The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

 

35652158Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 11th September 2017

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:

It’s been a difficult year for Cleo Jones. The car accident that crushed her leg didn’t just destroy the village baker’s dreams of becoming a dancer, but crushed her confidence too. And recovering from that has been harder than healing from any number of broken bones…

But this summer is going to be different. Life is turning around for Cleo! Maybe it’s the invitation from her childhood bully to their high-school reunion that’s shocked her out of a ten-year slump. Or joining Carb Counters and finally starting to shed the weight she’d piled on during her recovery – or maybe it’s catching the eye of her gorgeous personal trainer!

Whatever the answer, this is going to be a summer she never forgets… watch out world, Cleo Jones is finally fighting back!

Rating: three-stars

 

Lynsey James’s latest book, “The Summer of Hopes and Dreams”, introduces us to Cleo, who has just found her old bucket list, and as I love novels with to – do lists, or bucket lists, or any other lists, I thought it can be THE read. And let’s not forget that I enjoy the author’s writing, and so, quickly after downloading the book, I started to read it.

Our main character Chloe has left me s little torn. On the one hand I liked her and admired her strength and the way she fought for her weight, on the other hand she seemed a little bit meh and boring as a person. Don’t get me wrong, please, she was of course kind and lovely but maybe she was too kind and too lovely – she just wanted all the good in the world for everybody, there was not a bad bone in her body and it just felt so… flat. However, she was also honest and she felt genuine in all the things she did and felt, and it was really hard to see how she was affected by all the accidental meetings with her high school nemesis Amanda. Chloe’s relationship with Scott was the greatest part of this story, I think, or rather the way Sam made her feel good about herself, how he made her feel stronger and how he helped her to come out of her shell.
I liked how well Lynsey James captured Cleo’s battles. In a very sensitive, gentle way she was able to show all the feelings and emotions, spot on, making Chloe realistic and relatable. I think many of us know the feeling of binge eating and those guilt – feelings afterwards? Also, the descriptions of Chloe’s feelings towards herself, the self doubt, the looking in the mirror and hating herself… well, I think for most of us, normal people, they do ring a bell and it just made me understand Chloe more and better. This all written in a very gentle and sensitive way.

But the book lacked for me in this “something”. I think I know what the author wanted to achieve touching upon this very sensitive issue of being overweight but it didn’t work for me and, sadly, I must say that I’ve read better stories with such topics. Which is a pity because I was expecting more from this book and from Lynsey James, as she’s already proved that she can write brilliant, light – hearted novels. Altogether, I think that the author just wanted to make this book work, to make it all so correct, to not to offend anybody, and she’s just overdone it, and as a result we got a book that is nice but that’s all.

It was a story of lost dreams, starting afresh, becoming stronger, feeling good in your own skin. It also turned out to be much more serious that you can expect from this author and from this kind of read, I think, deeper and not so light. It’s not criticism, it didn’t disturb this book on the whole, it just might take you by surprise. It was about self – confidence and being happy with yourself and gaining confidence, and altogether I did appreciate the message in it – it was a pleasant read, with more or less likeable characters, some funny and some serious situations, and even though it didn’t push my buttons, I’m sure fans of Lynsey James are going to love it.

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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!