The Cornish Village School – Summer Love by Kitty Wilson / Blog Tour

The Cornish Village School – Summer Love by Kitty Wilson

 

45757087Publisher: Canelo

Publishing Date: 23rd May 2019

Series: Cornish Village School #3

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

Number of pages: 270

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

Synopsis:

Pippa Parkin thinks she has it all under control…

For teaching assistant Pippa, life in her home town of Penmenna is reassuringly predictable. Between managing the Easter Egg Hunt and dealing with her annoying but well-meaning family, Pippa thinks she has it all sorted. That is until gorgeous new substitute teacher Kam Choudhury arrives at Penmenna School, and turns everything upside down.

Pippa and Kam are instantly drawn to each other, but their priorities and their working relationship make it very hard to be together. Can they find a way to reconcile their differences and find their Happily-Ever-After?

This heartwarming romance is perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and A. L. Michael.

Rating: four-stars

 

Happily single Pippa Parkin is a Teaching Assistant at Penmenna Primary School. Her mum Jan is desperate to change her status into “in relationship”, so when Pippa’s childhood friend James returns to to Penmenna, Jan tries her hand at match – making. However, Pippa has other plans and maybe, just maybe, they involve the new substitute teacher Kam Choudhury? There is this instant attraction between them, however, Kam had a five year plan to get a full time teaching post and didn’t plan and distractions, and Pippa understands this but well, heart wants what it wants, right? After a night spent together, Kam sends Pippa a litter where he declares her his love but Pippa doesn’t receive it, until it’s probably too late!

This is the third and, as far as I know, last part in The Cornish Village School series, and I bitterly regret that I haven’t read the two previous books! Yes, I think you can read it as a standalone, and while characters from the previous stories do pop up, the story focuses on Pippa and Kam and you really don’t have to know what has happened in the two previous books. But I want to! Going immediately on wish – list, those two babies.

The characters were so well – drawn! Sure, they were a bit too far fetched sometimes but altogether they were quirky, bouncy and full of life, and not only the main characters, but also the background ones. Pippa and Kam were great as leading persons, but I also loved their overbearing mothers, Kam’s sisters, Pippa’s family and the whole rest. And Flynn the dog deserves a honourable mention! There is so much humour and love between the characters, and they really come to life, thank to Kitty Wilson’s light writing. It was a real delight to get to know the Penmenna crowd.

It was incredibly light – hearted read with the best banter between the characters in the world. The writing style is conversational and welcoming, full of warmth and humour and it flows so seamlessly forward.
Altogether, it was a simple, heart – warming, full of gorgeous romance book about (interfering) families, friendship and community. You can of course predict the end and know there are going to be some challenges to overcome on the way to the happy end but it’s really well written and entertaining, a real joy to read. Recommended!

 

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Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! by Gill Sims / Blog Tour

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! by Gill Sims

 

cover156090-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover )

 

Synopsis:

I’m wondering how many more f*cking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society? It seems like people have been telling me ‘it’s just a phase!’ for the last fifteen bloody years. Not sleeping through the night is ‘just a phase.’ Potty training and the associated accidents ‘is just a phase’. The tantrums of the terrible twos are ‘just a phase’. The picky eating, the back chat, the obsessions. The toddler refusals to nap, the teenage inability to leave their beds before 1pm without a rocket being put up their arse. The endless singing of Frozen songs, the dabbing, the weeks where apparently making them wear pants was akin to child torture. All ‘just phases!’ When do the ‘phases’ end though? WHEN?

Mummy dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours. And there is never, but never, any milk in the house. At least the one thing they can all agree on is that rescued Barry the Wolfdog may indeed be The Ugliest Dog in the World, but he is also the loveliest.

Rating: five-stars

 

I’m so happy to say that Ellen is back, with another year full of trials, tribulations, surprises and troubles. Jane is now fifteen years old, spending her days of her cell phone, going to parties, living and breathing make – up and feeling embarrassed by her mother. Peter is thirteen and he spends his days playing video games and eating all the food he can find in the fridge. Simon… well, Simon is actually not there. Ellen and Simon are divorced now. Ellen and the children have moved to the cottage of her dreams (almost. Except for the damp, the single bathroom and no roses by the door). So it’s not wonder that mummy not only drinks too much, swears too much but also doesn’t give a ****, right?

Oh holy moly, how to write a review for this book to do it a justice? Impossible task, I’d say.

The third (and I pray to God, not the last one!) part of the series by Gill Sims deals with the stress of coping with teenage children. I know, we all think that first it’s infancy, then the terrible two, then pre – adolescence etc that is the worst what can happen, so let’s agree on the fact that all of those phases are simply stressful. Putting it mildly. I may be not in Ellen’s shoes yet but I can’t sleep and need a whisky only when I think about my daughter reaching puberty, thinking I have all this to come. So it really rang a bell, this book. And was a kind of warning.

This is a raw and brutally honest picture of being a parent. Sweary and normal. Realistic, even if the situations are a bit exaggerated (or not?). The author doesn’t beat around the bush and she deserves a standing ovation for this – telling how it is, not afraid to use crude language and a lot of drinking but this is what I have expected and wanted from this book. She also intermingles the hilarity and humour with some brief moments of seriousness, adding depth to the light tone.

I am still in love with Ellen and I want to have her confidence. She is full of flaws (who isn’t) and swears a lot (who doesn’t) and has a great way around her children, handling them in open way. And the children’s antics are hilarious, their attitudes are so real. And they have their moments. And Ellen deals with them. But they really feel grown up, the children, and I like that the author keeps on top of it and let her characters grow up and mature. I love Ellen’s sense of humour, her attitude, the way she sees and describes things and that she’s not afraid to tell how it is. I, on the other hand, should probably get a special prize for all the things I didn’t say and that should be said. Ellen is so relatable with the way she is, with her worries, hopes and desperation. The author has done an excellent job in bringing her characters’ personalities to the pages, and I think they all are going to appeal to all kinds of the audience.

It was easy, quick and funny read that made me feel normal. There were moments that I rolled my eyes and nodded at things that could so happen to me. I would probably go that far and say that it is the best yet – it made me laugh out loud and cry in the next moment. Gill Sims is not only a champion of writing humorous, hilarious scenes, but she also deals with the sad and poignant ones in a gentle, understanding way, and the book does feel a little more serious and mature in tone, even though, of course, the hysterical finny is still there. It’s a book that I really needed in my life now, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

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Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp / Blog Tour

Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp

 

42613235._sy475_Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Charlotte Bold is nothing like her name – she is shy and timid and just wants a quiet life. When her job doing the traffic news on the radio in London is relocated to Sunshine FM in Mumbles, she jumps at the chance for a new start in Wales.

But when she arrives she discovers that she’s not there to do the travel news – she’s there to front the graveyard evening show. And she’s not sure she can do it.

Thrust into the limelight, she must find her voice and a way to cope. And soon she realises that she’s not the only person who finds life hard – out there her listeners are lonely too. And her show is the one keeping them going.

Can Charlotte seize the day and make the most of her new home? And will she be able to breathe new life into the tiny radio station too…?

Rating: five-stars

 

Charlotte Bold is one for planning and structure, spontaneous doesn’t work in her dictionary. She’s rather happy with her quiet life in London, with her traffic updates radio job, her friends and her boyfriend. Maybe, but only maybe, it could be a little much better if she could get over her fear of speaking on the radio – a bit embarrassing, working on the radio, no? And she used to be a rising star, and she used to have ambitions. So what has happened? And what’s going to happen when suddenly she loses her safe job and has to apply for another position in Sunshine FM in Wales? And what if it’s a DJ job, with an evening show, even though Charlie is sure she has applied to be an assistant?

“Bring Me Sunshine” for sure brings you sunshine, it’s fabulously uplifting, with living and breathing characters, whose stories are going to stop you in your tracks, mixing humour with some more poignant moments.

I absolutely loved how well the author has written the characters, the differences between them and their personalities, and how they changed and why. Charlie used to be a life and soul, adventurous and quirky, but after something has happened she disappeared in her shell, she hates change – hell, she eats the same sandwich everyday! – and she simply wants to stay in the shadows, and I couldn’t get over how well Laura Kemp captured all those feelings and characteristics, and still made Charlie a colourful, interesting character that I adored and kept everything crossed for her. Usually such wishy – washy characters (and that doesn’t mean that Charlie is wishy – washy!!! Because she’s not!) that are afraid of their own shadows are annoying but this time I wanted to hug Charlie and tell her that everything is going to be OK soon and I found myself nodding along at so many wise sentences at how being in such a state of denial makes us feel.
And I loved that, deep deep down, there were hidden layers of determination and willingness in Charlie, and that she found the courage to use them. Or maybe, that she was forced to use them – a fact that, actually, made me happy for her because she needed her confidence back. There was a raw vulnerability to her, the anxiety and anguish were so well captured, but getting to know her other side, as a kind, lovely and caring woman was even better. She was real and realistic, with all the inner turmoil, coming out of her comfort zones, conquering her fears.
There are also two parallel storylines running along this of Charlie. Delme, at the first sight, looks like your relaxed guy with bravado, but when you get to know him more you start to see that he has a past, that he has skeletons in his closet and actually, his story is like emotional rollercoaster journey, and that he is, simply, hiding behind the mask of a crazy gung – ho way of life. He is the health and safety guy at the station and it’s rather a surprise to discover that he also has his own fears. It took some time for him to open up. He also seems so realistic, with his struggles and not being a superman.
Tina’s story was really full of heartbreak, lies and secrets, so complex and absolutely not straightforward. I liked her from the very beginning, so seeing her so torn, not knowing what to do, made my heart break, but then the way she blossomed made it mend again.
Every single character in this book has their own story to tell, and those are thought – provoking and complex stories, which only make them even more relatable and believable.

I’m not sure how Laura Kemp does it, but each of her new book is better than the previous one. I thought that “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness” is already on the highest level but with this book she only proves that there is so much potential in her to write gorgeous stories. Her writing style is exceptionally good, chatty, descriptive and full of heart and everything she writes about rings true and comes alive seamlessly and beautifully. I was immediately drawn into the story and all the tribes and tribulations of the characters, and there were plenty of them.

“Bring Me Sunshine” is a story about finding joy and seeing that we also deserve happiness in our lives. It was full of those small wisdoms that the author so beautifully captures and puts into words for us and waves into the plot. It was a fun, light – hearted story with tons of depth to it, a real page – turner. Fresh and funny, a perfect summer read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

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Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara

 

42846112._sy475_Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The sun is shining on the golden castle on Rainbow Bay – and change is in the air!

Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!

She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.

Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve..

Rating: four-stars

 

Down on her luck, single mum Amelia struggles everyday to bring up her son and keep their heads above water. It wasn’t always like that, she was happily married, that is until one day her husband simply left her and everything changed in this moment. One day she is contacted by a genealogist telling her that, through a very distant relative, she is the heir to Chesterford Castle in the Northumberland. sure, at first she thinks it’s a joke, because who in those times simply inherit a castle, right? However, it turns out that it’s true, so Amelia and Charlie move to the castle. It’s lacking visitors and this final touch, and so Amelia comes up with some ideas to get the castle earn some income. But when she fells in love with the place, and it starts to run smoothly, it turns out that perhaps there is another heir to it…?

The cover of this book is simply stunning, I love the colours and it corresponds with the whole story so very, very well!

I warmed to Amelia immediately, though I must say that I liked her even more with every page turned. She was first feeling so down, what is absolutely understandable, and I have a feeling that she simply couldn’t/didn’t want/was too fed up to show her other, funnier and sharper, side. From the very beginning you saw that she’s doing all to make Charlie’s life better and my heart went to her, understanding how she felt when she couldn’t afford better food, let’s not mention longer trousers for her son. Later, I loved the ideas she had to get the castle earn money again, she was really the right person in the right place, determined to make the place a success, and the digging she has made into the castle’s history was great, I truly enjoyed this aspect of the story. She wanted the castle to work not only for her own and Charlie’s benefit but also for the staff and the community.
The staff working at the castle is another story, Ali McNamara has created a bunch of vivid, colourful characters. There is Arthur, the gruff caretaker but underneath all this grumpiness he was a lovely and loyal man. His wife Dorothy, a housekeeper, loved the castle and was the best cook in the world probably. Joey, who helps Arthur, and Tiffany who works in the office are like a breath of fresh air, adorable and likeable. And Tom and Benji, which brings us to the more romantic side of the story, that I personally liked very much. It was absolutely not predictable – well, at least to one moment when there was the big reveal, or at least big to me as I haven’t seen it coming, but until this moment I was really all the time wondering which of the two potential love gods would be better for Amelia. I am actually thankful to the author for resolving this for me.

There’s always the magical element in Ali McNamara’s novels and either you buy it or not. I do. And actually, I don’t only mean the obvious magic, like ghosts in that case, but the magical and spellbinding atmosphere that the author can capture so well.

Overall, “Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay” was a light, entertaining read, brilliantly written – the writing style is flying, it’s so welcoming and warm and fabulously chatty – introducing us to well – drawn characters, including some cheeky ghosts! There is also a slight mystery throughout the pages and while it isn’t life changing, or taking your breath away, it added this last finishing sparkle touch to the story. Full of gentle humour, feelings and emotions, a charming summer read. Recommended!

 

A Very French Affair by Sue Roberts

A Very French Affair by Sue Roberts

 

45141907._sy475_Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 5th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 263

Genre: Humour, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

From Southport to the South of France – this is going to be a summer to remember!

Life just got a whole lot more complicated for thirty-eight-year-old single mum Liv. Her son Jake is practically perfect in every way, but he’s started asking some difficult questions, and the answers lie in a holiday romance twenty years ago. Back when Liv was staying with her aunt on the French Riviera…

Returning to the Cote d’Azur, with its white sandy beaches, her supportive aunt, and exquisite wine and cheese is harder than it sounds though. Because – if she’s going to give Jake the answers he needs – Liv knows she has to hunt down her first love Andre. And since she’s a professional baker rather than a professional investigator, she doesn’t even have a clue where to start.

At first, finding the one that got away proves even trickier than she thought. And if she succeeds, how will he take the bombshell secret Liv has been keeping? Liv has to do the best thing for her family, but does that mean closing the door on this very French affair?

A joyful, laugh-out-loud story about second chances, secrets and sunshine! The perfect summer read for fans of Carole Matthews, Jenny Colgan and Sophie Kinsella.

Rating: three-stars

 

Olivia is a single mother with a popular cake – baking and decorating business. However, her past comes to hunt her again when Jack finally asks about his father that he has never seen. Liv decides to track André down, even though she really doesn’t have much to go on – she fell head over heels in love with a young, handsome boy in the south of France but it turned out to be only a summer romance and she was forced to raise her son on her own. However, she’s now desperate to give Jack the father he so deserves.

The highlight of this novel are for sure the gorgeous, delicious descriptions of the French food, as well as the setting of the French Riviera, and in these moments the author had me hooked, transporting me to France and letting my mouth water.

The characters were nice but simply not well – rounded enough for me and very stereotyped and I just couldn’t warm to them and their stories. There was nothing wrong with them, please do not get me wrong on this one, but they were just not my type of characters, or rather it was the way they were written, and all the right things happening so accidentally and conveniently to them that, in my eyes, made them not so relatable and this bit unbelievable.

The writing style is nice and very easy to follow, the sentences are short and they follow the same pattern of describing situations: she woke up, washed, dressed and ate breakfast. I would love it to be more descriptive, more eloquent. The situations happened one after another, the twists were predictable and immediately resolved, I missed some tension, some build – up to things and events.

Altogether, “A Very French Affair” was a light, easy, heart – warming story about friendship and second chances and how life may surprise you in the most unexpected moments, a great summer read, and even better to enjoy with a croissant. Or two.

 

Death in Avignon by Serena Kent / Blog Tour

Death in Avignon by Serena Kent

 

cover164946-mediumPublisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

Series: Penelope Kite Mysteries #2 (review of Book 1 here)

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Return to the warmth of Provence for the next delightful Penelope Kite mystery…

When Penelope Kite attends the opening of an art exhibition on the arm of the gorgeous Mayor of St Merlot, Laurent Millias, it seems she is finally settling into life in Provence. But beneath the glamour, trouble is lurking. Shockwaves ripple when British expat artist, Roland Doncaster, collapses after choking on an olive.

A tragic accident? Or was he poisoned? Penelope is thrust once again into the middle of a murder investigation, but when she casts suspicion on one of the Mayor’s friends, she finds herself out in the cold.

As winter draws in, Penelope must rely on the friendship of her local music group – including the dashing art dealer, Gilles de Bourdan – the support of the effervescent Frankie, and her own sleuthing instincts to untangle this mystery…

Rating: four-stars

 

Penelope Kite enjoys her decision of leaving her old life behind and moving to Provence. However, trouble seems to follow our Penny around and during a very usual art exhibition that she’s attending one artist is taken ill. He dies in hospital few days later. But it is only the beginning of further dead bodies, people going missing and smuggled art and Penelope finds herself in the centre of this all. Her old habits outweigh her common sense again and she starts to investigate. In the meantime, her whole family comes to visit and then Frankie to help her with the investigations, again against the recommendations of Penny’s nemesis, police chef Georges Reyssens.

It was another brilliant, light and quick cosy crime authored by Serena Kent. It is a second book in the Penelope Kite series, but to be totally honest, it doesn’t matter too much if you have read the first book or not, there are enough cameos and references to what has happened, and the characters actually stay the same. Though I’d really advise you to read “Death in Provence” because it was simply another great and entertaining read.

Serena Kent is a dazzling story – teller and her writing style is engaging, welcoming and chatty. She knows well when to loosen up the atmosphere and when to put a red herring to make the story even more complex and thrilling. It is also humorous and more than once a sentence or innocently dropped word or two made me chuckling to myself. The descriptions of the landscape, setting and food are long and very detailed but they are vivid, beautiful and bring all the things to life easily and effortlessly.

The characters are so well developed and feel very realistic, really, like breathing and living people. The banter between them is flawless and effortless, actually everything in this book seems to simply flow seamlessly, and it is a great feeling. Because not many new characters are introduced in this book, I felt like coming back to a group of my old mates and beginning right where we have ended our last adventure. Penelope, as usual, soon finds out that there is more to the deaths as initially supposed and with police that’s not so willing to cooperate, she has to use her skills she’s learnt as a former forensic pathologist’s assistant. Who did it? And why?

“Death in Avignon” was a breezy, light – hearted read, a perfect escapism that you’re going to enjoy on an evening or two, with a glass of wine. Or two. It has such a relaxing feeling to it, flawlessly transporting you to the autumnal and wintry Provence. Even though it deals with murder and some dead bodies there is a lightness to it, humour and sparkling, clever sarcasm and irony. There are many possible killers in this story, and it was absolutely brilliant, to read about their motives, trying to make a guess and – of course – not guessing. But that’s me, the super – detective. So pour yourself this above mentioned glass of wine, grab a croissant and prepare yourself for a fantastic visit to France, with a murder or two as a bonus. Truly recommended!

 

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Almost Adults by Ali Pantony

Almost Adults by Ali Pantony

 

41956650Publisher: Ebury

Publishing Date: 24th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Women’s Fiction,  Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 08.08.2019)

 

Synopsis:

The struggle is real…

Ever managed to kill a succulent after just a few days?
Got seven reminder letters on the kitchen table because you forgot to pay your council tax?
Become a hot mess who’s falling apart because they’ve been broken up with?

Nobody told Mackie, Edele, Alex and Nat (aka the MEAN Girls) that life was going to be this way. They’re busy navigating the joys of adulthood – getting their shit together, breaking up and making up, moving out and moving on. This grown up stuff is hard but at least they’ve got each other.

Welcome to the world of adulting.

Rating: three-stars

 

Mackie, Ed, Alex and Nat (or, as they call themselves, MEAN Girls) are all starting to feel that they definitely should have their lives together. They’re all in late twenties, all have been friends for many years, and now they try to figure out how to be an adult, and what does it involve. Firstly, Nat’s boyfriend of seven years, ends their relationship, with no warning. Alex is scared her boyfriend is cheating on her, Ed is still living with her mum and lying about how well her job search is going, Mackie is trying to get out of the job she’s just got. Are all the changes going to challenge their friendship`?

What really worked for me in this story was the friendship between the girls. It felt real and honest, they were there for each other but it didn’t feel too forced or unrealistic or overdone. It was genuine, with ups and downs, like in real friendships, it was comforting and spirit lifting. Each of the four girls was unique, with their own voice and experience, and they brought the best to the relationship. Individually they are all a real mess, but together it seems they can conquer the world, and I loved this feeling.

The book is told from all four points of view and the author has really well pulled it off and the characters tell as it really is, highlighting all the highs and lows of being an adult. But I wanted to tell, this is life, right, so please just pull yourselves together and stop feeling sorry. I mean, there were some funny moments, sure, and the girls were not flawless, they were making mistakes, so it should be a relatable, engaging read, but maybe I’m simply too old for such book already? Sure, we all have moments when we really don’t know what to do with our life, when we feel we are adults by mistake but I simply expected more from this story. And, I think, something different – more fun, more humour, more hilarity because, once too much, it felt like the characters were only unhappy and complaining all the time. What’s more, I didn’t care about the characters, I wasn’t sure what the book wants to tell us – I probably simply didn’t click with it as I expected to, and hoped to, based on the brilliant synopsis.

I liked the message in “Almost Adults”, that really it’s not all about having a man in your life but about finding yourself and this what makes you happy. It was a story about true friendship, with its ups and downs, about making mistakes and learning from them and realising that being an adult doesn’t mean you must have everything figured out. The dynamics between the girls were so well captured and the writing style was light – hearted, and I am already looking forward to reading more from Ali Pantony.

 

One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot / Blog Tour

One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot

 

44027196Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 6th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 280

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 11.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls partied away their youth. So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane… and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

Rating: four-stars

 

Recently divorced Beth is trying to figure out what to do next. Her best friend Heidi not only throws her a divorce party at the office but also comes up with a plan of travelling to Corfu, just like 10 years ago, when they were both 21 years old and free – spirited. Moreover, this trip also ended up with a romance for Beth, so who knows what’s going to happen now?
However, the trip doesn’t start as expected, with a villa from hell and ceiling coming down. But then Beth meets Alex again, and even Heidi learns someone, but everything seems so complicated now, when they’re in their 30’s. Will the girls realise that they didn’t change so much at heart?

It was a lovely, summery story about friendship, second chances, new beginnings, hope and love, this all set against the most gorgeous setting ever – any book set in Greece, actually whatever set in Greece I’m going to love, that’s for sure, but “One Last Greek Summer” was also funny, entertaining and so easily written, so it’s a win – win situation.

I haven’t completely warmed to Heidi, I must admit, though there was nothing wrong with her, in fact she was a great friend, but there were moments that she was simply “too much” for me. Beth was great, a woman who knew what she wanted, and I loved seeing her growing up in confidence, starting to follow her dreams, evolving into a strong, independent woman. The friendship between those two was brilliantly captured, this is what I always imagined a real friendship should look like, being there for each other and telling things how they are.

As much as I enjoyed the flawless writing and the storytelling, there were moments that simply passed too slowly. I know, the author has decided to write about many subplots, as each of our characters, even the background ones, was significant to the story and had their own distinctive voice and story to tell, and so there was a lot to tell. I simply think there were passages that could be shorter, perhaps it would make the book this little bit more fascinating.

I really like Mandy Baggot’s writing style. It’s full of sunshine, it’s vivid and light – hearted, and she drops the best one – liners on us effortlessly, also adding a word here or there that made me grin from ear to ear. It’s so welcoming and evoking and it mixes reality with tons of great humour. It would be great to be able to escape to the beautiful, sunny Corfu with my best friend to recapture some moments of our own. There were cocktails, fun, sun, sea and summer romance, and the whole story was filled with fun and surprises for the characters. Under the beautiful surface of Corfu there was so much more to this story – finding yourself and this what is important to you. A perfect summer escape, and be warned that after reading it you’re going to immediately plan your own holidays! Recommended!

 

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The Woman Who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmermann

The Woman who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmermann

 

42732506Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 30th May 2019

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

Number of pages: 448

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Two lonely women. An unlikely friendship. And one big life lesson: never be ashamed to ask for more . . .

No woman dreams of being unceremoniously dumped and moving back in with her mother on the eve of her 40th birthday. Food technician Kate Parker’s first response? Denial, long days under her duvet and bucket loads of cheesy pasta.

A reluctant Kate finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House For Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 96-year-old Cecily Finn – spiky and sharp as a pin, but the spark has gone out of her. She has resigned herself to the imminent End.

Having no patience with Kate’s self-pity, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book with a difference – it’s a 1957 cookery manual, featuring menus for anything life can throw at ‘the easily dismayed’. It promises the answers to essential life questions: ‘what shall one give to one’s rich aunt Emma that will be palatable but not prodigal; to one’s husband’s managing director, at once memorable and modest; one’s old love’s new love; the man one hopes will stay on after dinner; the man one hopes will not …’.

Can Kate find a menu to help a broken-hearted woman let go? If Kate moves forward, might Cecily too?

The cookbook holds the secrets of Cecily’s own remarkable and heartbreaking story, and the love of her life. It will certainly teach Kate a thing or two.

So begins an unlikely friendship between two lonely and stubborn souls – one at the end of her life, and one stuck in the middle – who come to show each other that food is for feasting, life is for living and the way to a man’s heart is . . . irrelevant!

Rating: five-stars

 

Kate Parker is rather happy with her life. She has been in the same job for years and she thinks she enjoys it, and she has a great relationship with Nick, who not only can brilliantly cook, but also asked her to move in with him. But first there is THE trip to France, and it doesn’t go according to the plan and Kate finds herself unsettled, wondering what she really wants from life and this relationship. Between wondering and moving back to her mum’s place, Kate starts to volunteer at a local old people’s home – Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies – doing cooking demos and getting to know 97 – year – old Cecily, who takes no prisoners, doesn’t mince her words and tells how it is. Despite all of this, they soon form a special friendship that is going to change Kate’s life.

I absolutely adored how the author created Cecily – you know that I am not in awe of the older, wiser characters that usually should make the book better, knowing everything and sharing their wonderful life experiences in a gentle, patient voice but in the end make them feel really wishy – washy, too overdone and all sugar, but here the character of Cecily was simply perfect. A woman with rough edges and character, really having something to tell. She was inspiring, bold, sharp and still felt believable. The banter between Cecily and Kate, and the scenes including them, were hilarious, especially after Kate stopping to fear Cecily so much and showing that you shouldn’t mess with her as well. Sharing her own life story, Cecily wisely, albeit sometimes very straight – forwardly, gets Kate to question her own life and decisions and pushes her to figure some things out, to find her own worth.
I think it was hard to make Kate such a nice character, when she has Cecily next to her, because everyone, compared to Cecily, would simply loose the battle. However, the author has managed to pull it off and I liked Kate from the very beginning. Sure, she made me feel desperate, I wanted to bang her head on the wall and simply I couldn’t forget her moping in her mother’s spare room, thinking about Nick and hoping to get back with him but she was likeable and believable in things she did.

The author, who is also knows as Stella Newman, has created some wonderfully sounding menus, for all circumstances, even though some of them were, hmmm, uncommon? But the descriptions made my mouth water, and they were so easily and vividly brought to life. Double pasta? Anytime!

The writing style is simply great, adapted to the situation. It’s light – hearted, but it also beautifully describes some more poignant moments and they were truly heart – breaking. The author immediately pulls you into the heart of her story, the pacing is just right, and I had a feeling that Vicky Zimmermann didn’t have a plan for her characters, she simply allowed them to take the lead and let them to continue and unfold the story. Which is probably not true but it felt like this and it made the reading even more better for me.

“The Woman Who Wanted More” was a tribute to Cecily Finn, so well deserved. It’s going to leave you glowing with warmth, perfectly mixing food, love and friendship. This was a comforting, thought – provoking, sharp read but with a feel – good factor to it, and yes, mostly it was funny, or making me feel desperate towards Kate or Nick, but it also made me cry a little. Charming and delicious read, perfect for holidays!

 

A Cornish Summer by Catherine Alliott / Blog Tour

A Cornish Summer by Catherine Alliott

 

43805734Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 13th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 448

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Flora’s been in love with her husband for twenty years. The trouble is, he’s been married to someone else for the past fifteen . . .

Now she’s been invited to spend the summer in the shady lanes and sandy coves of Cornwall. It should be blissful.

There’s just one small snag: she’ll be staying with her former mother-in-law, Belinda.

And Flora discovers she’s not the only one invited when her ex-husband shows up out of the blue, complete with his new wife. So now there are two small snags.

Can Flora spend the summer playing happy families with the woman who stole her husband’s heart, and the mother-in-law who might have had a hand in it?

Or will stumbling on the family secret change her mind about them all?

If you like Fern Britton, Katie Fforde and Sophie Kinsella, you’ll love this heartwarming read.

Rating: four-stars

 

Flora is a single mother, divorced for 17 years already but still crazy in love with her ex – husband Hugo, even though he’s married to his second wife for 15 years and they have twins. Nevertheless, Hugo remains a large part of her, and their son Peter, lives, taking care about his education and holidays. Now Flora is about to return to Cornwall, to Hugo’s family home, as she has been commissioned to paint a portrait of her former father – in – law. Soon it turns out that it’s more a family and friends reunion, as there are literally everybody significant to the Bellingdons’ life. But forced to confront her feelings to Hugo, Flora is going to discover some hidden family secrets.

The book introduced us at the beginning to many characters – and I really mean, many – but incredibly quickly I got to grips with them and didn’t have any problem with identifying who is who and to whom they belong in the family dynamics, so really hats off to the author for making it as uncomplicated as possible. Flora is the main one and the whole book is told from her point of view but it works. Though I must admit there were plenty of moments that I have found her frustrating, watching her living half a life and waiting for something that was impossible to happen. But altogether, she was likeable, even believable, kind and funny.

It is a relative slow burner. It felt as if the first half was this long introduction but providing us with this much needed information, dynamics, relationships for the second half that, thanks to that, felt much quicker to read. Although I must admit that it took me only one day to read this book – yes, admittedly, I had time to do nothing than read (finally!) but also it kept me glued to the pages, I simply wanted to know what’s going to happen and I was engrossed in the story. It was absorbing, and set against the lovely, vividly and colourfully described Cornish coastal setting, the writing flowing beautifully and leading to a rather satisfying conclusion.

I wouldn’t describe this book, like in the blurb, as “hilarious” romantic comedy. Yes, it was light – hearted, easily written and it had its moments, but it also touched upon some much more serious issues and the general tone was steady and maybe not deliberate but also not too light. What I missed was the promised tangled web of relationships. I was hoping for more interactions between the ex – wife, the present wife and the mother – in – law, I actually expected pulling hair out and deceiving each other. Some more interaction happened at the end of the story but, to be honest, I would love more. Also, as a horse lover I adored the scenes where the characters were riding out, the descriptions of horses and their habits but, totally frankly, the fox hunt for example went on and on, and I think, do I need to know, blow by blow, the chase, who did what and when?

Altogether, “A Cornish Summer” was a captivating, rich in details and descriptions story with an epic bunch of characters that you adore or love to hate, about old friendships, a great family saga with some twists that I didn’t see coming, with sailing, horse – riding, painting and finding love there where you’re not looking. It was full of secrets, lies, manipulation and social expectations that mixed altogether made a brilliant, perfect summer read, holiday escapism, with a great sense of place, about confronting your feelings, moving with your life. It’s perhaps not the most light – hearted romance, as the subject matter is quite serious, but everything works really well. Truly recommended!

 

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