One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill by Mandy Baggot

One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill by Mandy Baggot

 

34322561Publisher: Ebury

Publishing Date: 16th November 2017

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

Number of pages: 448

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Isla Winters loves Christmas – especially the parties! Prosecco-infused everything is her ideal start to the busy festive season, and she can’t wait to wow her contacts in international construction throughout the month of December. But everything changes when she’s given a new remit: right-hand girl to the head of the New York branch.

Chase Bryan’s marriage has fallen apart. Given a secret project, he moves to London for the holidays with his two young daughters, hoping to dive in and ignore the distractions of Christmas. Problem is, he’s been saddled with Little Miss Candy Cane.

Isla’s wheelchair-bound sister, Hannah, lives life to the max. Isla’s unofficial second job is to keep her sister from trying to take over the world – but what will happen when Hannah starts to pay attention to Isla’s love life? One moment in Notting Hill could change everything…

Join Isla and Chase in a sparkly, festive London, where a little winter magic is just around the corner.

Rating: five-stars

I really think that Mandy’s Christmas offers are much better than her summery ones – not stating that the summery are not worth reading, though, nono, far away from this, but “One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill” is a book that is going to give you a very happy feeling. There is already plenty of festive feeling in this novel, and oh my god, let’s not forget the cover! It’s gorgeous, and so Christmassy, and it glitter! I could look at it all the time.

I immediately warmed to all the characters. Loved the fact that one of the leading ones was Hannah, sitting in a wheelchair after an accident – it doesn’t happen often that your main character is disabled like this. She was a lovely person, full of humour, she had of course better and worse days but it’s totally understandable, and she was full of determination and optimism. Isla was a person that you couldn’t not like, I think. She was a great carer of her sister and whatever she did, she did it with a view of Hannah. There was a passion in her, she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, she loved her job and life generally and you could feel the good vibes that she was radiating through the pages. She was feisty and bubbly and didn’t look for romance, but then Chase enters… mmm. He has two daughters, is a workaholic, suffers with self – doubt and has a wicked past and yet he is brilliant. He is capable to admit when he’s made a mistake and he knows he’s not perfect. There is an incredibly romantic side to him, he gleams warmth and I just liked him very, very much.
All the other background characters, especially Chase’s daughters, were so brilliantly developed, full of life and heart and such a great positivism – I felt warm when reading about their adventures, their problems and troubles and loved how they tried to work the best possible ways for them.
There was a brilliantly captured chemistry between Isla and Chase. It was realistic, genuine, not too pushy and so relaxed, and it was a real pleasure to see how it developed, in which direction was it going to go. I really enjoyed the love stories in this book (because there were more, yes!), they were great romances, not too wishy – washy, not too meh, and I liked that it also included the families of the characters’ involved.

I loved the setting of this book, London, and more specifically, Notting Hill. You could say you know all about Notting Hill but then you start to see it again through the eyes of the total newcomers, Maddie and Brooke, Chase’s quirky daughters, and the author brings all those places so easily to life.

The end seemed much too rushed for my liking, the things were incredibly quickly wrapped up and if you think how long it took to build up to them then the ending may be a little disappointing, and just this little bit too far – fetched. I mean, “we saved Notting Hill”…? But it worked well in this book, don’t get me wrong, it was just tad unbelievable for me. Altogether though, “One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill” was a lovely, warm and funny Christmas romance and I absolutely adored this story, with its quirky characters, embarrassing moments, cheeky teenager and that dealt with serious issues in a lovely, gentle way. The story interwoven many sub – plots and touched upon many issues, and there were all the time many things happening, so no single moment flat, guys, but that is great! It was easy and light – hearted and written with a lot of heart. Highly recommended!

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It Started with a Tweet by Anna Bell – #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi guys! Hope you’re having a great Monday and if not it’s going to be bettwe right now because I have a brilliant guest post from Anna Bell! Her brand new and shiny “It Started with a Tweet” has just been released as an ebook and will be available in paperback on 28th December, and what can I say guys, it’s a brilliant, humorous book and I loved every single minute of it!

It Started with a Tweet by Anna Bell

 

35091775Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 7th December 2017

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 28.12.2017)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Can Daisy Hobson log off for love…?

Could you survive a digital detox? This hilarious new romantic comedy from the author of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart is perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond and Sophie Kinsella.

Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. A marketing manager by day, she tweets her friends, instagrams every meal and arranges (frankly, appalling) dates on Tinder. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall . . .

Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy’s problems – a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria, that she just happens to need help doing up. Soon, too, Daisy finds herself with two welcome distractions: sexy French exchange-help Alexis, and Jack, the brusque and rugged man-next-door, who keeps accidentally rescuing her.

But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone?

Rating: five-stars

Anna Bell belongs to my auto – buy authors, guys, and I really don’t need to read the blurb to her new book because I know it’s going to be brilliant and just my cup of tea. I fell in love with her writing style, and her stories are not only incredibly hilarious but also close to life and full of wonderful, livid characters, and I am always waiting impatiently for her new release.

The heroine, Daisy, was such a typical Anna Bell’s character – bubbly and quirky, full of life, always getting in troubles but in the end always learning her lesson, and I bloody loved her. You couldn’t not like her, even though you sometimes wanted to throttle her and feel desperate with her, but mostly she was really a brilliant person. She was honest and straightforward and felt so realistic and when she got herself into this huge trouble I couldn’t help but fell and feel for her, even though it happened of her own making.
Meet Jack. So grumpy and so introverted but oh my word, so gorgeous, so funny and he very quickly became one of my favourite characters in this book. The blossoming relationship between him and Daisy was simply the best, so awkward and so genuine and one of the greatest moments in the story were the letters (yes! Letters! Don’t forget about Daisy being on a detox, and the fact that there was never reception didn’t help as well) that Daisy and Jake sent to each other – oh boy, they were so honest and so funny! It was so heart – warming, and so sweet and I so wanted to bang their heads together sometimes, as – of course! OF COURSE! – nothing is straightforward in life in fiction, right, and there are few bumps and turns on the (muddy) road to their happiness. One of them is the sexy Frenchman Alexis – oh, he’s going to stir up troubles!

Even though I spent endless hours on social networks I hope I’m not as extreme as Daisy, though the story really made me think and I promised myself to cut those hours spent scrolling down on Twitter or Facebook. However, I can go without my phone. Really. Lately I even once forgot to take it with me to work. Yes, I felt funny and insecure but I survived. But maybe it wouldn’t be too bad to go on a digital detox myself? To start see things again? To pay more attention to the outside world? This book is a real eye – opener, guys.

Anna Bell’s writing style is so light and easy. It is chatty and I had a feeling as if someone was recounting me the story and not as if I was reading it. She can so easily engage with her readers, both thanks to the topics she chooses and to her writing style, and it is so easy to connect to her characters and everything she writes about, especially as the social media stuff is such a hot topic nowadays. I think all of us can relate to Daisy, in this way or the other, with her need to stay up to date with all the news on Facebook or Twitter.

“It Started with a Tweet” was such a light, funny and entertaining read but it also touched on some more important and serious issues, and I loved how well Anna Bell interwoven them into the story, how she mixed the light – hearted and heavier stuff together and delivered a brilliant and up – to – date and close to reality story that rings the bell oh so much and that we can relate to. It was full of laugh – out – loud moments and I was all the time smiling when reading it. Full of embarrassing moment and surprises and I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what’s going to happen next. Another cracker from the lovely Anna Bell – highly recommended!

GUEST POST

How ideas evolve

Every novel has a starting point. A small kernel of an idea that sparks off the project. For It Started With A Tweet it was the idea that the two main characters would fall in love with each other by writing letters. It was a simple idea with a huge question to solve: why would they write letters? Why wouldn’t they speak in person? Why would they not text or use a messaging app? And so the process began . . .

At first I thought I’d set my novel in rural France where I live. Lots of British people move over to France and buy run down properties that they renovate. There are also a lot of people that choose to live off grid and don’t have mobile phones (we often can’t get reception) and don’t have TVs etc. It seemed at first like it would make the perfect setting, but when I started to plan the novel I realised it presented a lot of problems. The villagers would have to be french, would my main character be able to speak the language? The location seemed to create as many problems as it seemed to solve and that’s when I decided to set it in Cumbria.

Cumbria was a great setting as it’s remote enough to suffer from mobile phone black spots and old derelict farmhouses are relatively cheap to buy (compared to other areas in the UK). It was the perfect place and to create an easily believable scenario where my main character could be easily away from having phone and internet. Only something was still niggling at me. Why couldn’t the main character walk into the village and use a phone box? And surely they’d be able to get signal somewhere for her to text. I needed more of an incentive to keep her offline and that’s when the digital detox was born.

The digital detox idea seemed perfect. It gave the book a real focus (and a plot) as the book became about Daisy’s digital addiction and what happened when her sister Rosie forced her offline. The first draft saw Daisy fired from her job because she’d forgotten to send important emails – she was too distracted all the time by her mobile. When I sent it to my editors they loved her digital detox but they felt her reason for going wasn’t strong enough. They suggested that Daisy make a digital faux pas. It was a great idea and I knew almost immediately how it could happen. There’s a scene near the beginning where Daisy goes on the Tinder date from hell and it lent itself beautifully for her to tweet something about the date accidentally from her work account rather than her personal one. It tied the whole novel together instantly and it even lent itself to the title of the book.

It takes roughly eighteen months between the initial idea and the moment I see the finished book on the shelf and the end product is usually unrecognisable. With each draft the ideas evolve and change. I think that’s why I love writing so much – you never know where your ideas are going to take you!

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

It Started With a Tweet Blog Tour (2)

The Break by Marian Keyes

The Break by Marian Keyes

 

34511798Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 7th September 2017

Source:  Purchased

Number of pages: 576

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Amy’s husband Hugh isn’t really leaving her.

At least, that’s what he promises. He is just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

It’s been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she’d have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part – the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part – is staying in love.

Rating: five-stars

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Hello? One of the hugest Marian Keyes’s fans speaking: yours truly. For years she’s been probably my favourite author ever. I wasn’t lucky enough to receive an ARC of Marian’s new book “The Break” and being declined to read this title on NetGalley has broken my heart in thousands little pieces, but no worries guys, I’m a tough cookie and already had the book on pre – order.
I have no idea how this author does it but when you read her books you feel like a part of the story, like a part of the characters’ lives. Her stories, also “The Break” as well, are heart – breakingly sad and funny at the same time, they are down to earth, realistic, incredibly wise, brutally honest and so cleverly funny. I’ve never had a problem to fell in love with her characters and to keep everything crossed for them.

We are introduced to tons of characters in this story. Tons, guys! But fear not, you are to quickly learn who is who and why and to whom they belong. First of all, Amy’s family is huge, very huge, and all of her siblings has their own spouses and children. Then we have her friends, private and from work, then we have her children and their friends and boyfriends, and Hugh’s family… And believe me, I loved all of them! I adored Amy from the very beginning and wanted to hug her so much and tell her that everything is going to be ok (hopefully). She goes to her own limits, trying to cope as a suddenly single parent, juggling work, life, family and thousands of problems that start to pile on. Even though she’s devastated, she still picks herself up and goes on. However, she was not alone on this journey, there were her sisters, her family, especially her mother and her feisty daughters who kept her upright and supported her in their own ways – sometimes it was not what Amy needed right now but nevertheless it was wise and honest and they all wanted the best for her. Amy’s personality was so uncomplicated, she was happy with all things she got from life (well, of course except with her husband going on sabbatical, that is), she was so true to life, confident and insecure, with a great sense of humour, honest and true to her words and a huge ability to enjoy the world. Hugh was so selfish but I also couldn’t help but fell for him as well, and there was such an overwhelming feeling of grief and sadness in him, and the author so well nailed all of those feelings and emotions that made him tick.

The pacing in this story was great – it was a rather long book but there was never a dull moment and before you know it, you’re deep into it. The flashbacks gave us a chance to get to know more about Amy and Hugh’s relationship and what made them tick so great. The houseful of females provides great entertainment, brings thousands of shenanigans, and the normal, everyday problems that all of us has to deal with and I absolutely loved it!

Marian Keyes’s style is inimitable and there is Marian Keyes and then for a long, long time nothing else. She’s written “The Break” in her usual light, witty and insightful style and even when she writes about deeper and often taboo topics it’s forthcoming and not judging. She’s one of the few that can write about abortion, depression, suicide without offending anyone and getting the balance between sad and funny brilliantly.

“The Break” was full of dramas, small and huge, and brilliantly captured family bonds. It touches on some more serious and some lighter issues. It is first of all about love, but also about death and grief, health issues, patchwork families and how they work, betrayal, temptations and also your everyday troubles and issues. It’s about overcoming those troubles and staying strong. It’s about choices. It was compelling, emotional, complex and so wise! A book with unforgettable characters that’s going to stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished reading it, with plenty of emotional but also plenty of this incredible Irish charm and humour. Highly, highly recommended!

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

 

36380895Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 21st September 2017

Source:  Purchased

Number of pages: 336

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The perfect recipe for hygge this autumn: make a hot chocolate, draw the curtains, snuggle under a blanket and read your way to happiness!

It’s autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It’s cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street – an adorable little toy shop – has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.

Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother’s shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?

Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life – naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?

Rating: five-stars

 

Guys, you don’t have to fear the upcoming winter if you have Rosie Blake’s new novel at hand! Already the opening scene was abso – bloody – hilarious and it set the mood for the rest of the story. It was my first “hygge” book, to be honest and I won’t tell you what I thought hygge is, it turned out to be something different to what I thought, but still I love the idea of hygge, especially now, when it’s so quickly dark and uncomfortable and cold, and now I am a hygge specialist, and I also know a few Danish swear words. Result!

Clara was an absolutely brilliant character and I loved how quickly and without hesitation she jumped at the chance of house – sitting. Running away from her secrets, she was going from one place to another, never staying for long but something in Yulethorpe has touched upon her heart. She was also so incredibly creative and what she’s done with the toy shop was absolutely brilliant – it was also described in such a vivid, colourful way that I didn’t have a problem to picture it in my mind, and really, guys, I would love to have such a shop in my town, and I know what I’m saying as I have a five – year – old daughter. What was also so great with Clara was the fact that she’s not only transformed the place, she’s also made some brilliant friends in the village, also transforming them at the same time. Clara is carrying not only a secret, but resulting from this secret tons of guilt, and this is probably why she wants to help other people, no matter what. And she has such an effect on all people that she meets, I’d love to have such a positive person around me.
Enter Joe, who probably knows as much about hygge as I’ve known before reading the book. Suspicious, not trusting, but ha, he doesn’t know Clara and her plan yet – and you see, it was Clara again, who without a sound, patiently, worked on Joe. Did she manage to transform Joe? Did Joe need transformation? READ THE BOOK and you’ll find the answers.
There are also all those brilliant and funny background characters: Gavin, Craig, Louise, Lauren, and even Roz. All of them full of life and personal opinions but in the end always (almost) sticking together and supporting each other (not all of them, of course not all of them, but we do need bad guys as well). There is not other option as to love them or love to hate them, they just grow on you and don’t leave you alone (sounds creepy, I’m aware, what I mean is that you can’t stop thinking about them because they are so vivid and close to life and so, so funny).

Rosie Blake, in such a subtle, gentle way points out what is really important in our lives – that it’s not money or job or giving people warnings at work but that it’s kindness and not expecting anything in return for it. That it is sometimes so much better to watch a sunrise and to offer something deep from your heart – and it was gorgeous.

This was a cosy, sweet book of new beginnings, second chances, finding your own place and happiness, written in this brilliant Rosie – style, with one of the best one – liners in the history, unforgettable characters, swearing parrots and a few romances. Actually, I was sure I’m going to get it all, because it’s Rosie Blake, right? A story full of hope, that immediately draws you in and makes you feel warmer and better. “The Hygge Holiday” was like a warm blanket, like a hug and I adored it, basta, and in my eyes it fully deserves those big, fat five stars. This was a definition of a perfect, comforting, unforgettable read, and please hurry up Rosie with writing another book! And PS – the cover of “The Hygge Holiday”. The cover! It’s gorgeous!

And now to make a scented, candle lit hot bath. And plump some cushions on my sofa.

An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe

An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe

 

35824143Publisher: Viking

Publishing Date: 2nd November 2017

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

Number of pages: 163

Genre:  Humour, Nonfiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

“My mother is not a foodie. But for as long as I can remember, once a year, she becomes possessed of a profound and desperate need to serve up a perfect roast turkey. Faced with a walk into the village though, she might think ‘oh, f*** it’ and decide to get a frozen one from Bejams on the 23rd and leave it to defrost in the downstairs toilet for not quite 48 hours.”

From perennially dry turkeys to Christmas pudding fires, from the round robin code of conduct to the risks and rewards of re-gifting, An Almost Perfect Christmas is an ode to the joy and insanity of the most wonderful time of the year.

 
Rating: five-stars

 

I adore Nina Stibbe’s books, and as soon as I spotted “An Almost Perfect Christmas” on NetGalley, I immediately downloaded it (ah, the benefits of being pre – approved, I love it!) and started reading it. Of course I didn’t bother to read the synopsis – well, duh, it IS Nina Stibbe, right, so there is no need for it, because no matter what she writes about it is exceptionally brilliant, but this time I was surprised, as this book is not a story but actually it’s full of short and very funny essays on Christmas. And oh my word, guys, I loved them!

I love the way Nina Stibbe views Christmas, good – naturedly, and what an relief it was to see that I am not the only one non – perfect organizer of Christmas. The essays are short, funny and sharp, family based which only made them so much more relatable, and I found myself nodding more than once – they bring a smile or smirk of recognition. Nina Stibbe’s writing style is so light – hearted in this book, it is so easy to follow and even the most boring things she skilfully turns into funny events with a great dose of sarcasm and not treating herself too seriously.

I’ve read this book within two days and I wanted it to go on and on. I love Nina Stibbe’s sense of humour and her views on different things and really close to my heart, and this little book has fulfilled all of my expectations. It was laugh – out – loud funny, it was full of embarrassing moments, just what the doctor ordered. It was wry, down – to – earth and it rang a bell more than once, and it was great that the author was so open about her own life. If you feel yourself overwhelmed with Christmas preparations, just take this book, read one story and you’re going to feel much better, I can guarantee! “An Almost Perfect Christmas” – highly recommended!

 

 

The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan

The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan

 

34734391Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 2nd November 2017

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

Number of pages: 496

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Set on the beautiful island of Islay, The Christmas Secret is a gripping story filled with emotion from Karen Swan, author of Christmas Under the Stars

Alex Hyde is the leaders’ leader. An executive coach par excellence, she’s the person the Great and the Good turn to when the pressure gets too much; she can change the way they think, how they operate, she can turn around the very fortunes of their companies.

Her waiting list is months’ long, but even she can’t turn down the unorthodox but highly lucrative crisis call that comes her way a few weeks before Christmas, regarding the troublesome – and troubled – head of an esteemed whisky company in Scotland: Lochlan Farquhar, CEO of Kentallen Distilleries, is a maverick, an enigma and a renegade, and Alex needs to get inside his head before he brings the company to its knees.

It should be business as usual. She can do this in her sleep. Only, when she gets to the remote island of Islay, with the winter snows falling, Alex finds herself out of her comfort zone. For once, she’s not in control – Lochlan, though darkly charismatic, is unpredictable and destructive, her usual methods gaining no traction with him – and with Christmas and her deadline fast approaching, she must win his trust and find a way to close on this deal.

But as she pulls ever closer to him, boundaries become blurred, loyalties loosen and Alex finds herself faced with an impossible choice as she realizes nothing and no-one is as they first seemed.

 
Rating: five-stars

 

I love Karen Swan’s books, and I can’t imagine Christmas without this author’s new novel, and here it is – “The Christmas Secret”, and it’s another winner! It is actually really hard to put into words how much I adore Ms Swan’s books, this one included, they are always so complex, full of secrets, twists and turns, filled with multi – faceted brilliant characters and you can always be sure that the author is going to deliver an utterly compelling story that is only getting better with every page turned.

There is not a single thing that I didn’t like about this book, guys, so probably I should just finish my review right here, right now telling you that it was a brilliant read, go and buy it and you don’t even have to thank me for the recommendation. But I wouldn’t be myself if I did this, so be prepared for some gushing. Let’s start with the characters. They were my favourite kind of characters. They felt like real people and I didn’t always agree with their choices and decisions but it didn’t mean that they were wrong. Sure, sometimes they were but it only made them more human in their eyes. Both our main characters, Alex Hyde and Lochlan Farqhuar, had better and worse days, had tempers, made mistakes and I adored it in them – it seemed so realistic and also it didn’t leave me indifferent about them and their futures. I wanted to slap them sometimes, to shake them or to pat them on their shoulder. I love how Karen Swan creates her characters, they are not immediately likeable, you must sometimes get used to some of them but it’s great that they’re not straightforward, that they have complex and complicated personalities. She gives us time to get to know Alex and Lochie, and when we think we know all about them, she starts then to introduce us to their past and it is like, oh wow, there is so much more to them than I thought! The motions of those two were so brilliantly captured, they were full of secrets and surprises and I loved following them on their journey. We of course can’t forget the background characters, which – no matter if they entered one or two or three scenes – were created with a lot of love to details, had their own personalities and added tons to the whole story.

Setting. Karen Swan is a queen of setting her novels in the most beautiful locations. I wouldn’t say that they are the most unusual ones because she also takes us to Paris or Rome for example, but no matter where we find ourselves, and this time on small and remote island of Islay, west coast of Scotland, she brings all the settings to life and offers us the most gorgeous views and descriptions. The scenery of this Scottish island is breathtakingly beautiful, and I loved how realistic the descriptions were, how they highlighted how dependent the islanders were on the weather, how harsh could it be for them. But also the distillery was a part of the setting, and well, you could ask how much can you write about whisky, but believe me, you can, or Karen Swan can – it was incredibly interesting to find out about the steps of making whisky. The way the distillery was the heart of the community, how much depended on it was brilliantly brought to life.

Plot. Absolutely brilliant! I know that when I read Karen Swan’s book I am for surprises, twists and turns that can change everything dramatically. I love how her books, and also “The Christmas Secret”, are like puzzles, with the missing elements slowly, in the right pace, falling into places. This time one of the background subplots was a sinking of one of the liners transporting American troops to Europe during the First World War, that was torpedoed by the Germans, and so Alex’s story intertwined with chapters full of retrospections. At first glance those stories has nothing in common, but slowly you start to see the whole picture, and you see in what way the stories are connected.

Writing style. Karen Swan knows her way with the words and her writing style is simply gorgeous, guys. She knows perfectly well how to write a complex, deep book. She touches upon so many issues in “The Christmas Secret” but no matter what it is she writes about it’s not only brilliantly researched but it’s also brought to us in the most beautiful, rich descriptions and you immediately feel like part of the story.

“The Christmas Secret” was a gorgeous story about life on a small island and its community, about love, friendship, forgiveness, family bonds and – let’s not forget it – whisky. It was an impressive piece of fiction. It was filled with emotions and feelings, hot and cold, it was honest and genuine and it was also a great love story, both in the present and the past. I really loved every single page of this book, and I loved how Karen Swan made me think (as usual!) that I knew what’s going to happen and then dropping a surprise or two on my not expecting it self – I love this, when the plot is unpredictable, you can’t see through it, when there are moments that you don’t expect, and this is this kind of plot – you know, the one with the “BAM” or “Yesss!” moments. This is another winner from this author and I highly recommend this book to you – Karen Swan at her best, and there really wouldn’t be Christmas without a new Karen Swan!

The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

 

35565382Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 1st July 2017

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

Number of pages: 363

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Dear Readers,

I hold my hands up: I’m stuck in a rut. For three years and counting I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same guy – and the closest we’ve ever got is a drunken arse grab (NB: this doesn’t count). My favourite hobby is googling cats for spinsters and I’m sick of my shoestring salary that barely pays for my shoebox flat.

I need a head-to-toe life makeover. Enter my ‘Year of Saying Yes’, which is where you come in. To help me sort out my sorry life, I need you to #DareIzzy. For the next 12 months I’ll be saying ‘yes’ to your challenges, no matter how wild, adventurous or plain nuts they are. ‘No’ is not an option!

Here goes… Wish me luck! I’m going to need it.

Love,

Izzy x

Hannah Doyle’s THE YEAR OF SAYING YES will make you dirty-laugh, feel warm and fuzzy, and rediscover life’s magic – all thanks to one little word: ‘yes’. Fans of Lucy’s Vine’s HOT MESS, Cathy Hopkins’s THE KICKING THE BUCKET LIST, Sophie Kinsella’s MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE, Suzy K Quinn’s THE BAD MOTHER’S DIARY and Fiona Gibson’s THE WOMAN WHO MET HER MATCH, this one’s for you!

 
Rating: five-stars

 

At the beginning of this year I read the first part in “The Year of Saying Yes” series, “It Started with a Dare”, and I totally loved it. This novella has totally taken me by surprise actually – I haven’t expected it to be SO good, so hilarious, so light – hearted and full of laugh – out – loud moments and I loved it! I planned to read all the other parts as soon as they’re published however it never worked out – you know how it is, life getting in the way, no time at all, and somehow, somewhere my huge plan of reading them just disappeared. Imagine then my surprise when one day I’ve opened an envelope and found there the whole “The Year of Saying Yes” in one big gorgeous book – just this kind of surprise that I adore 🙂

Hannah Doyle’s writing style is brilliant, it flows so effortlessly, it’s full of humour and I immediately felt drawn in. She describes events and situations in a way that makes you feel you are watching a sitcom, adding a gesture here or dropping a hilarious one – liner there. She can also create lovely characters that I adored from the very beginning – well, who wouldn’t relate to Izzy and the pressure she’s putting on herself? I also felt so comfortable with all her friends, but Izzy is a special character, with her very own unique voice, huge personality she’s bubbly, quirky and full of life. She was a brilliant lead character and I think I loved everything about her: her sense of humour, the way she was so incredibly down to earth and relaxed, the way she viewed the world. In my eyes she was also incredibly brave, I think I wouldn’t dare to take part in such a kind of challenge, just imagine how much it costs to get out of your comfort zones, and poor Izzy needed to do this twelve times. Of course it was for the best, she’s grown, learnt so many things but still it was a great challenge, and she couldn’t say no to them, no matter how crazy or unfeasible it was. She pushed her way past breaking points on more than one occasion and I just wanted to get up and give her a standing ovation. She was not perfect, oh no, I personally couldn’t stand her infatuation with George and there were moments that I wanted to shake her so badly and tell her to open her eyes but well… heart wants what the heart wants and I really, truly adored her. It would be great to have Izzy as a friend.

This was a brilliant, light – hearted book that you can re – read every time you’re feeling low and it’s assured it’s going to make you feel better. It was hilarious but it also touched upon more difficult aspect of life and it was very well balanced. It was a funny, refreshing read and I loved the idea behind it – maybe I should try this say yes approach as well. I think that somewhere in the middle the story slowed down a little and felt a bit slower and quieter than the beginning and then the end, but nevertheless it was still a great, amusing read about taking chances.

Altogether, “The Year of Saying Yes” was a story about learning things about yourself, pushing your boundaries, learning that impossible is nothing. It shows that no matter what we think about ourselves, we’re strong enough to face the challenges – in a brilliant, hilarious, light – hearted way. I really can’t wait to see what Hannah Doyle has in store for us, because this book was a real winner and it is a novel that should be shouted about from the rooftops. Highly recommended!

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