Relight My Fire by Joanna Bolouri / #BookNews

Hello again you lovely people. I usually don’t post any book news, or cover reveals etc but there are some authors that I happily and gladly make an exception. And Joanna Bolouri is one of those people. Since her debut novel I’ve been stalking her almost daily to hear news on new releases and I loved all of her books. Here is the proof (ie. my reviews):

The List

I Followed the Rules

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

See?

And now, guys. Please behave. But Joanna Bolouri is soon, very soon, as in May 2018, back! With a brand new novel *drum rolls please*  she’s for sure going to relight my fire!

Relight-My-Fire_Twitter-card_v1 (3)

Advertisements

A Year of New Adventures by Maddie Please / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi you lovely folks out there. Valentine’s Day, right? Today I have another blog tour for you, to celebrate Maddie Please’s new novel. Last year I read her debut novel “The Summer of Second chances” and I adored it, so I didn’t hesitate long to take part in the blog tour. I have a brilliant guest post from Maddie for you today, so put your feet high, enjoy the chocolates that you got and have fun!

My Writing Soundtrack.

36567143

When I am writing I listen to the radio. I’m not organised enough to do a Spotify playlist and anyway I do like to listen to the occasional bit of chitchat as well. Radio 1 is a foreign country to me these days. Best selling, chart topping, rowdy, internationally famous bands I’ve never heard of. Radio 2 is ok, Radio 3 just not my scene, sorry.  Radio 4 beyond dull these days, the only thing I occasionally listen to is the omnibus Archers on Sunday morning. And then I nearly always pause to wonder what the hell is going on? Who are these people with their random relationships, fights, feuds and pregnancies? Blowed if I know. It used to be about farming. The most exciting thing was would it rain before Phil Archer managed to get the harvest in?

No, I have found my listening home and it’s a gem of a radio station; BBC Radio Devon.

In my opinion this radio station cannot be beaten. The day starts with Gordon Sparks, known as Sparksy, cheerful banter and his guess the year Gordon hours. At 10.00am is David Fitzgerald (Fitz) with his Siamese cat obsession and the world’s only radio crossword. I’m not making this up. People – (I think it’s always the same gang, such as Gloria from Feniton who phones in so often she has her own jingle, or Eddie who is blind and only allows herself a biscuit if she’s been for a walk,) ring up to answer clues and win a t-shirt and what Fitz politely describes as a ‘load of tut.’ He often interviews local authors keen to publicise their books. Naturally enough it’s my ambition to be interviewed by him.

In the afternoon there is the Devon Debates programme with Janet Kipling when listeners ring up to debate the issues of the day. It’s incredible stuff when certain participants such as Electric Mike from Braunton have to be faded out because they are so whacky. Then to round off the afternoon three hours of Matt Woodley and the beautifully named Pippa Quelch. This pair are so well matched they routinely reduce each other to uncontrollable giggles and presumably have to be taken out the back to calm down.

And the music? You wouldn’t describe it as edgy or startling. It’s gentle, ideal background music and suits me just fine. And if Fitz wants to interview me, I’m available.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

blog-tour-banner-683x1024

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond / #BlogTour

Hi guys, and happy Tuesday. Today I have something very special for you. As you can see, I am a part of a blog tour, and you can say, yes, well, that’s great but what is so special in being a part of a blog tour? Ha! Being a part of every blog tour is brilliant but this one is exceptional. Some time ago I was being asked if I want to try something new, something fresh, something different – an experimental blog tour! The Marriage Pact Challenge! If I dare – well, I am always up for trying new things!

dv09w_bxcaekras

The rules of this blog tour are simple. As it is to do with the psychological thriller “The Marriage Pact” by Michelle Richmond, we are supposed to take part in the “marriage contract” featured in the novel. I must admit, I haven’t read the book yet as it arrived only few days ago so I was not sure what I’m agreeing to, nevertheless I decided to give it a go. I myself was intrigued what the outcome is going to be! And well, perhaps hoped that it’s going to refresh my marriage? So, for two weeks I lived by the rules – did they impact my relationship? For better or worse?

So here are the rules of a perfect relationship:

Always answer when your partner calls

Exchange at least two thoughtful gifts every month

Cook your partner dinner twice a week

Unfollow your ex on social media

Never spend more than two nights apart

Tell your partner all your passwords

Only wear clothes your partner deems attractive or appropriate.

Enable the ‘find my phone’ feature so your partner always knows where you are

Have no secrets from each other (and confess any old ones!)

Don’t even think about trying to escape…

OK, guys. So here it is. We are married for 7 years and together for 12, almost 13, this year. I really don’t know where to start, so maybe with the easiest one – my husband is not on social media. Not a single one. Heck, he even doesn’t have internet in his mobile phone and still doesn’t get the idea of WhatsApp. I didn’t have to unfollow him then. And of course didn’t have to enable the “find my phone” feature because it wouldn’t work on his mobile… However, just to ease your mind, he really always knows where I am – either at work, or at home, or chauffeuring our daughter to her “free time” activities… Yes. I know. My rock’ n’ roll life. Don’t judge me.

And well, usually I call him. It is always me that needs something 🙂

My husband doesn’t believe in gifts, grrrr. However, I’ve bullied him into buying me an early pre – Valentine gift and into giving me flowers, just because I like them. This eye – rolling! This whingeing! Really, guys, the things I have to bear up with! I, on the other hand, love buying gifts, and so he got a book (of course! What else! And his favourite series!) and his favourite chocolate, though, of course, there were comments that he doesn’t need anything. I think this rule of buying two gifts every month would kill me.

Cooking a meal is easy – peasy, as I cook every single night as my husband doesn’t cook. It was such a surprise to me when he told me lately that he doesn’t know how to peel the potatoes. God help me.

And well, we really don’t spend nights apart. Only when he’s away on business. Or I go on holidays with our daughter and somebody has to stay at home to look after the dogs. But believe me, after spending all nights together not spending them together is a kind of … I don’t want to say relief 🙂 But it’s not so bad. And spending them again together is even better.

One evening, to prove that I don’t have any secrets (rule number 9), I asked him if he wants to know my passwords. He looked at me strangely and asked if I want to know his passwords as well.

Let’s stay at rule number 9. Oh guys, I have secrets, I do! One evening, when he was very deep into searching for a new car in the internet I told him, haha, you know what, I’ve hidden a huge jar of Nutella behind my books, haha. He shrugged and said he’s not surprised. So now I have to look for a new hiding place for my huge jar of Nutella.

The rule about wearing clothes he likes. I let him to buy me a T – shirt. I won’t let him buy a T – shirt anymore.

Escaping? Thanks God there is no – one hounding me if I break the rules so there is no need to escape.  However, I would never ever sign such contract in my real, it would make me go crazy. But it was interesting two weeks, guys, that made me look and see things through different perspective, to see them sharper.

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR TO SEE WHAT OTER BLOGGERS HAVE EXPERIENCED WHEN PARTCIPATING IN THIS BRILLIANT CHALLENGE:

screen-shot-2018-02-07-at-8-17-04-pm

Home by Amanda Berriman

Home by Amanda Berriman

 

38457392Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: 8th February 2018

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

Rating: three-stars

“Home” is Amanda Berriman’s debut novel and I knew I want to read it as soon as I’ve received an email from NetGalley with a short extract from it. It is not the easiest book – storyline – wise – but it is also a read that will have you gripped and that won’t let you go.”Home” was not the easiest read. It made my stomach turn and I wanted to slap one of the characters with my bare hands. It was heart – breaking, probably because it was so close to reality, and I think the fact that the author handed over the narration in the little Jesika’s hands made it even more harder and it totally mess with our emotions.

Jesika, as a narrator, works brilliantly. She’s not too mature even though she knows a lot – she’s just a very sensible, vulnerable child that experiences things that she shouldn’t experience. Seeing world through her eyes is authentic and genuine and honest and you are immediately drawn in – we see things through the four – year – old girl’s perspective and those things are perfectly portrayed. We can totally relate to what it is to be a four – year – old and how it is to be a child in this grim reality where the adults not always take you seriously, how it is to be powerless, how hard it is to attract adult’s attention to what is really important. The way Amanda Berriman got into Jesika’s head and told us this story is actually breath – taking.

However, I am in minority here with my opinion, I know, and while I absolutely, totally appreciate what the author has tried to achieve with her story, it just didn’t work for me on all the levels. I am not sure what Amanda Berriman wanted to tell us here and on what should I focus. The two main storyline, the one about Jesika and her family and then Jesika and her friend Paige felt for me under – developed. They were started off but the execution has felt for me here. The subplot with Paige annoyed me incredibly, I just couldn’t believe that her mother didn’t see the obvious. There were parts in this story that I reckon were not necessary, like Jesika spending time at the foster family – I just think this book could do without it.

But even though it was a hard book to read because of the topics it touches upon, a sense of building dread because you know what’s coming, it was easy to read. The writing style is seamless and it effortlessly transports us to Jesika’s world and it is very realistic. It is not overdone, actually it is worryingly close to life and you easily imagine all the things happening. However, it is not only doom and gloom, as there are some uplifting things in the story as well – the power of friendship, of finding allies when you’re not expecting it at all.

Altogether, “Home” was absorbing, gripping and heart – breaking read with realistic characters that you quickly fell for and with very realistic topics, pointing at the importance of being open and of communication between parents and children. Written with a lot of understanding and subtlety and ultimately I think it was me, and not the book that wasn’t quite right. It was a powerful read and I can’t put my finger on what was wrong for me but it just didn’t work for me as much as I’d like it to. However, don’t let me to dispirit you, just go and read this book and you’ll see for yourself how powerful and emotional it is. I am already looking forward to Ms Berriman’s another book.

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

 

37034088Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights – long enough to scatter her mother’s ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur.

But when a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and perhaps a chance at love.

But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.

Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village – a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers…?

Welcome to the Village of Love. Where friendship flourishes and love blossoms…

Rating: five-stars

Really. This book. “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness”. I have fallen utterly and completely in love with this story and I think this is Laura Kemp’s best novel yet. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, put it down. The writing style, and also the plot, reminded me so much of Jenny Colgan’s novels but it was of course absolutely different and had it’s own style and content. It was full of this so difficult to grasp charm and loveliness, it was funny and poignant at the same time, heart – warming and romantic. Uplifting and optimistic.

In this brilliant story that felt like a ray of sunshine we meet Ceri Price, who right now is trying to come to terms with her beloved mum’s death and the fact that her sister is packing all her things without asking Ceri if there is something she’d like to keep for herself. Ceri drives to a little town of Dwynwen to spread her mother’s ashes there and, due to misunderstanding, this young and successful businesswoman bags a barmaid job in the local pub. But there is much more that she’s going to find there – friends and friendships, and she also finds herself falling in love with the place… and not only. So when plans for a new housing estate are made (built on the beautiful piece of woodland!) Ceri knows that she must join the villagers and fight for this what she’s already holding dear.

There are relatively many characters in this story but guys, believe me, they all have their own place and the book wouldn’t be the same without them. They’re so different to each other and they complete each other brilliantly. There is this eco – warrior Rhodri, a little socially awkward but with a great passion for recycling, who so much wants to keep the natural beauty of the village but also make it welcoming place for the tourists, he was just so, so brilliant, or the nine – year – old genius Henry, the married couple who owned the pub, Mel who has grown so much on me, and actually all of them! I only had some great problems with Ceri’s sister, as I couldn’t understand her approach and the coldness towards her sister, and it bothered me so much, for a very, very long time. I was somehow disappointed with her and had a feeling she’s just jealous of her sister’s success and want to punish her somehow with her actions after their mother’s death. Thank you Laura Kemp for letting me understand her better later on, when she visited Ceri – no need to say that I warmed to her then very, very much.
I loved how Ceri was finding so great friendships in this place, and doing so well, and counting her blessing, with the help of Dwynwen’s villagers. My word, those people were gorgeous, and I loved all of them! I also loved Ceri, she was so normal even though she was such a successful businesswoman. I loved her determination, sense of humour, because she has a heart made of gold and she was, you know, this kind of character that didn’t feel the need to lead on problems or troubles, she just wanted to live her life happily, to find her place and maybe love, even though she wasn’t looking for it. There was this brilliant community spirit on the villagers and oh my, how they welcomed Ceri without one question, they appreciated her and they stand behind her, and each other, even if you were new to the village! Ceri has some secrets, and she feels guilty for keeping them from her new friends, especially as she feels so welcome and so well.

The village of Dwynwen, a seaside village in West Wales, was a brilliant, brilliant setting! I’m not sure if I’d man up to go and live there, to be honest, but nevertheless I adored this place, especially when it started to revive after the unexpected acts of kindness happening. It looked so run down, and so lonely, and so sad and horrible at the beginning but the people living there made up for it, and then is started to change, and it was just lovely.

I loved the errors and jumping to conclusions in this story, they were absolutely brilliant and made me laugh so much! The dialogues were brilliant, so straightforward and so honest, probably thanks to the characters who lived their lives so genuine, not spending their time on social medias but actually talking to each other.

This is a story about secrets, love, forgiveness, friendship and, of course, kindness. It is filled with so many feelings and emotions, and all of them so gorgeously and beautifully put into words, you truly discovers new shades of love, betrayal and hope and community. It’s full of warmth and humour and also sadness and this all beautifully blended together, and you immediately feel like a part of this story. Sometimes a small act of kindness is really this all. It focused on the real meaning of life, showing what’s really important and I loved it woth all my heart. Highly, highly recommended!

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

 

35437993Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 8th February 2018

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

Rating: three-stars

With a Sophie Kinsella book you can be certain that you’re going to spent some relaxing hours, full of fun and laughter. And guys, let’s be honest, a new Kinsella’s book means bouncing off the walls with excitement, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that.

In “Surprise Me” we meet Sylvie and Dan, a happily married couple with twins. They are a match made in heaven, they complete each other perfectly and they even finish each other’s sentences, so great is their marriage. During one of the obligatory health check’s they’re told they’re going to live for a very long time and spent at least the next 68 years together. It freaks them out a little, and so they decide that they’re going to surprise each other from now on, so that their marriage doesn’t go stale and they won’t be boring to each other. However, surprises can go two ways, right – either well or totally wrong, and mostly their surprises went the other way. And well, it also often happens that when you want to surprise your other half, you discover some secrets about them…

I had some problems to engage with the characters – I didn’t warm to them immediately, just like with the other Sophie Kinsella’s characters. I, in fact, didn’t warm to them completely till the very end. Sylvie was for me too spoiled, too self – obsessed and somehow too self – delusional. She just didn’t sound too authentic, and while I know that Kinsella’s characters DO have this element of being too freaky it just didn’t work for Sylvie, a 32 – year – old and mother of two 5 – years – old twins. And Sylvie was just annoying. And the fact that she called her parents “Mummy” and “Daddy” all the time was for me even more annoying. And the fact that she didn’t take Dan’s feeling into consideration and never stopped her “Daddy this” and “Daddy that” was annoying. However, what’s really, really good is the fact that Sylvie grew incredibly throughout the story and started to see things how they really were.
Dan… well, Dan. I had a feeling that he’s mostly absent and I was never really able to connect to him. The twins are mentioned but they’re also not a great part of the story.

Another thing that bothered me so much is the plot itself. The idea of this book was great, so smart and so unique and I couldn’t wait to see how it’s going to unveil and develop. The synopsis promises us a great fun and a long marriage full of surprises, however it funnelled in a totally different direction and it had almost nothing to do with the premise, with the surprises that I was already so thrilled about. It focused mostly on Sylvie’s deceased father and her almost obsession with him, her comparing her husband Dan with her father almost all the time and well, it confused me.
Then I’m not sure I completely understand while Sylvie and Dan panicked at the news that they’re going to spend approximately the next 68 years together, in good health. I personally would weep for joy, however our two characters start to panic at the thought of growing old together. Of having sex with each other. Of living together. Of spending time together. Hello? Why? Instead of happily awaiting what the future bring they turn onto insecure, neurotic, cagey people.

I wouldn’t be fair if I said there weren’t any surprises at all on the way. There were. But they were neither unique nor … surprising.
The final twist about Sylvie’s father… well, it made me roll my eyes, to be honest. I expected more from author this calibre.

So to be totally honest, it was not Sophie Kinsella’s best offer – but of course you’re going to find those elements of Kinsella that you’re used to. There are many hilarious moments but, as usual, there is a depth in this novel as well, and the author so easily and effortlessly switches from light to serious and the other way round. It is full of this Sophie Kinsella’s hallmark charm and humour and fun that captivates me always when reading her books.
Don’t get me wrong, guys. It was not a bad book. But from Sophie Kinsella I was expecting much, much more and I know she can write brilliant books with engaging, quirky characters.
It was the execution that failed here. But I am already looking forward to the author’s next offer.

The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom

The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom

 

36986900Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 23rd February 2018

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

Number of pages: 294

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘I’ve googled it, how to die,’ Jenny says to Maureen. ‘It was full of climbing this mountain, swimming that sea, becoming a marathon runner and raising millions for charity.’

‘Sounds like bloody hard work. You can make it more fun than that surely?’

Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…

Frankly, her life was tough enough already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.

And now this: a cheating husband and a death sentence.

Enough is enough. Jenny vows to keep both catastrophes a secret. She takes her life – and death – into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990’s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?

From No. 1 bestseller Tracy Bloom, The Last Laugh is both hilarious and heartbreaking, a book about how to find happiness and live your life as though every day is your last. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and The Kicking the Bucket List.

Rating: four-stars

I don’t know if “The Last Laugh” is a new direction for the author, or she has just wanted to try something new for a moment – whatever it is, it has worked and Tracy Bloom has delivered a wonderful, poignant story. It is being advertised as a “romantic comedy”, however I wouldn’t agree with this, for me it was more poignant than laugh – out – loud, although the book had its funny moments as well – of course, it is Tracy Bloom’s book!

On the day Jenny (mum of two) finds out she’s terminally ill, she also finds out her husband is shagging another woman in his office. Not her best day, that’s for sure. But instead of confronting her husband or even telling her family about the cancer, she decides to try and recapture the fun she used to have when she was in her twenties (because those were her best years, when she was the happiest) and with Maureen’s help (an elderly lady from the care home where Jenny works) she organises a 1996 themed party, with Spice Girls, bouncy castles, sumo suits, food and her old friends from back then – what follows are tons of misunderstandings, reunions, makeovers.

Jenny does everything that we forget that she has cancer and my heart really went to her. She was a great character, although to be honest at the beginning I wasn’t sure what to do with her and what to think about her. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t totally get why Jenny doesn’t want to tell her family about her cancer. Yes, the circumstances, finding out her husband is cheating on her, I understand, she was in shock, but I mean, you are terminally ill? You’d want to share this with your family, no? However, it changed very quickly and she had my full attention and sympathy. She was strong, incredibly strong, despite having to cope with unfaithful husband, illness, stubborn, moody, stroppy daughter and shy and anxious son with some problems. She was very independent and didn’t treat herself too seriously, and to be honest, after getting to know her very dismissive mother and always absent brother, I supported her in her decision of not telling anybody about the cancer. Even though the older, always knowing everything better characters are not my favourite ones, this time I loved Maureen, her friend from the care home, who took care of Jenny, even though she was the one to be taken care of.

I really, really liked the end. I was afraid that I’m going to end a snotty mess but Tracy Bloom has brilliantly resolved this situation. I don’t think the end was abrupt or too rushed. I don’t have to know what has happened to Jenny because well, we DO know what has happened to Jenny going forwards. I just didn’t have to read about it – I fell for Jenny and she felt like one of my friends and I think seeing her the way I though the book is going to end would break me apart. So huge brownie points for the author for doing what she did, for letting us to decide about our own goodbye to Jenny.

“The last Laugh” was an emotional read that will make you cry and laugh and maybe start to appreciate your life even more. It was about cherishing your life and those around you as well, but also about the fact that you should be cherished by your family and friends as well. It was bittersweet and very real. It was a touching story about relationships, marriage, being in love, friends and about making new memories. It was full of some incredibly poignant moments that hit me really hard. Let’s make some good memories, guys.