Cocktails and Dreams by A.L. Michael – #BlogTour/Giveaway

Hi guys! Today is my second (!) stop on A.L. Michael’s blog tour celebrating the release of her newest novel, and the first in the series, “Cocktails and Dreams”. Here you can read the brilliant guest post that the lovely author has written for me, and today you can also read my review of the novel. There is also a giveaway, and all you have to do is to enter the Rafflecopter and have some luck!

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Cocktails and Dreams by A.L. Michael

35603653Publisher: Canelo

Publishing Date: 24th July 2017

Series: Martini Club #1

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

Number of pages: 209

Genre:   Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

A heart-warming novel with characters you’ll love, don’t miss this first in a new series for romance, laugh-out-loud comedy and a feel-good ending. Perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane and Lindsey Kelk.

I was seven years old when I realized my mother was not a great person…

Since Savvy was abandoned by her rockstar mother, she has craved a normal life. But after years of financing her boyfriend’s lacklustre career, he leaves her when he hits the bigtime.

Savvy’s friends at the burlesque club where she serves elaborate cocktails encourage her to make bold changes in her life. She soon meets handsome bartender Milo, and begins to plan a future she can be excited about.

But when Savvy’s estranged mother crashes back into her life, her newfound happiness is under threat… will Savvy have the courage to pursue her dreams?

Rating: four-stars

I am not so into cocktails. Heck, I am not so into alcohol, except maybe for a glass or two of Prosecco. So I can hear you asking, duh, what did you want from a book titled “Cocktails and Dreams”? True – but it was again the synopsis and the lovely bright yellow cover that captured my attention and I just wanted to read this story that turned out to be a great journey of discovering your own dreams and following them.
Though, I must admit, when I started reading the book I started to have this very unsettling feeling that this story is going to be much heavier than I thought it’s going to be and while the serious tone stayed, the writing style has loosen it and there were some funny moments as well.

The story introduces us to Savvy, who is a daughter of a very famous pop star, but also they haven’t been in touch for a very long time and Savvy was brought up by her aunt. But now she’s an adult, moreover, an adult dumped by her boyfriend, and it’s time for her to realize what it is she wants to do with her life. Well, there is a thing she’s really good at – making cocktails, as well as her cooking skills and tastes, which leads to her writing reviews of restaurants – but not normal reviews, oh no! There is a special club…

I really liked the descriptions of the Martini Club where Savvy was working her magic with cocktails. Let’s be honest, it is an unusual place for a heroine to work at, no? But it sounded great, and the group of people working there, especially the boss, were brilliantly supporting. Actually, all the characters were very well portrayed, and I especially liked Savvy’s father and the relationship they had. Savvy herself was down – to – earth girl from your neighbourhood. She loved her job in the bar and she loved creating cocktails and some of them sounded really interesting – even though I am not into cocktails, I’d make exception to try them.

The romance in the story was absolutely believable and I liked how it developed – not too quickly, not too slowly, and it just sounded realistic, with the ups and downs and troubles in paradise. The writing style is also a great advantage, it is sharp and quick and I really enjoyed it.

Altogether, “Cocktails and Dreams” was a fast – paced and multi – layered story describing a journey to self – realisation. It tackled many different aspects and issues, of fame, family and secrets. Fast – paced, with interesting characters that blended well into the scenes and events and were jumping off the pages. It is also the first book in the series and I will be for sure reading the next one. In the meantime, I do recommend this book to you.

GIVEAWAY:

This giveaway is to win a cocktail making giftset and an eCopy of the book. UK only!

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The Chateau of Happily – Ever – Afters by Jaimie Admans – #BlogTour + Giveaway

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The Chateau of Happily – Ever – Afters by Jaimie Admans

34887937Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 7th June 2017

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

Number of pages: 272

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to beautiful France this summer with this uplifting romantic comedy.

Where dreams come true…?

Wendy Clayton stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Instead, she has a ‘nice’ life. Nice job. Nice flat. Absolutely no men. Until her life is turned upside-down when her elderly neighbour, Eulalie, passes away and leaves her the Château of Happily Ever Afters!

But there’s a catch: she must share the sprawling French castle with Eulalie’s long-lost nephew, Julian. And no matter how gorgeous he is, or how easily she finds herself falling head over heels, Wendy needs to find a way to get rid of him…

Because surely happily ever afters don’t happen in real life?

Perfect for fans of Kat French, Caroline Roberts and Holly Martin.

Rating: four-stars

The Château of Happily – Ever – Afters is my first book by Jaimie Admans, but for sure not the last! It took me so positively by surprise, with a brilliant storytelling, larger than life characters that were almost jumping out of the pages and brilliant plot, and I found myself racing through the pages either laughing out loud or cringing with awkwardness, desperately wanting to know how things would turn out and how many snakes are we going to find in the kitchen.

I loved the characters in this book, all of them! OK, I must admit, at the beginning Julian was so, so annoying, did you have the feeling as well? Oooh, somehow he seemed so uptight and self – important, appearing out of the blue and pursuing Wendy to France, and so very well prepared! I don’t know, I just liked Wendy so much and I so wanted to box Julian on the ear, and I so wanted to encourage her to get her own back on him, however Wendy did disappoint me here a little, I was hoping for a funny open war here, and it was only Julian coming up with some annoying ideas. But whatever. But then, slowly, I started to warm to him so much, and the fact that he’s an incredibly handsome model with a six – pack had nothing to do with it. Really! I promise! So yes, together with Wendy we’ve been changing our mind about him – starting with thinking he’s a git and a cheat who only wants Wendy’s half of the château and ending with totally different feelings.

Wendy was somehow so funny with her being so serious and with the strong sense of responsibility, and so going to France was for her a real adventure, especially as she doesn’t speak French and didn’t have any experience when it comes to packing – but really, would YOU know what to take with you to a chateau that you a while ago didn’t believe exist at all? Exactly. However, our Wendy is determined to make the best of the chateau. Moreover, she can bake delicious things – really, guys, the descriptions of her creations were mouth – watering. She is accident – prone and often finds herself in awkward situations.

What both of them had in common was that they were both full of puzzles and secrets and many layers, and it was a great journey full of bumps and surprises while unpeeling all of them – and I really liked what emerged at the end. They were truly brilliant characters, full of fun and joy.

I loved the setting and the descriptions of the chateau, its rooms and gardens, the neighbourhood and French countryside, and especially I enjoyed the village market – it was so easy to imagine all those stands, friendly sellers, I could really easily picture every detail and smell not forget the descriptions of the lovely, delicious French baking – mmmmm!

The book really took off when the characters found themselves in France – it was then that it started to be hilariously funny and that I began to feel that I’m getting to know the characters. However, then, it started to slow down – don’t get me wrong, the writing style was brilliant, the dialogues were more than brilliant, it was so funny and sometimes also poignant, but there was just too much of nothing, in fact, happening. I loved the banter, or Wendy and Julian trying to first drive out each other from the house and then getting to know each other, it’s just that if felt too slow. I am also not sure how I felt about the château bringing people together, with it having secrets and treasures – somehow this part of the story felt for me too far – fetched and not completely finished. I personally couldn’t believe in the magical walls – call me a killjoy. But altogether, I totally adored this book. It was fresh, and funny, and surprising.

“The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters”  is a brilliant summer read, full of colours, smells, humour, this all brought to us in incredibly vivid way. It is sassy, charming and romantic and so easily transported me to the sunny Normandy – a really perfect read for the summer evening! Highly recommended!

GIVEAWAY

French-themed stationery goodie bag.  chateau2bof2bhappily2bever2bafters2bgiveaway

1 x Paperchase Paris notebook and pen

1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters notebook

1 x little Eiffel Tower model

1 x Eiffel Tower bookmark

1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters magnet

1 x Signed postcard

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Kiss Me At Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt / Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Kiss Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

 

34609812Publisher: Tule Publishing

Publishing Date: 25th May  2017

Series: Willoughby Close #4 (find 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: 206

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…

After her husband unexpectedly dies, Ava moves to Willoughby Close, trying to keep her chin up and herself to herself as she’s always done—not answering questions, not making friends, and not seeing much of a future. Her marriage was far from perfect, but it offered her a much-needed security that has now been ripped away. She’s not sure what to do now that she’s thirty-five, widowed, penniless… and unexpectedly pregnant with her late husband’s child.

Jace Tucker is the over-the-top sexy caretaker of Willoughby Manor, and he can see beneath Ava’s glamor girl act to the hurt she’s been hiding for so long. She has secrets for a reason—and so does he. The last thing she needs right now is a fling with a man who hides a past as regrettable as her own.

But with a baby to think about, and neighbors determined to be her friends, Ava finds herself starting to change and even more alarmingly, beginning to hope. Can Willoughby Close work its everyday magic on a woman like her? And when the past comes calling for both her and Jace, will they have to answer for their previous mistakes?

Rating:  three-stars

“Kiss Me at Willoughby Close” is the fourth part in the series and it introduces us to Ava – of course, we’ve already got a chance to cursorily get to know her in the previous part and – as usually – the first impression was not too optimistic and encouraging, but the author has already got us used to the fact that at first the new characters seem to be not likeable and then explaining their circumstances, which usually make us change our mind about them – and it was the same here with Ava – she’s starting afresh, Willoughby Close is her second chance. I’d say you can read this novel as a stand alone, of course, but I think that there is now too much insider info to really get into the heart of the story without reading the previous parts, and I would recommend reading the stories in the right order.

Each part of Willoughby Close focuses on a new character, however “Kiss Me at Willoughby Close” introduces us not only to Ava, but also brings us much, much more of the mysterious caretaker Jace and gives us a lot of insight into Lady Stokeley’s life – which I found really brilliant, as I think that adding all of them, as well as Alice later on, made the story this little bit more interesting. I think that dedicating this novel only to Ava would make it too one – dimensional, so it was really a great move from the author – highly appreciated 🙂

Ava moves to Willoughby Close after just having lost her husband. He was much older than her and she admits that she was more of a trophy wife but that she married him being aware of this fact. She has experienced a lot in her life and she just wanted to live comfortably, without any troubles and problems any more. However, after his death, she realised that she was nothing more to her husband as the trophy wife, and she learns it in a very painful way, seeing that he has left her the same amount of money in his will as he left to their cleaner – ten thousand pounds.

As much as I liked Ava, it was Jace’s story that stole the show in my opinion. This time we really get to know him and his background, what happened in the past and why he ended up in Willoughby Close. While it was not life – changing, it added some pepper and the way Ava reacted to this story made her this lit bit more human, so it was a win – win situation really.
There were not many twists and turns in this book, and I often found myself skim – reading. It was a little on the flat side, but it was still a story that is easy to enjoy. It was about being open and about second chances, about not judging and always seeing two sides of the story. There is a convincing romance, troubles in paradise and Kate Hewitt has a real way with words, having created a lovely fictional community that I have no problems to picture. Already looking forward to the next part in the series.

GIVEAWAY!

The giveaway is for:

1st prize: £10 Amazon giftcard
2nd prize: paperback copy of Find Me at Willoughby Close

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

Hi there, and happy Thursday. I personally can’t wait for it to be Friday evening already, as tomorrow I have a very, very, VERY exhausting day. But today, guys, I have a review AND a giveaway for you, this all as a part of a blog tour. Hope you sit comfortably – enjoy!

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Meet Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

 

32934017Publisher: Tule Publishing

Publishing Date: 31st January 2016

Series: Willoughby Close #2 (read my review of part 1 here)

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

Number of pages: 243

Genre: Romance,  General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

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

Ellie Matthews has come to Wychwood-on-Lea to find a new start for her and her daughter Abby. But, life there doesn’t start out as idyllic as she had hoped. While Ellie loves her cute cottage in Willoughby Close, the Yummy Mummies at the primary school seem intent on giving her the cold shoulder, Abby has trouble fitting in, and her boss, Oliver Venables, is both surprisingly sexy and irritatingly inscrutable.

But miracles can happen in the most unexpected places, and in small, yet wonderful ways. Slowly, Ellie and Abby find themselves making friends and experiencing the everyday magic of Willoughby Close. When Oliver’s nephew, Tobias, befriends Abby, the four of them start to feel like family… and Ellie begins to see the kindness and warmth beneath Oliver’s chilly exterior, which awakens both her longing and fear.

Ellie knows all about disappointment, and the pain of trying too hard for nothing, while Oliver has his own hurts and secrets to deal with. When the past comes rollicking back to remind both of them of their weaknesses and failings, will they be able to overcome their fears and find their own happy ending?

Discover the heartwarming magic of Willoughby Close… with four more stories of hope and happily-ever-afters to look forward to.

Rating: 3/5

“Meet Me at Willoughby Close” is the second book in the Willoughby Close series and I’d say you COULD read it as a stand – alone, however I’d suggest you to better read the previous novella as well – “A Cotswolds Christmas” introduces us to the general idea of the series and it gives a lot of background information that I feel you need to fully enjoy the next books.

“Meet Me at Willoughby Close” introduces us to new characters, although some of the old ones that we already know from “A Cotswolds Christmas” enter the scenes of this book as well. So we have Ellie and her daughter Abby who are now moving to Cotswolds to start afresh. Ellie is divorced, and Abby is an eleven – year – old girl who was bullied at her old school for being a bit of a nerd. She’s of course worried to start at new school and Ellie is worried about her. Also, Ellie’s biggest dream is to find a friend – for her and her daughter – at the new place.
I think the most colourful and believable character was Abby. She was just like a real 11 – year – old and it hurt so much to see how scared she is to start at new school, but also uplifting to see how brave she was. She had a great connection to her mum and I liked their interactions, she had kept her wits about her much better than her mother. I loved Ellie as a mother, because her daughter Abby was always first, no matter what, and maybe Ellie has forgotten she has her own life to live and concentrated too much on Abby, but she was a great mother in my opinion. I loved how she developed in this story, how she started to learn what it is she wants from life, proving that it’s never too late to pursue your own needs and also finally showing Nathan the doors. I also liked that Oliver was not your typical muscle – flexing alpha – male hero. So it was like this – I liked the main characters as people, even though their actions didn’t work for me so much. However, some of the background characters, I really wasn’t sure what their presence should make for.

Basically there was nothing wrong with this book. It is only, as I always read two books at the same time, I’ve read it when reading one of the most amazing, touching books ever, so “Meet Me at Willoughby Close” had a lot to live up to. I just had a feeling that actually not a lot is happening in this story. The blossoming romance between the characters was a little incomprehensible to me, there was no built – up to it, it felt too forced and I wasn’t sure if the male character is really as interested as the heroine. If you’re looking for the sparkles and sizzling chemistry than sorry, but it’s not there. It seems as if it is a blend of random situations for me, as if the author wanted to fill the pages. The majority of the story is about Ellie and Oliver wanting but not daring (or not wanting) to acknowledge that they have feelings towards each other – with more emphasis on Oliver, to be honest, so maybe this is why I had a feeling it is so forced, that Ellie somehow pushed him for those feelings and it just seemed like a one huge misunderstanding. They didn’t seem to know each other enough, they weren’t comfortable in each other’s company and they didn’t know how to talk to each other about what’s happening. And really, it was Abby (who’s eleven) who was the most mature in this relationship. It was also a rather predictable read and there were many clichéd situations and things were happening very conveniently for the characters – they always found babysitters/time/excuse.

But altogether, “Meet Me at Willoughby Close” was an enjoyable book and I am looking forward to the next part. It was about new beginnings and about letting the past go, about finding your own comfort zones and not those that others would like to see you in. The author touches upon some burning issues, such like bullying and , in general, difficult teenagers’ lives. I for sure liked it better than the first book in the series, however I am still missing this “something” that makes a book exceptional and that Kate Hewitt has already showed me she’s capable to put into her stories. But she managed to make this book very charming and believable, if we forget about some situations and the characters to develop – slowly but steadily. There were also elements of dramatic, melodramatic experiences but they so didn’t sit with me. They just looked over – dramatic, too forced and somehow unrealistic. However Kate Hewitt’s writing style is lovely, warm and inviting and her characters are down – to – earth. Maybe they are not the most complex ones but they have qualities and features that made them to stand out. I am
already looking to the next story in the series.

GIVEAWAY:

There are 3 paperback copies of “Meet Me at Willoughby Close” to be won (UK only)!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham // Blog Tour + Giveaway

Today I am über – excited to be a part of “Talking As Fast As I Can” by Lauren Graham blog tour.  This book is Lauren’s first non – fiction book, however in 2013 I read and absolutely loved her novel “Someday, Someday, Maybe”. Lauren Graham may be better knows as Lorelei Gilmore and yes, let us talk a bit about “The Gilmore Girls”!

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So guys, the fact is that I don’t watch TV. I just don’t have time for this and I’m too quickly bored and am not interested in spending my time sitting and doing nothing. But of course let’s not exaggerate – there are films that I LOVE or series that I DO watch. Like “Full House”, “ER”… oh gosh, can you remember then? I can, even though it was thousand years ago! or when I was very, very young series like “Melrose Place”… But of course you usually outgrow them and they’re not interesting anymore. However, there is series that I could watch and watch, over and over again, it’s timeless and it’s – yes, you got it! – “Gilmore Girls”! I simply love this series!

It is impossible to share my favourite Lorelei’s moment with you because there are just too many, so I’m going to tell you why I love the series so much:

– because of the actors.

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– because of the dialogues

– because of it being full of touching moments

– because it being so close to life

– because of the characters making mistakes and eating four Thanksgiving dinners

– because of the first dates

– because of the rendition of “Wind Beneath my Wings”

– because of Rory, after years of hard work at Chilton, not only getting into her dream school, Harvard but also Yale and Princeton. Hard work pays off!

– because of Rory’s graduation speech: “My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be.  She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith.  As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her.  Thank you, Mom: you are my guidepost for everything.”

– actually every scene with Luke. Lorelei/Luke relationship was just so genuine and honest, don’t you think? He was always there for Lorelei, no matter what!

So really, if you’re anything like me, then you just love “Gilmore Girls” and their come – back was a real highlight for me this year.

About the book:
 
Title: Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between
Author: Lauren Graham
Published: December 6th 2016 by Virago

Blurb: In her first work of nonfiction, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood recounts her experiences on Gilmore Girls—the first and second time—and shares stories about life, love, and working in Hollywood. This collection of essays is written in the intimate, hilarious, and down-to earth voice that made her novel, Someday Someday Maybe, a New York Times bestseller.

“This book contains some stories from my life: the awkward growing up years, the confusing dating years, the fulfilling working years, and what it was like to be asked to play one of my favorite characters again. You probably think I’m talking about my incredible achievement as Dolly in Hello, Dolly! as a Langley High School junior, a performance my dad called “you’re so much taller than the other kids.” But no! I’m talking about Lorelai Gilmore, who, back in 2008, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. Also included: tales of living on a houseboat, meeting guys at awards shows, and that time I was asked to be a butt model. A hint: all three made me seasick.”—Lauren Graham

GIVEAWAY!
You can win a copy of Lauren’s “Talking As Fast as I Can”! The only thing you need to do is to enter the Rafflecopter! Open for Europe/UK.

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Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley / Blog Tour

So there – today we have another Blog Tour for you, ha! I love such busy days 🙂 It is for Lindsey Paley’s festive novella “Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes” which is the first in the Camille Carter series and it is a real heaven for food lovers! There is also a great giveaway (UK only, sorry guys), and you can win an e – copy of the book PLUS an ACTUAL CHRISTMAS CAKE! How great is it???

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley

 

25758647Publisher: Purple Heather Publishing

Publishing Date: 15th June 2015

Series: Camille Carter #1

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

Number of pages: 178

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

When all-round buttercream princess, Millie Carter, becomes stranded at Craiglea Manor Cookery School, she believes her chance of enjoying a merry festive season is over.

The village of Aisford is Christmas-card perfect, but Millie hates it – she hates the snow, her freezing fingertips, and being forced to look like her Aunt Marjory in a mud-splattered wax jacket and wellies instead of her beloved shorts and sparkly sandals.

She plots her escape but ends up locking spatulas with the estate manager, Fergus McKenzie, who is forced to rescue her before she succumbs to a severe dose of hyperthermia. Things start to improve with the arrival of handsome Sam Morgan, fresh from the beaches and rum shacks of the Caribbean.

Can Millie accept her fate? And will Aisford sprinkle some of its seasonal magic on her troubles?

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a festive story of love and friendship and reaching for the buttercream icing and edible glitter when life gets tough.

Rating: 3/5

“Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes” is the first book in the Camille Carter series and I was very intrigued by the synopsis – I’ve no idea why but I like stories about such Scrooges because usually they end with them changing their mind totally, and it’s brilliant. Moreover, it mentions butter cream icings and something about being stranded because of snow, and so I thought, oh yes, it is for sure a story for me.

Our main character, Camille – or Millie – Carter much more prefers sun to snow, but she’s just landed herself a job running a cookery course in a manor house in England. There is the whole set of circumstances that led to this situation, including a cheating boyfriend, and a sister asking for a favour. But Millie was of course totally unprepared and she arrived in the middle of a snow storm, dressed in a cardigan, without a coat or winter boots. Promising beginning, no? But it is not the end of her troubles yet, oh no, it’s rather a beginning, as when she arrives she learns that because of the weather the course has been cancelled! And because of the weather she is stranded at the manor house for the weekend!

The author introduces us to a whole bunch of characters which, in a novella with 178 pages, could have been confusing, but this time Lindsey Paley has brilliantly managed it. I didn’t have any problems to recognize who is who and to whom they belong, and it’s really a big brownie point for the author. They are all well drawn and they all are so very different, which makes the story this tad more interesting and colourful, and all of them had their own stories, which they of course tell, and some of them are heart – breaking, some of them incredibly uplifting, and actually it requires a real talent to squeeze this all in a novella. Millie seems to be a tough cookie but she also has a softer side to herself. She also seems to be a very prone – accident girl, always ending in the wrong place, usually outside and freezing to death. We have many male characters in this story, some of them more pleasant, some of them less.

Millie is a chef, so there are some very delicious food descriptions and it’s like a real heaven for all the food lovers. But be aware – don’t read it when you’re hungry 🙂 When Millie is in rush she cooks and bakes and the food she creates looks and sounds incredibly mouth – watering.  I was waiting for some recipes at the end of the book, as it usually happens when there is so much cooking in the story but, sadly, not this time.

The author has for sure a great imagination and she can write some very descriptive scenes and yes, I like winter, but I do like summer more, but after reading this story I can’t wait for a real, white winter to come.

However, my own, biggest problem with the book was the fact that I had a feeling that the book itself doesn’t know what it wants to be – a romance, a nice story about a girl with delicious food in the background, a drama, crime… Because there was all of the above mentioned and somehow it just didn’t work together in my opinion. It started as a story about Millie, telling her history and showing how she adapts to the new – and very accidental place she found herself in – and it was OK, but then, suddenly, totally out of the blue there was this very unexpected and very too far – fetched ending including guns, shoots, police and drug smugglers. And I thought, WTF? How come? Why? I think it would much better work in a full – length novel, as here it looks like the author just didn’t have time and enough space to develop an idea or two of hers and nonetheless she added it to the story but for me it felt as if there were two different stories. I also had a small problem with the characters, especially with Millie at the beginning, and with Fergus – I just couldn’t understand their approach, as I didn’t see any reason for them, especially Fergus, to be so arrogant, so hot and cold blowing, and I also didn’t understand where this antipathy was coming from and why was he so – I don’t know: jealous? of Millie if he disliked her so obviously? Something just didn’t sit together here and made me feel a little too confused for my liking. The drama was also far too far – fetched for my liking and when Millie – again! – left the house in her rage I just couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

Altogether, it was a twisty and turny story with a great potential and I am very sorry that I didn’t love it as much as I hoped for. But there is a festive feeling to it, it has some funny moments, as well as some poignant ones and personally I am waiting to read the next book in the series.

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