The Happy Glampers by Daisy Tate

The Happy Glampers by Daisy Tate

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 50264832._sy475_

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Is friendship meant to last forever? Charlotte Mayfield hopes so. Especially as she’s throwing some luxury glamping into the mix.

After fifteen years of trying to be the perfect wife, maybe Charlotte’s best friends from uni – Freya, Emily and Izzy – can still glimpse the woman she’d once set out to be.

Freya is up for it. Could a powwow with her yesteryear besties helps her knock some sense into her useless husband?

Emily’s hiding her own crisis from her parents, colleagues and now, her mates. Can a weekend under canvas get her to open up?

Izzy’s back from a decade abroad with an unexpected addition, her nine-year-old daughter Flora. She’s also keeping another big secret, one that’s brought her home for good.

Will a year of yurts mend two decades of hurts – or are some things, like shower blocks, burnt sausages and no wi-fi, best left in the past…

This novel was previously published on e-book in four parts.

Rating: three-stars

 

Freya, Izzy, Charlotte and Emily are four friends who have been together at University. They went their separate ways but now, after some time, they all get together to celebrate Charlotte’s 40th birthday. Each of them has secrets and problems but they’re determined to put on their party faces, not to burden each other with their troubles. However, friendship is stronger than some secrets, right?

What was really great in this book was the friendship between the women – it was real, realistic and honest, with all the ups and downs, and I loved how they supported each other. It is this kind of friendship that can pick up whenever it stopped, and some things can only be discussed with people that really know you. The characters’ stories were really well drawn and nicely interwoven and I have never felt confused, I also could immediately tell who is who and to whom they belong, and what problems and challenges each of the families faces.

The story doesn’t end after the birthday glamping trip, oh no, it’s only the beginning, and we get to know the characters and their backgrounds more and deeper. There are several more get – togethers and the friends were all the time learning about each other’s lives and the secrets were slowly progressing to the surface. I liked how very realistic the characters’ lives were, their problems could be yours or mine, and I think the author has really excelled in capturing their feelings, emotions and reactions. They made mistakes and they often couldn’t make up their minds but it’s just like in real life, nothing is either black or white, life has many shades of grey as well. Daisy Tate is a great observer and she can write about everyday life in an engaging and captivating way.

The characters were really relatable and I think that I can’t say that I had my favourite one. Sure, my heart went to one more than to the other, as some of the stories were truly sad and heart – breaking but on the whole I liked all the girls all the same, even if sometimes some of them made me feel desperate or made me want to roll my eyes at them.

However, it was this kind of book that I really didn’t know where it’s going to take us – it told us a story of a few random characters, in a period of time, but why this period of time I don’t know. I’ll be honest, I thought it is going to be a funny, uplifting and light – hearted tale about glamping but it turned out to be much deeper and more serious in tone. I don’t mean it’s bad but it is not what I was expecting. I also had a problem with the way it was written. The first part about Charlotte’s birthday took so much time, it was almost half of the book, and then the story started to feel very chopped, giving us glimpses into the characters’ lives, in different moments, in different periods of time, time was moving forward without a plan and it felt as if we were only given fragments of this what was happening, chosen moments and then we were moving again, not sure how much we have moved forward this time, if it was a day, a week, a month, with new characters popping in and out of the pages. I think that, in this case, the book worked better when read in the four – parts series that it was initially published.

Altogether, “The Happy Glampers” was a captivating, emotional story about all shades of a real, raw friendship that can help you heal and save you when everything in your life goes belly – up. Thought – provoking and uplifting, it is for sure worth reading.

My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis / Blog Tour

My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 53143373._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 06.08.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

His life was destroyed by a lie.

Her life will be ruined by the truth.

Joely tells other people’s secrets for a living. As a ghost writer, she’s used to scandal – but this just might be her strangest assignment yet.

Freda has never told her story to anyone before. But now she’s ready to set the record straight and to right a wrong that’s haunted her for forty years.

Freda’s memoir begins with a 15-year-old girl falling madly in love with her teacher. It ends in a way Joely could never possibly have imagined.

As the story unravels, Joely is spun deeper into a world of secrets and lies. Delving further into Freda’s past, Joely’s sure she can uncover the truth… But does she want to?

Rating: four-stars

 

In 1968, we meet a schoolgirl falling in love with her music teacher, persuading her parents to let her have piano lessons so that she can be alone with him and this is when this passionate and forbidden affair begins – and ends with disastrous consequences.
Fast forward, and Joely can’t come to terms with her husband Callum leaving her for her best friend Martha, and so she’s really glad to be given a writing assignment as a ghost-writer. She leaves London to travel to Devon, not informing her family where she travels to – Callum, their daughter Holly and Joely’s mother Marianne only know that she’s got this job.
Freda Donahue is an established writer, so why did she ask for Joely to help her write her new book? Her memoirs start to feature a very inappropriate relationship between young student and her teacher – the more she tells, the more unsure Joely starts to feel. Is there something more to the memoirs?

Let me mention this right at beginning of my review – the author can beautifully write, almost lyrically. The descriptions of the house and the landscapes were vivid, colourful and very evocative, and I liked them very much. However, the biggest strength lied in the way Ms Lewis has captured the working relationship between Joely and Freda, I think – it was full of challenges, tense and sparkling.

The characters are absolutely not straight – forward, telling lies and half – truths and really, it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth. But at the end I was absolutely certain who’s lying and who’s not, it was my gut – feeling telling me that. And even though I couldn’t warm to the characters, I think that Susan Lewis has developed them in a great way, bringing them all to life, exploring their emotions.
Freda was such a complicated character, blowing hot and cold, and I truly couldn’t get into her head, and not only when Joely was her guest but also when the other things happened – she sometimes seemed so confused and I was wondering, why? There was so much more to Freda and she really was not telling us half of the facts, leaving us trying to guess what else she’s hiding and why.
However, the best character must have been Holly – I truly loved her and her life approach. She was smart, sharp and opinionated but I had a feeling that she is a character that grew most in this story. I loved her one – liners and how down – to – earth she was, and how she came to terms with all that was happening.

Of course I was invested in the story of the young girl falling so hard for her teacher, and in comparison Joely’s problems felt a little lukewarm. What was also brilliant is the fact that we were reading a book within a book, I found it a great idea and I was impatiently waiting for a new chapter with the young student’s memories. The story featuring this young love itself is complex, heavy and thought – provoking but it’s also not as white and black as you can think. You will feel uncertain and start asking questions, that’s for sure.

However, I had a feeling that I am reading two different books, to be honest. The first half was rather on the slow side and hard going, and let’s be honest, the characters acted a bit weird, and then suddenly I started to feel as if I’m sitting on a roller – coaster, the story was so fast and full of curves. And then it slowed down again. I am a bit conflicted about this book, I can’t gather my thoughts together to be honest. I know that many readers love the end of this story. I, however, am not sure – if this happy end is this what I was expecting? There were so many beautiful and optimistic resolutions wrapped up that, however, didn’t feel too realistic and I really had to suspend my belief over the whole end.

Nevertheless, I was hooked by this story and no, I didn’t guess the outcome – I tell you, me and my detective skills, they don’t exist. It was a book full of mysteries, twists and turns and you really couldn’t be sure what’s going to come and what another great twist is going to hit you hard in your face. It was full of questions and secrets to be revealed. It was full of layers and unpeeling them revealed a complex and complicated story, giving us much more that I was expecting – the unveiled facts were surprising, shocking and sad.
“My Lies, Your Lies” is filled with mind games and the author really plays with your mind. It’s a story about unconditional love, about forgiveness and family dynamics, but also it touches upon deceptions, betrayal, forbidden love and hate. It’s a haunting and heart – breaking story with complex and clever plot that will make you think and wonder who’s telling the truth.

 

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My Pear – Shaped Life by Carmel Harrington / Blog Tour

My Pear – Shaped Life by Carmel Harrington

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 45727646._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 07.01.2021)

 

 

Synopsis:

This is a joyful, uplifting book for those of us who sometimes wake up and feel we’re not good enough. Spoiler alert: we are!

Meet Greta.

She’s funny.

She’s flawed.

She’s hiding so much behind her big smile she’s forgotten who she is.

But Greta is about to discover that the key to being happy is…being you.

Greta Gale has played the part of the funny fat one her entire life, hiding her insecurities behind a big smile. But size doesn’t matter when you can laugh at yourself, right?
Until Greta realises she’s the only one not laughing. And deep down, she’s not sure if she’ll ever laugh again.

But with her world feeling like it’s falling down around her, Greta is about to discover she’s stronger than she feels. And that sometimes the best moments in life come when it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped…

my-review

 

Greta Gale is an inspiring actress. She’s a bit overweight, is funny and is always laughing, even at herself. What people don’t know is that Greta is hiding a lot, is dying inside and is addicted to sleeping pills. The sleeping pills are really a problem, though Greta doesn’t want to see it, that is, until one day her life truly spirals out of control and her family forces her to go to rehab centre. Being there, she has time to reflect on her life. Her beloved Uncle Ray surprises her with a road – trip to Las Vegas to meet Greta’s greatest inspiration, her namesake Greta Gale. With Ray, Greta’s family and her friend Dylan’s support nothing can go wrong now, right?

This book touches upon such important issues like accepting yourself, drug addiction, family dynamics and all the ups and downs of life, showing how important the support of family and friends is and that the pear – shaped moments in life can make us stronger!

I loved being able to accompany Greta on her journey to accepting herself, to cheer her on this bumpy, twisty and hard road to happiness – without a guarantee that she’s going to find her happy end. Her character shows perfectly clearly that it is not losing weight or finding the perfect job or partner that changes our lives for better, that it is in fact the self – acceptation and the other things are just nice extras. However, I couldn’t completely warm to Greta but it’s probably my own problem – I, like many, many other women out there don’t like my body, don’t treat it with the due respect, so am like Greta in this matter but I also don’t look at things in such a narrow way like she did. I mean, I am a woman, I look like I look and I don’t spend sleepless nights thinking about it, and in my opinion she shouldn’t as well, she should have realise earlier that she’s worth so much even if she doesn’t look like a sex – goddess. I’ve learnt that it’s not looks that make you special and I think it is because of this fact, that I’ve matured in that matter, that I simply can’t find patience and accept such excuses. But Greta is also me and you: open, friendly and happy with life on the outside and uncertain and full of doubts inside, beating herself up, thinking she’s not good enough – sounds familiar, no?

Somehow, for me, “My Pear – Shaped Life” didn’t feel like a book and as much as I appreciated it, and the super important message the author has managed to smuggle in her wise words, I had a feeling I am floating on the surface, that I can’t reach into the depth, and the whole story seemed unstructured and it dragged a bit sometimes, and the change between the first and second part of the book was so sudden, it truly felt like reading a different story. I am sure that many other readers will find it inspiring, and I am incredibly sad that it didn’t work for me, but I still love Carmel Harrington and her books, no worries 🙂

Nevertheless, it is a book that will make you think when you’re reading it, the whole time. You will reflect on your own body image and start to think and see yourself differently. But the story is so relatable in so many ways, and even if you don’t struggle with your image, you will find things you can relate to, with life knocking you sideways.
It is warm and easily written, the story – telling is flowing, with colourful and vivid descriptions, it feels unique and fresh. Sometimes it’s very poignant and heart – breaking, sometimes it’s light – hearted and funny but on top of this it is important, wise and full of compassion. It shows the importance of loving and accepting yourself, of having support, and it feels very real.

 

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Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 48374950._sx318_

Publishing Date: 6th February 2020

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

Number of pages: 381

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove, a life-affirming, deeply moving “coming-of-old” story, a celebration of how ordinary days are made extraordinary through friendship, family, and the power of forgiving yourself–at any age.

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

Rating:    four-stars

 

Missy Carmichael, 79, lives in London, alone. Her husband is dead and her children have left home, her son moving to Australia. Her daughter doesn’t live far away but after a huge argument they don’t get in touch too often. She realises that she’s lonely but she doesn’t know if she wants to change it. One day, she heads to a park nearby and meets Sylvie and Angela with her little son Otis – after this meeting her life is going to change, she’s going to have friends and a reason to leave the house. Well, even one reason more as she agrees to look after a dog.

The author took her time to let us completely into Missy’s life. It made the book a bit dragging on and slow – burning, however the writing style is beautiful and so nice to read. Missy’s past is not as straight – forward as we could think at first, and in the end you find yourself rooting for her. We are slowly shown all the parts that has shaped Missy, made her the person she is now, and at 79 she has really a lot of stories to tell, and not all of them are as you’d think her life has used to be.
Angela was a brilliant character, open and honest, taking no prisoners, and I think Missy simply needed someone like this in her life. I loved their banter and I loved how Angela was around Missy, she really knew which buttons she should push to pull Missy out of her comfort zones. We get to know Missy teetering on the edge of depression and thanks to the friendship we see her, albeit a bit reluctantly, blossoming and giving her life a second chance.

There were things and events that made me feel a bit uncomfortable and I could live without them, for example this what happened with the dog – I still think it was unnecessary, and yes, I think I get what the author has tried to accomplish here, touching upon domestic abuse, and one of the scenes was absolutely hilarious, but it also felt like an after – thought to me.

It was a moving and incredibly uplifting story at the same time. Even though it dealt with some heavier issues I wouldn’t call it devastatingly sad – because, for me, there was this lovely, overwhelming feeling of hope shining through the pages. It is a great debut novel, very promising, and I’d love to see more from the author in the future. Recommended!

Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty / Blog Tour

Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 42650606

Publishing Date: 20th February 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The simple fact of the matter is that Iris loves life. Maybe she’s forgotten that. Sometimes that happens, doesn’t it? To the best of us?
All I have to do is remind her of that one simple fact.

‘A superb writer’ Irish Examiner

When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry, wife, mother and all-round worrier, is convinced something bad has happened.

And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a journey that she plans to make her last.

The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her, on a road trip that will take her, Iris and Terry’s confused father Eugene onto a ferry, across the Irish sea and into an adventure that will change all of their lives.

Somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best.

my-review

 

Terry has been married for years and is a stay – at – home mum to two almost adult daughters. Her husband Brandon provides for the family, working hard, and actually Terry is rather happy with how her life has turned out, even though the girls are flying out of the nest and Brandon’s works is really stressful but well, Terry is his pillar and that’s great.
Her father Eugene is in a nursing home with dementia, where Terry regularly visits him. He used to be a taxi driver and what he can still very well remember are the rules of the road, always reminding his daughter of them. It is at one of the events hosted by the Alzheimer’s society that Terry meets Iris Armstrong and those two women, though totally different, quickly establish a friendship.
Then Iris disappears. Terry unexpectedly discovers why and where she’s heading and decides to follow her. As it’s a real on – a – whim decision, she doesn’t have time to inform her family, and she also has to take her father with her on the impromptu road trip through Ireland, Great Britain, France and Switzerland, as the nursing home has to close temporarily.
It is a journey that is going to change many lives.

The book is brilliantly written, with many feelings and emotions emphasized and is dealing with a difficult and controversial subject in a wonderful, not judging way. You know where it is heading almost right from the beginning, but I think I’m not alone here when I say that I was all the time hoping that I’m wrong, and for it to end differently.

The story focuses on a wonderful friendship between two women, and it is an absolute highlight of the book. They were very lucky to have found each other, as it was a truly unique and special bond between them, and the author has written it in a warm, enveloping way, not being shy of showing not only ups but also downs of such a relationship.

This is a lovely story with many funny and lighter moments but altogether it is also full of sadness and the feeling was a bit too overwhelming for me. I appreciate though how well the author has managed to lighten the mood, and the way she has created the character of Iris, quirky, sassy and full of irony.

So now please do not get me wrong. It was a brilliant, thought – provoking book. It started off so promising and kept me hooked but then, part way through, it started to feel repetitive. I mean, there was no high drama needed, as it was a very character driven novel, but there came a moment that it simply slowed down and I started to feel impatient.

“Rules of the Road” is about finding yourself and there was not better way for Terry to do this – I loved how she was forced to take the plunge, to find a courage, to try things she would never dream of doing. It is a truly special book that will for sure tug at many heart – strings and will make you think. It touches upon some heavier issues and topics that we are very likely to experience by ourselves. It is poignant and wise and beautifully written. It shows that we should celebrate every single day of our lives in a powerful and captivating way. It’s so great to have Ciara Geraghty back!

 

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If I Never Met you by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 41qbp1hsgrl._sx322_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 1st January 2020

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

Number of pages: 431

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

Rating: four-stars

 

Laurie Watkinson and Dan Price have been together since university, that is, for 18 years. They love each other, they’re comfortable, they have good jobs as lawyers at the same firm in Manchester and they enjoy their lives. And are even thinking about starting a family. That is, until it turns out, that Laurie is thinking. Dan is over – thinking: he doesn’t want the same things are Laurie wants. He wants out. He dumps her. And immediately starts a relationship with another woman who also immediately fells pregnant of course. To tell that Laurie is devastated would be an understatement.
One day she’s stuck in the lift at work with Jamie Carter, the firm lothario, and they decide to stage a “faux – mance”, as they both can benefit from it. Let’s the fun and games begin, right? Has Laurie supposed that there is much more depth to Jamie than she’s thought? Has she expected that this fake relationship will help her build self esteem and confidence? How it is actually going to end?

The absolute highlight of this story was how the romance aspect was developing, how it underlined the importance of friendship before anything can happen but also, and believe me, yes, we know the formula, we know those arranged and fake office romances are similar, predictable and likely to end in tears, this time the plot simply brilliantly worked in this book. Also, the characters are one of the strongest points here. They’re believable, likeable, and although there were some moments that made me roll my eyes thinking, yeah, for sure, this is going to never happen in real life, like the conversation between Jamie, Dan and Michael, I mean, who would allowed to be talked to like that, I was totally engrossed in their lives, and this is always a good sign. When you get to know Jamie, you quickly learn that he’s not this pretentious, irritating, arrogant Lothario that other think he is. Yes, he is ambitious and hard – working but he truly knows where the priorities are and there is this gorgeous, lovely vulnerable side to him. It was not to be hidden that he respected Laurie, acting like a gentleman, always putting her first, which was a great change after getting to know Dan.
Laurie, even though she’s also ambitious and hard – working, she’s also smart, funny and sharp. It’s so normal that her confidences sky – rocketed downhill after the break – up, and it made her feel even more realistic and genuine, because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t feel like that after ending a relationship that lasted nearly half of your lifetime, right? I loved to see her growing in confidence again, mending her heart, seeing another perspective. They were both so at ease in each other company, I adored their banter.

The beginning was brilliant but then it went a bit confusing for me, and it felt like this until Laurie and Jamie’s deal, as then the story really gained speed and started to fill with McFarlane’s hallmark sarcastic humour – just what I like best. I adored the fact that this time the author’s observations and descriptions of feelings and emotions were spot on. The author has a way with words, even the normal banter between the characters feels fresh, sharp and authentic. She has paced her story really well (well, except for the part right after the beginning until the deal – I know, I know, I’m repeating myself!) and made it unique and refreshing, without making the plot unnecessary complex and complicated. Her characters are realistic and have depth to them, much more that you could expect.

It was a funny (even though this time the humour didn’t resonate with me right from the beginning and on all levels), light and witty book, also filled with insightful thoughts. Although at the beginning I couldn’t connect with Laurie, I’m not sure why, it was somehow hard to keep track with her but it quickly changed and I started to love her, her being so smart, seeing under the surface, seeing things that other didn’t want to see. It was a lovely, heart-warming and entertaining read – if you get through the most confusing first part. It touches upon some tricky issues, such like dysfunctional families, love, hate, betrayal, hope and loss and the author deals with them all in a skilful, gentle way, not forgetting to balance the most heavier parts with humour. What I really liked is the fact that the book is not too sugary, you know, it’s not heart – ripping but also not only sweet, charming and beds of roses kind. Highly recommended!

The Icing on the Cake by Cressida McLaughlin

The Icing on the Cake by Cressida McLaughlin

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 51cxfwg0w3l

Publishing Date: 25th July 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #4

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

Number of pages: 100

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Part Four of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Can Charlie pull off the perfect showstopper?
Charlie has fallen in love with Porthgolow village and they adore her vintage bus, now getting a new lease of life as the best place to have a Cornish Cream tea in the whole of Cornwall. Charlie and her bus have heralded a new start for Porthgolow too, but the one fly in the ointment is Daniel Harper who is still resisting the charms of Charlie and her bus. Can Charlie bake her way into his heart or is it time to admit that her Cornish dream has got a soggy bottom?

Rating: four-stars

 

So, the highly anticipated final part of the brilliant series The Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin has finally arrived. I loved the series, written in such a gorgeous, inviting and warm way, and Cressida McLaughling had me glued to the pages, enjoying the stories, characters and fabulous setting. And delicious, mouth – watering food, mmm.

 This part brilliantly ties up all the loose ends and everything is beautifully – if a bit too rushed, for my liking – wrapped up. Charlie has been taken – and we together with her – on a real roller coaster journey full of emotions, feelings, ups and downs but she was so determined and ambitious that she really didn’t allow anything to stand in her way. However, before it happens, she has to solve some problems that part four throws her way, and really, the author keeps us in suspense till the very end. Charlie also seems to have learnt a lessons, there is no more wild jumping to conclusions and she was able to find the truth without blaming all people around her, and I so wanted to give her standing ovation for this. 

Porthgolow is a place that is going to stay with me for longer, Cressida McLaughlin has created a fictional world that I’d love to be a part of, together with the lovely, noisy gang of characters that pulled together to create another wonderful festival. The title of this final part, “The Icing of the Cake”, is simply perfect, as it’s a real icing on the cake, this lovely, heart – warming and uplifting read, full of characters that you love or love to hate, gorgeous setting and perfect plot. Highly recommended!

Scones Away! by Cressida McLaughlin

Scones Away! by Cressida McLaughlin

 

Publisher: Harper Collins cover156081-medium

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #3

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

Number of pages: 101

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Part Three of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Charlie’s toughest technical challenge yet…
Now that Charlie’s Cornish Cream Tea bus has taken off, everything should be going swimmingly – the locals love her baking, Marmite adores getting his paws wet in the crystal-clear sea at Porthgolow beach, but Charlie has manged to get on the wrong side of the mercurial owner of The Porthgolow Hotel, Daniel Harper. He wants her to pack up her doillies and pastry cutters and take her bus elsewhere, but can Charlie convince him that they have just got off on the wrong foot and that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village?

Rating:  three-stars

 

“Scones Away” is the third part in the uplifting, wonderful series from Cressida McLaughlin, full of delicious descriptions of food and characters that I’ve immediately warmed to. Charlie is still full of ideas for her Cornish Cream Tea Bus Gertie but this time, ladies and gentlemen, our lovely Charlie annoyed me a little, jumping to conclusions instead of letting people speak or simply thinking things over – too much and too often for my liking. Not everyone in the world is against you, Charlie! 

This time Charlie is entangled  in a blossoming love triangle and it was so interesting to see which of her two admirers she’s going to choose, as they were so different! One of them open and honest, which is just what she needs, what with her trust issues, and the other not so easy to read but there is such sparkling chemistry between them! What is it going to be for Charlie, head or heart? Porthgolow finally seems to start accepting Charlie and her bus and it was lovely to have this heart – warming community spirit back and the locals enjoying her baking. The author has – again – created a world that I want to be a part of and try the famous cream tea. And I loved the idea of the tour that Charlie plans to establish with her bus, just imagine all the beautiful sights of the gorgeous Cornwall with the added bonus of Charlies’s brilliant food. But I also had a feeling that this time this part was not as filled with events and surprises as the previous two parts, and it dragged a little, but it’s still a warm, colourful read that I enjoyed, no worries! 

This part ends, of course, on a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see how everything comes together at the end, and which surprises are awaiting us in the final instalment – with so many plot twists I am sure that Cressida McLaughlin has many revelations for us.

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

alex2bbrown

(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.

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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The Eclair Affair by Cressida McLaughlin

The Eclair Affair by Cressida McLaughlin

 

cover153293-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #2

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

Number of pages: 103

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle 

 

Synopsis:

Part Two of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Charlie’s unveils her signature bake…
Charlie and Marmite finally arrive in the picture-postcard Cornish village of Porthgolow in thier vintage Routemaster bus. Not everything is as it seems and Charlie’s friend, Juliette, tells her about the owner of the big hotel up on the hill who has managed to upset the locals. That doesn’t stop Charlie and Marmite making new friends and the bus finds a new lease of life as the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea. But what will Charlie make of the enigmatic Daniel Harper when they meet, and more to the point, what will he think about Charlie and her bus parked outside his lovely hotel?

Rating: four-stars

 

As soon as the second part of The Cornish Cream Tea Bus became available, I downloaded it and started to read, still remembering how nice the first part was and looking forward to meet Charlie and Marmite and their new friends again, and see what the people of Porthgolow are to do with her fresh ideas to bring a little life to this coastal village.

Charlie is settling in Porthgolow, even though she was initially supposed to stay there for a few weeks, and not for a few months. She’s determined to make a name for herself but also to wake Portholow up, and so she’d like to organise Porthgolow Food Fest, inviting some of the best food trucks. And when she sets her mind on something, there is nothing stopping her. Or is there? Like some unwilling residents?

So. This short story. As usual, so colourfully, vividly written, and Cressida McLaughlin brings the place so easily to life. I loved the descriptions of the food festival and then the fire on the beach, they were beautifully and gorgeously written. Of course, the food sounds DE – LI – CIOUS, all the cream teas mentioned, cakes but also all kind of other goodies.

The more I get to know Charlie, the more I like her. She’s determined, consequent and also stubborn, but she wouldn’t achieve this what she has achieved till now without being stubborn, right? She has only good intentions and she gives always her best. The romance aspect that is looming on the horizon is also lovely and right now I can’t tell you in which direction is going to go, which is a great feeling as I love surprises! I have my favourite here already and I’m so curious if my gut feeling is right again.

I can’t wait for the next instalment, as we are – again! Again! – left on a cliff-hanger, with Charlie facing many decisions. Cressida McLaughlin has such a great way with words, and I adored this lovely, warm and welcoming story. Recommended!