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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Book of the Month : May + Q&A with the Authors

Hi guys! It’s June (already) and it is time to share my favourite May reads with you. It was a great month bookish – wise (OK, and life was also not so bad, except for some not too great news but also some good ones), I rated many of the books with 5*. But – there were two novels that literally took my breath away. Two very different ones, different genres but both of them exceptionally brilliant. Moreover – I have a big, great pleasure to also share Q&As with both Authors, so scroll down and enjoy!

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I already can’t imagine summer and winter without Lisa Dickenson’s books. I love Lisa and I love her novels and one day, when I go to the UK, I want to meet her personally (be warned, Lisa!), so there. May has seen her lovely, gorgeous, summery “Catch Me if You Cannes” being published and even though I’ve read the book some time ago when it was published in the four – part – series I can’t describe how lovely it was to see the story as a whole, beautiful paperback version. Here you can read my review of this brilliant novel and here is also the promised Q&A with the Author.

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  1. Lisa, “Catch Me if You Cannes” is my book of the month (please do act as if you were really surprised!), so let’s talk about the book – who should play the characters should the book be made into a film? (and it should!!!)

Thank you thank you thank yooooooooou!  I’d like to thank my mum, my dad, my husband, my future dog, my Agi, my TV – oh, sorry, I went off on an Oscar speech tangent.  Thank you SO MUCH though for picking Cannes as your book of the month, this is muchas exciting!  Okay, who do I want on my casting couch (oo-er!)…

  1. Jess – our bubbly Marilyn Monroe.  This is a tough one!  Maybe Emilia Clarke, Ellie Kemper or Hayden Panettiere?
  2. Bryony – cool and confident, I’m going to go with Zoe Saldana, Michaela Coel or Zendaya
  3. Leo – lovely Leo… he’s gotta be strong and fit, but also a bit of a loveable goofball.  Hmm… why don’t you choose your perfect Leo, Agi  (OK, here we go. It’s not going to be an actor. Whatever, whenever, however, no matter what  – it must be Enrique Iglesias Bildergebnis für heart emoticonsSo there. You know now my biggest secret 🙂
  1. And if you were to go to the opening night, what would you wear?

Oh, it would have to be some amazing red-carpet-worthy gown reminiscent of old Hollywood.  Maybe the colour of the Cote d’Azur ocean.  I think I’d channel Marilyn Monroe, in honour of Jess!

  1. How much fun was it to write “Catch Me if You Cannes”? (Because I am so sure it was a great fun!)

I loved writing Cannes!  I felt inspired by old classics like Some Like It Hot and new female buddy stories like Bridesmaids.  I liked writing a caper for a change, and the Cannes Film Festival seemed the perfect setting for a couple of misfits to lose themselves in.

  1. You were in Cannes, right? What did you like best there?

The whole atmosphere of the place.  I expected to feel like I wouldn’t fit in (not that that would ever stop me going somewhere!) but actually it was welcoming, beautiful, calm and clean.  The glitziness never felt too exclusive, and this is partly what gave me the idea for Jess and Bryony, who travelled there full of white lies and assumptions…

  1. Are you choosing the lovely places you set your books specifically, so that the research is even more exciting?

I’m a bit of a travel bug, and I fall in love with some places pretty easily.  So what more often occurs is that I go somewhere (or re-go somewhere), find it magical, and then dream up storylines while I’m there.  Or when I’m back home, stuck in the post-holiday blues.

  1. There are tons of funny situations in your novel – how do you write them? Did they happen to you or are they completely fictional?

Why thank you, darlin’, I do try *hair flick*  There might be nuggets of things that have happened to me in my books, but I usually amp them up a bit.  With Cannes especially I tended to always go with the rule of asking, ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen here…?’ and then making it happen!  But being a romantic comedy it’s never usually literally the worst thing!

  1. Now a thousand dollar question – what is your favourite scene in the book? Only ONE, pretty please 🙂

I like the entire scene at the Hotel Du Cap, where Jess and Bryony are trying to make it from the pier at the back of the hotel and out the front door, and they run into obstacles at every turn.  In my mind it plays out like they’re a golden-era Hollywood slapstick comedy duo, which is how I like to think of the whole book, in a way.

  1. What’s next for Lisa Dickenson?

WELL, Book 5 is nearly there and just gagging for a title to be added to it.  I also have some new storylines up my sleeve, some ideas for crime fiction, and also a secret project which will be taking off REALLY SOON, I hope!

  1. And a bonus question: Nutella with a spoon out of the jar or on toast?

Ooooooooooo, I love Nutella on toast, but there’s something about scoffing it straight from the jar with a spoon.  So my winner is SPOON.

               *             *            *

And now it’s time for my second book. It has totally blown me away, guys. It was unpredictable, surprising, full of twists and turns and it was totally addictive – when I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean it literally. Doesn’t happen often but it was the case with “The One” by John Marrshere is my review of this incredibly fresh and unique book, and here is Q&A with the Author!

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  1. John, I’m so sorry but I have to ask – how did you come up with the idea for “The One”? This book is so unique and full of surprises and I just need to know what inspired you to write this story.

My partner (also called John) and I were planning our New York wedding. While on an escalator on the London Underground, I wondered how much easier it’d be if there was something chemical inside us that matched you with your soul-mate. If you saw them, you’d just know they were made for you, like I felt about John. Four months later, draft one was complete.

 

  1. The novel is told from multiple points of view – how did you keep them all on track?

I kept all five of them on little dog leads in my head, and then when it came time to write them, I’d let them off to run around and see where they ended up. I don’t write methodically. So I skipped from character to character depending on my mood. The hardest part was when it was all complete and deciding on which order to place the characters. I decided to ease people in gently with Mandy in chapter one, then punch them in the stomach with Christopher the serial killer in chapter two.

 

  1. How carefully did you plan the novel in advance? It is so complex, with so many twists and turns – which I loved, BTW – and I wonder, did you have to stick to your plan or did the plot take you by surprise as well?

Once I had the characters in mind, I thought about trying to link them but then decided it would be too convoluted. So I kept them under the umbrella of the DNA test and let them go in their own directions. I ran all my ideas through my partner as he’s a great sounding board for that kind of thing despite the fact he rarely reads a book! Then I just started writing. Sometimes I even surprised myself with plot changes – spoiler alert – for example, with Mandy, it was never the intention for her Match Richard to still be alive. It was only as I wrote about his death that I changed my mind and thought it’d be more interesting to have him still breathing.

 

  1. A writer’s life is certainly not an easy one—from rejections to tough reviews, and so on. How did you get through the bad days?

I don’t have any, I really don’t. I’ve always had a full-time job throughout this process so fortunately, I’ve not had to reply on writing novels to pay the bills. I work as a journalist and as a result, I have a thick skin and can take criticism. My first book, The Wronged Sons, was rejected by 80 different publishers and agents which is why I decided to self-publish and it became a hit, enabling me to continue writing books in my spare time. Of course it’s not great to get bad reviews but it’s part and parcel of the job. People have the right not to like my books just as I have the right not to like every book I read. And I’ll never respond to a bad review, no matter how tempting it can be!

 

  1. What did you want your readers to take away from your story? Was there a hidden message within?

I guess the point of The One was to encourage readers to ask themselves if such a test existed, would they take it? If so, why? What about those who are in a relationship already? In a world that appears to be speeding up rather than slowing down, sometimes we all need to take time out to appreciate what we have, not what we could have.

 

  1. What was your most favourite and least favourite aspect of writing “The One”?

The first draft is always interesting, and the second draft is fun, tinkering with ideas and expanding upon them. The version I hate the most is the final proof. By then, I am so sick of reading the same 104,000 words over and over again. This book was the first time I worked with an editor, Emily Yau at Ebury, who also discovered The One when it was a self-published book called A Thousand Small Explosions. Her suggestions were so, so good and she made the process a pleasure.

 

  1. I think you must have been asked thousand of times already but please bare with me – would YOU take the test? Why yes/why not?

Ha! Yes, I have been asked it once or twice and the answer is always the same – no! As I addressed in the book, so many people think the grass is greener on the other side and they are always striving for something new, something more exciting than they already have. Invariably, they never get it. I married nine months ago and have found my One. I don’t need to take a test to reassure myself. 

 

  1. What’s next for John Marrs?

The Wronged Sons now has a publisher of its own and is re-released on July 13 with a fresh new edit and title, now called When You Disappeared. My next brand new novel, tentatively called The Good Samaritan – a psychological thriller – is scheduled for release in November this year. And I’m about to start writing book five.

Catch Me if You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson / Blog Tour

Hi guys, hope you are all well on this sunny (finally! FINALLY!!!) Wednesday. And if you’re not, I am just about to give you a reason to feel well again. I am absolutely, very THRILLED to be part of Lisa Dickenson’s blog tour, celebrating the publication of her “Catch Me if You Cannes”. I adore Lisa and her novels, they are all full of things that I am looking for in my reads, and please be warned that this review is going to be full of exclamation marks, the word “absolutely” and “loved”. Put your feet high and enjoy!

And Clara, thank you so, so much!!!

Catch Me if You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

 

32940978Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 4th May  2017

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

Number of pages: 416

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

WARNING: reading Catch Me If You Cannes may result in embarrassing outbursts of belly-aching laughter on public transport. Romantic, funny and full of Cannes Film Festival magic, it’s perfect for fans of Giovanna Fletcher, Paige Toon and Mhairi McFarlane.

Jess has decided it’s time to get out of her comfort zone and live a little. So when her best friend Bryony, a journalist on a gossip magazine, is sent to cover the Cannes Film Festival, Jess decides to seize the day and go along for the ride. Two weeks of sun, glamour and exclusive entry into celeb-filled parties is just the kind of adventure Jess needs.

Reality soon bites though when Jess and Bryony find they’re staying in a dingy hotel far away from all the action and Bryony’s expenses budget barely covers a glass of local wine. Undeterred, the two women are determined to live like the elite and enjoy one fancy night out to begin their holiday. So what if they have to tell a few white lies along the way? It’s just this once. No harm done . . . right?

Full of hilarious one-liners, sparkling blue seas and plenty of romantic moments, Catch Me If You Cannes is the story of two friends, a few white lies and one very sticky situation . . .

Rating: five-stars

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Lisa Dickenson takes us on holidays – again! After Italy in “You Had Me at Merlot” it’s time for France, and not any France but Cannes itself! I’ve packed my bag already with flip – flops and very roomy sarongs and am readyyyyy! Yes, I would go anytime and anywhere with Lisa and her brilliant sense of humour and colourful, witty storytelling. Just imagine what great holidays would it be!

“Catch Me if You Cannes” introduces us mainly to our two main characters, Jess and Bryony. Bryony works for a tabloid that is fairly at the end of all the tabloids but nevertheless, her boss sends her to Cannes Film Festival to cover as many juicy, sexy, fat scandals as possible and Jess, who lately seems a little low, decides to tag along with her best friend. The girls very quickly find themselves in the middle of action, among the right crowd and well, Jess meets a boy!
OK, they weren’t expecting to stay in this hotel at the outskirts of Cannes where, if you want to see the see, you must do some yoga – like moves, and so when they are taken for other people, they just decide to fib a little, throw in some white lies and see when reality is going to bite again. For now, they are determined to live the celebrity life and enjoy their holidays as much as they Can(nes).

Guys, everything is right with book. Everything!
Characters.
Setting.
Dialogues.
Pace.
EVERYTHING!
Lisa can create the most incredible, warm, realistic characters ever, characters that I have a feeling I used to know when I was a baby, through my childhood, teenage years and half of my adult life. They might be incredibly funny and easy to like people, but there is also incredible depth to all of them, and they all feel like real people, as if you could just stretch a hand and feel them. I fell in love with Jess and Bryony from the start – Jess, who has a cafe back in Cornwall, is right now escaping all the troubles and worries that were preoccupying her, and oh my, there was something in this girl that made me want to hug her hard and never let her go. Bryony seems to be the louder and more feisty of the two friends, larger than life, but there is still such a vulnerability to her, and she’s dreaming of becoming a serious journalist one day, and they compliment each other so great, and it is only Lisa who could capture all those contrasts in the girls so well. I absolutely loved the fact that the girls just went with the flow. Oh well, when being mistaken for being other people, some kind of VIPs, they just went with it, and methinks, why not??? They had the guts for this and I admired them for this and because I would be too scared, it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t spend the holidays of their lives, right?
But also all the other supporting characters are just a real pleasure to read and you can’t help but root for them or want to slap them, or wipe away the smirk off their faces, yes, Celine. Lisa knows when and where to add a new character and she finds uses for all of them, they are all absolutely needed and add tons of fun to the story. Jess, Bryony, Leo, Harvey, Richard and Co., they were so damned and utterly likeable!
I absolutely adored the awkward conversations made by Jess and Leo, they were hilarious, and OH. MY. WORD but they team up together so well! They are so cute, and so shy, and they say the funniest things, and everything between them seems so real and honest, the glances, the brushing against each other , light touching… Absolutely adorable!

Lisa can so truly vividly describe the settings, and it’s no exception with this story. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face, see the blue water sparkling and oh my gosh, what I need right now are crepes with Nutella!!! (Well, because there are no crepes in the distance of around 160 km from me, I’ve just settled for Nutella. It did the trick as well). And oh, what with my nosiness, I couldn’t wait to spot a celebrity or two, partying on the biggest yachts in the world! One of the highlights of this book must have been the trip to Monaco (casino! Formel1!, Palace…! I must stop or I’ll start crying with jealousy at all the sights and good weather and money won in casino. I LOVE casinos.), losing glasses and then buying new ones, in the most over – priced shops in the world when you credit card is maxed up totally, and of course all the scenes with Jess and Leo doing their very awkward flirting, and saying all the things you shouldn’t say on a date – but it was all so genuine and honest, and I just wanted to hug them to my respectable bosom, kiss them on their heads and assure them everything is going to be OK.

“Catch Me if you Cannes” was packed full, as it usually is with Lisa’s stories, of incredible, belly – ache one – liners. There is something magic and addictive to Lisa’s writing. It’s so light and easy to follow, and it leaves you full of sparkles and will to live, really. But it’s not only laugh – out – loud story about the adventures of two best friends, oh no, Lisa, as usually, has added some softer and emotional moments to the plot as well, that just made me love the story much, much more, because well, life is not only a bed of roses, right? But let’s be honest, it is the ultimate chick – lit, summer-y read that’s going to leave you with cheesy grins. There is a feel – good factor to it, sunshine, humour and good vibes, everything that you could wish for! It’s funny, it’s flirty, and it’s full of surprises and hilarious situations. It has the best characters ever invented, the greatest friendship and crazy family. Let’s be honest, no matter what Lisa Dickenson writes, she turns it into a real cracker, and I absolutely can’t wait for more from her. Her writing is so warm and addictive, and there is no such thing as too much humour in her books, and moreover, this humour is incredibly clever and with belly – laugh effect. It is also oh so very gentle and lovely, and the characters that Lisa creates are so genuine and feel so realistic. “Catch Me if You Cannes” was a brilliant novel, quick to read and quirky, perfect to settle down in the sun, probably with a glass of mimosa (or two, depends on how fast you drink) and devour it, just devour it, such delicious read it was. – it’s an absolute MUST READ, so please don’t wait, just BUY THE BOOK RIGHT NOW and thank me later for the recommendation.

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Paper Hearts & Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews / Blog Tour

Hi guys, how are you all doing on this cold and windy Thursday? To make you feel better I have a blog tour stop today for you, and one that I am so very excited about! Who of you hasn’t heard of Carole Matthews? I thought so, we all know and adore her, and this is why I am so thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for her newest release, “Paper Hearts & Summer Kisses”. It is a special book and special blog tour, as Carole Matthews wanted to use it as a paper chain of thanks – and this is why I decided to give my extra copy of the book to one of my best friends, Alex – I know she’s read the novel already and loved it as much as I did, and also she passed it to her sister, so our paper chain of thanks is growing stronger!

Paper Hearts & Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

 

31417121Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 6th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

A heart-warming and poignant novel of romance, family and second chances, Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is Sunday Times bestselling Carole Matthews at her outstanding best. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson.

Christie Chapman is a single working mother who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It can be tough just getting through the day but Christie has always found comfort in her love of crafting and any spare time she has is spent in her parents’ summerhouse working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed birthday cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking. All of a sudden Christie sees a different future for her and Finn – one full of hope and possibility, and if the handsome Max Alexander is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking.

And then, all of sudden, Christie’s world is turned upside down.

Christie knows that something has to give, but what will she choose? Will she give up her dreams and the chance of real love? What price will she pay for doing the right thing? Can Christie find her happy ending in . . . Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.

Rating: 5/5

Carole Matthews has been on my auto – buy list of authors for a few good years already. Sometimes her books are good, more than often they are better than good but there is one thing certain – she always delivers a beautiful story that tugs at your heart strings, that make you smile and cry, that make you start to believe that the world can be a better place.

I personally think that it is one of the best Carole Matthews’ books. It is full of her charming, warm writing, down – to – earth heroine wrestling with problems hitting her left and right, but a heroine that never gives up. It is full of this trademark Carole Matthews’ humour, poignant moments and situations that you can easily relate to. There were moments that I was thinking, oh my, how much Christie is going to hold on, how many awful news are going to strike her and I truly fell for her. I just wanted to keep reading this story, to see what’s going to happen and maybe it’s going to sound funny to you but I also wanted to give Christie and Finn standing ovation for being so strong.

A gorgeous, down to earth read where you immediately feel at home, you feel as if you knew the characters and you want to help them. Moreover, you may have a feeling that you know what’s going to happen, that you can predict the outcome but you are wrong – the author throws surprise after surprise and I more than often gasped in shock, more than often wanted to drop a tear or two, more than often wanted to pat the characters on their shoulders and tell them I am there for them – and it doesn’t happen often that I feel the need to talk to the characters! Because, as usually, the characters in Ms Matthews’ books are brilliantly drawn. I immediately fell for them all and kept everything crossed for them. Finn was great – suffering from really bad headaches, not being able to enjoy his life to the full and not finding doctor’s help almost till it was too late. I admired him how brave he is through this all, how calm and stoical, not making use of the situation only clenching his teeth and going on. Christie is a very ordinary woman and I think this is what makes her instantly so likeable. She has to commute to London to earn her money, she has a 15 – year old son that she has to support. One of the things that makes her happy is crafting and her evenings and any spare time is being spent on creating cards that she can then sell to improve her finances. Boring? No. Ordinary and normal – yes, and I couldn’t help but fell for her immediately. Seeing her struggle I just wanted to hug her and tell everything will be all right. But will it be? Also, Christie and Finn were incredibly close, also with Christie’s parents living around the corner and they made a really nice close knit group.

Yes, there were moments that the book was slow, that all that happened was Christie commuting and complaining about her job but you know what? It didn’t bother me at all. It was all told in such a human, realistic way that you could easily relate with her and her problems and it was all so genuine and honest and actually it could have been me, you or any other person. Yes, the end was a tad bit saccharine and I would love such chances in my own life but it just somehow sat with me and all those ups and downs in Christie’s life made me like her more.

I am not a crafter. I can do some arts and crafts with the children in kindergarten, I can glue something together but all the things that Carole Matthews writes about in her story are like a higher level of mathematics to me. However, I do admire people who can create such gorgeous things and I would give lots of my things to be able to create such beautiful cards and other wonders. I loved to see how creative Christie is and how she could trickle in ideas based on the few materials that she had at her disposal. Those ideas were described in a very detailed way but I couldn’t have enough of them, guys.
But this story is not only about crafting. There is of course a bit of sparkling romance as well and the issue about Finn’s health and this all created a lovely, compelling novel. It is full of emotions, ups and downs, a story about family relationships, friendship, new beginnings and second chances. Wonderful, warm, uplifting book – highly recommended.

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We’ll Always Have Paris by Sue Watson

We’ll Always Have Paris by Sue Watson

 

29394047Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 23rd March 2017

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

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Rosie Jackson is beginning to slowly come to terms with a new life and a new future at the age of sixty-five.

Rosie is bereft when her husband Mike dies. She misses him terribly; even though he wasn’t the love of her life, she feels lonely in her grief, despite being close to her two grown-up daughters. With time away from the family florist business, Rosie has the space to think about the past and what might have been. She remembers a summer with first love Peter as one of the happiest times of her life, but her memories are bittersweet.

After a chance encounter with Peter forty-seven years later, they both begin to wonder ‘what if’ and whether it’s never too late for second chances in love . . .

Rating: 4/5

Sue Watson got us used, or at least me, to humorous stories full of quirky, lovely heroines that already experienced a lot in their lives. “We’ll always Have Paris” however was remarkably different – it was much more serious in tone. Sure, Rosie, our heroine is already a mature woman and there are some comical situations but altogether it was a new direction, more mature. And I think it’s great – no matter what Ms Watson’s writes about, it turns out into a lovely, so close to life story with relatable characters.

All of the characters in this book are wonderfully rounded and feel like real people and the author has brilliantly captured the differences between the generations. We have the grandmother Rosie, a lovely, woman who remained young who loves her family above all but there is also a lot of life in her and I absolutely freakingly adored the fact that she felt she deserves to live, even after her beloved husband dies. She had her period of grief and she still loved Mike but she felt young enough to follow her heart. She devoted all of her life to her family, she raised two great daughters and had two brilliant, quirky granddaughters (they don’t appear often in this story but what I got made me fell in love with those girls, especially with the older one – I loved their conversations!) and now it was Rosie’s time. She wasn’t afraid of challenges and new experiences and I truly admired her for this.

I loved how the book dealt with all the dilemmas and how gently and with a lot of respect Sue Watson approached all the questions and uncertainties of falling in love when you’re of a mature age. She took all the aspects into account as it was not only Rosie’s life that was changing but also this of her family.

I only think that I’d love a little different introduction to Peter. Rosie was reminiscing, thinking about her youth and her first young love and then suddenly, boom, he entered the scenes – it was obvious that he’s going to appear in the story sooner or later. I think for me it would be bigger surprise when he first appeared and then Rosie would introduce us to him and tell us about him and their young, turbulent relationship. Also, the book was on a very steady level, the pace was very peaceful and quiet and yes, sometimes you don’t need fireworks and drama but this time I was waiting for something to happen. Not sure what, perhaps some troubles in paradise, just something that would pump up the volume and the temperature a little and add so very needed twist. But other than that, I really adored this story, it was lovely, warm and full of feelings.

“We’ll Always Have Paris” is really a book about women – power, I think, putting women in the centre in this story. It is about different generations of women, because even those that are not longer with the characters were important part of the book, like Rosie’ mother Margaret, who Rosie now, grandmother herself, learnt to appreciate. It shows the unconditional love mothers feel, it shows how families work and it also shows that actually there is always the same circle of life – we give birth to our children, we love, adore them, we suffer together with them, we want to kill them but they always stay our children, no matter how old they are, and it is the same for our daughters, granddaughters… This is a story for everybody, no matter how old you are because it shows you how to appreciate your family and your own time in life. And hello, it is never too late for a romance and fall in love, right? This is also a wonderful tale of rediscovering not only your first love, but also yourself. It shows that loving one person doesn’t mean you can’t love the other. It’s about real family and real family dynamics, and this all written in such a lovely, vivid and gentle way. Witty and poignant, sweet and bitter, a real joy and gem to read. Recommended!

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The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan

The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan

 

34267172Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 9th February 2016

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

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Flora is forced to move back to the tiny island of Mure from the bright lights of London.
It’s tough: even the beautiful landscapes and bright blue sea can’t lift her spirits – she’s too busy looking after her dad and her feckless brothers. Then she chances upon her mum’s collection of recipes and begins to cook her way through it. As she she reconnects with her family, and the place she was born- might she also find herself?

Rating: 4/5

Ah yes, there is nothing better than a new Jenny Colgan’s book, right? When starting her novels I know that I am for some really delicious recipes, mouth – watering descriptions of food, brilliant, warm characters and this special writing style that is already becoming Ms Colgan’s hallmark – nobody writes like she does, I think you must agree with it. Her stories always make me smile and make me feel warm, they are uplifting and even if they are full of obstacles and troubles, the sun is always shining at the end. And it was the same with “The Summer Seaside Kitchen”!

The whole bunch of the characters in this novel is perfect. They are so different to each other, they represent different views and ideas, they have different life goals and this all makes the reading so much more interesting and different. Next to the down to earth villagers we have a controversial millionaire, then we have the issue of being a homosexual in such a small and traditional community – but a community that can take you by surprise more than once, as they are people who are more open than we can expect and more clever than we suspect! It is incredible how well Jenny Colgan can capture all the differences and how well she can get into the characters’ heads and make them so realistic and genuine – they are all so well drawn, so honest in the way they are and talk.
I loved the two sides to Flora. The one who wanted to live in London, lead the life just like many other young people, go to the cinema or the bar. Then the other one, who she wanted to forget about, but that was so strongly rooted in her – that she comes from a remote island where everyone knows everyone, where there is no anonymity of London. They were so brilliantly captured by the author, you could feel Flora’s indecision and I really wanted to see which way she’s going to go. She feared so much to come back to Mure, to see her family but you can take a girl out of the village but you can’t take the village out of the girl, right? I loved Flora, she was sensitive and she had heart in the right place. She was funny and sharp and clever and all her feelings and emotions were brought to us in such a genuine, honest way that I had a feeling I’m just sitting in her head, so well I could understand her.
The interactions in Flora’s family were so brilliantly captured! The troubles, the misunderstandings, the typical banter between the siblings, it just felt so natural and so true. You can’t help but fall for all of them, even with their harshness but you just can’t not like them and wish them all best. I would love to catch up with Flora, her brothers, little niece and to see how her relationship is going on!

This story is set on a Scottish Island, and Jenny Colgan couldn’t have think of a better setting. The descriptions of the fierceness of the island, of it being so natural were so vivid and so beautiful, and you know what, I could fully understand the reluctance to the wind farm, as lately there are five such monstrosities standing almost at my doorstep, and I always thought that oh well, a windmill here or there, it’s just there, but that’s not true – I can’t get used to them and they are spoiling my beautiful views, so I really just could imagine how they would look like on this remote island. Jenny Colgan has a real talent to capture the beauty of the landscape, of nature, and also she must be the queen of capturing the essence of people living on Mure, their solitude, their way of thinking, them being so proud of their background, parentage. This all has just made reading this much more special. The way Jenny Colgan writes about the island just brings it to life, the descriptions of the sea, of seals popping their heads above the water, about the weather that can change in one second, the landscape are so brilliantly vivid and I loved them.

But guys. As much as I love Jenny Colgan and loved “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” I can’t help thinking that it’s slowly time for a change. I mean, this author follows one formula and even if it’s OK because it’s working wonders and I also fell for it, sometimes there comes this niggling feeling that I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, that it feels like reading a copy of a copy of a copy of a book. I would love to see something a little different, something that doesn’t feel exactly like the previous book. But apart of this – the story was really well plotted and constructed and I enjoyed the various subplots – it was not only about Flora but also about her bothers, about the island, about the outdoor – experience guides, about local businesses, about family bonds. There is also this little bit of romance and Flora has really predispositions to complicate her love life, and to be honest this time I personally didn’t know which one of the guys would be better for her, and also it wasn’t clear till the end, and I enjoyed that this aspect of the story was not so predictable.

“The Summer Seaside Kitchen” is really a wonderful, welcoming read and it is so easy to get wrapped up in this story. The characters got under your skin and you fell for them so very quickly. It is impossible not to love the setting, and all the pagan mythology elements that Jenny describes were brilliant, as well as the names of the characters – it just made the reading so much more authentic, keeping up with the traditions, feeling the atmosphere and community spirit. A lovely read and I will be getting back to this book for sure! Highly recommended!