/5

What a great book “The Woman Who Met Her Match” was! After the last two books by Fiona Gibson that were enjoyable but not as much as I’d loved them to be, the author is back with a great story like “Take Mum Out” or “Mum on the Run” and it makes me incredibly happy because I was already worried what’s happening and when am I going to get the brilliant Fiona Gibson again? No worries guys, here she is, with “The Woman Who Met Her Match”!

I felt immediately at home with this story. It was so warm and welcoming, full of dry humour – just what I like best – the things happening in the story were so down – to – earth and I am sure so many of us can relate to Lorrie. I liked her from the very beginning, as a young girl and then as a mature woman with two teenagers – great kids, BTW! She works hard as a manager at a cosmetic counter in a department store and she loves her job – her passion was palpable through the pages, she was the right person on the right place, guys. She had a big heart, was full of understanding, loved her family and altogether, was happy with her life and those were her children that signed her up on the dating website. My only regret is that there were only few of the dates – you know how much I love reading about disastrous dates and I would SO love to read more about Lorrie meeting those guys because those few that we got were hilarious!

Fiona Gibson has written her characters in the best possible way, they were more than realistic, they just felt like real people with real problems, because – of course! – there were some troubles heading Lorrie’s way, just like Antoine, her teenage crush getting in touch out of the blue, or a big company buying the beauty brand Lorrie was working for and going all young on her – and the author has just brought all the things so easily and effortlessly to life. There were many subplots in this story, but they were all done in a perfect way, and no matter what I was reading about, if it was Lorrie’s job or her mother’s upcoming wedding (oh my word. Lorrie’s mum was frustrating. Frustrating. I’ve no idea how she could bear up with her), I did enjoy them all, and because of this diversity this book was even more brilliant. Lorrie had a lot on her plate but all she did and said just rang true and I just couldn’t help but kept everything crossed for her and her family.

I am only not sure who Lorrie’s match was but oh well, I can live with this. I’m guessing it must be Stu and let’s stop for a moment here. Stu is Lorrie’s best friend and a lodger who’s running one of the best business you can imagine, namely his company Parsley Force delivers things for people who have forgotten to buy them! Or are too lazy to go out and buy them, whatever, but the idea is brilliant, just imagine – it’s snowing or raining, and you fancy a bag of crisps, you call and they bring them to you! Clever, no? However, I don’t know, I don’t want to spoil the reading for you so I’m not going to elaborate about this, but the end to this story and to Lorrie and Stu’s thread was so sudden and well, yes, I did expect it, it was just my gut feeling telling me that it’s going to end this way as there was really nothing indicating that there could be more between those characters. Especially Lorrie, she has treated Stu as best friend and those sudden confessions of love at the end made me roll my eyes to be honest. And I also am not sure what was it about Lorrie’s son and what’s it all for? A nice touch, yes, but only few lines and nothing more, so why?

“The Woman who Met Her Match” is a lovely read touching about many issues, such like grief, marriage, friendship, bringing your children up alone, family bonds and dynamics, showing that there is always time for love and that it can come in a very unexpected way. A story about second chances, illusions, about memories, and this all hidden between gorgeous cover – don’t you think it’s beautiful? It was a very easy and very enjoyable read and I am really glad to have the good Fiona Gibson back. She writes about the truth with honesty, she creates down – to – earth and normal situations but she gives “normal” a face – lifting and altogether, I can only highly recommend this lovely, comfortable read.

The Vets at Hope Green: A New Start by Sheila Norton

The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home by Sheila Norton

 

32491675Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 13th April 2017

Series: The Vets at Hope Green #3 (read my review of part 1 here part 2 here and part 3 here)

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

Number of pages: 80

Genre: Women’s Fiction,  Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

Synopsis:

PART FOUR of a serialised novel – a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

The last few months have been hard for Sam. Her dream to work as a vet is slowly becoming reality, and she is beginning to encounter the struggles and heartbreaks that someone in a job like this must face.

But what’s more heartwarming and inspiring than a litter of new piglets? On a call to a farm with Joe, Sam can’t help but feel a sense of renewal in her own life as she witnesses one of the most glorious and natural processes of all.

Sam’s thoughts inevitably turn to her own child – will she be able to cope when the baby is born? And with her love life so shaky, will a fatherless child turn out all right?

Rating: 2/5

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

So, “A New Start” is the fourth and last part to the Vets at Hope Green series by Sheila Norton. Yes, I did enjoy those short novellas, they were light – hearted, incredibly easy to follow and they were written in a way that’s just drawn me in and I wanted to know what’s going to happen in Sam’s life.

However, this last part disappointed me. Already the previous part was very short and this one was also so short, but while in the third part there was all the time something happening, here I had a feeling that everything is incredibly rushed. Don’t get me wrong, all the things were very neatly wrapped up but for me there was no sparkle to the writing, it was as if the author wanted to seal things up and just be done. Actually, there probably couldn’t happen anything new as all the opened threads needed to be closed, so in fact there were really no surprises. However, it was not the biggest problem for me. What spoiled this novel for me was something that I’ve already suspected is going to happen. Namely Sam and Joe. My opinion about Joe didn’t change a lot, yes, there was a lot of things going on in his life but for me it was not justification for him behaving like a spoiled child, being so incredibly moody, changing moods like a girl changes clothes, quoting a famous song. Then the way he was with Sam, blank her and ignore her because he was thinking she was with David, being OFFENDED with her because of this fact, even though he was still married to Andrea! What the hell??? How old are you, Joe, and what’s your way of thinking? But then happened this worst thing that I was expecting [SPOILER]– that Joe and Sam will stay together and I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but feel that Joe’s wife was not cold enough in her grave and they were already making plans for the future. Sorry. Out of place. (hide spoiler)]

I am incredibly, incredibly sad that this conclusion to the series didn’t work for me. No, it didn’t not work for me, I just didn’t like it. I love Sheila Norton’s writing style and the way she told this story, I liked the idea, I liked the place and the villagers (which there was almost no mention of in this last part, a pity!) but it just wasn’t for me this time. However, I am glad that I had a chance to have “The Vets at Hope Green” being introduced to me. It was a sweet, easy and uplifting story altogether.