The Cotswolds Cookery Club: A Taste of Italy by Alice Ross

The Cotswolds Cookery Club: A Taste of Italy by Alice Ross

35525872Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 21st July 2017

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

Number of pages: 115

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

…where the ingredients to happiness are found.

Connie has had enough. Enough of the city, enough of her job – and most importantly, enough of her cheating husband! So, when her best friend jets off to sunny Australia and calls on Connie to house and dog-sit, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

When Connie arrives at the gorgeous Cotswolds getaway, she can’t resist opening the doors to the town, offering up cooking lessons – and a lot of wine! Cue the three – very different – women who respond to Connie’s cookery club advert. But it’s soon clear they will need more than a glass of wine to overcome their problems…

Can Connie conjure up the right ingredients to help her new friends? And with two gorgeous men thrown in the mix, Connie may have just ended up with a recipe for disaster!

Rating: four-stars

Having read and enjoyed Alice Ross’s some previous books, I didn’t hesitate to request “The Cotswolds Cookery Club: A Taste of Italy”. I can’t seem to have enough books about cooking, and lately also set in Cotswolds, and those two together do sound promising, no?

The story introduces us basically to Connie, who right now is at the crossroads with her life, and so when her friend is off to Australia for six months and asks Connie if she’d like to look after her house in this time, Connie jumps at the chance. She has no problems to settle in the gorgeous Cotswolds, in the lovely house and quickly she reawakens her passion of cooking. And this is when the idea of the Cotswolds Cookery Club is born, and Connie sets her mind on Italian cuisine this time. But club wouldn’t exist without its members, right, so there are some other characters who take it in turns to cook delicious, mouth – watering Italian dishes – and when I say delicious, I really mean delicious, guys! There is Eleanor, who runs the local newsagent, Melody, who’s also new to the area and Kate, a local vet with three children, husband and an au – pair.

So when the girls chop, stir, taste, cook and bake, they also share their stories, and so we relatively quickly get to know their background and what makes them tick. They were all relatable, believable characters, they had their problems and I quickly felt a part of their group. It was lovely to see how quickly their friendship was growing and how they all were starting to gain confidence.

Altogether, it was a light – hearted, very easy read. What bothered me personally was the end – it seemed so very abrupt and rushed, and I had a feeling that the story was chopped in the middle. It was a promising end, sure, but just too rushed and it put me off stride a little. But really, it was a lovely, cute story with mouth – watering descriptions of food, down – to – earth characters and brilliant romance – and not only human one! The author has spot on caught Connie’s passion to food and cooking and brought it to the pages and really, it made me want more, so it’s a pure luck that this novella is the first part in the series. Already looking towards the next one! Recommended!

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

35546268Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 18th July 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that working with an ex is a terrible idea…
Annie Elliot never expected her life to turn out this way: living with her dad, working as an accountant – surely the least glamorous job in Hollywood?! – and dodging her family’s constant bickering.

Landing a job as a producer on a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice seems like the piece of luck she’s been waiting for. Until the cast is announced, and Annie discovers that the actor playing Mr Darcy is Austen Wentworth: the man she’s spent nearly a decade trying to forget.

Not only is Austen her ex – but while Annie’s life has stalled, Austen is Hollywood’s hottest property…and has just been voted World’s Sexiest Man.

With nowhere to hide, there’s just one question. Now the one who got away has come back, should Annie stand by her pride? Or give into Austen’s powers of persuasion?

Rating: two-stars

Oh my word, guys! Excitement pure alert! When I’ve spotted that Brigid Coady is back with her new release I really couldn’t hide my joy – I adored Brigid’s previous book, “No One Wants to be Miss Havisham”, it was one of the funniest reads two years ago and all this time I was waiting for a new book from this author. As soon as it whizzed to my kindle, I started to read it, no need to mention that I was full of hope and expectations.

But. Guys. And I am so, so sorry. I’ll make it short and painful – unfortunately. I was disappointed. Why? Well, because of the main character, Annie Elliot. Firstly, the name Annie just doesn’t sit with me, which of course is not the authors’ fault, but writing “Annie” in almost every single sentence didn’t help. Secondly, I think I have never before come across such a pushover character, and I really started to fully dislike her. Every second page she was patronised by her sisters and father in the worst possible way. The way especially Imogen and their father talked to her was on the lowest level and yet Annie never spoke back, she just allowed them to use her – hell, she was providing for them, she paid all the bills, she organized their jobs and they were all the time unhappy, spent her money and spoke to her as if she was the last dirt, as if she was worthless, not respecting her at all. I wanted to shake her so much but eventually I gave up on Annie. When she decided to finally take those matters in her hands it was already much, much too late, for me the book was destroyed. Then on the other remaining pages Annie was reminiscing about her relationship with Austen and why it was, in advance, doomed to failure. It was a never – ending, long whinge, this narration.

This might have been a try on creating a modern version of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”, with the Elliots being the theatrical dynasty, but for me it failed completely. I’m really, really sorry for this because I’ve been expecting so much from this story. Fortunately the author’s brilliant, light and approachable writing style is still the same, so at least this saved the day for me a little. I hope though that the next book by the lovely Brigid Coady will be again my cup of tea.

The Chateau of Happily – Ever – Afters by Jaimie Admans – #BlogTour + Giveaway

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The Chateau of Happily – Ever – Afters by Jaimie Admans

34887937Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 7th June 2017

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

Number of pages: 272

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to beautiful France this summer with this uplifting romantic comedy.

Where dreams come true…?

Wendy Clayton stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Instead, she has a ‘nice’ life. Nice job. Nice flat. Absolutely no men. Until her life is turned upside-down when her elderly neighbour, Eulalie, passes away and leaves her the Château of Happily Ever Afters!

But there’s a catch: she must share the sprawling French castle with Eulalie’s long-lost nephew, Julian. And no matter how gorgeous he is, or how easily she finds herself falling head over heels, Wendy needs to find a way to get rid of him…

Because surely happily ever afters don’t happen in real life?

Perfect for fans of Kat French, Caroline Roberts and Holly Martin.

Rating: four-stars

The Château of Happily – Ever – Afters is my first book by Jaimie Admans, but for sure not the last! It took me so positively by surprise, with a brilliant storytelling, larger than life characters that were almost jumping out of the pages and brilliant plot, and I found myself racing through the pages either laughing out loud or cringing with awkwardness, desperately wanting to know how things would turn out and how many snakes are we going to find in the kitchen.

I loved the characters in this book, all of them! OK, I must admit, at the beginning Julian was so, so annoying, did you have the feeling as well? Oooh, somehow he seemed so uptight and self – important, appearing out of the blue and pursuing Wendy to France, and so very well prepared! I don’t know, I just liked Wendy so much and I so wanted to box Julian on the ear, and I so wanted to encourage her to get her own back on him, however Wendy did disappoint me here a little, I was hoping for a funny open war here, and it was only Julian coming up with some annoying ideas. But whatever. But then, slowly, I started to warm to him so much, and the fact that he’s an incredibly handsome model with a six – pack had nothing to do with it. Really! I promise! So yes, together with Wendy we’ve been changing our mind about him – starting with thinking he’s a git and a cheat who only wants Wendy’s half of the château and ending with totally different feelings.

Wendy was somehow so funny with her being so serious and with the strong sense of responsibility, and so going to France was for her a real adventure, especially as she doesn’t speak French and didn’t have any experience when it comes to packing – but really, would YOU know what to take with you to a chateau that you a while ago didn’t believe exist at all? Exactly. However, our Wendy is determined to make the best of the chateau. Moreover, she can bake delicious things – really, guys, the descriptions of her creations were mouth – watering. She is accident – prone and often finds herself in awkward situations.

What both of them had in common was that they were both full of puzzles and secrets and many layers, and it was a great journey full of bumps and surprises while unpeeling all of them – and I really liked what emerged at the end. They were truly brilliant characters, full of fun and joy.

I loved the setting and the descriptions of the chateau, its rooms and gardens, the neighbourhood and French countryside, and especially I enjoyed the village market – it was so easy to imagine all those stands, friendly sellers, I could really easily picture every detail and smell not forget the descriptions of the lovely, delicious French baking – mmmmm!

The book really took off when the characters found themselves in France – it was then that it started to be hilariously funny and that I began to feel that I’m getting to know the characters. However, then, it started to slow down – don’t get me wrong, the writing style was brilliant, the dialogues were more than brilliant, it was so funny and sometimes also poignant, but there was just too much of nothing, in fact, happening. I loved the banter, or Wendy and Julian trying to first drive out each other from the house and then getting to know each other, it’s just that if felt too slow. I am also not sure how I felt about the château bringing people together, with it having secrets and treasures – somehow this part of the story felt for me too far – fetched and not completely finished. I personally couldn’t believe in the magical walls – call me a killjoy. But altogether, I totally adored this book. It was fresh, and funny, and surprising.

“The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters”  is a brilliant summer read, full of colours, smells, humour, this all brought to us in incredibly vivid way. It is sassy, charming and romantic and so easily transported me to the sunny Normandy – a really perfect read for the summer evening! Highly recommended!

GIVEAWAY

French-themed stationery goodie bag.  chateau2bof2bhappily2bever2bafters2bgiveaway

1 x Paperchase Paris notebook and pen

1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters notebook

1 x little Eiffel Tower model

1 x Eiffel Tower bookmark

1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters magnet

1 x Signed postcard

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

 

33870917Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 18th May 2017

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

Number of pages: 352

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A brand new summery story about returning to your past and finding a new beginning from bestselling author Jenny Oliver!

Nestled on the Spanish coast, bustling café Estrella features in every one of Ava Brown’s happiest memories. It’s where she tasted her first delectably-chocolatey churros, fell head-over-heels for her first crush – where she has been her happiest. So the chance to spend one last summer in her grandmother’s house, is one Ava can’t refuse.

Once the heart of the sleepy seaside village, the café now feels more ramshackle than rustic. It’s time to bring back the lethally strong sangria and mouth-wateringly delicious tapas – and before Ava knows it, she’s thrown herself into bringing the café back to life – a summer project her grandmother would be proud of!

But once summer is over, can Ava really say goodbye to Spanish seaside life? Or could this be the new beginning Ava didn’t realise she needed…

Rating:  two-stars

So. I’ve requested “The Summerhouse by the Sea” because of few factors. First, I’ve already read several books by Jenny Oliver, and I know she’s the perfect author to turn to when you are a need of a cute story filled with feelings and emotions. Second, I liked the synopsis – it sounds great and intriguing and I was desperately in need of a sunny setting. Third – the cover. It’s gorgeous, so eye – catching, I love those brilliant, pastel colours. I couldn’t wait to eventually start reading it.

But. Boy, am I happy that I’ve finished it – and probably only out of stubbornness and because I’ve skim – read the second half. I am so, so sorry but this novel just didn’t work for me. At first I was surprised that it focuses not only on Ava but also on her brother Rory, but of course it doesn’t mean that it was wrong, well, in fact it turned out that Rory’s story was much more interesting than Ava’s. Sorry. The plot was very, like in very, predictable. I couldn’t connect with the characters, there was no depth to them, everything felt so superficial, and there were so many of them. It was as if Ava was just staying on one place, while Rory and Flora were moving and doing something with their lives. The beginning of this story was brilliant – Ava has a near death experience with the number 281 bus and I thought, wow, this is a promising start, but then it just went downhill.

Altogether, it was probably a warm, cosy story about new beginnings but not for me. I wanted so much more. It felt flat, there was no sparkle and it just couldn’t keep my attention. Of course I incredibly appreciate the descriptions of the beautiful setting and the delicious food, all those churros, paella and sangrias, which the author vividly brought to life. However, no matter what, please do try this book for yourself, probably it just didn’t work for me and you can find yourself falling in love with the little village in Spain and all the characters.

Trust Me by Gemma Metcalfe / Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Trust Me by Gemma Metcalfe

 

33853393Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 10th March  2017

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

Number of pages: 209

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets.

Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam’s.

Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he’s too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger.

As time runs out both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never imagined they would share.

When you’re about to die will your secrets even matter?

Rating: three-stars

“Trust Me” is Gemma Metcalfe’s debut novel and after reading it I can say that it is a very promising beginning to her writing career. The synopsis to this novel is truly intriguing, and after seeing it I wanted nothing more than to read this book – it sounded like there is going to be a real race against time, it was unique and refreshing.

This story was full of twists and turns and I was really afraid to turn the page to see what’s going to happen and what worse possibly was to come, as truly bad things have been happening to Lana and Liam. The novel jumps between Lana and Liam’s stories, between their past and present and it is done in a very clear, not at all confusing way, it was flowing seamlessly and truly I didn’t have problems to pick up where the previous chapter ended.

There was a depth and complexity to the characters and they were well drawn and their voices were very strong and distinctive. Their stories were not the easiest ones. Lana’s life turned out to be on a very dangerous path, while Liam’s relationship with Jessica was awfully hard. Because of the fact that this book actually covers the period of only few hours in which Lana must talk to Liam to save him from committing suicide, the pace is quick, and the chapters are short and there is a lot happening. Also, the chapters that focus on the characters’ past are dynamic and full to the brims with events. Gemma Metcalfe’s writing style is very easy to follow and I enjoyed it, and she also knew how to built the tension, because with it getting close to the end I truly wasn’t sure what’s going to happen, will he or won’t he, and it was great to be kept in the dark for so long.

But. I am so, so sorry that there is this “but”. This story, while full of tension and compelling, was not as exciting for me as I hoped it’ll be. I am not sure why, because theoretically the book has it all, but it just didn’t capture my attention so much and it felt somehow flat. Yes, there was drama, there was race against time and I know it couldn’t have been written in a different way as then there wouldn’t be the cliffhanger – effect, but I just felt tired with the chapters ending like they did and the jumping between Liam and Lana’s stories, and the continuous urging to “tell me your story”. Also not sure if it were possible for Lana to stay so long on a phone to one person without anybody noticing it, but oh well, call me picky. The end felt a little bit too abrupt for my liking and it left us with an open question, and sometimes this works well but here I’d really like to know how it has ended for Liam. It was a story full of emotions but I had a feeling that those feelings are forced on us, that we are supposed to fell for the characters immediately, and I felt as if we didn’t have a choice of our own.
However, as I’ve already mentioned, I think it is a great debut novel and I will be looking for more from Gemma Metcalfe. This book had its great moments and on the whole it was a fresh, intriguing novel.

GIVEAWAY:

The giveaway is UK ONLY.

And it’s to win a Boots voucher, a harcopy of Trust Me and some surprise Boots goodies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts by Jennifer Joyce

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts by Jennifer Joyce

 

33021538Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 8th February 2016

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

Number of pages: 238

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

A deliciously charming romance, perfect for fans of Caroline Roberts, Jane Linfoot and Debbie Johnson.

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?

Rating: 3/5

The first moment I spotted this book at NetGalley I thought, what? The same title? Of course not, only a very similar one to the one and only “The Lonely Bookshop of Lonely Hearts” by Annie Darling. I think, as much as I love chick – lit and books set in bookshops, teashops and cafes, that the idea is slowly being over – used. Do the authors continue write such books because the formula proved to be very popular? I, of course, don’t mean this particular novel – because if I were tired of such themed books I wouldn’t request them – I am only talking in general. I requested “The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts” because a) I love Jennifer Joyce’s writing, b) the synopsis was really promising and c) just have a looked at this gorgeous cover. I know. I KNOW.

Even though the book sticks wholly to the trend of making the heroine of the story an owner of a coffee shop/cafe/bookshop etc it was a lovely read ticking all the boxes for your normal chick – lit novel. Maddie Lamington has finally fulfilled her dream of owning a little cafe. The only problem is that it is tucked somewhere down a little street and nobody, except for a few regulars, has heard about Sweet Street Cafe. So Maddie has to think of something to let her keep on her dream – and fast! So what do you get when you combine speed dating and cakes, hmmm? A truly interesting idea, don’t you think? However, right after finishing this book I can’t stop feeling that the whole story was built around this idea that was then not developed. We hear tons about organizing the event, collecting the forms but where are the dates? And what was their outcome?
And till the end of this book I didn’t know who is who. There were so many supporting characters and I often felt confused. When I had to put this book away and started reading again and some name was mentioned, it often happened that I was thinking it is a new character that was never mentioned before. I just couldn’t grasp in what relationship they all stand to each other and what was the point of for example Rehana and George?

I really liked the romances in this story. The relationships between Mags and Owen and Maddie and Caleb took their time, had their ups and downs, didn’t feel rushed and of course they could go two ways. There was not a sign of this over – used will they/won’t they game and still the author has created two very realistic, heart – warming, blossoming romances. What was also great was the fact that the characters didn’t fell in love after five minutes with love conquering everything.

Of course there were many things that happened very conveniently, just like this with the magazine feature or the TV crew. Also, there were moments that the story dragged too much for my liking and I had a feeling that we’re staying in one place, that nothing’s changing. But basically, there was nothing wrong with this book but also nothing that made it outstanding, and I think Jennifer Joyce has already proved with her previous books that she can do better. But of course I enjoyed it. Maddie’s character was larger than life, lovely and inviting.

So as already mentioned, the book has it all: many lovely characters, a little romance or two, or even three, it’s light – hearted with some twists and many mouth – watering descriptions of cakes. Light, predictable and easy read that makes you crave for a cupcake. Or two. Or apple pie. Charming, sweet, without adding unnecessary drama and altogether I enjoyed it.

Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

 

cover104213-mediumPublisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 27th January 2017

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

Number of pages: 233

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

Emily Klein doesn’t know she has killed her husband until the day of his funeral.
At first, signs point to a tragic accident. Yet, as Emily pieces together the events before his death – events which led to her own memory loss – she begins to suspect that her husband’s death may have been the result of more than a terrible twist of fate…

But the accident is only the beginning. Because while Emily’s physical scars will heal, the trauma of the accident has awakened old ghosts. She hears strange sounds, catches things that can’t possibly be there in the corner of her eye. Before long, everywhere she looks, she seems to see her husband.

And suddenly, Emily finds herself asking the most dangerous question of all.

Can she really trust herself?

Rating: 3/5

At the moment books described as mystery thrillers seem to be very trendy, and I was really lucky as most of those novels that I’ve read turned out to be really brilliant. Only lately I’ve read two or three books with similar pattern as this one and the tension in them was incredible, so being on a good roll I requested “Those Who Lie” on NetGalley, as it seemed to ideally place itself in this trend and the very lapidary synopsis sounded more than intriguing, implicating murder, manipulations and not knowing whom to trust. Brilliant, right?

However, guys, this book. When I reached the “10% read” symbol I knew who the culprit is and the further I read, the more I was sure that I am right. There were all the hints and signs and it was impossible not to know that this is this person. Sure, I was hoping that perhaps there is the hugest twist coming our way that is going to change everything but eventually there came a moment that I knew it’s not going to happen. So the end was absolutely not a surprise to me – sadly. Maybe I should be happy instead that my detective skills have gone public this time, hmmm? But no, rather not, I want the book to keep me hooked, I want to feel the tension and I want all the things in my brain to work. I also can’t not to compare “Those Who Lie” to the previous books with a similar outcome that I’ve read this year already, and in comparison this book seems too amateurish, full of clichés and situations that were absolutely predictable and made the read much too flat. Also, I couldn’t come to terms with writing style and the way the story was told, I mostly had a feeling I am reading a children’s book where everything must be explained: firstly they did this, then they went there and after that Emily had a shower. Sometimes it also felt too chopped, the changes in situations and perspective were too sudden and I had a feeling that I’ve missed something. I might be spoiled be the previous books but really the scenes and situations didn’t carry an earmark of danger for me and one of the last scenes, including knife, it… well, it made me roll my eyes. I also had some problems with the male characters – to be honest till the very end I wasn’t sure who is who and to whom they belong and what is/was their role – maybe except for Matt.

There is a dual timeline in the story, jumping between Emily’s childhood and the present. The chapters set in 1995 are crucial in revealing Emily’s past and are explanation for her mental state, as she suffers not only from depression now but also personality disorder – though, to be honest, I didn’t spot it and was all the time thinking if it is something that THE character wanted her to think she has? The novel is told in the third person, in Emily’s point of view so that means that we get to know her mostly and we know her thoughts although I am really not sure if the first person narration wouldn’t be better here. Maybe it would add more tension to the whole story and maybe it would made me connect with the characters, as it didn’t happen?

As with this genre, the characters weren’t there for us to like them. They were portrayed with all their flaws, they were not perfect and they made mistakes. They all had secrets and they lied to each other, and eventually Emily started to see that she can’t trust them. But is Emily really the innocent one? What with her tendency to depression? The author touches upon many gentle and tricky issues and I must admit that the scenes at the beginning made me feel shock – deep, profound shock and I was shocked at the detailed way Diane Jeffrey went into the awful details. She also goes into relationship between daughter and alcoholic mother who turns a blind eye at what is happening.

It could be a great psychological thriller, and maybe it is, but not for me – sadly. It is not that I’ve read too many similar books, because when they’re good I can read thousands of them and they will never be boring. It is just that I guessed who and what happened and it turned out that I am right. However, I of course appreciate how the author tried to put the wool over our eyes, how she tried to complicate the things and draw us into the tangled web of lies and secrets. It’s just that for me it all sounded too implausible, as if the author herself wasn’t sure if she’s able to pull it off. It just didn’t convince me, the playing with Emily’s brain is poorly done in my opinion. But if you’re looking for a story about stalking, manipulating, mind games give this book a go – you may find it hooking.