The Holiday Cottage by the Sea by Holly Martin / #BlogTour

The Holiday Cottage by the Sea by Holly Martin

 

38344308Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 12th April 2018

Series: Sandcastle Bay #1

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

Number of pages: 249

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The perfect place to fall in love this summer…

Tori Graham is in need of a holiday. Trying to piece her heart back together after losing the love of her life, she escapes to Blossom Cottage, with its picturesque views of the sea. And plans to spend the summer in gorgeous Sandcastle Bay, where her best friend Melody Rosewood lives.

Tori’s not expecting her summer by the beach to be eventful, until she meets handsome and mysterious Aidan Jackson…

Aidan looks after the holiday cottage Tori is staying in. Healing from past hurts, he wants to avoid any further chance of heartache. But could this newcomer be the breath of fresh air he needs?

Finding herself embracing life in the coastal community, Tori starts to fall in love with Sandcastle Bay and its welcoming cast of residents. But that’s not all she begins to fall for, as Tori is swept away by Aidan’s genuine heart and mischievous sense of humour. The attraction between them is undeniable, but will a simple holiday romance be enough?

As Tori’s stay in Sandcastle Bay comes to an end she has a tough decision to make…. Has her heart found a new place to call home?

A joyously romantic summer read that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love. If you enjoy reading Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Lucy Diamond this book is for you.

Rating: five-stars

It’s been too long since I’ve read Holly Martin’s book and this is why I was that excited to start reading “The Holiday Cottage at the Sea”, and really guys, I haven’t realised how much I’ve missed Holly’s gorgeous, warm writing and her hilarious characters. So whatever you do, you just have to find time for this brilliant novel – it made me smile so much and it made me feel better. Yes, with Holly’s book you know where you’re heading to and yes, I’d love Holly to surprise us with one huge unpredictable twist, but her books have so many other merits that even the mandatory happy ever after is not something that’ll put me off reading her novels.

This book captured me immediately and Holly Martin’s storytelling is vivid, evocative and absorbing. I am always admiring the fact how easily she adds a word or two that immediately change the mood, this timing is perfect, and the dialogues were full of brilliant one – liners. She has a great hand for all kind of small touches that just make the story complete. It is also full of perfectly hilarious moments, so don’t be surprised when you suddenly start laughing out loud or spilling whatever you have to drink in your hand all over the table – be warned, and it starts already at the beginning with Dobby the turkey. Ha – I have you intrigued there, right?

The banter between the characters, especially Aidan and Tori, was brilliant – so effortless and so hilarious! The one thing that bothered me though was the length of their dialogues, they were all, the other characters as well, incredibly chatty, and often their statements took one page or even more, so eloquent they were, and sometimes I just wanted to tell them to finally get to the point. Sure, it’s nice when you can so beautifully pass your thoughts and feelings, however it doesn’t happen so often when you’re speaking, right? Nevertheless, I immediately warmed to Tori, she was instantly likeable and believable, and I loved her passion to her job. I loved to accompany her on her journey to rediscover herself. Also Aidan, oh my *sigh* *going gooey*, so brilliantly drawn and believable, and he was so utterly perfect, yet not too wishy – washy or too meh.
Agatha was very unforgettable character, guys, and often such characters annoy me awfully but she was just spot on, with her ideas and predictions. Also, Leo, James, Isla and Melody – they were all immediately likeable and realistic.

Holly Martin can, no matter what, always brilliantly capture the chemistry between the main characters. It’s always sparking, sizzling and vivid and I love this, because reading so many books you get all kinds of chemistry, and it doesn’t always happen that it’s so perfectly captured and visible. Yes, there came a moment that I wanted to bang Tori and Aiden’s head together but still, it didn’t mean that the chemistry was lost, oh no, it was there all the time and it was simply marvellous.

So altogether, “The Holiday Cottage at the Sea” was sexy and incredibly romantic and of course, as usual, Holly Martin has set her story in the most beautiful place ever. This tale was full of sunshine, gorgeous places, characters to die for. It was a story about grief, sense of guilt, friendship, close community, romance, love and heartberries – yes, heartberries. A really wonderful book with many hidden messages about second chances and trust – highly recommended!

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The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

 

37823400Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 19th April 2018

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

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 29.11.2018)

 

 

Synopsis:

Whatever happens to those kids at school who are always being tipped to be stars in adult life?

It’s a question all of us find ourselves asking at some time and Mike Gayle’s powerful, poignant novel answers it with regard to Danny Morgan and James McManus – rivals for top honours in everything throughout their school years in Birmingham.

Whatever their friends and teachers might have expected, neither Danny nor James is currently running the country.

Depressed and unemployed, Danny is facing an ultimatum from his girlfriend Maya: if he doesn’t get out and get a job, she’s leaving.

It was an accident that changed James’s life and now he is looked after affectionately by his parents. But his sister Martha believes that the role of full-time carers is destroying their lives – and infantilising her brother.

She suggests that James should go into a respite home while her parents take a break.

The respite home, as it turns out, where Danny has just got a job.

What is the path that has brought these two people to this unexpected place, and where will it take them next?

This is the story of Danny and James, but also of the families who love them and of the women they love. It is a story of many surprising twists, by turns funny and sad, painful and uplifting, and marks a brilliant new stage in the writing career of one of Britain’s favourite novelists.

Rating: five-stars

Having been a great fan of Mike Gayle since reading his first novel “My Legendary Girlfriend” I am always impatiently waiting for his new release. This time he let us wait long but it was worth the wait, as I think that “The Man I Think I Know” must be his best novel yet. Mike Gayle has always been a champion of writing about relationships but this time he’s opted for a different one, this of a friendship, and still he pulled it off completely, delivering a fantastic, emotional and realistic story. I had a feeling that few of Mike Gayle’s last books were a little different in tone but this book seems like a new direction – it’s mature, it’s powerful yet it still reads like other books by this author.

Mike Gayle’s writing style stays the same – it’s full of humour but also down to earth, chatty and easy to follow. His characters are always brilliantly developed and it’s the same here with Danny and James, as well as the other background characters. The friendship described in this story sounds realistic and true, both characters are genuine in what they’re doing and how they communicate. They are believable. They made mistakes, they’re not perfect, they have better and worse moments which only made them more true to life.
It is also one of the most unlikely friendships taking into consideration all the circumstances: how Danny and James got to know each other and how they met again after all those years. The story is told in alternative point of views and it was a great way to tell it. With their stories, they just pull you in deeper and deeper and I quickly found myself falling for them both and found both stories incredibly interesting and captivating. I was waiting for the big reveal and when it came I didn’t feel disappointed, like it often happens when you’re waiting for something holding your breath and then it feels so meh. No, it lived up to my expectations and the only thing that bothered me a little and left me a bit disappointed was the ending, guys, I’d love a little bit more, but it was the only thing, other than that I loved this story.

The things the characters are forced to deal with, those many things in their lives are true to life, and the way they’re dealt with is realistic, relatable and believable. The author offers also a very deep and detailed insight into a life with ABI – acquired brain injury and I loved the way it was dealt with, with tons of understanding and subtlety but without pitying. With his words, he touches upon the right heart – strings.

“The Man I Think I Know” is a book about second chances and personal growths. It’s heart – warming and uplifting, as well as poignant and moving. I drank this story in with my whole being, I didn’t want to miss a single word. A bittersweet, realistic tale about family dynamics, love and second chances with enough drama, fun and charming romance that I highly, highly recommend!

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

 

35849957Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 19th April 2018

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

Number of pages: 496

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 20.09.2018)

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You and me, we have history.
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.
This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.
You, Me, Everything is a heartfelt and unforgettable novel about the lengths we are prepared to go to for those we love.

Rating: five-stars

 

You can say that “You Me Everything” is Catherine Isaac’s debut novel, however she has already written 10 (if I’m not mistaken) books as Jane Costello – books that I loved from the bottom to the top of my heart, and probably it is why I was so scared to start reading this new release – I wanted to love it as much as I loved Jane’s books and what if “You Me Everything” won’t live up to my expectations?

But no fears, guys, no fears. This gorgeous read introduces us to few characters that were absolutely brilliantly developed and immediately either likeable or not. I was totally submersed in their lives, I think I’ve felt the same emotions Jess has been feeling. I’m sure you’re going to find yourself on a real rollercoaster journey filled with desperation, hope, devastation, boost, love and hate, fear and faith. Especially one of the subplots is truly heart – breaking and you can see that the author has not only done her research but she just got into her characters’ heads and perfectly described how it is to be in their shoes. Also, I loved the dynamics between the characters and the way they were developing and growing throughout the story. They were my favourite kind of characters when I kept changing my mind about them, when I wanted to cheer them and also slap them sometimes, and bang their heads together – so characters that truly lived in my imagination. I fell for Jess at the word go – she was so incredibly human and genuine in all her feelings, in the way she was and it was hard to believe that she’s a fictional character. I loved her relationships with her parents and with William, they were not perfect and she was not sure if she’s right or wrong but that only made her more authentic and real. I need more characters like Jess in books.

I also liked the way the story was written and the way it unfolded. Present intertwines with past here and we get enough information about Jess and her background to understand her choices and motivations. The subplot with Jess’s mother adds tons of depth and takes this book to a very different, higher level, it is handled professionally and with a lot of sensitivity and subtlety.

This novel touched upon many issues. It was also full of twists and surprises and some of the turns were so unexpected and mostly heart – breaking. Catherine Isaac has proven that she not only has the ability to write humorous rom – coms but also stories that have depth and that tug at the right heart – strings. She has beautifully written about emotions and feelings and the pain Jess has felt was so vivid, you could actually feel it for yourself, and it’s a real gift to be able to write in such a way. No matter if the author describes the scenery, or a situation, the descriptions were evocative, vivid and brought to us in such an easy, effortless way.

Altogether it was an emotional story about parenthood, relationships, hope, forgiveness, choices and love. This kind of book that you live and experience by yourself, that you cry and laugh when reading. I guess I’m going to miss Jane Costello’s books but I am also incredibly looking forward to next releases from Catherine Isaac. “You Me Everything” – highly recommended!

Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

 

38402331Publisher: Two Roads

Publishing Date: 5th April 2018

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

Number of pages: 4368

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Zoe, a sometime artist, is from California. Martin, an engineer, is from Yorkshire. Both have ended up in picturesque Cluny, in central France. Both are struggling to come to terms with their recent past—for Zoe, the death of her husband; for Martin, a messy divorce. Looking to make a new start, each sets out alone to walk two thousand kilometres from Cluny to Santiago, in northwestern Spain, in the footsteps of pilgrims who have walked the Camino—the Way—for centuries.

The Camino changes you, it’s said. It’s a chance to find a new version of yourself. But can these two very different people find each other?

In this smart, funny and romantic journey, Martin’s and Zoe’s stories are told in alternating chapters by husband-and-wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist. Two Steps Forward is a novel about renewal—physical, psychological and spiritual. It’s about the challenge of walking a long distance and of working out where you are going. And it’s about what you decide to keep, what you choose to leave behind and what you rediscover.

Rating: four-stars

When I started reading this book I was a little surprised because, to be honest, I knew it’s going to be about walking, but I haven’t supposed that it’s going to be that much about walking. There were really moments that I felt frustrated and the story felt very slow as it mostly focused on the way, on counting the kilometres, on spotting the right sign and I really thought for a moment that maybe Graeme Simsion has turned into non – fiction. But deep, deep under all the descriptions of the places, finding accommodation and what to have for dinner and being on the road, there is a lovely, poignant and moving love story that I incredibly adored.

I think I liked Zoe’s parts better. Zoe herself was quirkier and cheekier than Martin, and full of life, and the chapters told from her point of view just read better. She’s recently widowed and she hasn’t grieved her husband fully yet. His sudden and unexpected death has brought some surprises. She’s also an aspiring artist but what with life getting in the way her career was aborted. Dr Martin Eden has just divorced, taken a temporary teaching position in Cluny and after a chance encounter with a Dutch pilgrim he’s designed a pilgrim cart that he’s going to test himself, hoping to sell the design. So some hikers are on the spiritual journey and some are avoiding it but all of them learn on the way what real love and friendship is.

This book starts slowly and continues rather slowly but it has plenty of brilliant moments and characters, and in the end I found myself incredibly attached to the two main characters. It also introduces us to many background characters and while mostly they accompany Zoe and Martin on their way, they appear and disappear, come and go, and almost till the end I had problems to know who is who and to whom they belong. Sure, they all have their own stories – they wouldn’t walk the Camino otherwise, and they were mostly engaging, but next to the whole walking and the plots of Zoe and Martin there were moments that it was just too much to take.

The banter between the characters was great and it livened up the story so very much. There are tons of misunderstandings and miscommunications, jumping to conclusions and secrets and it all flow so effortlessly and seems so natural. As the story is told through Zoe and Martin’s perspectives it’s really easy to keep pace with their distinctive voices and to know where they’re actually are and what they’re thinking.

The “spiritual aspect” of this journey is very well handled. The authors give their characters a choice. They show that being a pilgrim is not always only about religion, that there are many different and equally important reasons to start such journey. The authors’ experience with this way of pilgrimage is evident, and at the end of the book they did admit that they themselves walked the Camino twice, and it’s visible through their vivid descriptions and their love to the details, the descriptions of the many villages and places of accommodation.

Altogether “Two Steps Forward” was a brilliant, uplifting and warm read about life – changing experience, about finding your own way, and also about kindness. There is plenty of humour and the characters’ problems are very down – to – earth, which makes the reading even more relatable. It shows that sometimes it’s better to look at your problems through a different perspective, that sometimes it’s great to trust total strangers. Highly recommended!

Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews / #BlogTour

Hi guys, and Happy Easter! Hope you’re spending the day with people you love most.

Today I have another blog tour for you. You know I’m a huge fan of Carole Matthews, and her newest book “Million Love Songs” was published as paperback few days ago. For the purpose of the blog tour, the lovely Carole has created her own Spotify playlist with her favourite love songs that you can listen to by clicking here.

I’ve also created my own list with my favourite love songs and it’s as follows:

Richard Marx, Right Here Waiting For You – I still can remember me, barely a teenager, listening with my ear close to the radio and dreaming about… hmmm 🙂

No Doubt, Don’t Speak – I was almost 18 years old, just got to know this guy at the disco and he told he’s going to call. He didn’t. I was sitting in my best friend’s room and playing it over and over again. I don’t think they like this song as much as did. PS. He called. we were together for 7 years.

Toni Braxton, Un – Break My Heart – dancing to this song with the above mentioned guy who did call.

Whitney Houston, Your Love is My Love – all time favourite. Can listen to it all the time.

And now onto the book itself:

Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews

 

36677778Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 22nd March 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

After splitting up with her cheating ex-husband, Ruby Brown is ready for a change. She’s single again for the first time in years and she’s going to dive into this brave new world with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. The last thing she’s looking for is another serious relationship.

Mason Soames represents everything Ruby wants right now: he’s charming, handsome, and perfect for some no-strings-attached fun, and yet Ruby can’t help feel that something is missing. Joe Edwards, on the other hand, is also lovely and handsome but he comes with the sort of baggage Ruby wants to avoid: an annoyingly attractive ex-wife and two teenage children.

Ruby soon has some very tough decisions to make. Is she ready for a relationship of any kind, and what type of life does she really want? Because while Ruby may think she knows what she wants, is that what she needs to be truly happy?

Feel-good, wonderful and an absolute must-read from the queen of romance Carole Matthews, Ruby’s story will make you laugh, cry and leave you wanting more. It’s about to get emotional in Million Love Songs.

Rating: four-stars

Carole Matthews’s books are your guarantee of wit, humour, some drama and romance. I’ve been reading her books for many years already and I’ve always enjoyed them, as she creates likeable characters, the writing style is so light and easy to follow and the stories are never too heavy even though there is always some seriousness and heavier stuff in them. The characters are believable, as well as the situations they find themselves in, and it’s the same with “Million Love Songs”.

In this newest release we meet Ruby Brown, freshly divorced from Simon, and actually coming to terms with this fact. They were five long years together and it’s hard to settle in but Ruby is determined to start afresh and you know what they say – when life throws you lemons, just make a lemonade (I should probably try to adapt this motto by myself as March was officially the worst month ever. And April won’t be better). She quitted her old job, moved to a small granny – flat, got a new job at a pub and some new friends, so it really is everything new and fresh for her.

Ruby was a great character and I hoped everything is going to pan out for her. She wasn’t afraid of new things, she was open to anything, she was cheery and optimistic and I grinned at her many antics, and she for sure was a part of many, many memorable scenes. The one thing that bothered me a little was the fact that she seemed to be all the time bouncing back and forth between two men, desperate for a man in her life and it seemed somehow so desperate, while I really liked her on her own. Well, it was just after her divorce that she’s decided she wants to be a little more impulsive and try many new things, right? That she’s ready for fun and new? She was also strong by herself. There was too much of Ruby’s going back and forth and her indecisiveness. She’s been changing her mind too many times and it irritated me sometimes because when you once say yes then please, stick to your word, especially when others warn you as well. And she kept changing her mind countless times.
And Mason. I’m not sure why but Mason is for me a serial killer – there is something in the name (sorry. Pay no attention, really). So it’s not a wonder that I didn’t warm to him completely, no? He was also a well – known womanizer with tons of money and too much spare time. Yes, I liked Joe better, although there were moments that I wanted to yell at him to make a decision. He seemed to blow Ruby hot and cold and I think she didn’t deserve it. But altogether, both men had their pros and cons and sometimes I wasn’t sure who I wanted her to end up with. Maybe adding a third male character would be an idea.

I loved the music and songs references – no matter if you were Take That fan or not, you know their songs and I found myself humming. But – I am not so sure what to think about the whole Take That obsession. On one hand it is great to have a hobby, and oh well, yes, I also have a crush on a music star, even at my age, but this here is taking it to another level. I mean, I have a life. The following seemed more like stalking for me and really, to be totally honest, I thought that Ruby deserves much more from her life, no? But it’s just me, as Ruby’s friend Charlie seemed really happy with living with a life-sized cardboard figure of Gary Barlow and the huge amount of events she was going to and hoping for potential sightings. Whatever you like…

The chapters, as usually, were short and snappy, which I really like in books as it makes the whole book quicker to read and the storyline keeps moving fast. And of course in such cases it is always one chapter more and you find yourself reading and reading, totally engrossed in this lovely story.

“One Million Love Songs” was a warm, uplifting read written with so much heart and understanding. I love Carole Matthews’s writing style, it immediately takes you into the heart of the story and then on a journey full of twists and turns, a journey that’s rather bumpy than flat. It’s charming and full of humour and poignant moment, that are, as always, so very well balanced and intertwined together. Altogether, I can only – and I do it very happily – recommend this novel to both the old as well as new Ms Matthews’s fans.

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