Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Book Review - Christmas at the Cornish Confetti Agency by Daisy James

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Amazon UK

Title: Christmas at the Cornish Confetti Agency
Author: Daisy James
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author Supplied Copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 27th August 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

It's Christmas at The Cornish Confetti Agency!

When Lexie Harrington is asked to choreograph Phoebe and Sam’s Christmas-themed wedding, she can’t wait to create the perfect winter wonderland - elegantly dressed fir trees, glossy garlands of holly and mistletoe, baskets of yule logs and pine cones, and the mouth-watering fragrance of gingerbread, cinnamon sticks and warm mulled wine floating through the air.

With handsome wedding columnist-cum-fledgling scriptwriter Theo Barker at her side, she’s confident that she can create the perfect festive ambience the bride and groom have been dreaming of since their engagement in the Swiss Alps; no rampant hosepipes, no mechanical mice, no confetti-filled hairdryers.

But this is The Cornish Confetti Agency, and the words ‘plain-sailing’ and ‘hassle-free’ do not feature in the promotional brochure. So, when a much-loved portrait of the groom’s father is adorned with pirate eye-patches and black plastic moustaches, and his expensive cologne is switched for toilet cleaner, Lexie and Theo must once again don their metaphorical deerstalkers and unravel the mystery before the wedding dissolves into Christmas-themed chaos and calamity.

A perfect Christmas wedding?
Is there such a thing for The Cornish Confetti Agency?

A glittery, feel-good story perfect for the festive season, and the third book in The Cornish Confetti Agency series.

I couldn't have enjoyed this book more if I tried...

... it's the latest book in a series that I'm loving 
.... it's a Christmas book 
... it has weddings 
... it has the assorted chaos that surrounds Lexie
... some absolutely fabulous hen / stag party activities - I loved the details of the various designs on the Christmas tree decorating, gingerbread competition and also snow globe creations
... there is love in the air, and more new pairings than you may initally think
... it was just a book that has made me smile a lot while reading it. 

I suspect it could be read as a standalone but I have been enjoying the series so much that to me it was like returning home to some friends. I couldn't wait to catch up with all my favourite characters. 

Jasper's waistcoats seem to get more and more inventive.  Zak's methods for taking photos were amusing, bordering on the bizarre! I liked the whole of the main wedding party, but that was just one of the two main events Lexie was organising this time around. 

It's just a book full of creativity, and a clear love of weddings, wedding fashion, and Christmas! It just worked for me and was a pure pleasure to read. 

This would be the most absolutely perfect end to the series, I love how all the series wide story arcs so far have reached really good if not conclusions then settling points, and it has had me smiling throughout.  However the only reason I can't say its the perfect end to the series, but rather a great way of tieing up loose ends from the first three books - is because I can already see there is a fourth book due out in the series and I'm already far too excited to read that too! 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday, 21 September 2020

Book Review - Starcross Manor by Christie Barlow

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Amazon UK

Title: Starcross Manor
Author: Christie Barlow
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: 14th August 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Dying to know more about the brooding and mysterious Flynn Carter and the secrets behind his plans for Starcross Manor?
You won’t want to miss the next spellbinding chapter in the Love Heart Lane series – where friends are there for you no matter what.

When Julia Coleman meets Flynn Carter again in the cosy village of Heartcross it can only mean trouble. Flynn might be rich, brooding and sexy, but Julia knows first-hand he’s ruthless and she plans to watch his every move.

When Julia discovers Flynn’s plans for beautiful Starcross Manor her greatest fears come true.  Because Flynn’s dreams of turning Starcross into a luxury hotel could ruin Julia’s dreams…and finish off the community of Heartcross for good.

Flynn makes it clear he doesn’t want trouble, and he’s not the man Julia thinks he is.  As he sets about convincing the community he’s changed, he hopes he can convince Julia to give him another chance too…

Another gem of a story in this totally fabulous series. 

Starcross Manor is easily a standalone and I feel this is the first time we have really got to know Julia, and her faithful colleague Eleni, in Julia's B&B.  

Flynn we are introduced to briefly at the end of Clover Cottage and he is a difficult to try to describe.  We initially are shown from Julia all the reasons we shouldn't trust Flynn, as they have had run ins in the past, but every time we see him, he seems like a really nice guy. 

And Starcross Manor, now that is a hotel I would love to check into, it sounds lush, pure luxury with a wonderful array of facilities, yet it is because Starcross Manor that is being turned into a hotel and not retirement homes as the Heartcross community believe  that causes all the main conflict in this story, let by Julia who is scared her B&B could be in danger. 

From the first few pages, I felt instantly at home in this book. It was wonderful to be back in Heartcross, and to catch up with Isla, Felicity , and Allie from the previous books, catching up with old friends, and seeing how everyone was doing. 

Christie Barlow had a stroke of genius when she cam up with this Love Heart Lane series, the books are all so warm and cosy to read, while full of realistic characters you can't help but care for and root for, and they are just fabulous stories. 

This is exactly the sort of book I needed at the point I read it, it was able to take my mind off real life for the precious hours I was absorbed between the pages, and I already can't wait for the next book in the series.  Please Christie Barlow, write faster, I need more! 

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Friday, 18 September 2020

Book Review - Gone In Seconds by M. A. Comley - #HolidayReading Malta

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Amazon UK

Title: Gone in Seconds
Author: M. A. Conley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Jeamel Publishing Limited
Publication Date: 18th September 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Money rules...but to what extent?

DI Katy Foster knew she had big shoes to fill when her long-time partner DI Lorne Warner retired. Now she has a new partner, DC Charlie Simpkins, Lorne's daughter, and their first case together leaves them baffled.

A series of murders, and the deaths of two police officers leads to a dangerous investigation that makes no sense. One thing is certain-many more lives will be at risk unless Katy and her team can conquer the evil lurking within the city.

From the moment the Justice series ended I have been hoping that there would be a a spin off and I'm over the moon that it has arrived. 

We have a whole bunch of familiar faces including Katy, alongside Charlie Simpkins. 

Longtime fans of the Justice series will have seen Charlie grow up, mature, and become the adult she is today, and I found it rather surreal that we now get to see what she is like as a detective. 

It is though the first book in a brand new series, and can easily be read as a standalone, and based on this introduction, it is promising to be another fabulous M.A. Comley series. 

I read this in one sitting in two straight hours, while on holiday and was oblivious to the world around me, I just about remembered to take sips of water to stay hydrated in the heat while reading!

It was great seeing Katy lead an investigation as I'm so used to her being more secondary to Lorne, so it's good to see her in a whole new light, and I think as the series and Charlie's experience progresses she will become even better. 

It's another superbly excellent book from an author that I ran out of superlatives for a while back!   Just please don't make us wait too long for more, given Justice is my favourite series,  its only logical i  i want more from this police team. 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Book Review - The High Moments by Sara-Ella Ozbek

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Title: The High Moments
Author: Sara-Ella Ozbek
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 17th September 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Scarlett makes mistakes – over and over again.
She’s not perfect, she has a tricky relationship with her mother and is desperate for people to like her.

She repeatedly goes back to the people that hurt her, no matter how badly.
She moves to London with no plan (of course), but manages to land a job at a modelling agency. Finally, she’s getting her life on track, but the fashion industry is a murkier place than she had imagined. 

She changes herself to please others.
Just as she starts to find her place, Scarlett’s life begins to spiral. But at least people know her, she is starting to become someone. And surely it’s better to be someone – even if it’s someone you hate?

With a vein of dark humour at its core, The High Moments offers an astute, often stark look at the fashion industry and the issues you can face as a woman in your twenties - fans of Emma Jane Unsworth's Animals and shows like Girls will love this.

I loved this book, there is something just so refreshing about watching a main character turning her life into an absolute train wreck! 

Once she finally gets a job in London, its starts her onto a year of her life where she spirals out of control,  with sex, alcohol and a cacophony of drugs, while instagramming to show of her fabulous new life and trying to make friends with the models she is working with. 

It's a look at the fashion industry from a model agent's point of view, of a inexperienced not overly worldly at times it appears impressions, and at times I hated Scarlett and others I really felt for her.  

But regardless I had to keep reading to see if she was ever going to realise what a hot mess she has become. 

There was so much that I loved about this book, I felt as though I was a fly on the wall at Pure Models, and the various parties. I found myself hoping that Scarlett wouldn't make the next really cringey decisions after another.  It's definitely a look at the seedier side of the industry away from all of the gloss and glamour. 

A really polished debut novel and I'm curious to see what the author will come up with next. 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Book Review - Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

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Amazon UK

Title: Love at First Like
Author: Hannah Orenstein
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline Eternal
Publication Date: 6th August 2019
Rating: 4 Stars


Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex's engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.

Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper, and in real life he shows promise too - if only Eliza didn't feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn't know Eliza is 'engaged'; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza's lies start to spiral out of control. Now she can either stay engaged online - or fall in love in real life.

Written with singular charm and style, Love at First Like is for anyone growing up and settling down in the digital age.

I'm a huge fan of the fake date trope,and anything featuring social media, so was excited to see what Love at First Like would have in store. 

I'm delighted to say it's nothing like the typical fake date books I've read before, for the man has absolutely no clue that none of it is real, while you have to wonder how on earth Eliza is going to pull off a fake wedding too, much less keep the identity of her "fiancee" hidden until then. 

There is a very early in the story message that you cant take from this book, be careful of what you post to instagram, or you may find yourself in a ridiculous situation like Eliza is now in. 

I loved seeing how things developed, but despite looking good I wasn't that keen on Blake, but rather a character that kept popping up and had me wonder what if... 

Eliza although being wonderfully entertaining and determined to be a great sister to Sophie, also has a worrying ability to lie continually. she finds herself in the biggest web of deceit that has you scratching your head as to how it will all resolve itself. 

I also loved the insight into a jewellery story, and generally found this to be a light hearted feel good read that I really enjoyed.  I'm also really happy that I read Hannah Orenstein's latest book Head Over Heels before this one, as I know how much she is growing as an author and I'm excited to see what her next book will be. 

Thank you to Headline Eternal and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Book Review - Far From Perfect by Holly Smale

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Amazon UK

Title: Far From Perfect
Author: Holly Smale
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Children's Books
Publication Date: 23rd July 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

The second sensational book in the Valentines series – a hilarious and heart-aching story about the impossible standards for being a girl.
Be yourself but, you know, someone else . . .

Enthusiastic but not desperate; calm but not dull; funny but not try-hard; sparky but not crazy; feisty but not aggressive; beautiful but relatable; elegant but not icy; confident but not arrogant; feminine but not girly; nice but not boring.

Faith Valentine has it all – fame, money and extraordinary beauty. But what she wants more than anything is a quiet life away from the cameras. Except nobody ever asks Faith what she wants, and her family’s expectations are crushing her.

The world thinks she’s perfect, but is there is more to perfection than meets the eye?

It is so pleasing to be back with the Valentines family.  It took me a few chapters to realise why Faith wasn't as familiar to me as I was perhaps expecting and that is purely due to book 1 being from Hope's point of view - which makes this perfectly readable as a standalone. 

Ah Faith, she is doing her best outwardly to be the Valentine that is expected, beautiful, nice, a bit of asap, actress, yet inside well it feels as though it may not quite what she wants.  In fact some of the scenes where looks like she is going off the rails are really amusing. 

And I loved her new friend Scarlett, everyone needs a Scarlett in their lives, a mix between mentor, friend, bad influence and just all around cool character. 

The Valentines are at their dysfunctional best, the dynamics between them all are amusing, tricky to fathom and then we are given some insight into a past event that clearly shapes them all at the moment. 

Interspersed with headlines and news articles about Faith, where we can see just how the press can spin things, Faith is on the ultimate journey of self discovery in this book and I was willing her to come to the reasonably obvious conclusion, before it impacted her further. 

As groan worthy and Christmas crackery as they were in quality, Faith has many jokes sometimes within the dialogue, sometimes at the start of a chapter, which couldn't help but raise a smile, even if the punch lines were rather unfunny! 

This is filled yet again with Holly Smale's fabulous ability to get inside teenage minds, produce quirky characters that you can;t help but feel for and root for, and for me was a reasonably quick read that whizzed by, leaving me the painful wait for the next book in the series, which I already know I want to read! 

Thank you to Harper and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday, 14 September 2020

Book Review - Under A Siena Sun by T. A. Williams

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Amazon UK

Title: Under A Siena Sun
Author: T. A. Williams
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Canello
Publication Date: 27th August 2020
Rating: 4 Stars

Lucy needed a change of scene. She didn’t expect the change of a lifetime.
Doctors Without Borders has been Lucy Young’s life for the past four years. After being rescued from a conflict zone, she’s making a change from saving lives under gunfire to practising medicine in safe, serene Siena.

Now treating wealthy patients at a private clinic, she's never felt less comfortable. She’s used to helping those in dire need – not those in need of a nip and tuck. Her turmoil grows when she encounters injured tennis star David Lorenzo, whose smiles make Lucy forget her aversion to the rich.

She’s soon falling for the sportsman but is she losing herself in this world of excess? All she’s ever wanted was to help the underprivileged, so can her future lie in Siena at the clinic – with David?

This sunny romance is the perfect summer escape for fans of Lucy Coleman and Alex Brown.

What an enjoyable book this was, and it makes you think.  

... Think about the rich / poor divide and whether wealth can buy happiness, and what happens when people from two widely different experiences come together. 

Lucy has been a MSF doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a few years, and we first meet her in an action packed opening, that had my adrenaline pumping, my curiosity raised and eyes opened, while also making me want to read more. 

She realises she needs some to rest, relax and reflect on life and heads to Italy for her best friends wedding in Siena.  During that time she is offered a job at  a private clinic which is worlds apart from what she has been used to, and throughout you can see Lucy struggle with treating elite patients when so much of the world has so little. 

I happen to be partial to a medical romance, so found the professional side of Lucy fascinating and would have happily read a whole book of her and her work for Medicin Sans Frontiere.  However instead we have a great story in Italy. 

And how I loved Boris and Barolo, they are utterly adorable and meant that T. A. Williams will be delighted to see not just one black Labrador, but at least two in the book.  And Boris that was see more of is so lovable, I wished he was mine! 

Then there is David, I loved everything about his story, from initially very grumpy, into the wonderful person he turned out to be 

This is a lovely escapist read, from an author I love reading, and a great way to while away the hours, while taking your mind generally off the pandemic.   

Thank you to Canelo and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Friday, 11 September 2020

Book Review - Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls by Holly Martin - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK

Title: Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls
Author: Holly Martin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 10th September 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Get swept away to the sparkling Cornish coast with the stunning new novel from bestselling author Holly Martin. Autumn Skies Over Ruby Falls is the perfect romantic treat to snuggle up with this autumn.

Clover Philips is exactly where she’s meant to be – back home on Jewel Island teaching dance to the guests at the beautiful Sapphire Bay Hotel that she co-owns with her sisters Skye and Aria. Her life is complete, except for one thing…

When Clover left London she also left behind a devastating betrayal. She hasn’t been able to date anyone since, let alone allow herself to fall in love. What she needs is a casual fling to ease herself back into romance. And as luck would have it, the very handsome Angel Mazzeo is back in town.

The chemistry between Clover and Angel has been undeniable ever since he first arrived on Jewel Island six months ago. And though content to be her friend till now, Angel is more than willing to help Clover find her dating feet again.

It should be easy to keep things carefree when love is off the table, but when every moment is magical what started as casual soon becomes something much deeper. Will Clover and Angel find the courage to tell each other how they really feel? And is Clover ready to do the one thing she swore she’d never do again, fall in love?

Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Lucy Diamond and Veronica Henry, this unforgettable romance is guaranteed to make you smile and melt your heart. 

It was wonderful to be back on Jewel Island and at the Sapphire Bay hotel, this time with Clover being the focus of attention. 

Now its obvious from the start, ok since the previous book, just who she is interested in but something happened in her last relationship a few years ago that has left her very wary of trusting anyone, and not really sure if she ever wants to be involved with anyone again. 

Added to that, Angel has never had a serious relationship and is rather keen on travel and not settling in one place for too long, and you have either a recipe for disaster, or the perfect recipe for a book where both characters develop as the story progresses. 

And since this is a Holly Martin story, and even has the take your breath away romantic gesture I've come to expect from her, I think you may be able to guess how it turns out - but they do keep you on your toes as to whether or not there really will be a HEA. 

Set over the course of a week, we get to see the hotel and island's elaborate Halloween festival, with so many fabulous activities, and I loved how they had family friendly versions day time and then the fear factor ramped up for the evenings. 

I loved Angel's attempts at Ballet dancing, Clover's dance show,  all of Sykye's delicious sounding desserts,  and the continuation of Aria and Noah's happiness. 

This can easily be read as a standalone, but why deprive yourself of the first book and another Holly Martin gem. 

This was a joy to read on a hot summer's afternoon in my garden, and I found the pages kept on turning as I kept reading to see what would happen next. 

It's another top quality book with all the elements I've come to hope for from the author - well written, very romantic in places, a fabulous new book boyfriend, and a stunning setting. 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily 

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Book Review - The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

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Amazon UK
Title: The Other Passenger
Author: Louise Candlish
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 25th June 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

It all happens so quickly. One day you're living the dream, commuting to work by riverbus with your charismatic neighbour Kit in the seat beside you. The next, Kit hasn't turned up for the boat and his wife Melia has reported him missing.

When you get off at your stop, the police are waiting. Another passenger saw you and Kit arguing on the boat home the night before and the police say that you had a reason to want him dead. You protest. You and Kit are friends - ask Melia, she'll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your lives?

No, whatever danger followed you home last night, you are innocent, totally innocent.

Aren't you?

I did not see that coming, I did not see that coming at all.  I mean I should have expected complete brilliance by now by Louise Candlish, but I think this is even more brilliant than I would have anticipated. 

Although I feel it did start a bit slowly it is all so so relevant, and as I think back over the course of the story, it is just so clever. I never suspected the truth of the situation at all. 

And of the various commuter scenarios for London, commuting by river boat has never come to my attention before, probably because I don't live anywhere near close enough to the Thames.  

At one point we a given an incident that happened on the tube the year before involving Jamie, and it was described in such detail that I felt as though I was there, I've experience some of it on a tube before, and trust me you don't want to be on the Northern Line in any sort of British Heatwave in summer it is horrific! 

There was a moment where suddenly in the book that I knew I was finishing it in that sitting regardless of how much I had left, when everything was starting to come together, certain realisations were had by me the reader, and I just had to know just where it would all lead. 

This is simply another masterpiece from Louise Candlish who seems to be going from strength to strength with each book.  The characters and story is so plausible and I was drawn in and read most of it, in one sitting  in the garden on a rare day of sun! 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Book Review - A Springtime Affair by Katie Fforde

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Amazon UK

Title: A Springtime Affair
Author: Katie Fforde
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Century
Publication Date: 20th February 2020
Rating: 4 Stars

It’s the season of new beginnings for Helena and Gilly.

Gilly runs her own B&B business from her much-loved family home, which she doesn’t want to part with – at any price.

But that's before she meets handsome estate agent Leo, and soon she begins to wonder whether selling up might not be such a bad idea after all.

Meanwhile Gilly's daughter Helena has a budding romance of her own. A talented weaver, she's becoming very close to her new landlord, Jago, who's offered to help her at an upcoming craft fair.

It’s what friends do, and they are just friends. Aren’t they?

With spring in full bloom, Helena and Gilly begin to ask themselves the same question:

Might their new loves lead to happily ever after?

I love how every time I read a Katie Fforde book I come away having learnt about a new profession or craft.  In the case of A Springtime Affair it is weaving on looms, which I can honestly say is something I have never considered or given any thought to in the past.  Yet in this novel it sounded really lovely and something that if I ever had time to take up a craft could be interesting to look into - silk weaving that is due to being allergic to wool! 

I enjoyed Helena and Jago's newfound friendship, Jago sounds like a real keeper, he is just so caring towards Helena and animals, I really enjoyed their dynamic, and I was also really impressed with Helena's special skill, which doesn't seem to give her much pleasure but does have some interesting applications. 

Then there is Helena's mum Gilly, who is a real feeder, there is a lot of food in this book - and she is being pressured by her son, Martin, to sell her B&B and use most of the money on funding Martin a new house.  Which Gilly isn't really sure about, and then she meets slick tongued property valuer Leo, and they really hit it off. 

There is a lot of various plot lines weaved into this merry tale, and I really enjoyed all of them, and seeing just what is in Jago and Leo's pasts.  And there is the new hobby that Gilly becomes interested in, which  was exhilarating to read about. 

This is just what I have come to expect from the author, a warm and cosy story that I really did enjoy. 

Thank you to Cornerstone and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily..

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