Darling Blue by Tracy Rees (Blog Tour)

Darling Blue by Tracy Rees

 

39289997 Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 576

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 01.11.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives the life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.

Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…

Rating: four-stars

“Darling Blue”, set in 1920’s London, follows the story of three women – Blue, Midge and Delphine and their families. It starts at Blue’s 21st birthday – her “coming of age”, when her father announces that the possible suitors should woe his daughter by letters. While marriage is not what Blue is looking for at the moment – she’d rather focus on her career as a writer – she’s horrified. But what is done is done and what is said is said and soon Blue receives a few letters that are going to change her life.
Soon after her birthday she meets Delphine, who has escaped a very abusive marriage – she never wants to return to her previous life but is it possible? However, no matter what, Blue and her family takes Delphine under their wings.

Tracy Rees takes us again on a journey in the past, in a different time – zone again. This time it’s Richmond in London in 1920’s and, as usual, she presents us with beautiful, vivid and rich descriptions of the setting, the weather, the clothes and she easily captures the atmosphere of the times, and she pays a great attention to deatils and has a great eye for them. It was, on the surface, a light – hearted story with lovely and kind characters, but deep down touching upon some serious issues, such like bullying or post – natal depression. To be honest, such depth and seriousness really surprised me, especially after the light beginning, but Tracy Rees has already got me used to the fact that she’s not afraid to write about some more sensitive stuff.

This book follows stories of three different women. Blue’s real name is Ishbel and she’s adored everywhere. Her stepmother Midge has problems of her own and she has a huge secret. But as much as you could think it’s going to be about Darling Blue, it equally focuses on the lives of Midge and Delphine, and it was a great move, to be honest, as those two women add tons of significance to this book. In my opinion, they were simply better developed and rounded than Blue, although please don’t get me wrong, she was also an interesting character that had something to say, and her desire to work and be independent was adorable. On the other hand, she was a little too self – absorbed and I had a feeling that she likes when the whole world is running in circles around her. But there was enough empathy in her, she was a great friend and open person and it was not hard to like her.
But altogether I only had a feeling that the characters were just too simple for such an author as Tracy Rees – they were either perfect and incredibly kind, or awfully unpleasant, and sometimes this just felt unrealistic.

Basically, it was a story about one year in a family’s life, though a very turbulent one. Mostly, it was well paced though there were some moments that if dragged a bit. Also, as much as I love a happy end, here it left me feel a little insatiable as the actions of one of the characters were forgotten quite quickly and quite easily, and she was welcomed back to the family without a word, and it was this little bit unrealistic, non – credible and little bit rushed, and I also had a feeling that maybe the author didn’t have a better idea how to solve this particular subplot? Also, as much as I appreciated the mysteries in this book, I quickly guessed what was going to happen. I also had a feeling that there was a very long build – up to them and then, when it finally came to the revelations, it was too rapid and not dealt with, just done and forgotten.

“Darling Blue” is a book that isn’t mostly about actions and events but mostly about characters, feelings and emotions. They are written in a gentle and captivating way that makes the pace bearable and I was actually glued to the pages – yes, waiting for something to happen, as I could feel with my whole body that there is something going to happen, but at the same time perfectly entertained by the distinctive voices of the characters. It was a great historical fiction about family, love, friendship, grief and forgiveness, with a great sense of period and written in a beautiful, colourful and detailed way that is going to sweep you off your feet for a few hours. While “Amy Snow”, Tracy Rees’s debut novel remains still my favourite of hers, I can say that with “Darling Blue” she’s following closely. Recommended!

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Anyone for Seconds? by Laurie Graham (Blog Tour)

Anyone for Seconds? by Laurie Graham

 

 

41214153Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

 

Synopsis:

‘Why is Laurie Graham not carried on people’s shoulders through cheering crowds? Her books are brilliant!’ MARIAN KEYES

The laugh-out-loud sequel to Perfect Meringues – can former queen of the kitchen Lizzie Partridge claw her way back into the nation’s hearts?

Life has been going downhill for ex-TV chef Lizzie Partridge ever since she spectacularly ended her television career by throwing a chocolate mousse at the host of Midlands This Morning. Her partner Tom has left her, Nigella and Jamie have got the cookery world sewn up, and now her restaurant reviewing column – her last bit of work – has been cancelled. Surely the only way is up from here?

In a desperate bid for sympathy and attention she runs away, from the gas bill and the mouse under the sink, and in wet and wintry Aberystwyth she experiences a brush with her past and a glimmer of new prospects. And when her nephew – now a TV producer – has the bright idea to reunite her with her former nemesis and target of the mousse attack in a new show, it seems like things could be going Lizzie’s way again after all!

Rating: five-stars

Lizzie Partridge used to be a chef on a morning TV show but, after a very spectacular grande finale, she was replaced. But Lizzie usually never gives up and keeps going. However, we meet her when she hits a low point after being fired from a magazine that she writes recipes for. Feeling low and taken for granted, she decides to go missing to see how long will it take before her friends and family start to look for her. She maybe hasn’t been successful in this matter but during her short break she meets new people and some changes are to come. She might be 64 year old, she might be jobless and a little overweight, she might be single and her mother might rely only on her brother, but Lizzie is determined to achieve something in her life.

And I though, go girl! Show them!

Where has Laurie Graham been hiding my whole life, I’m asking myself guys. This book was so right up to my street, and the author has written loads of books and I am really, really surprised that I haven’t heard about her before – my bad. I should go and hide under a rock. Although, at the beginning, I was dead sure that I’ve read this author before, heck, that I’ve read the first book about Lizzie as it came so familiar to me. But no. I haven’t – although I’ve read a book very similar in plot. But not so good! And yes, “Anyone for Seconds?” follows adventures of Lizzie Partridge, a woman with the sharpest tongue ever and the best one – liners and replies and thinking on her feet I’ve seen in a very, very long time. I haven’t read the previous book but I didn’t have any problems to just pick up and go on.

Lizzie was a fabulous character. She was strong and determined, she complained, she was unhappy, she was an attention – seeker, she was also a drama queen, but she was so normal in all of this, so true and honest. I loved her dry humour and the way she’s seen the world and things – not only good things but she could be cynical as well. She’s seen things just as they were. Her habit of creating newspaper headlines out of things people did around her was simply great. All the characters were hilarious, but in a good way. They were impressively described and very well rounded and it was so easy to see what make them tick. They were all so different but every single one has a great and huge personality.

It was a really funny read with some much more serious and poignant moments that were so well balanced into the story. In a very amusing way we were able to experience all of the ups and downs in Lizzie’s life, the good and bad that happened to her and guys, it was impossible not to fell for Lizzie – immediately. Laurie Graham’s writing style is unbelievably sharp and she takes no prisoners, she has a great comic timing, and she always knows when to add a word or two to either break the ice or make the scene even more hilarious – not everybody can do this as effortlessly as Ms Graham. I actually had a great feeling about this book and well, it worked out. There was a great feel – good factor to it and even though our main character is older than our usual heroines, I still could relate to her on many levels and I think we just share the same sense of humour. It is this kind of book that the more you read, the more you want and I was really disappointed when the novel came to an end.

Altogether, “Anyone for Seconds?” was one of the sharpest, incredibly spot – on observed novels that I had a pleasure to read, guys. Story about new and old love, about friendship and family relationship, but also about never giving up, about living your life to the full and watching fur conventions and your best friend in a panto. It was refreshingly honest, it made me bitterly laugh at the realistic and brutally honest observations and now when I’ve discovered Laurie Graham, I’m going to go through the whole back – catalogue of her books – I really don’t know why she doesn’t receive more of the deserved recognition, guys. Highly recommended!

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Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (Blog Tour + Extract)

Hi guys! Today we’re celebrating the publication od “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate – out tomorrow, published by Quercus. This book sounds incredibly intriguing and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, I have an extract from chapter 1 for you, and really guys, just have a look how beautifully it’s written! The story itself is about two families, generations apart, that are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice,  inspired by true story. Enjoy!

 

32148570

CHAPTER 1

Avery Stafford

 

Aiken, South Carolina, Present Day

I take a breath, scoot to the edge of the seat, and straighten

my jacket as the limo rolls to a stop on the boiling-

hot asphalt.

News vans wait along the curb, accentuating the importance

of this morning’s seemingly innocuous meeting.

But not one moment of this day will happen by accident.

These past two months in South Carolina have been all

about making sure the nuances are just right—

shaping the inferences so as to hint but do no more.

Definitive statements are not to be made.

Not yet, anyway.

Not for a long time, if I have my way about it.

I wish I could forget why I’ve come home, but even the

fact that my father isn’t reading his notes or checking the

briefing from Leslie, his über-efficient press secretary, is an

undeniable reminder. There’s no escaping the enemy that

rides silently in the car with us. It’s here in the backseat,

hiding beneath the gray tailored suit that hangs a hint too

loose over my father’s broad shoulders.

Daddy stares out the window, his head leaning to one

side. He has relegated his aides and Leslie to another car.

“You feeling all right?” I reach across to brush a long

blond hair—mine—off the seat so it won’t cling to his trousers

when he gets out. If my mother were here, she’d whip

out a mini lint brush, but she’s home, preparing for our second

event of the day—a family Christmas photo that must

be taken months early . . . just in case Daddy’s prognosis

worsens.

He sits a bit straighter, lifts his head. Static makes his

thick gray hair stick straight out. I want to smooth it down

for him, but I don’t. It would be a breach of protocol.

If my mother is intimately involved in the micro aspects

of our lives, such as fretting over lint and planning for the

family Christmas photo in July, my father is the opposite.

He is distant—an island of staunch maleness in a household

of women. I know he cares deeply about my mother, my

two sisters, and me, but he seldom voices the sentiment out

loud. I also know that I’m his favorite but the one who confuses

him most. He is a product of an era when women

went to college to secure the requisite MRS degree. He’s not

quite sure what to do with a thirty-

year-old daughter who graduated top of her class from Columbia Law and actually

enjoys the gritty world of a U.S. attorney’s office.

Whatever the reason— Perhaps just because the positions of perfectionist daughter and

sweet daughter were already taken in our family—I have always been brainiac daughter.

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Relight My Fire by Joanna Bolouri / Blog Tour

Hi guys! Look who’s back – Joanna Bolouri, together with Phoebe and Oliver! This new novel “Relight My Fire” is so much more than only a laugh, there is a hidden depth to it and I really couldn’t put the book down! The author has pulled me easily into the story and the characters’ hilarious worlds and below you can read how much I adored this book. It was simply brilliant!

 

Relight My Fire by Joanna Bolouri

 

35127351Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 31st May 2018

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Phoebe and Oliver are stuck in a rut.

With a five year old daughter and demanding jobs, it’s not hard to see why the spark has gone.

Not one for giving up, Phoebe creates a sexy wishlist: a jar where they can ask the other for anything they’ve ever wanted in bed – or out of it.

But with distractions aplenty – such as, why do all her past lovers think now is a good time to make a reappearance? And, she may be wrong, but is Oli keeping something from her? – will they be able to relight the fire in the bedroom?

From mix tapes to ‘sex jars’, this is the naughtiest rom com you will ever read. From the bestselling author of The List.

Rating: five-stars

A huge Joanna Bolouri’s fan here  and ahh jeez, guys! What a brilliantly filthy, sexy and equally romantic and hilarious novel “Relight My Fire” was! I enjoyed every single page and really, I didn’t have an idea how much I wanted to know about the characters’ lives after “The List”! So, that has set  the tone of my review a little already, right?It was absolutely brilliant to catch up with Phoebe and Oliver and their bedroom antics in the sequel to “The List”. It tells us what happens five years after the List and while I reluctantly admit that yes, you can read it as a stand – alone, I’d really advise to read the books in the right order – you simply are going to miss on more hilarity in your life if you won’t read the previous novel, and well, I also think it is a great introduction to “Relight My Fire”.

Phoebe is still Phoebe, sassy, quirky and direct. And in relationship with Oliver. As you may remember, they used to have some crazy sex adventures, however, after few years and a daughter, things calmed down a little. Moreover, Phoebe finds that they are in a rut, not only in bed but also in everyday life. So it’s time for something bigger – counselling. But not your usual one, oh no, of course not – after all,  Phoebe and Oliver’s sex live should revive. What does it mean? Even more sex adventures, of course.

But the story didn’t only focus on sex and I liked this fact very, very much. There were more subplots that kept me glued to the pages and made the story even more exciting. It also brings us back some of the old characters and we couldn’t miss Braindead in this book – it wouldn’t be the same without him, I think he deserves his own novel to be honest. But of course also Phoebe and Oliver stayed their own good old selves, maybe a little bit more mature but still free – spirited. I fell for them immediately again, laughed at their musings and wanted for the things to go smoothly for them. It is so normal, their relationship, as well as the fact that after some time things pale a little and this is why, I think, this book was so relatable and believable, and the things they said or did just rang a bell or two.

This novel, as well as “The List”, is written in the diary form and it works perfect. Told mostly from Phoebe’s point of view, it was highly amusing to read in what ways the couple tried to spice things up in their bedroom, and this included not only total abstinence, but also a play list and a “sex jar” with requests… Yes, it is a very, very descriptive book – and I’m not going to say a word more *going red all over again*Oh, OK, I’m going to say more. Because yes, sex is very important in this novel, but deep, deep down at the heart of this story it is all about love, friendship and passion in your relationship. How it is worth to dedicate more time each other again.

“Relight My Fire” was a  brilliant story about feelings. This book really had it all. It made me blush, hell, forget blushing, it made me go all red. It was hilariously funny, it was brutally honest and open, it was great. It made me laugh out loud, it made me cringe with embarrassment, it made me go “awww”, it made me want to face – palm the characters or bang their heads together – and it doesn’t happen often that I fell so strongly for the characters and completely feel a part of their lives. Written in this typical Joanna Bolouri’s writing style, bold and direct, and bringing freshness and over – stepping boundaries, and not everyone would be able to write such a book – I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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A Winter Retreat at the Paris Cheese Shop by Victoria Brownlee

A Winter Retreat at the Paris Cheese Shop by Victoria Brownlee

 

39294807Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 3rd May 2018

Series: The Paris Cheese Shop #1

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

Number of pages: 69

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Who needs love when you can eat cheese?

Heartbroken and on the cusp of turning 30, Ella decides to pack her bags and move to Paris, somewhere she had visited when she was a different, more adventurous person.

It’s on the streets of beautiful, romantic City of Light that she finds her heart’s true desire: cheese. For Ella, her local fromagerie becomes a safe haven and she finds herself being drawn back there day after day.

But in a strange city, being friendless and not able to speak the language, has she bitten off more than she can chew?

A heart-warming and joyful romance, for fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Sophie Kinsella.

Rating: three-stars

“A Winter Retreat at the Paris Cheese Shop” is the first instalment in the four parts “The Paris Cheese Shop” series by a brand new and very promising author Victoria Brownlee. It quickly sets the scene and introduces us to Ella who, like many, many other literature heroines, thinks she’s living a dream with her boyfriend in the sunny Melbourne and lovely apartment, making plans for the future and waiting for THE question to be popped. However, as it often happens, everything suddenly changes. After quickly coming to terms with the new situation, Ella finds herself in Paris, starting her new life there.

It was the cover of this novel that made me click the “request” button – it’s simply gorgeous, I just love the pastel colours. Well, this and the fact that it’s about cheese, and not about another shop selling cupcakes or another bakery – big brownie points for choosing cheese as the snack here!
The characters’ introduction seemed very, very brief and very, very quick, actually everything in this novella happened like a flash. There was not will they/won’t they, should she/shouldn’t she and so on, no, there was the idea and its immediate realisation. I couldn’t help thinking that Ella would do much, much better without Paul, who came across as very selfish and unlikeable. I can’t say much about Ella herself, to be honest, as I just have a feeling that I wasn’t given the chance to get to know her yet. But she seems a nice, determined girl who hasn’t forgotten how to be spontaneous and how to enjoy life.

Everything in this short story happened very conveniently and run smoothly, there weren’t any twists or surprises. The writing was very easy to follow but I was missing some depth to it and I didn’t warm to it completely but I do hope that in the next parts the missing “something” is going to appear on the pages – because this novella left me wanting to read the next parts to see what’s going to happen.

 

 

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave / #BlogTour

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave

 

35561669Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Thriller, Fantasy

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOREVER.
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity reliving your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…

The Memory Chamber is a thrilling and original story which vaults the reader into a world that is terrifyingly close to our own, where we can avoid everything we fear – even death itself. But can we ever escape the truth?

Rating: three-stars

 

When I’ve read the synopsis to “The Memory Chamber” I was truly intrigued – just imagine, you can create your own custom – made heaven for when you died, made only of memories that are dear to you – absolutely intriguing and unique idea! If you have enough money and you’re not a criminal, you can have your private heaven created – it’s absolutely new and refreshing.   

Isobel is a Heaven Architect and she loves her job. She’s the best at her job. She creates those custom – made heavens for her customers. Isobel spends a lot of time with her dying clients, chasing their memories, creating new ones, only to make sure they have a perfect time after their deaths. And she’s really good at this.  But one day she fells in love with one of her customers – Jarek, married- mutually. It’s going to cause problems, but also there are some changes on the horizon and Isobel starts to doubt in her chosen career, asking herself it’s moral or not anymore.

It turned out that “The Memory Chamber” is not my typical kind of read, that there is an element of almost sci – fi to it, but it was too late, I was already deep into the story, and so I kept reading. It was also one of my problems with this book because it felt as if the story takes place in a very computerised future, but I didn’t have any idea when it is and what has actually happened with the world that the people are being chipped, that they only need to press at their ear to answer a phone call and I was honestly expecting the people to wear clothes made of silver foil and reproduce by touching fingers. I wanted to know what has happened that caused all those changes. 

It didn’t work for me on all levels as much as I thought it’s going to. The idea is brilliant, we’ve agreed on this already, but there are too many holes in the plot and it felt too wafer thin, too superficial. There were twists and turns but I had a feeling they were opened with a kick but their development and delivery felt too flat, as if the idea was missing. There is no build up to the great feelings Isobel has to Jarek and vice versa and it made me feel a little confused. Isobel also changes her mind so very suddenly, without a word of explanation. The characters didn’t leave any impression on me. I couldn’t connect with them, I didn’t know their backgrounds and histories, they felt artificial and like some kinds of robots. Then we have the subplot of the murder. While the author has tried to mess a little with us and do our heads in, the limited number of characters didn’t make it difficult to guess who was really the assassin. This thread, actually really important for this story, neither impressed nor impacted me.

On the other hand, I liked how controversial and difficult topic the author decided upon. She isn’t afraid to deal with the ethical questions, who should be allowed to have such heaven after their death, who has a right to own an artificial heaven at all, who should be allowed in their memories for ever and if they should give the go ahead for being there… It’s really all a bit sci – fi and complicated but after reading the story you’re completely going to see what the whole heaven – idea is about. All the aspects, ethical, moral, religious are explored from every possible angle and there is really not much place for imagination. 

Together with my review copy I’ve received a note with some intriguing questions, and one of them was if, after reading the book, I’d change my memories for my own heaven. No, I wouldn’t! I’m happy to have some brilliant, warm and uplifting memories and I’d love to have them in my heaven. 

The story truly picked up in the last part, maybe the last 100 pages or so but it felt like reading a different novel then. Before it was slow and about artificial heavens, then it was quick, sometimes too quick, about solving a murder. It was, however, too late for me to change my mind about this story – I wanted to be drawn from the very beginning and it didn’t happen. 

It’s hard to tell what this book was really about – it was neither about friendship, nor love, nor family… However, it was a tale that provides tons of things to reflect on, to mull over, making you think and ask questions about what’s important to you. In fact I really am not sure what to think about it. The science aspect of the story was too much for me and the talk about neurons and other things meant nothing for me. There was so much potential to “The Memory Chamber” but for me it didn’t deliver. It was an interesting, different read, that’s for sure and it’s certainly one of the reasons you should read it for yourself – because maybe it’s the case of it’s not you, book, it’s me.

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Relight My Fire by Joanna Bolouri / #BookNews

Hello again you lovely people. I usually don’t post any book news, or cover reveals etc but there are some authors that I happily and gladly make an exception. And Joanna Bolouri is one of those people. Since her debut novel I’ve been stalking her almost daily to hear news on new releases and I loved all of her books. Here is the proof (ie. my reviews):

The List

I Followed the Rules

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

See?

And now, guys. Please behave. But Joanna Bolouri is soon, very soon, as in May 2018, back! With a brand new novel *drum rolls please*  she’s for sure going to relight my fire!

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