Days of Wonder by Keith Stuart

Days of Wonder by Keith Stuart

 

34460802Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 7th June 2018

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

Number of pages: 480

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | PHardcoverk | Paperback (out on 07.02.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A story about family, love and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you’ll read all year.

Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen, that time is coming.

Hannah’s heart is literally broken – and she can’t bear the idea of her dad’s breaking too. So she resolves to find a partner for Tom, someone else to love, to fill the space beside him.

While all the time Tom plans a final day of magic that might just save them both.

Days of Wonder is the stunning follow-up to Keith Stuart’s much-loved debut A Boy Made of Blocks – and a book to fall in love with.

Rating: five-stars

Tom is a single father who’s a manager of a provincial theatre and looks after his teenage daughter Hannah, who has a life – limiting heart condition. Hannah’s mum has left – for a long time it’s not explained why, however I was starting to guess what could have happened. Tom is determined to make Hannah’s life as unforgettable and as special as possible, so with the help of his theatre’s friends he stages a once in a lifetime exceptional play for his daughter’s each and every birthday. Mostly they are based on fairytales, because Hannah loves them. Very soon the theatre and people working/helping to run it become a big part of the girl’s life. But Hannah is growing up – is theatre really all she wants? And Hannah’s dad – she’s as determined as he was, to make the time they have left together special, to make sure that when she’s gone he will be looked after, just as he looked after her.

I’ve read and absolutely loved Keith Stuart’s debut novel, “A Boy Made of Block”, so it is not a wonder that discovering a review copy of his second book on my doorstep made me very, very happy. Yes, I was a little afraid to read this book, of course, because I was asking myself after such mind – blowing debut would the author be able to make this dreaded second novel as wonderful as the first one? Oh my word, guys, Keith Stuart delivered, totally and with ease – “Days of Wonder” was perfect. Not too wishy – washy, not too sad, not too sugary, not too depressing, not too sentimental – just perfect. He took us on a wonderful and emotional rollercoaster – like journey that will make you smile and burst into tears in just one sentence and live the story through the characters. Keith Stuart can immediately enchant you with his writing style, he draws the reader immediately into the story, from the very first page you can feel as a part of the book’s world.

The story is told from Tom and Hannah’s points of view in alternative chapters. and boy, what distinctive, vivid voices they had! I immediately warmed to them and connected to them. The love between them was so real, raw and honest, so perfectly captured and put into words. I loved their banter, how they got each other, how they understood each other without words, how they challenged each other into getting dressed in second – hand especially chosen clothes and go to the restaurants. They laughed together and cried together and they respected each other. Their relationship was not a bed of roses, oh no, Hannah did also caused troubles but it only made them much more real and believable.
However, not only the main characters, but all of the background ones, are perfectly written and believable but I can’t not focus on Hannah and Tom. I absolutely adored them and their relationship, that was not too forced, seemed so natural and genuine and they all had everyday problems and issues to contend with. Hannah was brilliant, cool as a cucumber. She was edgy and sharp and incredibly clever but not too overdone for her age – probably because of her condition, of not seeing the future, she was bold and brave and took life by the horns. She also tried to couple her father up with a woman, just in case, so that he won’t be alone. She was this kind of character that you love so much that you hope till the end that somehow she’s going to survive, even if you know that it’s impossible.
I was very invested in the characters’ lives. They all had their own story to tell and I love the fact that the author has found a place for those stories in his book. There was this brilliantly, overwhelming community feel to it, they supported not only Hannah and Tom but also each other, even though all of them had their own problems and private turmoil. They all rose to the challenge, they showed what they can achieve as a group, when there is a problem to solve or when somebody needs help.

It was a beautiful, poignant and sharp story about not giving up, about never losing hope, about beautiful, unconditional love, about family. It is a real roller – coaster ride of feelings and emotions, and the author effortlessly transports you into the characters’ world, I really felt a part of it, and I experienced and lived through everything together with the characters. I wanted them to succeed, I applauded them and I cried with them. They all were a great bunch of characters and I am going to remember them for a long time yet.

“Days of Wonder” was first and foremost a story about love, but also about letting go, about spreading your wings, about trust. About friendship. Written in such light, chatty and accessible way, with a great feeling of authenticity, full of feelings and emotions. The author so very easily brought not only characters to life but also the setting and especially the Willow Tree Theatre. It was a truly magical place. And yes, the words on the cover stating that “Days of Wonder” is “The most magical and moving story of the year” are absolutely true – it was magical, and it was moving, and moreover, it was beautiful and enchanting. It touched upon some really heavy issues, like Hannah’s heart condition or Callum’s depression but it never feels too heavy or difficult to read. No. It was poignant, yes, but is also was very uplifting. There really isn’t anything that I didn’t like about this book. I savoured every single word and didn’t want to put it down. It was a real delight to read and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

 

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Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews / #BlogTour

Hi guys, and Happy Easter! Hope you’re spending the day with people you love most.

Today I have another blog tour for you. You know I’m a huge fan of Carole Matthews, and her newest book “Million Love Songs” was published as paperback few days ago. For the purpose of the blog tour, the lovely Carole has created her own Spotify playlist with her favourite love songs that you can listen to by clicking here.

I’ve also created my own list with my favourite love songs and it’s as follows:

Richard Marx, Right Here Waiting For You – I still can remember me, barely a teenager, listening with my ear close to the radio and dreaming about… hmmm 🙂

No Doubt, Don’t Speak – I was almost 18 years old, just got to know this guy at the disco and he told he’s going to call. He didn’t. I was sitting in my best friend’s room and playing it over and over again. I don’t think they like this song as much as did. PS. He called. we were together for 7 years.

Toni Braxton, Un – Break My Heart – dancing to this song with the above mentioned guy who did call.

Whitney Houston, Your Love is My Love – all time favourite. Can listen to it all the time.

And now onto the book itself:

Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews

 

36677778Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 22nd March 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

After splitting up with her cheating ex-husband, Ruby Brown is ready for a change. She’s single again for the first time in years and she’s going to dive into this brave new world with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. The last thing she’s looking for is another serious relationship.

Mason Soames represents everything Ruby wants right now: he’s charming, handsome, and perfect for some no-strings-attached fun, and yet Ruby can’t help feel that something is missing. Joe Edwards, on the other hand, is also lovely and handsome but he comes with the sort of baggage Ruby wants to avoid: an annoyingly attractive ex-wife and two teenage children.

Ruby soon has some very tough decisions to make. Is she ready for a relationship of any kind, and what type of life does she really want? Because while Ruby may think she knows what she wants, is that what she needs to be truly happy?

Feel-good, wonderful and an absolute must-read from the queen of romance Carole Matthews, Ruby’s story will make you laugh, cry and leave you wanting more. It’s about to get emotional in Million Love Songs.

Rating: four-stars

Carole Matthews’s books are your guarantee of wit, humour, some drama and romance. I’ve been reading her books for many years already and I’ve always enjoyed them, as she creates likeable characters, the writing style is so light and easy to follow and the stories are never too heavy even though there is always some seriousness and heavier stuff in them. The characters are believable, as well as the situations they find themselves in, and it’s the same with “Million Love Songs”.

In this newest release we meet Ruby Brown, freshly divorced from Simon, and actually coming to terms with this fact. They were five long years together and it’s hard to settle in but Ruby is determined to start afresh and you know what they say – when life throws you lemons, just make a lemonade (I should probably try to adapt this motto by myself as March was officially the worst month ever. And April won’t be better). She quitted her old job, moved to a small granny – flat, got a new job at a pub and some new friends, so it really is everything new and fresh for her.

Ruby was a great character and I hoped everything is going to pan out for her. She wasn’t afraid of new things, she was open to anything, she was cheery and optimistic and I grinned at her many antics, and she for sure was a part of many, many memorable scenes. The one thing that bothered me a little was the fact that she seemed to be all the time bouncing back and forth between two men, desperate for a man in her life and it seemed somehow so desperate, while I really liked her on her own. Well, it was just after her divorce that she’s decided she wants to be a little more impulsive and try many new things, right? That she’s ready for fun and new? She was also strong by herself. There was too much of Ruby’s going back and forth and her indecisiveness. She’s been changing her mind too many times and it irritated me sometimes because when you once say yes then please, stick to your word, especially when others warn you as well. And she kept changing her mind countless times.
And Mason. I’m not sure why but Mason is for me a serial killer – there is something in the name (sorry. Pay no attention, really). So it’s not a wonder that I didn’t warm to him completely, no? He was also a well – known womanizer with tons of money and too much spare time. Yes, I liked Joe better, although there were moments that I wanted to yell at him to make a decision. He seemed to blow Ruby hot and cold and I think she didn’t deserve it. But altogether, both men had their pros and cons and sometimes I wasn’t sure who I wanted her to end up with. Maybe adding a third male character would be an idea.

I loved the music and songs references – no matter if you were Take That fan or not, you know their songs and I found myself humming. But – I am not so sure what to think about the whole Take That obsession. On one hand it is great to have a hobby, and oh well, yes, I also have a crush on a music star, even at my age, but this here is taking it to another level. I mean, I have a life. The following seemed more like stalking for me and really, to be totally honest, I thought that Ruby deserves much more from her life, no? But it’s just me, as Ruby’s friend Charlie seemed really happy with living with a life-sized cardboard figure of Gary Barlow and the huge amount of events she was going to and hoping for potential sightings. Whatever you like…

The chapters, as usually, were short and snappy, which I really like in books as it makes the whole book quicker to read and the storyline keeps moving fast. And of course in such cases it is always one chapter more and you find yourself reading and reading, totally engrossed in this lovely story.

“One Million Love Songs” was a warm, uplifting read written with so much heart and understanding. I love Carole Matthews’s writing style, it immediately takes you into the heart of the story and then on a journey full of twists and turns, a journey that’s rather bumpy than flat. It’s charming and full of humour and poignant moment, that are, as always, so very well balanced and intertwined together. Altogether, I can only – and I do it very happily – recommend this novel to both the old as well as new Ms Matthews’s fans.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

 

35890882Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Series: The Island of Mure #2

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

Number of pages: 412

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Dreams start here…

‘Charming, made me long to escape to Mure. Total joy.’ – Sophie Kinsella

On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It’s a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content – unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend.

While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he’s about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him.

As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?

Rating: five-stars

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Lately Jenny Colgan was proving with her every new release what a brilliant author she is, and each of her book was better than the previous one. However, with “The Endless Beach”, she has probably outdone herself – this book is perfect in every way. I would go that far and say that it’s probably Jenny Colgan’s best yet. This book has fulfilled all of my expectations and more. It is heart – warming, uplifting, emotional and incredibly realistic, and written in this brilliant and unmatchable Jenny Colgan’s writing style.
This is a sequel to “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” that can be read as a standalone, but I personally would recommend to read the first book as well – even though there is a reminder in the letter from Jenny at the beginning of “The Endless Beach”, which is very helpful btw, the first book was equally gorgeous and I think it will let you to understand the characters and their actions much better.

In “The Endless Beach” we’re back to the island of Mure and the characters that I already love plus some of the new ones, that are equally adoring. Flora’s storyline was supposed to be the main one, and well, yes it was, but she shared the book pages equally with the other characters, whose stories and backgrounds and present were as intriguing and hooking as hers. To be honest, I have a feeling that this time the male characters’ subplots were more prominent in this story, which only made it feel refreshing and even more interesting (as if it were possible!). This time it were the men that were hiding something, not the women! The story of Saif was heart – breaking. It was very actual and even though I may think it is a topic that doesn’t necessarily belong in fiction, I could give the author a standing ovation for writing it this way and for finding the courage to make one of her lead character a refugee. It was brilliant to see that the islanders – of course, after initial reservations – accepted him with open arms and what they did later when he brought someone to the island was absolutely gorgeous. His story was such an eye – opener, too, and I fell for him immediately, and I could cry when reading about his past. It was great to be back with Fintan, who can finally be himself and I loved his relationship with Colton, how much in love they were with each other, how they were around each other. There was of course a secret involved and even though I might have started to suspect something, the reveal has totally took me by surprise, took my breath away and made my cry because it was written in such a beautiful, sweet, gentle way, and you could feel through the pages the love and desperation there. Joel… I really don’t know how it is possible to write such raw emotions, I think Jenny Colgan has just got into his head.
The author didn’t forget about our girls, of course. Flora and Lorna’s feelings and emotions are true to life. It was brilliant to see what’s happening in their lives after we have left them behind, closing “The Summer Seaside Kitchen”. I must admit, I have expected that Flora’s life and her relationship with Joel would be plain sailing but it turned out it is far from this. They had their ups and downs and there were some moments that I got a headache as it seemed they just can’t communicate with each other in a normal way. I so wanted to bang their heads together because I so wanted this relationship to work and it just seemed that they rub each other up the wrong way, they’re getting hot and cold with each other all the time. This relationship was so genuine and so raw, they both felt so vulnerable in it because they loved so much but didn’t know how to show this, and it made me feel so, so desperate! Flora has such a big heart, and not only when it comes to be generous when running her own business, no, she’s just a wonderful, good natured person. There is so much passion in her in all aspects of her life, she doesn’t do things halfway through and I just kept everything crossed for her and for Joel. He was distant and sometimes I wanted to shake him but I also knew that there is a reason to his behaviour, and even though we don’t know till almost the end what it is, there was something in Joel that made you fell for him immediately and to understand him without knowing more.
But one of the best characters must be AGOT, and when you read the book you’ll know why I write her in capitals.

The way the story went and the many subplots took me by surprise, I must admit, I think I have expected something different. Not sure what but whatever it was, this story just tug at my heart strings, it was full of emotions and feelings. There was this magic that you always look for in the book that you read, there were brilliant storylines and characters that you could die for, as they so got under your skin. This writing was just one and only. It was beautiful, it enveloped you and you just didn’t want to put this book down.

The setting in this story couldn’t be more perfect! I fell in love with the wild island of Mure when reading the first book, and this story only reinforced me in this feeling. I think I would feel completely contended there. There was a brilliant community feeling that was especially visible at one of the weddings when the author so beautifully put it into words that it is the most important thing for the islanders and even though they’re not officially invited, they are invited, they can come and feel at home, and it was brilliant. The author lets us know the ins and outs of the little school run by Lorna, the island living and its villagers, when they know your comes and goes better than you yourself but they only mean well.

“The Endless Beach” was a real escapism and it is really so hard to put into words how great this book was. There was everything I was looking for from Jenny Colgan and even more. It was full of laugh out loud moments, as well as many poignant ones, it was full of heart and understanding and with incredible depth. It made me hold my breath and then start to hope again. There was the lovely mention of the mystery of myth, that I simply adored, there was this close knit community, it brought to us some new and fresh perspectives of characters that usually are not introduced in such stories. I really didn’t want this book to come to an end and if you haven’t read this enchanting story yet, drop everything and treat yourself – but be warned that you’re going to disappear for a few hours, as it’s just unputdownable.

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

 

36380895Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 21st September 2017

Source:  Purchased

Number of pages: 336

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The perfect recipe for hygge this autumn: make a hot chocolate, draw the curtains, snuggle under a blanket and read your way to happiness!

It’s autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It’s cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street – an adorable little toy shop – has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.

Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother’s shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?

Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life – naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?

Rating: five-stars

 

Guys, you don’t have to fear the upcoming winter if you have Rosie Blake’s new novel at hand! Already the opening scene was abso – bloody – hilarious and it set the mood for the rest of the story. It was my first “hygge” book, to be honest and I won’t tell you what I thought hygge is, it turned out to be something different to what I thought, but still I love the idea of hygge, especially now, when it’s so quickly dark and uncomfortable and cold, and now I am a hygge specialist, and I also know a few Danish swear words. Result!

Clara was an absolutely brilliant character and I loved how quickly and without hesitation she jumped at the chance of house – sitting. Running away from her secrets, she was going from one place to another, never staying for long but something in Yulethorpe has touched upon her heart. She was also so incredibly creative and what she’s done with the toy shop was absolutely brilliant – it was also described in such a vivid, colourful way that I didn’t have a problem to picture it in my mind, and really, guys, I would love to have such a shop in my town, and I know what I’m saying as I have a five – year – old daughter. What was also so great with Clara was the fact that she’s not only transformed the place, she’s also made some brilliant friends in the village, also transforming them at the same time. Clara is carrying not only a secret, but resulting from this secret tons of guilt, and this is probably why she wants to help other people, no matter what. And she has such an effect on all people that she meets, I’d love to have such a positive person around me.
Enter Joe, who probably knows as much about hygge as I’ve known before reading the book. Suspicious, not trusting, but ha, he doesn’t know Clara and her plan yet – and you see, it was Clara again, who without a sound, patiently, worked on Joe. Did she manage to transform Joe? Did Joe need transformation? READ THE BOOK and you’ll find the answers.
There are also all those brilliant and funny background characters: Gavin, Craig, Louise, Lauren, and even Roz. All of them full of life and personal opinions but in the end always (almost) sticking together and supporting each other (not all of them, of course not all of them, but we do need bad guys as well). There is not other option as to love them or love to hate them, they just grow on you and don’t leave you alone (sounds creepy, I’m aware, what I mean is that you can’t stop thinking about them because they are so vivid and close to life and so, so funny).

Rosie Blake, in such a subtle, gentle way points out what is really important in our lives – that it’s not money or job or giving people warnings at work but that it’s kindness and not expecting anything in return for it. That it is sometimes so much better to watch a sunrise and to offer something deep from your heart – and it was gorgeous.

This was a cosy, sweet book of new beginnings, second chances, finding your own place and happiness, written in this brilliant Rosie – style, with one of the best one – liners in the history, unforgettable characters, swearing parrots and a few romances. Actually, I was sure I’m going to get it all, because it’s Rosie Blake, right? A story full of hope, that immediately draws you in and makes you feel warmer and better. “The Hygge Holiday” was like a warm blanket, like a hug and I adored it, basta, and in my eyes it fully deserves those big, fat five stars. This was a definition of a perfect, comforting, unforgettable read, and please hurry up Rosie with writing another book! And PS – the cover of “The Hygge Holiday”. The cover! It’s gorgeous!

And now to make a scented, candle lit hot bath. And plump some cushions on my sofa.

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews

 

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews

 

36510596Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 19th October 2017

Series: The Cake Shop in the Garden #2

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Indulge in this wonderful, cake-filled novel of romance and friendship. Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights is Sunday Times bestselling Carole Matthews doing what she does best!

Fay and Danny are madly in love and it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she left everything – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive . . . isn’t it?

Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking – especially now she’s on dry land again! – and starts to wonder if she ever should have left. With Christmas around the corner, Fay is determined that her friends will have a very merry time, but does that mean even more time away from Danny? Can Fay really get everything she ever wanted in Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights.

Rating: four-stars

Don’t shake your head at me but it was a real surprise for me to see that “Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights” is a continuation of Fay and Danny’s from “The Cake Shop in the Garden” adventures – it being a Carole Matthews’ book I didn’t take the trouble to read a synopsis, as with many other auto – buy authors, and already knowing it’s going to be a fabulous, festive read.

Fay and Danny, deeply in love, are enjoying their nomadic life on the canal boat but when they get a call from Lija that Stan is not good, Fay rushes home to look after him, and also to help Lija, who’s now running the Cake Shop. Of course Fay’s sister Edie also makes an appearance – what is she planning this time? And there are, again, troubles coming The Cake Shop way and the characters are facing really difficult times.

It was great to be back with Fay Merryweather and Danny Wilde and all their friends and relatives. I adored seeing them together, the sparkle was still there and you could see those two are made for each other, that they found each other. Fay, as before, puts everyone before herself but I noticed – with satisfaction – that she’s also grown a backbone, that she’s able to stay her ground and I felt like giving her a standing ovation and shouting you go, girl! There was also a new character Rainbow, helping in the cafe, and she was as colourful as her name. I think she added tons of humour and warmth to the story and while sometimes I couldn’t stand her blabbering, I appreciated the way she has lightened the atmosphere up. Lija and her foul mouth had made me smile more than once, I loved her directness! Altogether, the characters were – as usually – brilliantly and beautifully written, they had a great depth to themselves, they had personalities and the way they acted and reacted was realistic and so close to life. Their lives are not bed of roses and probably this is what makes them so close to your heart – that they struggle, that not everything is handed to them on a plate, just like in a normal life. Lija’s one – liners and sharp comments were an absolute highlights, and Rainbow, being Rainbow, so bubbly, bright and always happy just gave the book this little element of so much needed relax. Because the story touches upon so many heavy and difficult issues, guys – however, it’s not depressing or too overwhelming, or no, not to worry – and the author writes about them with so much intuition and understanding.

The title may be a little misleading, as the story only brushes a little on Christmas but the plot is so full of other things and happenings that I didn’t even feel disappointment – and so the book can be read with no regards to a season. As already mentioned, this newest release is a follow – up to “The Cake Shop in the Garden” and I think it could be read as a stand alone – just. I’d rather advise to read the books in the right order because even though “Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights” gives us a brief re – telling of what’s happened before, it’s really brief and to fully enjoy the book you should really start with the “Cake Shop”.

Altogether, it was a lovely, heart – warming story about friendship, friends pulling together, family bonds and love. Of course there wouldn’t be a Cake Shop without some great cakes, and the descriptions of Lija and Fay’s incredible creations were gorgeous and so vivid, and I can bet anything they’ll make your mouth water – they did it with me. The story was so comforting, just like your favourite reading place and a hot chocolate. It was warm and uplifting and so true to life and genuine. And it is Ms Matthews’s 30th book, so it’s for sure a reason to celebrate!

Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft / #BlogTour

Hi guys, hope you are all having a great Saturday. Today I am really thrilled to be hosting Jenny Ashcroft’s blog tour for her debut novel “Beneath a Burning Sky”. What can I say guys? This book was absolutely brilliant, I haven’t expected it to be SO good and I am incredibly glad to have discovered a new author – already looking towards Ms Ashcroft’s next release!

Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft

34381818Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre:  Historical Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘Exotic and mysterious – I was gripped by this complex tale’
Dinah Jefferies, author of number one bestselling The Tea Planter’s Wife

A beautiful and heart-wrenching story of love and betrayal, set against a backdrop of British-occupied Egypt. Perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop, Dinah Jefferies and Leah Fleming.

When 22-year-old Olivia is coerced into marriage by the cruel Alistair Sheldon, she leaves England for Egypt, his home and the land of her own childhood. Reluctant as she is to go with Alistair, it’s in her new home that she finds happiness in surprising places: she is reunited with her long-estranged sister, Clara, and falls – impossibly and illicitly – in love with her husband’s boarder, Captain Edward Bertram.

Then Clara is abducted from one of the busiest streets in the city. Olivia is told it’s thieves after ransom money, but she’s convinced there’s more to it. As she sets out to discover what’s happened to the sister she’s only just begun to know, she falls deeper into the shadowy underworld of Alexandria, putting her own life and her chance at a future with Edward, the only man she’s ever loved, at risk. Because, determined as Olivia is to find Clara, there are others who will stop at nothing to conceal what’s become of her….

Rating: five-stars

“Beneath a Burning Sky” is Jenny Ashcroft’s debut novel, and boy, what a great debut it was! Gently and beautifully written, full of mysteries, romances, love, hate and intrigue, with characters that you are rooting for, mixing historical fiction, romance and mystery. It is full of hidden passion and intrigues and it truly surprised me in a very positive way – I’ll be honest, I haven’t expected it to be so good.

The characters are better than good. You love them or you hate to love them, but even those that you hate, you can’t stop thinking about them. There are many of them, to be honest, and I had some problems with recognizing and distinguishing them, especially the Egyptian protagonists. There was also the sub – plot of Nailah and her family and to be honest it was this tad difficult to understand what her role in the story was – that is, till almost the very end but it was a little too late then. However, this in a great way showed the difference between the British class and the local people. Olivia is a great leading character – she is, as it usually happens, much ahead of her times, she’s independent and feisty but there is also a lot vulnerability in her character. She really grows throughout the story. She changes and develops and it was great to see how much determination there is in her and how brave she faces all the challenges – and there were plenty of them. Alistair – well, I hated him, but I think you were supposed to hate him. Edward is a total contrast to Alistair – romantic, lovely, and charming gentleman and I couldn’t wait for more scenes with him. The forbidden romance was written in a very interesting way, and you can’t help but fell for both of the characters – for the heroine because you just felt sorry her and for the hero because he’s just so lovely and you keep everything crossed for them and hope for a happy ending – but will it come?

This story was full to the brims with events and happenings. The setting was unusual for me – I think I’ve never before read a book set in Egypt in 1890s, but it only made the reading more exciting and interesting for me. The mystery of Clara’s missing, the who, and why, and when, and what happened was seamlessly flowing and was really intriguing. And of course the romance, or should I say, the love story – it was just brilliant. Yes, I had some troubles with getting into the book, it took me some time to get used to the writing style, the inner dialogues and the descriptions, and some of the characters were too clichéd and stereotyped, but then it just made click and I couldn’t put the book down. Also, there were moments that I’d love a little bit deeper info, for example about Olivia’s parents and is it only me or did you also miss the explanation why Millicent hated Olivia so much? But the author has so easily and effortlessly brought the atmosphere of those time, and the descriptions were so vivid, bringing everything to life. There were many twists in this story, and most of them were really unexpected, and I just wanted to turn the next page and see what’s going to happen. The plot was complex but I’ve actually never felt confused – it was logical and everything had its place. The story slowly and steadily unpeels the many layers and uncovers various secrets and all the pieces of the puzzle come together in the end.

So altogether, “Beneath a Burning Sky” was historical fiction at its finest. This was a brilliant, addictive, fast – paced read with characters that really grows on you. The author has easily pulled me into her fictional world that will truly stay with me for a long time, and this is really a sign of a great book. I am already looking forward Jenny Ashcroft’s next book and in the meantime I can only highly recommend this novel to you.

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My Sister’s Wedding by Vicky Pattison

My Sister’s Wedding by Vicky Pattison

 

33877159Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 15th June 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For better or worse, two families are about to become one…

The Ashworth sisters couldn’t be more different. Becky is focused, driven and about to marry her lovely fiancé, Daniel Balfour. Lizzie, on the other hand, bounces from one temp job to another, keeps falling for the wrong man and is a whirlwind of chaos in Becky’s otherwise well-ordered life. But they love each other fiercely and the Ashworth way has always been family comes first.

As preparations for Becky and Daniel’s wedding get underway, it soon becomes clear that the Ashworth way is not the Balfour way. Daniel’s family have never thought Becky was good enough for him but he loves her and that’s always been enough for the happy couple. But when Lizzie gets caught in the crossfire between Becky and the Balfours, Becky and Lizzie find themselves drifting apart at a time when they need each other the most. Will they be able to repair the damage before Becky walks down the aisle?

Rating: five-stars

 

My Sister’s Wedding is the first story that I’ve read by Vicky Pattison, even though I have two of her other fiction books on my TBR pile. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect but nevertheless I had high hopes for this novel and in the end the book pleasantly surprised me. It was light – hearted, with some great characters and brilliant, quick writing and I was immediately immersed into the characters’ world.

The story is told from Becky and Lizzie’s points of view, occasionally also showing Nicole’s scheming. The characters really quickly grow on you and you feel as if you’ve known them for ages. Becky and Lizzie are sisters, extremely close, and it has a reason – their mother left the family when they were very young and Becky somehow adopted mum’s role, helping their father to bring the girl up. But now they are both adult and they couldn’t be more different – Becky is oasis of calm to Lizzie’s hurricane, Becky is the most responsible one, with a job and fiancé while Lizzie can’t stop moving around, keep one job and is sleeping at her best friend’s Jay. Becky is also about to get married – her long-time boyfriend Daniel has popped the question. Even though they are together nine long years, their families haven’t met yet – and there is also a reason to it, because they also couldn’t be more different. While Becky and Lizzie’s family consist of them and their lovely, down – to – earth father, Daniel’s is a very wealthy and snobbish one. Is the first meeting going to run smoothly?

Even though they were so different, I liked both of them: Lizzie and her free spirit and big mouth, and Becky’s calmness. Sure, they both were sometimes annoying and they had flaws, but who isn’t and who hasn’t them, right, so it all made them even more likeable. Lizzie may seem irresponsible but there are things she loves above all and she would do anything for her family. The girls balanced each other very well and I really liked this strong bond between them – even though this bong can be easily destroyed by a misunderstanding. Both of them struggled with the sense of belonging, as it seemed they lost it for a moment, and it was sad to see how they are drifting apart. I hated to see how they jump to conclusions, how they read (false) between the lines and how their perfect relationship suffers as a result.

The storyline was great and it was so fast paced. It was not plain sailing for the characters, there were some smaller storylines easily and effortlessly interspersed with the main one and the end result was a lovely, humorous story about family and changing dynamics. Yes, there were moments where the author focused so much on the clothes, labels, designer names, brands, cosmetics that I could do without but oh my, this is Vicky Pattison we are talking about, right, and I think we can turn the blind eye this time. It was also full of references for very modern and present social medias, and the language it was written with was totally realistic. With all this I had a feeling that the book is aimed to a rather younger audience than moi but still I did enjoy it and I spent some uncomplicated, relaxed hours following the story of Becky and Lizzie. There was warmth to the writing and I felt comfortable in their company, so what should I still wish for?

You know, the book was not the most complex one but there was such a great feeling to it. It was funny, dynamic, sharp and there was something in it that you didn’t want to put it down. It was an easy and engaging read, with many humorous and some poignant moments, and you felt immediately at home with the characters: you either loved them or loved to hate them. There was enough intrigue and a little drama and even though it was predictable it didn’t spoiled the book at all. It was fast paced and I didn’t have a feeling that it is dragging on. The Nicole’s subplot was needed for this story to make it more complicated and even though this part was a little too far – fetched for my liking, overall it added some needed action and fireworks to the storyline. So yes, maybe don’t expect anything life – changing in this book but still it made for a great, entertaining read with some ups and downs, with tons of funny moments but brilliantly mixed with some of the more poignant ones – and hey, does the book always have to be life changing? Thought so. I was fully glad with the twists and turns, with the way the author has complicated things for Lizzie and Becky and even with the tad predictable characters from Daniel’s family – this all was written in effortless, engaging way and I bought it as it was: fun and light – hearted, and I’ll be shamelessly recommending it to all of my friends!

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