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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Once in a Lifetime by Chrissie Manby

Once in a Lifetime by Chrissie Manby

 

 

39402892Publisher: Hodder

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

What if once in a lifetime happened twice?

Dani Parker had grand plans for her life – but that was twenty-two years ago. Now she’s a single mother still living in the quaint seaside town of Newbay, still working at the hotel where she got her first ever job. When she bumps into ex-boyfriend Nat, Dani wonders if this might be the start of something not-quite-new. But that’s before she meets his fiancée . . .

Dani’s daughter Flossie is sixteen – so she knows best about everything, of course. And her new boyfriend Jed is all she could ever want in a man . . . right?

Flossie’s grandma Jane, a widow of fifteen years, firmly believes that lightning never strikes twice. So when she finds herself visiting Bill’s pet shop a little more often than necessary, she refuses to believe that the L-word has anything to do with it.

In a whirlwind of cakes, elopements and more naughty puppies than they can handle, will the three women discover that ‘once in a lifetime’ isn’t quite as rare as they thought?

Rating: five-stars

In “Once in a Lifetime” we’re back in Newbay but this time with a new set of characters, although some of the characters from the previous book enter the scenes as well, right, Nurse van Niekerk? Dani is a pastry chef at a hotel in her hometown and lives together with her teenage daughter Flossie and her mum Jane. Everything works well, that is until Flossie meets Jed, who buys her a very mischievous dog for her birthday and Dani’s boyfriend from over twenty years, Nat, comes back to the town, bringing a young and high – maintenance girlfriend in tow. As the story unfolds, we follow the three different, yet in some ways such similar, women – will they get their second chances at love? Can they all find they happily – ever – after?

As a huge fan of Chrissie Manby I’m always looking forward to her new releases. I think that what makes her books – also “Once in a Lifetime” – so exceptional is the fact that they are so close to life with their believable plots and that you can’t help but immediately fell for the characters. Her writing style is so chatty and easy to follow, and the mix of happy and sad is perfectly balanced.
You could easily relate to all the characters, and I especially adored the way the author has so brilliantly captured how it is to be a) the very strong willed teenage with so many strong opinions and her only right and knowing everything better and b) mum to this teenager, how much you must just cope with and that you have to have skills of the best bomb disposal expert to know when to press the button and when to just let it go. Brilliantly captured and so true to life! There were many twists and turns in this novel, many of them caused by the lovely Jeremy Corbyn, aka Jezza. I still can’t imagine how he looked like, this mix of breeds was just unbelievable but he was a very exceptional and very accident – prone dog. He actually mostly just stole the show and it felt as if it’s a story about him as he does things that you wouldn’t expect him to, but well, it was love at the first sight and there wouldn’t be this book without Jezza. And Nurse van Niekerk.

I also loved the way the story was constructed and that Dani’s relationship with her teenage daughter and her new puppy were the real centre of attention, whereas the romance aspect felt a little in the background. But it was great, it was a story with such a reality feeling to it that upping the romance more would make it – in my eyes at least – too much fairy – tale – ish and too forced. You’re really in good hands here, guys, Chrissie Manby truly knows how to balance all the elements of her story to make it unputdownable read with difference. I think it’s a real gift to be able to write such books, that centres around normal families, in such an engaging way.

This book is another winner from Chrissie Manby. I thought I’m not going to overcome my grief that there isn’t to be any Proper Family anymore, but the author creates new characters that I immediately fell in love with. They’re all so relatable to and so easy to like, probably because they’re just so normal and genuine. It was a heart – warming story about a multi – generational family, about long lost love and regrets, about new love that you can experience no matter how old you are, even if you’re not looking for it, a great read about once in a lifetime happening twice and exploiting it, about second chances and relationships, drawn in such forthcoming, inviting way. Absolutely feel – good, beautifully mixing humour with poignant moments and you could actually feel the heart and the soul of the author in every single word. Highly recommended!

 

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby

 

35582348Publisher: Hodder

Publishing Date: 21st September 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

In the quaint seaside town of Newbay, a beginner’s cookery course is starting. And three very different students have signed up . . .

Liz’s husband has left her for a twenty-something clean-eating blogger, and she’s determined to show the world – and her daughter – she’s just as capable in the kitchen. John, newly widowed after fifty years of marriage, can’t live on sympathy lasagnes forever. To thirty-year-old workaholic Bella, the course is a welcome escape from her high-pressure job. Their only common ground: between them, they can barely boil an egg!

Enter talented chef Alex, who is determined to introduce his pupils to the comforts of cuisine. As Liz, John and Bella encounter various disasters in the kitchen, the unlikely trio soon form a fast friendship. Their culinary skills might be catastrophic – but could the cookery club have given them a recipe for happiness?

The wonderful new novel from Chrissie Manby is perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Trisha Ashley and Cathy Bramley.

Rating: five-stars

 

Each new release by Chrissie Manby is a treat. I was very inconsolable some time ago that there is no more Proper Family to come, however with “The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club” we return to Newbay, the town that was already featured in another Chrissie Manby’s cracker of a story, “A Fairy Tale for Christmas”, and it was lovely to see some characters from the previous book mentioned, as well as the NEWTs. But it is a fully stand – alone novel, with a new bunch of the most lovely, humorous and life – experienced characters and the book has easily elevated itself to the top of my favourite reads this year.

This novel has all that I absolutely love in books – brilliant characters, dogs and cooking. I immediately fell in love with Liz and her life – approach, it was so easy to relate with her character and to feel her pain. Liz had troubles to come to terms with her husband leaving her for a much younger health blogger and her daughter blaming her for this fact – of course! The fact that Brittney is a health blogger, posting vegan recipes and radiating calmness and zen also doesn’t help as Liz – simply – can’t cook. Add to this an overweight border terrier Ted only starting his own doggy weight loss class at the local vet – you can really loose self – control, right? However, Liz’s patience was amazing, and the way she coped with all those things was brilliant, she was so stoical and cool as a cucumber, and I just wanted to give her a hug.
But the story doesn’t only tell us Liz’s story. Through Alex’s cookery class we get to know other characters that basically have nothing to do with Liz and her life, they only get to know each other on the course but we get the chance to also see into their backgrounds and histories, and I must say that while sometimes it doesn’t work – mixing characters that have nothing in common – here it created such a warm atmosphere and was a brilliant balance to Liz’s tale. There is Bella, a public defence lawyer, almost always on telephone duty – she was so kind and human and if I were in troubles I’d want Bella and only Bella. It seems that her job takes over her life and she starts to wonder if this is really how she wants to live. There is John, a seventy – something widower, still missing his late beloved wife and keeping a secret, and Alex, the one setting up the cooking course, hoping for a class full and landing with the three so very different, but so very personality rich students.
What all the characters have in common, though, is the fact that they were not happy with their lives, and all of them started to realize this – the question was if they’re going to do something with this.

Chrissie Manby has described the food in the most delicious way but what was the best thing is that mostly the dishes were associated with some of the best memories in our characters’ lives – it was lovely and touching and I absolutely adored this part of the story. I would only love if there were some recipes at the end of the book – maybe they’re going to be put in the finished copies but they weren’t in my review copy.

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! There are so many hilarious scenes in this novel, usually involving Liz, as she was incredibly accident prone, but also there were some more poignant moments and I loved this balance. From the very first page I knew that I am for a new treat and that I’m going to enjoy this book. It was another fantabulous story that I simply devoured and didn’t want it to finish.

So shortly, very shortly – it was funny and emotional, it was heart – warming, it was so genuine and realistic and it is a MUST READ this autumn. It was so brilliant, with adorable characters with their own background interesting stories, full of funny situations that really made me laugh out loud, and there are too many to list them, and besides I don’t want to spoil the joy for you, and moments that had me tearing up – just what I love. I am already looking towards Chrissie Manby’s next release, I simply can’t have enough of her writing. Highly recommended!

A Fairy Tale for Christmas by Chrissie Manby

A Fairy Tale for Christmas by Chrissie Manby

 

32801034Publisher: Hodder

Publishing Date: 3rd November 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Literature

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A wonderful, heartwarming and funny Christmas novel from Chrissie Manby, perfect for curling up with in front of the fire.

What could be more magical at Christmas than a fairy tale come true?

It’s the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realization of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together.

But Kirsty soon learns that it’s not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there’s Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after… or reveal their love to be nothing but a ‘showmance’?

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s going to take more than a Fairy Godmother to get Kirsty and her cast-mates to the ball.

 Rating: 5/5

“A Fairy Tale for Christmas” was one of my most anticipated reads this autumn – since reading the Proper Family series Chrissie Manby has catapulted herself to the very top of my favourite authors’ list and while I’m probably never going to recover from the fact that there won’t be any more books in this series (or maybe? Chrissie? Pretty, pretty pleaaaaaaase!), I’ve been impatiently waiting for any new book by this author. And when it arrived, in all it’s shiny, sparkly glory, I literally put everything aside and started reading it.

As a consolation to all of us who loved the Proper family just as much as I do, “A Fairy Tale for Christmas” follows the story of Kirsty – Kirsty, that we’ve already got to know in “A Proper Family Adventure”! She was the one who went on the same cruise as the Bensons and co. with her best friend Jane – so for me it was as if the Bensons were there in the story in spirit, even though there was no mention of them. However, with or without them, the book is of course a stand – alone, and it is a gorgeous, funny and touching story – all in one, and I was hooked from the very first page.

The story follows not only Kirsty and Jon but also all the characters that played in the panto “Cinderella”. There were a lot of them but to be honest it didn’t feel like this because they were so clearly drawn personalities, there was not a single confusion who is who and why, which doesn’t happen often when there is such a group of characters on the pages, but the author pulled it off totally! Their stories were so, so engaging, guys, and even though we could say they weren’t significant to the main subplot, I absolutely loved this diversion, they made the book even better in my eyes.
Now, the main characters, especially Kirsty. I think Kirsty is going to be a controversial character and when you read the book you’ll understand what I mean. I think you could love her or hate her, and I loved her. She was straightforward and she had a heart made of gold, she was friendly and she took care about other people. She was also naive and yes, seeing this what she didn’t see for so long annoyed me, but mostly I was annoyed with this second person for doing it and being so towards her. Kirsty was funny and I loved how sharp her replies were and how spot – on, in every situation she was able to throw a comment that had me in stitches.
And now to the male characters, Jon and Ben. They were like hot and cold, like summer and winter, like chalk and cheese and when Jon was introduced to us in a relatively positive way, the more I got to know him the more I disliked him, and believe me, rolling my eyes at him wasn’t enough, I wanted to punch him. Repeatedly. Focused only on himself, the golden boy, aarrrgh, Chrissie Manby has done a brilliant job in creating such an annoying character! I really hated him more and more, with every “hint” about Kirsty’s weight or her “big” feet, and yes, I wanted to shake Kirsty as well and tell her to wake up, but much, much more I wanted to shake Jon, no, take this back, I wanted to slap Jon or shush him somehow. Put a gag on this man. So self – obsessesed, egoistic, selfish guy – though he also had his moments, especially at the theatre and some of his comments were brilliant, especially his interaction with the children. Language, Jon!
And then we have Ben. Can I pretty please stop a moment at Ben to gush about him? It is this kind of guy that every mother would love to have as a son – in – law, you know, and probably every girl would love to have as a husband. He was a widower, raising his lovely and clumsy – but in a lovely, sweet way – daughter Thea and he did a great job, even if he himself doubted in his skills as a single father. He was laid – back, he worried so much about Thea but it turned out that Thea needed only a little push to unveil what it is that gives her a confidence, and I absolutely adored to watch this little girl coming out of her shell and grow confident and finding loyal friends. Really, the characters were imperfect, they were bickering, they had secrets, they also lied but it only made them so realistic in my eyes and I supported them all no matter what!

We have a kind of a love – triangle in the book, but not your typical one, when the characters know about it and enjoy it. It was a triangle that was not obvious but it was there and you’ve no idea how much I’ve kept my fingers crossed that it quickly turns out into a couple, but the other couple!
This book is full of friendship and community feeling and the author has so brilliantly captured all the nuances in the NEWTS group, the jibes, the likes and dislikes and the gossip, and it was just like in real life. The characters were jealous of each other but also supporting each other, especially Kirsty who really thought about everything and was concerned for everyone. The emotions run high in this story, with all the ups and downs and the characters’ adventures, there are tons of misunderstandings and jumping to conclusions and this is bloody brilliant and entertaining! I loved how under this lovely humour there lay other layers, more serious and the author wasn’t shy of writing about growing up, family misunderstandings, alcohol and weight problems, being insecure. The story was organized into very short chapters, which is my favourite way BTW, it makes the reading somehow easier and much more dynamic and quicker, the chapters don’t feel as if they are dragging on, no, they’re spot on, direct and well, yes, thanks to such chapters you can always say “only one chapter more” and actually read the book till the end without putting it down. And the storyline was not at all predictable. On the opposite, it was full of surprises, thanks to the lovely bunch of characters and their adventures, and it kept me on my toes, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what is expecting me there. It was a bouncy, lovely, warm read with a little drama, a lot of humour, a few emotional moments, casting unforgettable characters – all what I need from a book and much more. Highly, highly recommended!