Aria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 51895060._sy475_

Publishing Date: 8th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop comes another uplifting romance.

This summer will change everything!

Aria Summers knows what she wants.

A life on the road with best friend Rosie and her beloved camper-van-cum-book-shop, and definitely, definitely, no romance.

But when Aria finds herself falling – after one too many glasses of wine, from a karaoke stage – into the arms of Jonathan, a part of her comes back to life for the first time in years.

Since her beloved husband died Aria has sworn off love, unless it’s the kind you can find in the pages of a book. One love of her life is quite enough.

And so Aria tries to forget Jonathan and sets off for a summer to remember in France. But could this trip change Aria’s life forever…?

A heartwarming, uplifting and hilarious novel of friendship, love and adventure! Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Holly Martin.

Rating: three-stars

 

Aria is a grieving widow who has left everything behind and devoted herself to a nomad life, since three years travelling around in her van full of books. Because Aria loves books – this is the only thing that she dares to love right now – after the unexpected death of her husband there is still no place in her heart for another relationship, and she’s afraid to lose someone she loves so much again.
Together with other nomads like her, among them her best friend Rosie, they travel around the country and above, going to various types of festivals where they sell their wares – in Aria’s case it’s books. This time they travel through France, participating in festivals and enjoying the views. However, there is one person that pops up everywhere they are – or, at least, this is what Aria thinks. Can this be a coincidence? Will Aria let her guilt and grief and find the courage a new step in her life?

It was a very interesting idea with van lifers, I truly wasn’t aware that something like this exist – or maybe that it does exist but not to such extent, it seems really well organised. Or it doesn’t exist and is only fiction? Whatever, it was something different, that I really enjoyed. Maybe not for me but if it makes others happy then why not?

The characters are full of flaws, keeping secrets, making mistakes but I missed more depth to them. They seem a bit one – dimensional and the actions and interaction between them are a bit woody and forced.
Aria, instead of facing reality, escaped into the world of books, and I think we can’t blame her for this, right? However, three years have already passed and perhaps it was really time for her to eventually confront her grief and not only live in the past, at least I think so, and it was somehow really hard to buy, this hiding behind the grief, taking it as an excuse for everything. Don’t get me wrong but it felt a bit meh and overdone. Why was she so determined to never ever fall in love again?

While the book is rather on a sunny – side, all the butterflies and gorgeous places to see, the author also tries to touch in an engaging way about some heavier and deeper issues, such as loss and grief and how losing your beloved one may affect you and those around you. It was a nice try but it simply felt much too repetitive, staying in place, circling around the same thing, not moving forward, and I think this was my biggest problem with the book. The thing about Aria not wanting to fall in love again came every second page and the dialogues seemed to be only about it, and Aria’s inner thoughts were only about this. Also, really – there was what I felt like a zero chemistry between Aria and Jonathan, and actually I couldn’t get this subplot at all, I think they met each other even before the story started, and it is already an important starting point for a budding relationship, right? I didn’t have a chance to see how they work together – the few elusive meetings were always awkward and there were no sparkles, nothing indicating that they really could be destined for each other. It was simply very optimistic and very rose – tinted but not that convincing for me to buy it as there was really no foundation for this relationship.

The writing style is lovely, full of chatter and humour and there was a lot of potential in this story but in the end I didn’t find this “something” in it that makes a book a book that I want to read over and over again. It was a light – hearted, easy, comforting and relaxing read with beautiful setting and full of books and I have already seen that it gets many raving reviews, so perhaps it’s the case of it’s not you, it’s me. If you’re looking for a undemanding and cosy read, try this story, it may be a perfect book for you.

When Polly Met Olly by Zoe May

When Polly Met Olly by Zoe May

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 41835337._sy475_

Publishing Date: 7th January 2019

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

Number of pages: 269

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Polly and Olly were never supposed to meet…
Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke.

Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse!

But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…

Rating: two-stars

 

Polly has just landed herself a job at a match – making agency, and while she finds she’s good at it, her own love life leaves a lot to be desired. While it’s all fun, living vicariously through her clients, she’s hoping for a great break as a photographer, and she even took first steps in this direction, taking photos for a cook – book. Then her boss Derek sends her undercover to another agency that seems to be taking their clients away. And this is when Polly meets Olly… when the line between being professional and taking things personally starts blurring…

I am not sure why but I didn’t connect with the book completely. There were too many things that felt too forced or too many that were added in, what felt like, an after – thought that didn’t bring much to the plot. It was as if the author has tried too much to write a light – hearted but also complex story. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a bad read, it had tons of potential and I really appreciate what the author tried to do with the story but it lacked in delivery. The romance was almost not there, and it made me feel confused for the whole time because the title is “When Polly Met Olly”, and they met, and then what? And then nothing. Zoe May tried, I think, to pull wool over our eyes, pointing us in some different directions, making us wonder who is the perfect match for Polly, but maybe she should really focus on the real romance, because there were too little sparkles.

The writing style, even though was not as rounded as I’d like it to be, was easy and brisk and Zoe May has a distinctive voice. The banter between characters was friendly and unassuming.

The story is told from Polly’s point of view, and while she was a very chatty narrator, I think I’d love to hear the other perspectives as well – I think the characters really have had something to tell, and I’d love to know their insights as well. Mostly we were presented with Polly’s monologues, and sometimes the author focused too much on one thing and we were reading about one thought for four pages, and then in the next four pages thousand other things happened.

Altogether, it is a nice, quirky story ticking all the boxes for a chick – lit. The setting was lovely, the secondary characters were jumping off the pages and there were some twists in it. It is easy – going and light read with a promising premise. It touches upon friendship and trust but also it shows how easy it is to have your self – confidence broken. Unfortunately, we didn’t click, me and the book.

When Polly Met Olly by Zoe May / Blog Tour

When Polly Met Olly 2020

When Polly Met Olly

Polly and Olly were never supposed to meet…

Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke.

Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse!

But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…

Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Debbie Viggiano.

 

Purchase Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07F8N76KG/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F8N76KG/

https://books.apple.com/gb/book/when-polly-met-olly/id1412331682

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Zoe_May_When_Polly_Met_Olly_A_fantastically_uplift?id=UypkDwAAQBAJ

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/when-polly-met-olly-a-fantastically-uplifting-romantic-comedy-for-2019

 

Author Bio –

Zoe May lives in London and writes romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She spent her twenties living in London, where she worked in journalism and copywriting before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading.

 

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/zoe_writes

https://instagram.com/zoe_writes

https://www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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A Year of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers

A Year of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 50179541._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 6th January 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 19.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One moment can change a lifetime…

The last thing top divorce lawyer Olivia Hamilton ever expected was to be served her own divorce papers! To escape her marriage troubles, she agrees to go on a year-long trip to find the ultimate guide to love.

Travelling the world, surrounded by stories of love and happiness, it’s not long before her thoughts turn to Nathan, her soon-to-be ex-husband, and she starts to take note of her own lessons in love…

But with Nathan over a thousand miles away, will it be too late?

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Philippa Ashley and Caroline Roberts.

Rating: three-stars

 

Olivia Hamilton, a top divorce lawyer, is being served with her own divorce papers! At work! Yes, she’s been aware that things are not so rosy in her marriage with Nathan – she’s so focused on her own career that her private life suffers because of it, and well, Nathan might have hinted at the fact that he’d like to be a father sooner rather than later… But divorce? Yes, Olivia is a bit devastated.
But it was only the beginning. Then she’s forced to take a 10 – month sabbatical from work, but what should she do with all this free time? Her best friend Rachel persuades her to go on a research trip for her, visiting countries where divorce rates are low and marriages blossom. Albeit reluctant, but Olivia goes – her journey starts with Malta and takes her to Hawaii, Copenhagen, Singapore and, eventually, Paris. Even if she hasn’t planned it, the journey turns to be a self – reflection for her.

The book started brilliantly, introducing us to the author’s lovely sense of humour and promising story. However, then, for me it only went downhill and the travels were a bit dull for my liking. I was expecting wit and fun and some sassy adventures, whereas what I got was serious in tone and a little wooden tale. And really, almost every single chapter ended with Olivia wondering about Nathan: what would Nathan do, what would he say, do they have a future, is there a second chance for them, Nathan, Nathan, Nathan… It was really eye – role inducing, especially as she did nothing to win him back, just shrugging it off, jumping to conclusions and ending the next chapter wondering what he’s doing and with whom. And honestly, the research conducted by Olivia’s friend Rachel sounded absolutely hooking and refreshing but it didn’t deliver – sadly.

I then couldn’t completely warm to Olivia. I was expecting her to be a ball – breaking (in a positive way, of course), fierce and charming woman but it turned out she’s constantly blaming herself for everything, her marriage collapse, for her colleagues not working in a way she’d like them to, insecure and with little humour. Even though the stories of the background characters didn’t capture me so much, I still found them more colourful and lively than Olivia.

The places Olivia visited were brilliantly chosen, so different to what we usually get to read about in this genre, and visiting them and meeting all the people gave Olivia chance to mull over her own marriage, wondering what to do, try to save it or move on, to re – evaluate her priorities, wonder if real love really exist. The writing style was easy and approaching.

The story touched about the very present vicious circle that so many woman find themselves: society expects them to work as if they didn’t have any children and to raise their children as if they didn’t have to work, putting them for the choice of career or family, not giving them a chance for both. It is an easy and not too demanding charming little story about finding happiness, about second chances and love. I loved the premise, I loved the cover, and I think there was so much potential in this book, but it lacked in execution and delivery. However, I can see that other readers enjoy this book much more, so just try it for yourself, you may fell in love with the story.

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 44799648

Publishing Date: 9th October 2019

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

All she wants for Christmas…

Leah Griffiths has woken up after a few too many glasses of Prosecco with a hangover – and discovers she’s accidentally bought a little Christmas tree farm in Scotland!

At first she’s horrified, but perhaps it’s the perfect way to forget all about her cheating ex.

And when she meets grumpy (but ridiculously gorgeous) pumpkin farmer Noel underneath the mistletoe, Leah begins to believe that at Christmas time, anything can happen…

Rating:  four-stars

 

The morning after finding her boyfriend/boss in a compromising position, Leah Griffiths wakes up not only with a huge hangover after downing few bottles of Prosecco, but also as a new owner of a Christmas Tree Farm in Scotland that she’s just won on an internet auction. And paid for it. £50,000, all the money left after selling her parents’ house when they died.
But hey, the farm looks lovely on the pictures, right? As she has no job in London anymore, her parents are dead and she has only one best friend, there is nothing stopping her back, and really, how hard could running a Tree Farm be?
Well, it turns out it can be hard, especially as the farm has been empty for four years, most of the trees are dead/unsellable, and the grumpy neighbour Noel knows lots about trees but he doesn’t believe that Leah will stay at the farm after realising how much work it needs, and after seeing that the house has no windows and only half roof left. And it’s very cold and raining all the time.
But Noel doesn’t know Leah and her determination. But will the determination be enough to start over? Will Leah stay at the farm?

I really don’t remember when I laughed so much when reading a book. Right now I’m even not afraid to make a drunken impulse buy, honestly, even if it’s of abandoned Christmas Tree Farm in Scotland – I could keep horses there! It was a read full of laughs, giggles, embarrassing but also poignant moments, brilliantly capturing the cheer of a small town and its community.

Jaimie Admans writes in a way that made me immediately fell in love with all the characters and the setting. Leah was a brilliant leading heroine, full of humour and best one – liners, often jumping to conclusions but also optimistic and never giving up. Well, how many of us would stay after realizing they have bought an abandoned and run – down Christmas Tree Farm, right? Not Leah – she was stubborn and determined and had some of the best ideas how to revitalize the farm and to keep it going, not forgetting about the community! We get to know her at a very low point, and she’s also lost so much when her parents died, so she really knows what suffering and grief mean, and she has moments when she feels so desperate and lonely, but she’s also so funny and so human and I was really rooting for her, wanting her to have her own happy ending.
Our lovely Leah is surrounded and supported by a great group of characters, charming, friendly and immediately likeable, brilliantly written and amusing. Some of their antics at the market were peculiar but please, do let me focus tightly on Noel. And let me swoon about Noel. Noel should have his own book – even though he had a Chihuahua and not a rottweiler, he was perfect. Noel, the usual broody and moody neighbour, the pumpkin farmer from the adjacent land, sexy, handsome, irresistible… you get the picture. With a soft side to him as well, I loved how he was around another people, his mum and dog, always willing to help but not too overwhelmingly helpful, you know what I mean? A softie but still a real man, give me him any time pretty please. Oh, be still you stupid heart, really.
The interactions and banter between him and Leah were the most brilliant parts of the book, and they were mostly my favourite scenes, so actually almost the whole book. The way the author has pushed them together felt obvious, yes, but also natural and genuine and the chemistry between them was sparklingly funny and believable.

The author has for sure researched how much work running a Christmas tree farm involves and learnt her lesson about trimming a tree or whatever it is you have to do with them. I’ve never realised it, I mean, you go, you choose and then buy the most beautiful Christmas tree, right, but I’ve never given a thought to what is needed to grow this perfect specimen. She dedicates a lot of pages to the actual work involved in farming, and it’s rich in details and information but it doesn’t slow down the action, oh no, it rather propels it forward, is rich in details but never too dull.

It is a fast – paced, seamlessly written, chatty and engaging read that yes, you know how it’s going to end, and yes, you know there are going to be obstacles on the way, but still it is a great fun to read. Jaimie Admans’s writing style is easy – going and easy to get along with and chatty and her descriptions are vivid and colourful. This novel was a lovely, romantic, atmospheric and full of snow read, right for the Christmas season. The idea of the plot was great and refreshing and there was this lovely message in it, that when you want something badly to succeed, simply go for it, just go out there and get it – it may not be the easiest thing sometimes but everything is possible. Warm, cosy and comfortable, an engrossing and hilarious festive journey about second chances and fresh starts, but also about grief, betrayal and hope, and you very quickly will fall under its spell. Hugely recommended!

The Accidental Life Swap by Jennifer Joyce

The Accidental Life Swap by Jennifer Joyce

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 45877609._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st September 2019

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 31.10.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes one moment can change your life forever…
Rebecca Riley has always been a bit of a pushover. When her glamorous boss, Vanessa, asks her to jump, she doesn’t just ask how high… she asks if her boss would like her to grab a coffee on the way back down!

So whilst overseeing the renovation of Vanessa’s beautiful countryside home, the last thing Rebecca ever expected was to be mistaken for her boss – or that she would even consider going along with it! Far away from the bustling city and her boss’s demanding ways, could she pretend to be Vanessa and swap lives, just for a little while?

Rating:  four-stars

 

Rebecca Riley is a PA at a popular events management company. However, she’s never wanted to be a PA, instead she can see herself organizing events – she’s a hard worker, has a right degree, is a team player and thinks that it really is the highest time for her to be promoted to be Events Manager. But when she finally finds the courage to ask her evil, demanding and overly tanned boss Vanessa for a promotion, it turns out that she has other plans for Rebecca, namely she needs somebody to oversee the renovation of her beautiful property in the countryside, hinting that when Rebecca will give a good account of herself, she may get her desired promotion.
But life has its own ideas. Already on the first day the whole village of Little Heaton mistakes Rebecca for Vanessa. She decides to go along with the charade because she’s sure that the works won’t be done with her – Rebecca – at the helm. Channelling her inner Vanessa, Rebecca starts to make sure the renovations get done in time. But can she do it without being found out? Can’t she do it as Rebecca?

So, this with the whole charade was a bit unbelievable, right? I wanted to shake my head and yell at Rebecca for not giving it up sooner but on the other hand I also completely got it and her choices. She was a bit of a pushover, honestly, wasn’t able to stand for herself, believing she’s smart and brave enough but in the last second loosing all her courage and yes, I usually can’t stand such characters, but this time the author has struck the right balance and made her really likeable. She was meek and indulgent but within the scope, still believable and sympathetic.
She belongs to my favourite characters category, characters that progress throughout the story. She began as a person who does so much for other people, is a bit of a doormat actually, not being able to say boo to a goose let’s not mention to her boss, and receives no acknowledgment, no thank you and guys, yes, it annoyed me on her behalf. I liked the way she was changing, growing in confidence, finding her own voice, reinventing herself.

The romance aspect, the way is develops between the characters, is funny and different, as it blossoms over the love of board games, and I really liked the moments when they were playing them. The attraction between them is palpable and even though you could bet anything on what’s going to happen and how, I still enjoyed it.

I loved the setting of this novel, the picturesque countryside and the descriptions of Vanessa’s home made me want to move or at least to re – decorate my own house. The animal sanctuary was for me a real highlight, with all the animals wandering around and bad – tempered chickens.

The end was for me too rushed and too neat, even though I had a feeling that some of the things weren’t wrapped up completely while the other happened so conveniently and some person experienced a whole change of heart. Yes, it is a bit clichéd, it demands a lot of disbelief, it is predictable but you don’t choose such book for its unpredictability. No, you choose it for a feel – good factor and a few relaxing hours, and this is what I was looking for. I laughed, I cringed and I fell for the characters.

I liked the fact that the story was more than a bit of fluff and mishaps and embarrassing shenanigans – there were moments with much more depth to it than I have expected, touching upon some more serious issues, such as self – confidence, friendship and betrayal, standing up for yourself, giving the book so much needed substance. The writing style is warm and welcoming, chatty and the banter between the characters flows easily and naturally. It was a funny, light – hearted romantic comedy and if you’re looking for an easy, not too demanding read, then grab this book.

The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

 

44073128Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 12th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 235

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 11.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Love is in the air…?

Luca is used to being the ‘single one’ at weddings – it happens, when all your other friends are engaged, married or taken. But when she bumps into Tom, her friend from university who broke her heart into a million pieces, she finds herself wondering what could have been.

It’s ten years later, surely she should be over that Tom by now? So why is he looking even more gorgeous than ever – and why doesn’t he seem to be able to keep his eyes off her either?

And as the champagne flows and old secrets resurface, Luca realises that perhaps the time to take a chance on love and life is…now?

The laugh-out-loud new novel from bestseller Portia Macintosh!

Rating: three-stars

 

Luca is fine. Or isn’t she? Attending another wedding of her uni’s friend she realises that she’s always the single one, another are engaged/married/otherwise romantically occupied. She starts to feel that time moves on while she stays in place. When she also meets Tom at the wedding, her ex/not ex – boyfriend, she starts to think and evaluate her life.

The story actually unfold on a wedding day, and it was incredibly how much can happen in a day – well, especially when you are as accident – prone as Luca, that is. The present intertwines with flashbacks to the past and we slowly get to know the characters and their lives as a group. Also, it turns out of course that there are, and were, many secrets, misunderstatements and plays. So as much as Luca is our main character, the others play as important role in the book as she is, because they helped to shape her. However, maybe because of the relatively huge number of characters, I had a feeling that they were not good enough developed. They were there, but there was not enough depth to them and to be honest, I haven’t felt connection with them. I think Luca tried to be über – cool and nonchalant in her life. She was your normal, everyday girl, sharp – mouthed and generally happy with herself but I couldn’t warm completely to her, to be honest, not sure why.

The humour this time was also not so Portia MacIntosh – it felt too flat and there were moments that probably were supposed to be funny, like with Luca suddenly being a bridesmaid and the bride’s wishes and requests but it only felt too overdone. I also think she tried to make it a sitcom – like rom – com, with flashbacks and hilarious situations but, unfortunately it didn’t work.

From the author like Portia MacIntosh I was simply expecting something better, ambitious. I was left with a feeling that she herself didn’t connect with the story at all, it scratched below the surface, was without a depth. There were some moments that saved the book for me though on the whole I was really hoping for something deeper, with the MacIntosh’s hallmark humour and sharp observations. Altogether, “The Time of Our Lives” was a light – hearted, easy and fairly straight – forward and predictable read but nevertheless a read that will keep you reading. The pacing was right, the dialogues dynamic and it dealt with the fact that you should fight for things that you feel will make you happy.

 

Love and Lies at the Village Christmas Shop by Portia MacIntosh

Love and Lies at the Village Christmas Shop by Portia MacIntosh

 

 

51ox8tjo2ol-_sx311_bo1204203200_Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 8th October 2018

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

Number of pages: 208

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Blast the Michael Bublé, wrap your hands around a cinnamon latte and enjoy this warm, hilarious Christmas novel!

Ivy loves Christmas. As owner of Christmas Every Day, the year-round festive store, you’d expect nothing less!

The only thing missing in Ivy’s life is a dash of romance – something her twin sister Holly will not let her forget…

When her mother passed away, Ivy vowed to take over the running of her mother’s store and keep the Christmas spirit alive in the idyllic seaside town of Marram Bay.

But all this changes when an enigmatic businessman moves to the town, threatening to bulldoze her beloved shop to make way for holiday complex.

Can Ivy save her shop before Christmas? Could there be a different side to the newest resident of Marram Bay that would make all her Christmas wishes come true?

The brand new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from bestseller Portia Macintosh. Perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley and Tilly Tennant.

Rating: four-stars

 

 Ivy and Holly are two very different twins – while Holly hates Christmas, Ivy lives and breaths Christmas. Their mum has started a Christmas shop that is open all year round and after her death Ivy takes it over – and she couldn’t be happier to work there. However, the shop is now in danger, as the owner of the building is selling up and moving away. Smooth operator Seb enters the scenes here – he wants to buy the place, demolish the shop and build something else there. Moreover, he’s very charming and it looks like the whole Marram Bay is under his spell. Ivy tries everything to raise the money to keep her shop – but can she save it? 

I thought we’re going to hear more from the characters from the first book in the series but except for one or two scenes including Lily and Prue there was nothing more – this book totally focuses on brand new characters that I immediately grew fond of. I loved Ivy – she was probably one of my most favourite characters ever, such laid – back and relaxed and full of the greatest one – liners, and so, so realistic and real! I really felt as if I can reach out with my hand and touch her.  

An open all year round Christmas shop – isn’t it a brilliant idea? And it was only the first festive thing in this novel. We then have twins Holly and Ivy, all the festive food you can think about, decorating trees, Christmas Festivals, Santa shenanigans … and yet it was not too festive overwhelming, thanks god, however a brilliant start to all the festive books slowly coming my way, tadah. It was full of brilliant, incredibly funny scenes and the tasting the Christmas Cake will probably stay with me forever, as well as the kissing booth and golden retriever, to name only a few.  

Portia MacIntosh has a talent to create characters that are full of life and that rarely give up but are also realistic, and it was the same this time as well. Ivy, living and breathing Christmas, was so optimistic and so bouncy and it was impossible not to like her. I absolutely loved the way she was thinking and how fair she was, she wanted to save her shop but she was also willing to take another look and see other options – however, I also loved the fire in her and that, even though she’s seen those other options, she always came up with brilliant ideas to help her keep her mum’s heritage. She was smart and funny and not taking herself too seriously. Her sister Holly was an absolute opposite of Ivy re: Christmas but as likeable as Ivy. The one and only Gaz and his never – ending attempts to chat up a girl and on the other hand such a lovely Santa. And Seb with his Lamborghini and plans, such enthusiastic and down – to – earth – all of them, as well as the supporting characters, were absolutely fantabulous and incredibly easy to like, even if they were planning on demolishing some beloved shops or trying to sabotage those plans. 

There was of course a hidden depth to it, and it had some very poignant moments, but on the whole it was a funny, entertaining novel. The banter between the characters was so natural and easy, the writing style was light – hearted and I was hooked from the very first page till the end. It was heart – warming and oh so romantic without being too saccharine. A lovely story about families, relationships, chances and finding what it really is what you want from life. It was not too complicated and a little predictable but full of other perks that made me appreciate it so much. Don’t be surprised when you’ll feel like curling up in front of your fire – place with a cup of hot chocolate and looking to put your Christmas lights on when reading “Love and Lies at the Village Christmas Shop”! Truly recommended.

The Sister Swap by Fiona Collins

The Sister Swap by Fiona Collins

 

38611933Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 1st June 2018

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Two sisters. Two very different lives…

Meg simply doesn’t have time for men in her life. Instead, she has a strictly one-date rule, survives on caffeine and runs one of the biggest model agencies from her smart office in London. That is, until she collapses one day at work and the doctor orders her to take some R&R in the country…

Sarah is used to being stuck behind tractors and the slow pace of her cosy village life. But now her children are all grown-up (and her ex-husband long forgotten) she’s ready to change things up a bit – starting with taking back her old job in the city!

After a devastating falling out, the sisters haven’t spoken in years. Swapping houses, cars, everything is the only option – surely they’ll be able to avoid bumping into each other?

Rating: four-stars

Sarah lives in the country with her nineteen – year – old twins. They’re adult enough – or at least Sarah thinks so – and don’t need her anymore so much, so she decides to apply for her old job as an event planer. And she gets it! The only downside – it’s in London.
Sarah’s sister Meg lives in London. She’s the owner of a very successful model agency however her job is stressful and Meg is advised to slow down a little, what with her high blood pressure, and take holidays in the country.
It is obvious – the sisters should swap, right? However, there is one problem – the sisters haven’t spoken for years, following a falling out when 18 – year – old Meg left. But there is no other option, so they really end up swapping their houses. Are they going to survive this 8 weeks swap? Will they realise what is important in their lives now? Will they sort out their differences or are they going to get back to their old lives?

The two sisters couldn’t be more different, which only made the reading more thrilling. They were both strong personalities, both stubborn, so reaching out to one another was not the easiest thing for both of them. At the beginning I had some problems to warm to Meg, to be honest. I didn’t like her attitude so much, she was full of herself and was, speaking honest, quite off – putting, while Sarah was immediately likeable and felt so normal and down – to – earth. It is only when Meg gets few good ticking – offs that she starts to be a little bit apologetic and I also started to grew to like her. But they were both, as well as the background characters, really well written and developed. They also haven’t expected that the swap will made them face some truths about themselves and their lives, their pasts and respective futures, so in all honesty, next to the funnier side there is also a hidden depth in this story. They have to make decisions and answer many questions, sometimes uncomfortable ones, they have to deal with their past, they have to ask themselves what they want and come to terms with what they’ve lost. And we all know it – making up and eating humble pie is probably the most difficult thing.

What I liked in this book was the fact that it mostly really focused on the relationship between the sisters and not so much on the romance aspect – even though there were some will they/won’t they on the way, and especially Meg’s budding romance was the one that drew me in – it was fun and full of hiccups and awkward situations, just what I like. It was more about the sisters finding each other again, discovering each other’s lives and starting to appreciate each other, and it was lovely to accompany them on this way, to see them grow and wiser. Whatever they say, no matter how cliché it sounds, family is important.

It was so funny to see how the sisters adapt to their new places. Especially Meg at the country, where – let’s be honest – there is not much to do, and when there was something she wasn’t so interested, but after initial reservations she’s decided to invest her time in the village’s life. The outcome was mostly unexpected and embarrassing. And while seeing Sarah taking her old job as an event planer back in London and having to adapt to instagram, pinterest and other things was also hooking, the country parts were for me more colourful.
It was a really feel – good read introducing us to a city girl ending up in a cowpat and a country girl trying to adapt to the fast lanes of city life, and the differences between the places and the lives were clearly marked but the author didn’t judge any of them, she only showed us ups and downs of both options, and I think she pulled it off really well.

“The Sister Swap” was a feel – good story about family dynamics, with enough drama, funny moments and happy – ever – after. It was a predictable yet pleasant read and I was intrigued by it, and I wanted to know what has happened that the sisters were estranged for so long. There were not many twists nor turns, to be honest, and you could be sure that they’re going to find themselves again but it was written in a way that had me truly hooked. I think the end was a little too rushed, but it’s my opinion and of course you can have a different view. Altogether I really enjoyed it. Recommended!

 

 

Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli by Portia MacIntosh

Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli by Portia MacIntosh

 

38389306Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 18th May 2018

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Lily Holmes is ready for a fresh start. And there’s no better place to begin again than the idyllic seaside town of Marram Bay.

All Lily wants to do is focus on making her new deli a success and ensuring her son’s happiness. Not the postcard creeping out of her handbag, and definitely not finding a new man in her life!

But this isn’t going to be as easy as she first thought. The town is in uproar about the city girl who’s dared to join them and she’s fighting a battle at every turn.

Perhaps with a little help from the gorgeous cider farmer next door, she may be able to win them over, but her past secrets threaten to ruin everything…

The brand new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from bestseller Portia Macintosh. Perfect for fans of Jo Watson and Tilly Tennant.

Rating: four-stars

In “Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli” we meet Lily, leaving behind her life in London and moving herself and her 8 – year – old son Frankie to Marram Bay in Yorkshire to start a new job and a new chapter in her life. She has high hopes for this move and she’s determined to make the opening of the new deli, which is a part of a chain of YumYum delis that she’s been working for, a success, as well as her private life. She hopes that she can make Apple Blossom, the cottage she’s moving into, as well as Marram Bay, her new home. However, the residents of Marram Bay have other ideas… But fortunately, not all of them…

Portia paints a great cast of supporting characters, they’re colourful and different, we have the really good ones and the not so good ones, those that knows everything and those that only wait for their chance. They were authentic, quirky and amusing. They were a real delight to get to know, and next to Lily we have also two significant male characters, and the difference between them was brilliant. Ex – boyfriend Nathan was a hippie who wanted to save the world trying to convince everyone to start eating vegan and who only watched reality shows on Lily’s coach, and then we have Alfie, the charming, handsome and much more normal neighbour.
I loved how determined Lily was and she was not the one to be beaten, oh no. She was a really likeable character and it was easy to fell for her from the very beginning. She has to juggle single motherhood and her career, moving to a new town with unhappy locals, then an unexpected visit from her ex and a delicious Alfie from the farm in the neighbourhood, and she does it daintily and with humour, and it is so normal that she has ups and down on this journey. She was strong and she didn’t let other people to belittle her. And well, her life was a little challenging, right, what with also an eccentric mother who pretended to be her daughter’s sister and the arrival of an ex and a potential romance as well.
My heart went also to Frankie, Lily’s son, when the hostility of the locals turned out to be directed not only to Lily, but extended to Frankie as well. It was so, so sad to see how he’s treated at school, how nobody wants to be his friends because of his mum and her plan to take the jobs from the local by opening the new deli. It’s no wonder that he felt so isolated and that he spent so much time on his own. I fell for him completely and empathised with him.

Yes, it was a tad predictable read, to be honest, but well, you could expect it from this kind of a book, and it was written in such a lovely way that it didn’t bothered me for a single moment that I know what’s going to happen. Yes, the author has tried to stir the things a little by adding a very unexpected visit, and she has managed to create a little havoc, and it was brilliant. But there are also some twists and turns that keep the pace and make the reading truly gripping.

Altogether, it was a funny, delightful and uplifting novel, perfect for the summery days. It was full of tricky situations, unexpected events, tender moments and humour. Altogether, it was all I have expected from Portia MacIntosh’s book, full of friendship, challenges, happiness, romance and family. She also touched upon some heavier issues, such as bullying for example, and she’s written about it with great compassion and gentleness, and she brilliantly captured mentality of a small town and what makes the people tick. Recommended!