Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp / Blog Tour

Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp

 

42613235._sy475_Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Charlotte Bold is nothing like her name – she is shy and timid and just wants a quiet life. When her job doing the traffic news on the radio in London is relocated to Sunshine FM in Mumbles, she jumps at the chance for a new start in Wales.

But when she arrives she discovers that she’s not there to do the travel news – she’s there to front the graveyard evening show. And she’s not sure she can do it.

Thrust into the limelight, she must find her voice and a way to cope. And soon she realises that she’s not the only person who finds life hard – out there her listeners are lonely too. And her show is the one keeping them going.

Can Charlotte seize the day and make the most of her new home? And will she be able to breathe new life into the tiny radio station too…?

Rating: five-stars

 

Charlotte Bold is one for planning and structure, spontaneous doesn’t work in her dictionary. She’s rather happy with her quiet life in London, with her traffic updates radio job, her friends and her boyfriend. Maybe, but only maybe, it could be a little much better if she could get over her fear of speaking on the radio – a bit embarrassing, working on the radio, no? And she used to be a rising star, and she used to have ambitions. So what has happened? And what’s going to happen when suddenly she loses her safe job and has to apply for another position in Sunshine FM in Wales? And what if it’s a DJ job, with an evening show, even though Charlie is sure she has applied to be an assistant?

“Bring Me Sunshine” for sure brings you sunshine, it’s fabulously uplifting, with living and breathing characters, whose stories are going to stop you in your tracks, mixing humour with some more poignant moments.

I absolutely loved how well the author has written the characters, the differences between them and their personalities, and how they changed and why. Charlie used to be a life and soul, adventurous and quirky, but after something has happened she disappeared in her shell, she hates change – hell, she eats the same sandwich everyday! – and she simply wants to stay in the shadows, and I couldn’t get over how well Laura Kemp captured all those feelings and characteristics, and still made Charlie a colourful, interesting character that I adored and kept everything crossed for her. Usually such wishy – washy characters (and that doesn’t mean that Charlie is wishy – washy!!! Because she’s not!) that are afraid of their own shadows are annoying but this time I wanted to hug Charlie and tell her that everything is going to be OK soon and I found myself nodding along at so many wise sentences at how being in such a state of denial makes us feel.
And I loved that, deep deep down, there were hidden layers of determination and willingness in Charlie, and that she found the courage to use them. Or maybe, that she was forced to use them – a fact that, actually, made me happy for her because she needed her confidence back. There was a raw vulnerability to her, the anxiety and anguish were so well captured, but getting to know her other side, as a kind, lovely and caring woman was even better. She was real and realistic, with all the inner turmoil, coming out of her comfort zones, conquering her fears.
There are also two parallel storylines running along this of Charlie. Delme, at the first sight, looks like your relaxed guy with bravado, but when you get to know him more you start to see that he has a past, that he has skeletons in his closet and actually, his story is like emotional rollercoaster journey, and that he is, simply, hiding behind the mask of a crazy gung – ho way of life. He is the health and safety guy at the station and it’s rather a surprise to discover that he also has his own fears. It took some time for him to open up. He also seems so realistic, with his struggles and not being a superman.
Tina’s story was really full of heartbreak, lies and secrets, so complex and absolutely not straightforward. I liked her from the very beginning, so seeing her so torn, not knowing what to do, made my heart break, but then the way she blossomed made it mend again.
Every single character in this book has their own story to tell, and those are thought – provoking and complex stories, which only make them even more relatable and believable.

I’m not sure how Laura Kemp does it, but each of her new book is better than the previous one. I thought that “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness” is already on the highest level but with this book she only proves that there is so much potential in her to write gorgeous stories. Her writing style is exceptionally good, chatty, descriptive and full of heart and everything she writes about rings true and comes alive seamlessly and beautifully. I was immediately drawn into the story and all the tribes and tribulations of the characters, and there were plenty of them.

“Bring Me Sunshine” is a story about finding joy and seeing that we also deserve happiness in our lives. It was full of those small wisdoms that the author so beautifully captures and puts into words for us and waves into the plot. It was a fun, light – hearted story with tons of depth to it, a real page – turner. Fresh and funny, a perfect summer read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

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The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

 

37034088Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights – long enough to scatter her mother’s ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur.

But when a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and perhaps a chance at love.

But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.

Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village – a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers…?

Welcome to the Village of Love. Where friendship flourishes and love blossoms…

Rating: five-stars

Really. This book. “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness”. I have fallen utterly and completely in love with this story and I think this is Laura Kemp’s best novel yet. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, put it down. The writing style, and also the plot, reminded me so much of Jenny Colgan’s novels but it was of course absolutely different and had it’s own style and content. It was full of this so difficult to grasp charm and loveliness, it was funny and poignant at the same time, heart – warming and romantic. Uplifting and optimistic.

In this brilliant story that felt like a ray of sunshine we meet Ceri Price, who right now is trying to come to terms with her beloved mum’s death and the fact that her sister is packing all her things without asking Ceri if there is something she’d like to keep for herself. Ceri drives to a little town of Dwynwen to spread her mother’s ashes there and, due to misunderstanding, this young and successful businesswoman bags a barmaid job in the local pub. But there is much more that she’s going to find there – friends and friendships, and she also finds herself falling in love with the place… and not only. So when plans for a new housing estate are made (built on the beautiful piece of woodland!) Ceri knows that she must join the villagers and fight for this what she’s already holding dear.

There are relatively many characters in this story but guys, believe me, they all have their own place and the book wouldn’t be the same without them. They’re so different to each other and they complete each other brilliantly. There is this eco – warrior Rhodri, a little socially awkward but with a great passion for recycling, who so much wants to keep the natural beauty of the village but also make it welcoming place for the tourists, he was just so, so brilliant, or the nine – year – old genius Henry, the married couple who owned the pub, Mel who has grown so much on me, and actually all of them! I only had some great problems with Ceri’s sister, as I couldn’t understand her approach and the coldness towards her sister, and it bothered me so much, for a very, very long time. I was somehow disappointed with her and had a feeling she’s just jealous of her sister’s success and want to punish her somehow with her actions after their mother’s death. Thank you Laura Kemp for letting me understand her better later on, when she visited Ceri – no need to say that I warmed to her then very, very much.
I loved how Ceri was finding so great friendships in this place, and doing so well, and counting her blessing, with the help of Dwynwen’s villagers. My word, those people were gorgeous, and I loved all of them! I also loved Ceri, she was so normal even though she was such a successful businesswoman. I loved her determination, sense of humour, because she has a heart made of gold and she was, you know, this kind of character that didn’t feel the need to lead on problems or troubles, she just wanted to live her life happily, to find her place and maybe love, even though she wasn’t looking for it. There was this brilliant community spirit on the villagers and oh my, how they welcomed Ceri without one question, they appreciated her and they stand behind her, and each other, even if you were new to the village! Ceri has some secrets, and she feels guilty for keeping them from her new friends, especially as she feels so welcome and so well.

The village of Dwynwen, a seaside village in West Wales, was a brilliant, brilliant setting! I’m not sure if I’d man up to go and live there, to be honest, but nevertheless I adored this place, especially when it started to revive after the unexpected acts of kindness happening. It looked so run down, and so lonely, and so sad and horrible at the beginning but the people living there made up for it, and then is started to change, and it was just lovely.

I loved the errors and jumping to conclusions in this story, they were absolutely brilliant and made me laugh so much! The dialogues were brilliant, so straightforward and so honest, probably thanks to the characters who lived their lives so genuine, not spending their time on social medias but actually talking to each other.

This is a story about secrets, love, forgiveness, friendship and, of course, kindness. It is filled with so many feelings and emotions, and all of them so gorgeously and beautifully put into words, you truly discovers new shades of love, betrayal and hope and community. It’s full of warmth and humour and also sadness and this all beautifully blended together, and you immediately feel like a part of this story. Sometimes a small act of kindness is really this all. It focused on the real meaning of life, showing what’s really important and I loved it woth all my heart. Highly, highly recommended!

Whatever Happened to Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man by Laura Kemp / Blog Tour

Hi guys, and happy Saturday! It is lovely here today, incredibly cold but the snow is here and the sun is shining – just what the real winter should look like! Also, today I am extremely thrilled to be a part of Laura Kemp’s blog tour – her new book “Whatever Happened to Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man” was released on 1st January and the ratings are raving! Next to the review I have a link to a Spotify playlist that Laura Kemp made of songs that she’d like to accompany the book, and there are some great titles there! Laura’s posted this a while ago with a link saying: ‘I’ve just spent a delightful half hour making a playlist all about suburbia and the songs that give me that maudlin feeling of teen angst. It’s collaborative so feel free to add yours to WHATEVER HAPPENED TO VICKY HOPE’S BACK UP MAN?’ – here is the link !

Whatever Happened to Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man by Laura Kemp

 

32183040Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 1st January 2017

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

Number of pages: 328

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A tender, funny and haunting coming-of-age novel which asks if the past can ever be part of your future.

Twenty-one and insecure, Vicky Hope comes up with a plan on the eve of travelling the world with her high flying friend, Kat Lloyd: if she isn’t married by the time she’s thirty, she’ll marry her geeky best mate Mikey Murphy.

Fast-forward eight-and-a-bit years, Vicky, now Vee wakes up on her thirtieth birthday in Brighton, expecting a proposal of marriage from her arty boyfriend Jez. Instead he tells her their relationship is over and she has no choice but to return to her parents’ home.

Devastated and alone in her childhood bedroom, she decides she has nothing to lose and tracks down her two old mates. With shock, she discovers Mikey, now Murphy, is a successful app designer driven by his tragic upbringing. Kat, or Kate, never made it – but she hides a devastating secret, which threatens the happiness of all three.

Rating: 3/5

Having read and enjoyed Laura Kemp’s two previous books I was incredibly happy to see that “What Happened to Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man” is to be released. I love the title! I always thought that the shorter the title the better but lately I am changing my mind, the longer titles are really great, don’t you think? The cover of this novel is also so promising and it has such a happy feeling – and this is what I have expected from the book when I started reading it.

The story follows Vicky, Kat and Mikey, three friends who couldn’t imagine a world without each other. However, fast forward eight years and things look a little different. They’ve lost touch, in fact they split up not as best friends, and now Vicky tries to make amends with her – back then – best pals.

Laura Kemp has greatly described the characters and I think the best parts of the book were when they were forced by the author to made choices, because it makes you, as the reader, think what you’d do in such situation, how you’d behave. All of the three characters told us their own stories, explained what has happened and how their lives went. The most – maybe not hooking but touching – was Kat’s story, in my opinion, and while sometimes it felt too far fetched for me, it was also great to see how she’s been changing and how strong she became at the end of the story. Vicky working in a deli has lightened the story, I enjoyed the moments incredibly, especially as her new boss was lovely, full of humour and he believed in Vicky so much – liked the positivity there.

So, so far so good, right. For me, however, the book didn’t work as well as Ms Kemp’s previous novels. It took me a lot of time to get into the story and to be honest, till the end I wasn’t as engaged in it as I’d like. I had problems to warm to the characters, I had problems with the plot, I had problems with the way the story was organized. For me this novel was full of negativity and poor feelings. Mostly I had a feeling we are going in circles and the flashback chapters made me roll my eyes. The characters felt somehow immature and their problems so forced and so over – exaggerated, it was full of lies and secrets. Maybe my biggest problem with Vicky was the fact that she seemed not to know what to do with her life at all? After her relationship crashed she really didn’t know what she wants, what it is she wants to do with her life. I couldn’t understand the negative feelings between the friends, who they were coming from, and especially Mikey – he was behaving like a child who’s just lost his favourite toy, so moody and full of unnecessary sarcasm. The plot felt under – developed to be honest and it was so often hinted that something wrong happened in the past between the friends that made them go separate ways that I eventually lost hope and interest to see what it was. And I don’t know why, guys, but it took me a lot of time to warm to the characters, and while at the end I’ve started to accept Vicky, no, sorry – Vee *eye roll*, I think it was Kat’s fiancé that I liked most because I’ve never warmed to the others.

But I don’t want to blame the book for my feelings, perhaps it is the case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, and seeing the high ratings and raving reviews it must be it, so don’t let me discourage you to read this novel – just make yourself comfortable and enjoy “What Happened to Vicky Hope’s Back – Up Man” – it was a cute, cosy story about friendship and trust, about making mistakes, forgiving, leaving past behind and looking towards a new and promising future – or making the future promising for yourself, just – sadly – not so for me. However, I am already looking towards Laura Kemp’s new novel as I love her sharp dialogues and her sober way of seeing the world. If you are looking for a tender story, showing how friendship can evolve and change but that when it is a real friendship, it can stay so for your whole life then look no further and buy “What Happened to Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man”.

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The Late Blossoming of Frankie Green by Laura Kemp

The Late Blossoming of Frankie Green

by Laura Kemp

 

Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 1st June 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!.

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 Synopsis:

A laugh-out-loud, feel good, romantic comedy, which will take you on an enlightening emotional rollercoaster. Perfect for the fans of Sophie Kinsella and Jane Costello.

Frankie Green’s happy ever after is put on hold when her childhood sweetheart husband complains things are boring in bed.

When he asks for some space, she sets out to win him back by getting herself a sex education.

Little does she know that her hilarious, tender and embarrassing journey of enlightenment is going to change everything…

A story full of humour, heartache and happiness, of friendship, coming of age and overcoming insecurity.

Rating: 4/5

 

„The Late Blossoming of Frankie Green” is Laura Kemp’s third release, and the second book by this author that I’ve read. Actually, as soon as I’ve heard about this book, seen the cover and read the synopsis I knew that I need to read it – it sounds so daring, unique and different, and provocative as well, and when I spotted that the title is available on NetGalley, I quickly clicked „request” and waited, hoping to be approved.

The story started in a brilliant, funny way and I so hoped it’s going to continue like this, but unfortunately soon, very soon, as in the first chapters, it changed the tone a little and went on like this. And by „like this” I mean that the author has concentrated on the smallest details, such like describing how each of the characters looked like, mentioning the last freckle on their noses, for example, and also the story, instead of gaining speed, was held on a very steady level. I also thought that the book is going to follow Frankie and Frankie only, so it came as a little surprise that it also concentrates on Frankie’s friends, Em and Letty. I don’t mean it was bad or that it didn’t suit the story, it just surprised me as the blurb mentions only Frankie.

Our Frankie. She’s your normal woman, a neighbour, a girl who loves her husband to bits. She thinks that everything runs smoothly in her marriage. That is, until one day she’s surprised by her husband Jason expressing some sexual desires and stating that Frankie is not at all experienced in bed, and that he needs more excitement, and that he needs a break. Because Frankie is not experienced in bed, let me repeat this. And also because their life is very predictable – shortly, he needs to see if there are other options, to explore the world a little. But mostly because of a once in a week sex in a missionary position only. Oh guys, to say that Frankie didn’t see it coming would be an understatement! It hurt ME to see how shocked she was, how she didn’t expect it, how she was sure that their quiet life is this what they both need. But well, if Jason really means it… Frankie doesn’t transform into a vamp or nymphomaniac on the spot, oh no, but she decides on a very courageous step and takes a sex – teacher. She’s desperate to get Jason back – well, yes, she is afraid to come out of her shell – but she’s determined and won’t hesitate to change. I must say, I liked Frankie, and I admired to what extent she’s willing to go only to get her husband back. If he’s worth it? Well, this is the other thing. If she’ll get him back at all? This you must read for yourself.
And so our Frankie embarks on a sexual journey, and the list of things she wanted to learn differentiate between spanking, role playing, erotica and some other interesting things, and when she and her teacher eventually got to their lesson, it was both hilarious and touching, and it felt so genuine when the author wrote about their feelings at those moments, and she also brilliantly captured how difficult it was for both of them.

Frankie’s best friends are Em and Letty, and their stories are also very significant for the book. Those two have their own demons to overcome, their lives have thrown a curveball or two at them and they have their own challenges. In their own ways those two women also found themselves afresh, they developed and blossomed and found what it is that they want to do and how they want to do it. The story is told from the three friends’ points of view and we are taken on a journey where we learn about the women’s lives and everything they are doing. There is lots happening in all of their lives, However, in comparison to Frankie’s story, their stories felt a little too bland and too clichéd for my liking and I had a feeling that after delivering the climax in every single one of the three stories, the plot then came to a stop and there weren’t any big surprises for us.

As much as the three women are the main characters in the story, it was Floyd, Em’s brother and Frankie’s sex – teacher who easily enchanted me. He was funny, down – to – earth, easy – going and you could see he feels comfortable in his own skin, and of course him volunteering to be Frankie’s sex – teacher had a hidden agenda, which I, personally, found incredibly sweet.

This story in a lovely way shows how the main character slowly but steadily started to come out of her shell and comfort zones, and I don’t only mean her sex – life here. It was great to see how she grows in confidence and how she realises what she really wants from life. I loved to see how Frankie starts to see herself, how she starts to appreciate herself and love the person that she is, and not the person that her husband Jason wanted her to be. Also, the other characters were neatly formed, and they also changed throughout the story, which made me rooting for them.

It’s a bit flirty, sexy, different and open and written in a very fluent way. While the two sub – plots about Frankie’s friends are a little predictable, Frankie’s story is unique, quirky and absorbing and on the whole I really enjoyed it. Frankie was really broadening her horizons and I liked how the author described her journey, with all her emotions, dilemmas, feelings – because it was not so easy for Frankie to open herself, as I can easily guess, and even though the idea of having a sex – tutor didn’t come easily to her, she nevertheless took the bull by the horns, to overcome her reservations. So if you are looking for a book with interesting, unusual plot, well – developed characters and about discovering yourself, look no further and try „The Late Blossoming of Frankie Green” by Laura Kemp.