The Staycation by Michele Gorman / Blog Tour

The Staycation by Michele Gorman

 

Publisher: Trapeze 53126367._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st June 2020

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 23.07.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

An uplifting, hilarious read about a cancelled holiday… and how love, laughter and fun can always be found close to home. For fans of The Holiday, Lindsey Kelk and Sarah Morgan.

Two families. One cancelled flight. And a last minute house swap…

Things get desperate for strangers Harriet and Sophie when they become stranded with their families in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Each woman has her own reason for really really really needing the family holiday they’ve anticipated for months. But an unruly volcano has other plans for them. When their flights are cancelled, the families swap houses and discover that sometimes the best things in life happen close to home.

This ash cloud has a silver lining, even if no one can quite see it yet.

Rating: four-stars

 

Sophie and Harriet don’t know each other but they’re going to become acquainted soon – as soon as their flights that were supposed to take them on the much needed holidays in Italy are cancelled because of a volcanic ash cloud. Well, they already got chatting to each other, right, so why not swap houses? Harriet will get her city break in London and Sophie her spa treatments on a small goat farm in a very rural Gloucestershire – it’s a win – win, right? Because what could possibly go wrong?

It quickly became clear that both characters have some secrets and troubles. Sophie’s were more plain to see for us but not so for Sophie, and Harriet’s were a bit more hidden and she allowed us to unpeel layer after layer of her problems. At the beginning I had huge problems to distinguish who is who and to whom they belong, to be honest, and I’m not sure whose fault it is, probably mine, as I absolutely wasn’t in the mood, so apologies book.

The friendship between Harriet and Sophie blossomed somehow suddenly and unexpectedly, at least for me, once they were only swapping their houses and then, after few phone calls, they were calling each other “friend” – did I miss something here? It happened completely out of blue to be honest. But whatever. I liked both of them, Harriet and Sophie, and I think Harriet even more, because under the shell there was a brilliant, funny and clever woman hiding. They were both so very different but this is what made them so interesting. While Harriet is a successful solicitor, Sophie is a stay – at – home mum. While Harriet is über – organized, Sophie is much more laid – back, following the rule there’s luck in leisure. While Harriet is brisk and efficient, Sophie is chaotic and very accommodating. Absolutely brilliant to have such different characters. Both their husbands are very much focused on their jobs, James as a goat farmer and Dan as a solicitor, but while James was much more laid – back, the more we got to know Dan, the more we were able to see that there is something wrong, that he’s treating Sophie and their two children like another thing on his to – do list, all the time expecting gratefulness. He was absolutely controlling, to the point of booking all Sophie’s spa treatments, without informing her what she’s going to have, and making all the other decisions in a way that his family might have thought they have made them, but it was him, in fact, pulling all the strings. The more I read about him, the more I disliked him. It was not Harriet’s over – efficiency and planning that annoyed me, it was not Sophie with her whatever – attitude, it was Dan that grated on me, such irritating and annoying he was. However, they all, with all their ups and downs and unexpected announcements felt authentic and realistic. And what’s more lovely is the fact that the women were slowly starting to find that their attitudes change and that they started to do something, according to those changes.

But it’s not only the contrast between the characters and their life – styles, it is also the contrast between the settings that is also brilliantly captured, and the author could truly put into words why it is that Harriet struggles at the goat farm, and why Sophie feels out of her depth in London and everything that Dan work brings with it.

The author put the characters through trials and tribulations, challenges and surprises that they both had to overcome. The plot was engaging and simply the idea of the swap has worked in this book brilliantly, and I loved the contrasting settings, the hustle and bustle of London and the peace and lovely community of the countryside – I may be biased, as I myself live in such a rural place, but as much as I appreciated both places, I’d choose the goat farm. Anytime. The author’s writing is fluent, seamless and chatty.

“The Staycation” is a great summery read with much, much more depth than you could expect at the beginning, light but it also dealt with some heavier topics and issues and I really liked the way how skilfully the author has interwoven and integrated them in the plot. There is fun but there is also seriousness, perfectly blended with each other. It’s a story about growing – up, about finding yourself and your own luck and place, packed with laughter, family relationships, and some drama. A great summery read that I truly recommend!

 

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The Staycation

 

The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

 

32934019Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 7th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 219

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett

When Emma’s boyfriend Daniel pops the question with a ring the size of a small country, she suddenly realises just how different they are. She’s the Eastenders to his Made in Chelsea. She wants a low-key wedding with close friends and family in Uncle Colin’s pub, while Daniel’s mother is expecting a society do that their high-brow guests won’t forget!

How on earth can Emma put together a celebration fit for Lords and Ladies on a shoestring budget? Not to mention the fact her cross-dressing Uncle Barbara wants to be a bridesmaid, her best mate Kelly can’t stand Daniel’s best friend Cressida, and her dad is too proud to accept any help from Daniel’s family towards the costs.

There’s three months to go until the big day. Will Emma’s happy-ever-after end in disaster?

Rating: four-stars

Lately there was a lot of buzz about a new author, Lilly Bartlett, on Twitter, and there was this puzzle solving competition run by HarperImpulse who, actually, is Lilly Bartlett. I didn’t guess, of course, but seeing that it is, in fact, Michele Gorman, made me feel very desperate to read this book. Moreover, this title and the cover of this novel are so good – feeling and I would read this book no matter what. And, as it turned out, “The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square” was a cute, romantic comedy to immediately lift your spirits and make you laugh and feel better.

This is a story about two different world, to be honest, and how well they can work together. The opposites attract, right? I loved to see that after the initial awkwardness Emma and Daniel’s parents found common ground and that the differences in their lives were mostly amusing for them and how much they enjoyed each other’s lives. The wedding dress shopping was of course a brilliant experience for me, less for Emma, I think, as she needed to organize two trips, for example. Also, I loved how laid – back Daniel’s family was about Emma’s extended family in the person of Uncle Barbara – he was absolutely brilliant! Actually, all the characters in this story are so colourful and quirky. They were just jumping out off the pages, so realistic they all felt. This East/West London divide was brilliant, and the difference in life – styles couldn’t be better captured.

I found the beginning a little confusing. I had a feeling there was no introduction, we were immediately thrown into the heart of the story and when mostly it works, here I was a little bit confused and it took me a moment to get my head around and start to feel at home, following Emma and Daniel’s wedding preparation. That Emma didn’t know that her fiancé Daniel not only has posh accent but comes from a very privileged family was this tad unbelievable for me and made me feel a little lukewarm. There were moments that Emma annoyed me incredibly and I just couldn’t get this whole “me”, “alone”, “I’ll do/organize it” thing. It was as if she didn’t trust anybody and felt she’d do everything better. On the other hand, I was very impressed with Daniel’s mother. She wanted to help so badly but was, of course, always refused, and she took it all in such a laid – back way, and it was brilliant. But – it was great to see how inventive and creative Emma and her friends are, especially now, in the times when you just need to click your fingers and have everything delivered to your doors.

This was a lovely, easy story, so light to read that you will be able to devour it in one sitting. Seeing this whole weeding come together was so heart-warming, guys, especially seeing how many people were engaged in organizing this event. This book clearly shows that it is not important HOW, but with whom, that those are people that count and when you are with people you love, everything is going to be perfect. But even with this message in it, it is not a cheesy read, oh no, it is clever, humorous and quirky read, full of bubbly characters and feel – good factor with the right amount of other important issues, such as accepting people as they are, illness and dealing with it.

Match Me if You Can by Michele Gorman

Match Me if you Can by Michele Gorman

28244131

 Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 14th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

Three friends upcycle their exes through London’s most popular boyfriend recycling website, but haven’t bargained on the consequences of the exchanges they make.

Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk.

Meet best friends Catherine, Rachel and Sarah. Yet to find Mr Right, they’ve been settling for Mr Right Now. But when Catherine, London’s finest matchmaker, gets the girls to join her dating site where they can recycle their ex-boyfriends, they soon realise that anything could happen.

Rachel’s office romance James was a big fat mistake and she’s more than happy to upcycle him… Or is she? Homebody Sarah hasn’t had a date in years but when her transformation finds men falling at her newly-pedicured feet, will her popularity be worth the sacrifices she’s making? And Catherine falls asleep more often on her desk than on a man, so when she builds the perfect partner who ticks all her boxes, surely it’s a recipe for love . . . not disaster?

There’s someone for everyone, right? These best friends are about to find out for themselves . .

 Rating: 4/5

 

The first thing that drew my attention was the title of this book – Match Me if You Can – it’s fantastic, I personally love it and it really stands out from the crowd. Then the premise – it’s brilliant, just brilliant, and I don’t think I have ever came across such concept before. I mean, recycling exes – how clever and unique is this?

But in fact the story itself has not much to do with recycling exes. I was expecting a very different story, full of awkward, embarrassing, funny situations regarding this recycling, I was hoping for dates, dates, dates like you wouldn’t believe, but I got something totally different. Michele sticks to her proven and safe concept of three friends living together under one roof, living their own lives. Catherine is the one with the dating business that she started with her ex – husband, Richard. She’s happy with the arrangements, as Richard lets her have a carte blanche, but the situation changes when he sells his shares to his fiancé Magda – a VERY young fiancé, let’s add. Catherine, by the ways of expanding business a little, is also giving a one – to – one tutorials with some special clients, clients who can’t find The One. Then we have Rachel, a young architect who’s working together with her ex on their first project. And by working together I of course mean that they must compete against each other! Who is going to win this project and probably get a promotion? And meet Sarah, whose mum passed away few years ago, leaving Sarah and her brother in charge of their younger sister, Sissy. Sarah doesn’t have time to think about herself and she’s putting all others before herself.
Out of all those three women I think it was Sarah that I fell mostly for. It was incredibly touching to see how she looks after her younger sister, how seriously she takes this responsibility. In all those everyday problems she forgets about herself and she feels the most comfortable in a tracksuit and without any make – up, and she doesn’t even bother to start thinking about finding a boyfriend. I liked her most out of the three friends – I have a feeling that even though there was a lot about Catherine, I still don’t know her too well, and Rachel was the most immature and shallow. Nevertheless, I really appreciate that all the three girls were so different, as it made the story this bit better, and they really complemented each other.

But back to recycling. To be in a chance to join RecycLove, you must sign with your ex – so yes, it’s a website with a twist, ha! The former couple must answer questions about each other, rating them from 1 to 4, which is not visible to the public, and they write each other recommendation, which is visible. And this is what I missed so, so much, because there are only two couples doing this evaluation and the rest of the book concentrates on the girls’ private lives. So yes, more than about dating and slashing the exes right and left, this is a story about learning something new, about discovering who you truly are and what you really want from life, about finding the right balance between work and private life.

This book is written in the typical Michele’s way – first she introduces all the characters to us, and then slowly and continuously takes us deeper and deeper. Each of the chapter is then told from one of the characters’ point of view, my favourite way BTW, as we then know what all of them are thinking. And, in fact, we have three stories bundled into one book – and as much as I’d SO like to have a book about dating, and only dating, I really appreciate what Ms Gorman has done with her characters, how she allowed us to follow them on their journey through their lives, dealing with obstacles and searching for happiness.

What I also like in Michele’s latest releases is the fact that her heroines are normal woman with same everyday problems as all of us, and that all of them are intelligent and ambitious and they’re not scared to change their lives to achieve what they want – which doesn’t mean that they’re going through life blasting their ways out. No, but still they manage to achieve something.

So Match Me if You Can, even though it was not this what I was expecting, was a fast – paced novel filled with vivid, realistic characters, full of friendship, hope and strong women supporting each other. Every word here sounds honest and genuine, and I couldn’t help thinking that this could happen in real life as well, oh heck, it’s for sure happening right now somewhere around the world, and Michele has created a great story. She has also managed to brilliantly balance humour with much more important issues, such as caring for a family member with disability, cancer and… yes, that having a group of reliable builders is also important :) I am a little disappointed it didn’t turn out the way I was hoping for it, but altogether I think it is the best Michele’s novel yet.