Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn / Blog Tour

Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster43537210

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 455

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, author of A Year at the Star and Sixpence, perfect for all fans of Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.

Roaring fires, cosy nooks and friendly locals, welcome back to the perfect village pub… 
It’s September and the new season is bringing change to the village of Little Monkham. Nessie has moved in with the lovely Owen and his son Luke, leaving her sister Sam next door in their renovated pub, the Star and Sixpence. But is all change for the good? Sam and Joss have gone their separate ways and he’s left Little Monkham for good.
New chef Gabriel Santiago is causing a flutter among the women of the village but Sam is determined not to make the same mistake again and keeps things strictly business between them. But an inconvenient attraction to Gabe is the least of Sam’s worries when an unexpected visitor arrives at the Star and Sixpence. Who is Laurie Marsh and what does he want from the sisters?

Rating: five-stars

 

“Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence” is the follow up to “A Year at the Star and Sixpence” and covers a year in the lives of Nessie and Sam. It takes us back to Little Monham and the lovely, atmospheric village pub. Nessie has moved in with Owen and Sam is staying at the pub but not alone, as the sisters have just hired the Michelin star chef Gabe. Nessie’s love life is stabilized but Sam’s not, and what with Gabe, who’s not only the top notch chef but is incredibly handsome, and lives in the pub as well… But after what has happened with Joss, Sam is cautious – or isn’t she? The sisters also discover a new member of the family – but is he the one he claims to be?

I loved being back in Little Monkham, with all the quirky, warm characters, it was great to see how they were getting on and what has changed for them. There were some better changes, there were some heart – breaking moments for them, but they were written in a way that I was experiencing it all together with them. I loved Nessie and Sam’s closeness and it was so sad to watch them experiencing all the things, not being able to open to each other when they went through really tough times. Gabe is not the only new character in the book, but in comparison to the other one he was absolutely adorable and I liked him from the word go, with him being a little snippy but nevertheless always fair and honest – which I can’t say about the other character, and I’m sure he’s going to make you pretty suspicious, just like me.
The community spirit felt even stronger this time, as the girls settled in the village, all rallying around each other – it was so heart – warming and nice to see.

The pub goes from strength to strength (just like Holly’s writing and storytelling!), it’s like a character of its own, and I loved all the events the two sisters were organizing. The pub itself was, again, so inviting, a lovely, cosy place to spend time, and it was even better at the end when Sam adopted a dog.

It was a wonderful, cosy and comfortable read – simple like that. Holly Hepburn has managed to capture the lovely atmosphere and the overall feeling of this book is so uplifting, and not all authors can write like this – there was this “something” that is so difficult to describe but that makes the makes outstanding and perfect. This time it was a real roller – coaster journey full of emotions, touching upon so many poignant, difficult but also much lighter issues – family, friendship, grief, opening to each other, lies and secrets, and this all wrapped up in vivid, rich descriptions. Holly has amazing way with words, and she captured all of the emotions in such a way that I suffered and enjoyed together with the characters. And the addition of Gabe was a perfect idea, though don’t read the book when you’re on a diet – his food sounded delicious! A gorgeous summer read – highly recommended!

 

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Honeymoon for One by Frankie Collins

Honeymoon for One by Frankie Collins

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 46361238._sy475_

Publishing Date: 6th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 344

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When disaster strikes, paradise calls…
As a published novelist, Lila Rose has been writing about fictional weddings all her life. But disaster strikes on her own big day when she hears her philandering fiancé, Daniel whispering sweet nothings to someone else.

With her dream day shattered, all Lila wants to do is run and hide, so she decides to fly solo on her own honeymoon.

When Daniel arrives in the resort with his new squeeze, Lila strikes up a ‘showmance’ with hot new movie star, Freddie Bianchi. Freddie is perfect for the part and Lila soon relaxes into her leading lady role.

But as truth starts to merge with fiction, could real love be in the air?

A sizzling holiday romance, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Ranald’s Sorry Not Sorry.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Lila Rose is a romantic comedy author and she knows what her readers expect from her – happy ending of course, so she always gives them what they want. She’s planned so many weddings in her books that she knows well how her own should look like, without all the pitfalls and troubles her characters experience. However, what she hasn’t counted on was hearing her husband – to – be Daniel and her friend Eva confessing their love on the day Lila and Daniel are supposed to get married.
Lila does a runner, flying off on honeymoon on her own. However, San Valentino is supposed to be about coupled and for couples only, so she can’t even get a massage on her own. But can Lila find happiness, write her book and recuperate, when there is a man sharing her villa, and several others make an unwelcome appearance?

I immediately knew I have to read this book – Frankie Collins is, in fact, Portia McIntosh, and I love her stories, so there was no way that I was missing out on “Honeymoon for One”. And it absolutely lived up to my expectations, the book is like all the other ones that I fell in love with, full of brilliant, quirky characters and fabulous humour. I simply loved it, I think there was not a thing that I can complain about – not that I want to! It made me smile, it made me laugh, it had me cringe with embarrassment, shortly – it kept me entertained and this is what I needed so much at the moment.

The setting was gorgeous, the descriptions of the island were so vivid, bringing all the places to life – it was actually so brilliantly and realistically described that I wanted to have a look at Google and see if it actually exists.. There were some mentions of delicious, Italian food that made me hungry – don’t read it on an empty stomach! But as much as all the things were fabulous, those were the characters that made the book so, so adorably wonderful. I think I shouldn’t start on Freddie because I won’t stop swooning over him, the sort of hero you dream of, period. Ali was hilarious, I’m not sure how I was imagining a literary agent but for sure not like this, and I loved her fierce loyalty to Lila and simply, the way she was. Lila herself was my kind of girl, funny and sharp but also vulnerable. I couldn’t believe Eva and Daniel’s lack of shame, especially Eva’s, but also the way Daniel talked with Lila made me want to bang his head on the wall – I felt very protective of Lila, oh yes. Actually, all the other characters, no matter how background ones they were, were absolutely brilliant, full of personalities, adding so much meaning and fun to the whole story.

The writing style is flowing. It is warm and chatty and full of sarcasm and brilliant one – liners, and the banter between the characters is what makes it so outstanding. And some of the twists in the plot made me go “whaaaaaaat”, surprising and unexpected, which is only a huge bonus.

There is sun, heat, sea, delicious food, idyllic location, some incredibly hilarious things happening, the best banter between the well developed characters and hot romance mixed with poignant moments and while it might not be a book that is going to stay with for ever, I loved it and everything that happened between the covers. It was like a welcoming embrace, a great warm hug giving you comfort, a breath of fresh air, I think one of the author’s best books. Now I only need a porn star martini. Highly recommended! (The book. Not necessary martini. Though why not?)

 

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby / Blog Tour

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

 

515nmsferxl._sx328_bo1204203200_Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 338

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Kathy Courage has always wanted to visit Florence – her parents spent their honeymoon there, fell in love with the city and promised to take her there but it never happened, and now her father is dead so it’s too late. But is it really? Kathy and her boyfriend Neil are invited to a wedding – in Florence! Kathy is thrilled but, sadly, her plans to spent a lovely time with Neil didn’t turn out like she hoped and the whole trip is one huge disappointment. However, the mix – up with the flight home means that Kathy stays three whole days in Florence, alone! Will she find the courage to enjoy the city alone? Will an accident, that leaves her depending on the kindness of some strange Florentine family, make her look at her life differently? 

Chrissie Manby’s books brilliantly balance dry humour with poignant moments but this time I had a feeling that this novel, as much as still with those wonderful funny moments, was overall more serious in tone. It doesn’t mean that it was wrong, because the author really knows how to make her stories seamlessly flow, keeping me glued to the pages.

This story, albeit with a wonderful storyline, was – in my eyes – very character oriented, and they were brilliantly written, so easy to adore or to love to hate. I think they were written intentionally this way and you simply couldn’t help yourself but despise Neil and his family, and the more I got to know them, the more I disliked them all – a very self – centred, egoistic family and I couldn’t wait for Kathy to do something about it – because she has already noticed their true colours, it was only a matter of time – at least I hoped so! Really, they were hardly bearable and utterly unpleasant, and the Innocenti family, that almost adopted Kathy, looks in comparison even more friendly and wonderful and warm – because they were like this. 
Kathy was an immediately likeable character, even though she let others to treat her like a doormat, and usually I would roll my eyes at her and tell her, get a grip woman, but she was different. I fell under her spell and I had a feeling there is much more in her than meets the eye. She was so brilliantly fleshed out, felt like a living, breathing person, with all her fears, excitement, hope. Yes, I was asking myself all the time, why is she with Neil but I also could understand her, although the more I got to know him, and his actions that he’s done “for Kathy”, the more I wanted her to bang his head on the wall. But other than that, I found Kathy a great, interesting, gentle and real character.
The Innocenti family was absolutely fabulous, especially Manu when trying to learn Kathy speak Italian, and even the smelly little dog – they all had a place in this story and made it much more colourful with their huge personalities. What I also liked in this book was the fact that it didn’t feel like another Florence tourist guide. Sure, there were descriptions of this gorgeous city, vividly bringing it to life, but they were more of the behind – the – scenes sort of places that I truly enjoyed, showing the real life thanks to the Innocenti family.

This story is full of fun and drama, another captivating winner from Chrissie Manby. A real page – turner with a sweet, blossoming romance, with some ups and downs and it brilliantly shows Kathy’s ways to rediscover herself, to be brave to find the courage for being herself.

This book is written in such easy, comforting way,  I just couldn’t stand the thought that I must put it down for a moment, I was so caught up in the characters’ lives, their antics and their banter – it was all perfect! I have enjoyed every single page of this book and, you know this feeling, when finishing a novel makes you both happy and sad? Happy because you’ve read a great story, and sad, because it came to an end? It was this kind of book, a wonderful, moving novel with fabulous characters, the right balance of everything I was looking for in it, and gorgeous setting. Highly recommended!

 

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The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

 

43793447._sy475_Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Charlotte, a wealth counsellor who knows from personal experience the complications that a sudden inheritance can bring, helps her clients navigate the emotional side effects of sudden wealth syndrome. When she is asked by Mateo Mendoza, heir to a huge Spanish estate, to fly to Madrid to help resolve an issue in his father’s will, she’s confident it will be straightforward. The timing isn’t great as Charlotte’s due to get married the following week, but once her client signs on the dotted line, Charlotte can return to her life in London and her wedding, and live happily ever after. Marrying Stephen might not fill her with excitement, but she doesn’t want to live in the fast lane anymore – safe and predictable is good.

But Carlos Mendoza’s final bequest opens up a generation of secrets, and Charlotte finds herself compelled to unravel the mystery. As Charlotte digs deeper, she uncovers the story of a family divided by Spain’s Civil War, and of a love affair across the battle lines that ended in tragedy.

And while she is consumed in the drama of the Mendozas, Charlotte’s own tragic past catches up with her, threatening to overturn everything in her life she’s worked so hard to build.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Charlotte Fairfax, a wealth specialist, is sent to Spain on her next job. It couldn’t come at a worse time for her, as her wedding is only the following week. However, she’s sure that she’ll do what she has to do and will be back in London in time. But life usually has other plans for us, and soon Charlotte is drawn into the past of the Mendoza’s family – it turns out there is much more than meets the eye, there is darkness and ugly secrets. Moreover, the person she’s supposed to be working with has no idea about any inheritance, so it’s up to Charlotte to delve into the family’s history and what she discovers is shocking for all involved. Will she return in time for her own wedding? And can past hurts be repaid?

I am always eagerly awaiting Karen Swan’s new releases, as I know her books are going to take us to the most exotic/unusual/beautiful locations and they are reads with difference, often incorporating an intriguing mystery and always full of interesting, brilliantly fleshed out characters – and it was exactly like this with “The Spanish Promise”.

It was a shocking, poignant, heart – breaking story set in two time frames, the first one at the time of the Spanish civil war, showing its ongoing affects on many families even long after the event itself, following the life of the Mendoza family, and the second one taking us back to the present day, with Charlotte searching for answers. Both of the timelines had kept me captured as they were both rich in details and full of events. They, of course, intertwine, adding more questions, making us wonder what has happened to the rebellious daughter of the Mendozas, Nene. The author has made it perfect for me, to be honest, alternating between a fascinating and sad historical times that I, must admit, don’t have a great knowledge of, and present, keeping a healthy balance between them.

The characters in this book weren’t flawless but they were realistic and perceptive. I loved Charlotte, how determined she was, and I loved the fact that the author has – again – carefully considered a great and different kind of job for her – I mean, how many wealth counsellors do you usually come across? I think that Ms Swan has described the logistics of this job very well, balancing it with Charlotte’s interesting personal life and the question of her past and this all has made Charlotte an interesting, deep character, and I think I’ve found her story even better than this of Nene, who was also such a strong and colourful character to follow. But Charlotte, I don’t know, she just grew on me and I really enjoyed how digging in the past made her realise what is important to her.

The plot is complex and intertwines many threads but I have never felt confused, thanks to Karen Swan’s clear, eloquent and seamless writing. She beautifully paints a colourful, vivid picture of Spain, effortlessly transporting us into the characters’ world. The plot is wonderfully well – thought and it intertwines and unravels the secrets at the right moments, giving us a vivid, satisfying story touching upon many lighter, heavier and important issues.

Altogether, “The Spanish Promise” was an evocative, captivating and enchanting read, with romance that is alluring, mesmerising and heart – breaking, taking us on a roller – coaster journey through the lives of Mendoza and Fairfax families. It is full not only of money and power but also showing that behind those gorgeous mansions and designer clothes there is much more to meet the eye, that there are lies, secrets and betrayals that can change fate of many other people. As usual, Karen Swan’s addictive novel had me captivated, taking me into another, fantastic world. Highly recommended!

Expectation by Anna Hope

Expectation by Anna Hope

 

40611121._sy475_Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 322

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover| Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘If you wished Normal People had tackled female friendship, try Expectation’ GRAZIA
‘Will resonate with approximately 99% of women’ RED MAGAZINE summer pick

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

The most razor-sharp and heartbreaking novel of the year, EXPECTATION is a novel about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel.

FOR FANS OF SALLY ROONEY, DIANA EVANS, DOLLY ALDERTON, ELIZABETH DAY AND FLEABAG

Rating: five-stars

 

“Expectation” introduces us to three best friends, Cate, Hannah and Lissa, and follows their lives from the carefree and easy twenties, back to their troubled teens, to the harsh reality of thirties and forties. They used to share a house in East London, sharing their dreams and expectations for the future, enjoying their lives, friendship and fun. Ten years on and life hasn’t panned out as they’d like it to. Cate has recently moved to Kent with her new family, husband and a baby but she’s not sure if it’s really what she wants, especially as she feels so isolated; Hannah is trying her third round of IVF, desperate for a child, not noticing that this desire for a baby is destroying her marriage; Lissa is still trying to make it as an actress. How did they get there, wrestling with envy over each other’s lives?

It is a bitter – sweet and brutally raw and honest story exploring the highs and lows of friendship, showing different faces of this relationship.

The story flips backwards and forwards in time, changing the narration between the three women and tells, very realistically and honest, their happiest and saddest moments in their lives, showing how your point of view changes with increasing age, how you start to see the same things differently gaining experience. The author has so well captured the difference between the carefree, sunny days when they were in their twenties and had no real problems, and then when the reality brutally came and bitten them years later. I loved how the stories seamlessly intertwined together and how realistic they felt. The book is beautifully written.

I must admit that the characters were not the most likeable ones, and I actually have never warmed to any of the three friends. They were all determined in their own ways and yes, they fought for their own happiness, which is commendable, but it was at any cost. However, they were all so very well drawn, with their flaws, annoying habits but also their good points and they felt like living and breathing people, making mistakes and not always learning their lesson. Cate was the golden girl, with her First from Cambridge but because of a heartbreak she just gave up and is working in a cafe. Hannah, rejected from Cambridge, turned the disappointment into a successful career. And Lissa, the gorgeous one, convinced of her beauty and talent simply waiting for the big break that is going to make her a star. Fast forward ten years and Cate is struggling with being a mother, with a husband that she isn’t sure she loves, in a house far away from her friends and family. Hannah is on another round of IVF, not accepting the fact that life doesn’t run as smoothly as she has planned it, the strain of it all slowly starting to show in her marriage. And Lissa is still waiting for this big break, still seeking her mother’s approval, still single. None of these women’s expectations resemble this what they dreamed about, so where do they go next? As it usually happens in life, reality is a bitch – they drifted apart a little, and well, everything changes when you’re getting older, no?

I thought it’s going to be a light – hearted, easy read but there was so much more to it. There was depth and truth, with the author so beautifully exploring friendship that have ups and downs, that can have better and worse moments, about womanhood in very wide spectrum and how to live up to expectations the society and life make the women choose, and if you can live up to them at all, if it’s possible. Thought – provoking and very up – to – date, bringing great discussion topics about the gaps between reality and dream and expectations, between how your life appears to other people and how it really is for you. There is betrayal, hope, heartbreak, ugly secrets and unpleasant truths in this elegant, eloquent, bitter – sweet examination of womanhood, a compelling page turner about real female friendship, showing us how to ponder happiness and to find yourself and what makes you happy. Truly recommended!

 

The Reunion by Guillaume Musso / Blog Tour

The Reunion by Guillaume Musso

 

43565588._sx318_Publisher: W & N

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 289

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Thriller & Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback

 

Synopsis:

THE #1 SENSATION WITH OVER HALF A MILLION COPIES SOLD IN FRANCE

French Riviera, winter 1992.
On a freezing night, as her high school campus is engulfed by a snowstorm, 19-year-old Vinca Rockwell runs away with Alexis, her philosophy teacher.
No one will ever see them again.

French Riviera, spring 2017.
Formerly inseparable, Thomas, Maxime and Fanny – Vinca’s best friends – have not spoken in twenty-five years. But when they receive a notice from their old school detailing the plans for a new gymnasium and inviting them to a class reunion, they know they must go back one more time.
Because there is a body buried in the gymnasium’s walls…
…and they’re the ones who put it there.

Rating: five-stars

 

In 2017 there is a reunion at school that Thomas, Maxim, Fanny and Vinca attended 25 years ago. However, it’s a meeting that the three remained friends never wanted to attend, as some hidden secrets can be revealed, then those 25 years ago one of the group disappeared and had never been found. Now, the gym which was built at that time is going to be bulldozed, and do those two facts have something in common? What kind of secrets are going to be buried in the walls of the school and what are the three adults, that used to be best friends but have never spoken again over the years, planning now to keep some of the secrets hidden?

The characters are not too likeable, but in this kind of book I really don’t expect them to be. They’re all brilliantly fleshed out. Thomas, now a popular novelist living in the States, was a truly interesting protagonist, a character with a difference. The story is narrated by him in the first person so we really get a good opportunity to see how the events in 1992 affected him, what makes him tick and what has shaped him and his life. We see, through his eyes, the alluring Vinca, woman that even after all the years still has a hold over him. Because of what happened in 1992, he cut himself off from his previous life, all his friends and family, so returning to the town is like opening a Pandora Box for him. His best friend from school, Maxim, is a politician and, to be honest, has better contact with Thomas’s parents as Thomas himself. Now they have both a lot to lose, their whole lives are at stake and they are to face up to their past and future – a great person description here, captivating and capturing all the feelings and emotions.

The story takes us back and forth in time, slowly revealing all the secrets, unpeeling all the layers, fitting all the elements of the puzzle until all of them are revealed. It flits from the winter of 1992, when some of the characters disappeared, to the spring of 2017 when the reunion happens. In the meantime, we are given many different versions and option of what has happened, which makes the reading really exciting and I liked how they were all cleared at the end – even if they felt a bit too rushed for my liking.

The darkness of the tone brilliantly contrasts with the gorgeous setting of the French Riviera, the Côte d’Azur oozes with atmosphere and is a perfect backdrop. The descriptions are evocative and vivid, and you not only hear the waves but also feel the light wind on your skin.

It was dark, full of twists and turns, compelling and thrilling read, full of juicy secrets, about secrets, lies, jealousy, obsession and friendship. There is a lot of names dropping, which usually makes me really sceptical, but this time it still worked in this book. And well, I’m not sure if after reading it you’ll be finding the courage to go to your own school reunion. And yes, I could have been trying to guess no matter how long – my detective skills are non – existent. All the time, when I was thinking oh yes, now I know for sure, I turned the page and bam, there was another twist to come and hit me on the head. But on the other hand, it is great to simply let the author take you by the hand and guide you through the story, let him surprise you with the twisty, suspenseful thriller. Be prepared, though, that the book, that starts in such an innocent way, mentioning finding a body in the school, will offer you so much more than a straight – forward mystery. It is multi – layered and complex, full of ugly secrets threatening to rear out of the past and come back

Altogether, “The Reunion” is a read with difference, with one of the most unpredictable plots, with secrets coming at you thick and fast but in a way that you don’t feel overwhelmed with them. The writing style is so eloquent and almost lyrical, the plot is thickly packed with suspense and fast – paced, the characters are very well fleshed out, the setting is beautiful – simply a brilliant read that I highly recommend!

 

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A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown / Blog Tour + Q&A with the Author

Hi guys, I’m so thrilled to be a part of Alex Brown’s blog tour! I loved her books that are always full of unforgettable characters, and her writing style that is so gentle and full of feelings. This time, next to my review, the lovely Alex agreed to answer some of my questions – thank you, Alex, and welcome to the blog! –  so put your feet high and enjoy!

 

A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown

 

41716123Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930’s.

Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.

Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?

Rating: five-stars

 

Grace Quinn can’t say that she has a private life – either she cares for her bed bound mother or goes to work at convenient storage company. Grace loves her job and luckily her employers, Mr and Mrs Cohen, love Grace and treat her like family, understanding pressure she lives under. One day Grace opens one unit and discovers that it’s full of valuable art collections but also personal items, such like letters and diaries. Grace is determined to find out to whom they belong and soon discovers a whole life of Connie Levine inside. Encouraged by her work colleagues and friend, Grace decides to step right out of her comfort zones and embark on the journey to Italy, having no idea how many surprises and changes it’s going to bring.

Alex Brown for sure goes from strength to strength with her books, and “A Postcard from Italy” is certainly one of the best books she has written – although I’ve loved all of her previous books, so that’s saying something. I liked the brief mentions of Tindledale – I think this village has a very special place in our hearts, right? Also, Alex Brown creates the most gorgeous and stunning settings for her books, and the way she describes them draws you straight into the story and the place.

I really like to go back and forth between past and present in books, but sadly, not all of the authors can write this way. Alex Brown can. This dual time aspect gives you a real sense of this story and she has brilliantly captured the modern times and the past and it has never felt like reading two separate storylines.

The characters, as usual in Alex’s books, are so well fleshed out, full of emotions and feelings, it simply looks as if she gets into her characters’ heads, and they’re written in such a way that we can easily relate to them, understand them and their motives. Grace is an adorable person, although too loyal in my eyes, but I could so well understand her feelings. She didn’t want to hurt her mother so she’d rather do anything she wanted from her then standing up for herself. Yes, I know, one can say she was a doormat for letting Cora treating her like this, but I don’t think this way, I think she was simply such a good person that first thought of all the others and then about herself. But, seeing her taking the first steps to freedom was absolutely fantastic and I all the time wanted to give her more courage. Connie was another interesting character, full of life and personality, and I really enjoyed how their stories unfolded and how they were connected. Her story was touching and poignant and I’m sure it’s going to melt your heart.
To say that I was annoyed with Grace’s mother Cora would be an understatement. I can’t remember such annoying, manipulative, self – centred character like Cora.

I loved the element of the mystery in this book. Alex Brown has really masterfully plotted it and I sat comfortably, enjoying how she decided to unfold it, to peel the layers off. It was full of sad and poignant moments and the author truly knows how to write them so that they tug at our heart – strings. Connie’s diary entries were a huge part of this mystery and they were so interesting, giving a great insight into this woman, into her life that was full of pain, tears and disappointments but also happiness.

It was a very well crafted story that yes, had its weaker points as well, I somehow didn’t buy the whole bed bound Cora, I’m not sure why, it simply didn’t sit with me, and for me it was too easily solved, but that’s me, so pay no attention, but other than that, it was an excellent read. The pace was only right, there was not a single moment flat and I adored following Grace and all the other characters on their emotional journeys, overpowering problems, and this all set against such stunning settings. And there is so much more to this book that meet the eye. It is full of depth and wisdom, unforgettable characters and clever plot. I can assure you that you’re quickly going to be drawn into the tale, falling for Grace and Connie’s stories. It was captivating, felt honest and was an uplifting, heart – warming read about family dynamics, love and loss. Highly recommended!

 

Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR

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(photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge)

  1. Alex, if you were to describe “A Postcard from Italy” in three sentences…

An epic love story spanning ninety years. Family secrets to be unravelled that have been hidden since the 1930’s.Intrigue and romance in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera.

  1. What would you like your readers to take away from “A Postcard from Italy”?

Awarm, happy, poignant, but ultimately uplifting story with characters that stay with them long after the last page.

  1. The book combines fiction and history – was it difficult to write it like this?

It was very easy as I love being able to immortalise real events in history, and people too – I often give family members cameo parts too, for example the scene on VE Day mentions Edie, a nippy in Lyons Tea House on The Strand in London, and she is based on my grandmother who was called Edie and worked there too.

    4. What inspired you to partly set your story in Italy? 

I’ve always wanted to write a book set in Italy after visiting the Italian Riviera with my husband several years ago. I loved everything about that part of the world, the breathtaking scenery, the people, the delicious food and romantic atmosphere and so it was a joy to revisit the area in A Postcard From Italy.

     5. When you write, do you always follow a plan or do you let your characters to take you on a journey?

A bit of both. I have a synopsis that I use as a guide but the story always develops as necessary.

    6. What’s more important:  characters or plot?

Characters. I have to know the character before I write the story for them.

    7. On a little lighter note, what are three facts that we don’t know about you Alex?

I’m incredibly superstitious.

I once sang soprano in full chorister outfit on Songs of Praise (I was about 12years old).

I’m learning Spanish.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?

Relax, you’ll get there in the end.

  1. And what is next for Alex Brown?

I’m about to start a new book for summer 2020 which I’m very excited about and looking forward to sharing the details of as soon as I can.

 

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