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!

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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.

How to Win Back Your Husband by Vivien Hampshire

How to Win Back Your Husband by Vivian Hampshire

 

33287092Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 18th January 2017

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

Number of pages: 218

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

The uplifting, feel-good romantic comedy you don’t want to miss!
It’s not over until he says, ‘I do’…

Nicci is throwing a party: she’s getting divorced! The only issue? She isn’t ready to give up on her soon-to-be ex-husband, Mark – and she has thirty days to win him back!

Everyone makes mistakes but Nicci’s was just a little bit bigger. All she has to do is convince Mark that their love is worth fighting for…

Against the odds will Nicci and Mark be able to forget their past, remember their vows and say ‘I do’ to another trip up the aisle?

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Cate Woods and Fiona Collins.

Rating: 1.5/5

So guys. I’ve requested this book because the title had immediately caught my eye, and also the synopsis promised it’s going to be the uplifting, feel – good romantic comedy that I don’t want to miss – just something I was in need of – and the cover, so beautiful blue…! When starting to read it I was really thinking yes, just what the doctor ordered.

However, very quickly everything went belly up. The first scene with the cake was relatively funny but that was all. To be honest, I’ve never even smiled when reading the story, let’s forget about the promised “feel – good romantic comedy”. I had a feeling that this whole book is one long whinge, grousing and unhappiness. The characters, Nicci and Mark, spent all of their time thinking they don’t want a divorce but doing nothing, only inner – monologuing. And well… It’s not easy, but let’s talk about Nicci herself. She was acting selfish and childish and probably we should admire her for admitting her mistake to Mark but the only thing I felt to Nicci was indifference and I really didn’t care what’s going to happen with her. she shouldn’t have made this mistake in the first place, right? Maybe it was brave to write a novel centred around such character and such thing, I don’t know, as it could go two ways I think, and for me it just went the wrong way. And also, all the characters felt flat and under – developed. I also couldn’t understand what adding some of the characters should bring to the story, like the old customer of Mark, and really, the birthday party that he attended made me roll my eyes and skip this chapter. Actually, I skipped a lot of this book, only skim – reading it – it just didn’t keep my attention.

I didn’t mean to sound harsh but it is really hard to sing this novel praises and it is probably true that when you have nothing nice to say, than better say nothing – I just think that I should justify my poor rating. When I start reading a book I am full of hope and I can’t explain how disappointed I am that I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I thought. I had great expectations for “How to Win Back Your Husband” and I am incredibly sad that this book didn’t work for me. However I can see that people are enjoying it more than I did, so please don’t feel dispirited and give this novel a go. I will for sure try the author’s next story.

The Buttonmaker’s Daughter by Merryn Allingham / Blog Tour

Hi guys, and happy Saturday! Is it so windy as well? But no matter what weather you’re having today, I am delighted to share an extract from Merryn Allingham’s new novel “The Buttonmaker’s Daughter”. The book sounds exciting and I cant wait to start reading it! Enjoy!

She waited for the next outburst, but instead he seemed deep in thought, prodding so savagely at the lawn with the briar stick he carried that Alice feared the gardeners would be called on to lay new turf.

‘There are times,’ he said heavily, ‘when I wish we had stayed in Birmingham. Elizabeth would have had purpose there. The women were . . . different. More serious. The wives and daughters of the men I knew – they would have been her friends. They would have kept her busy, interested in the world. Given her something beyond dabbing at canvases in an attic. And they would have found her the right husband.’

This final shot went over Alice’s head. In her mind, she was back in Birmingham and hating it. Fifteen years she’d lived there, and for the entire time she had felt adrift. The friends, the contacts, Joshua spoke of were industrialists, factory owners like himself. They inhabited a world wholly foreign to her and had wives who were just as foreign. Women who gave gossipy and uncomfortable tea parties or, worse, were terrifyingly intellectual. Joshua had taunted her that she was too great a lady, too conscious of her family name and thought herself above their company. It wasn’t so but she could never have told him the truth. She was scared of the women, thoroughly scared. Her meagre education, the narrow vision with which she’d been raised, the privileged life she’d led, were poor preparation for holding her own with females who thought nothing of conducting literary soirées in their homes or debating the latest philosophy. They were wives who joined the Women’s Slavery Society or attended public meetings on women’s suffrage and urged her to accompany them. They made her feel stupid and pointless.

And Joshua had not helped. He’d been incapable of understanding her plight and treated her with a growing abruptness. Even when she’d given birth after years of disappointment, she had been made to feel a failure. A girl rather than the boy that was expected. In time, of course, things had changed. Joshua had grown to adore his daughter and to dismiss the son when he arrived, as hardly worth his attention. His partiality was understandable. She thought Elizabeth too headstrong for her own good, but the girl’s spirit and energy were a true echo of her father’s.

When her husband had finally gained ownership of his Sussex acres, she’d felt blessed. For weeks, she had sailed aloft on a tumultuous wave of relief. Until she’d returned. Then came the realisation that she’d find no more congenial company in the countryside of her birth. Her brother had made sure that neither Joshua nor she would find a place in county society. The great and the good had decided for themselves that Joshua was unbearably vulgar, but her brother had made sure with a whisper here and a nudge there that he was seen as dishonest too. A counterfeit. She had buckled beneath the assault, but Joshua hadn’t. He was a strong man and he’d needed his strength. He’d used it to shrug off the mantle of social pariah and create instead the most magnificent gardens in Sussex. They were his triumphal fanfare, a declaration that he had arrived.

The Buttonmaker’s Daughter by Merryn Allingham is published on 12th January (HQ, £7.99) If you would like to keep in touch with Merryn, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.merrynallingham.com

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The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime by Lynsey James

The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime by Lynsey James

 

cover100809-mediumPublisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 1oth November 2016

Series: Luna Bay #3

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

Number of pages: 196

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

This Christmas pantomime is about to be the talk of the town!

Luna Bay’s festive preparations are well under way and the much anticipated annual pantomime is to be, once again, the highlight of the season. Too bad that the village’s very own actress and darling of Broadway, Alice Woods, isn’t feeling in the mood for Christmas.

Until the pantomime comes under threat and a grief-stricken Alice is forced to push her personal pain aside and step up to direct – after all, the show must go on…

So with (more than) a little help from her new found friends, not to mention one very gorgeous Hollywood A-list celebrity, the play begins to come together, but will Alice finally believe that Christmas is a time for miracles after all?

Rating: 4/5

One thing is certain. Till now I’ve only read Lynsey James’s debut novel and I had some problems with it. However, “The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime” is Lynsey`s fourth book and I can absolutely, totally ascertain that it is much, much better than her debut, both in writing style, characters descriptions, storytelling and general feel. I was a little sceptical of requesting this author’s book after the first novel that I’ve read but now I actually regret not doing it!

“The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime” is the third and final book in the “Luna Bay” series and I was a little afraid when starting it that I may be confused or that maybe I’ll miss too much on the previous books, that I haven’t read. However, it was not the case. I’m guessing the story mentions previous characters but it is actually dedicated to Alice Woods, I’m guessing a new character to the series.

I totally loved the idea of the pantomime, and I totally loved the actors! Again, the feeling of community was great in this story, and I always so adore to see the villagers supporting each other, but also pushing their noses in others’ people business, no matter if wanted or not. And Lynsey James has created here some very unforgettable characters, believe me! Next to our main heroine Alice Woods, who is lovely, guys, she’s so normal and down to earth, and so genuine with all her feelings, we have for example Christabel who’s been taking charge of the pantomime for years. And making it a disaster every year, even though it’s her pride and joy, but as Christabel knows everything better there is nothing – and nobody – stopping her! Until Alice decides she gives it a try, only to jet off her mother from her. Then we have Lucy and Emily, and I’m guessing the previous stories were about them, and as the girls were so lovely, warm and full of fun I desperately need to read their stories! And let’s concentrate shortly on the male characters, and especially Ethan Fox, mmmm, Ethan Fox that played Mr Darcy….. Ethan Fox, who seems to appear everywhere Alice is… Ethan Fox that made my heart beat faster… And the brilliant, colourful cast members of the pantomime, so entertaining and so full of life, who only waited to show their true talents.

I liked the romance aspect, and even though Ethan was a Hollywood star and suddenly found himself in the little Luna Bay to catch a breath, it was still believable and they both, Alice and Ethan, with their awkwardness, uncertainty and problems only made it feel more realistic. I also liked to see Alice blossoming – you could think three years of grieving are enough, right, because starting to live again doesn’t mean forgetting, no? Yet somehow I felt sympathy for Alice and fell for her and it was a great joy to see her coming back, to see the new Alice, not shy and keeping herself to herself anymore.
For me personally the second half of the book went a little downhill. While the first half kept me totally entertained, I had a feeling that then it slowed down a little, there were too many repetitions for my liking, when the character were re – telling what’s happened, and I had a feeling that it’s not as light – hearted and funny anymore. But still, it was a great and engaging read. no worries there!

So altogether, this book is full of positive vibrations, feel – good factor and it was a great joy to read it. A lovely story about friendship and leaving past behind but not forgetting it! It’s about courage and about coming out of your comfort zones and pluck up the courage again, about learning to trust and hope again. The writing style was flowing, it was lovely, warm and inviting, and the author has filled the story not only with great characters but also with very palpable feelings of friendship, despair, love, hope, romance, and there were some surprises and twists on the way as well! A lovely, festive read that put a smile on my face, just what I needed!