Friday, 24 January 2020

Book Review - Dumped, Actually by Nick Spalding - #HolidayReading Madeira

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Amazon UK
Title: Dumped, Actually
Author: Nick Spalding
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: 16th June 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

When Ollie Sweet is very publicly dumped by ‘The One’, his seemingly perfect world dissolves into misery, self-pity, and a bizarre rooftop meeting with a suicidal man in flip-flops. While most would seek out the support of loved ones at such a torrid time, natural-born journalist Ollie asks the subscribers of his website: how did they get over their failed relationships?

When Ollie follows some of their more extreme advice, chaos inevitably ensues, including accidentally exposing himself to some unsuspecting wildlife, jumping out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane, and suffering from an extremely painful bottom, courtesy of a maniacal Scotsman.

Of course, all of this goes down a storm with his online following, and Ollie soon finds himself the centre of everyone’s attention – whether he likes it or not!

With his eclectic collection of supporters to guide him, can Ollie mend his broken heart, heal his broken bottom, and learn to find happiness again?

Without a doubt the funniest book Nick Spalding has ever written. 

Even the scene that really shouldn't have you laughing out loud, due to the serious undertones, was hilarious, with perfect comic timing. 

From the opening of the over the top proposal that goes wrong, which has many humourous bits, to everything that comes after it, time and time and again I was giggling, and occasionally probably getting strange looks from those around me. 

I tend to find this is an author whose humour is on my wave length and this was no exception. 

Whatever you think may be about to happen next, may just surprise you, as  it is so well written. 

Who knew being dumped publicly could lead to all of this fun!

Ollie Sweet is exactly that, he is sweet, he is a romantic, he's idealistic and a people pleaser and it leads him into to some wonderful situations. 

I adored every laugh filled moment of this book and recommend if to for anyone who is looking for some light hearted, fun in their life. 

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing on Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Book Review - It Started With A Secret by Jill Mansell - #HolidayReading Mexico - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK
Title: It Started With a Secret
Author: Jill Mansell
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Random Things Blog Tours
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 23rd January 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

The trouble with secrets is that you can't guess what the consequences will be . . .

Lainey has lost everything. Luckily one little fib (OK, quite a big fib) helps nail her dream job. Soon she's living in a stunning house by the sea, fending off obsessed fans for a retired - if far-from-retiring - actor and organising his charming but chaotic family. It's definitely worth the challenge of keeping her secret.

At least Lainey isn't looking for love. It's time for a break from all that. And yet . . . Seth, the actor's grandson, really is rather attractive. There's growing chemistry and a definite connection between them. But how would he react if he knew she hadn't been honest with him?

Lainey's not the only one with a secret, though. Seth has one of his own. And everything's about to start unravelling . . .

It is always a pleasure to sit down and read a brand new Jill Mansell book, and this was no exception. 

I was drawn into the story immediately, and couldn't help bu keep turning the pages to see what would happen next. 

The book returns to a familiar sounding area of Cornwall for Jill Mansell fans, St. Carys, which is made up of some bays that I definitely recall seeing as settings before. However if you have never read a book from the author don't fear it truly is 100% a standalone, I've never met any of these characters before. 

Lainey and Kit are good friends but pose as a couple to get a new job looking after a large family which includes a famous older relative, a single mother,  teenage twin girls, an 11 year old son and a gorgeous adult step brother - who need organisation, odd jobs and generally managing. 

I loved all the members of this family, some of which get far more of of a story than others, but I loved Richard and how he doesn't or does treat his fans!  And I loved Kit and Lainey for various reasons and actually well all of the characters . 

All had their upsides to them, well apart from some of the people Majella tries dating!

I loved every moment of this, including the couple of family secrets, the way Lainey is with everyone especially when helping Seth out on a couple of key occasions. 

A truly enjoyable story that only upset me because I reached the end and would have happily kept on reading for a lot longer. Means I'll probably ave to wait another year for the next book from one of my all time favourite authors, which is just far too long, but great stories do take time to write, so I'm happy to try to be patient!!

Thank you to Anne Cater for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Please follow along with the rest of the blog tour to hear more about this fabulous book

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Book Review - Somewhere Close to Happy by Lia Louis - #HolidayReading Mexico

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Amazon UK
Title: Somewhere Close to Happy
Author: Lia Louis
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Trapeze
Publication Date: 23rd January 2020 
Rating: 4 Stars

Lizzie James is happy.
She has a steady office job (with a steady stream of snacks), has had the same best friend since school, and she sees her family every Thursday night for take-away and trashy TV. Lizzie likes her uncomplicated life.

Then a letter arrives one day from her first love, Roman. A letter dated the day he disappeared, 12 years before. As Lizzie uncovers the secrets of the letter, she discovers what really happened the year her life fell apart - and all avenues lead back to Roman.

Lizzie James thought she was happy, or somewhere close to happy, at least. Now she's not so sure.

A very impressive debut novel, that delves into mental health and some other issues, while also being a journey of trying to rediscover yourself. 

It's the story of Lizzie and Roman who were incredibly close when they were teens, until Roman just disappeared out of her life 13 years ago. 

She has had no clue where he is, but out of the blue she recieves a letter that leads her to search for him.

Within this search as readers we are treated to chapters dealing with events 13 years ago, which were very interesting, especially the time they both spent in The Grove. 

I found it surprisingly fast to read, and it was very hard to tear myself away from the story at times. 

I have a feeling that elements of this book will be staying with me for a while, which is always a sign of a good book in my eyes. 

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

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Book Review - A Springtime to Remember by Lucy Coleman - #HolidayReading Mexico

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Amazon UK
Title: A Springtime to Remember
Author: Lucy Coleman
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Boldwood Books 
Publication Date: 26th December 2019
Rating: 4 Stars

Let Lucy Coleman transport you to glorious, sun-drenched France, for the perfect feel-good read.Paris and the Palace of Versailles have always meant a lot to TV producer Lexie. Her grandma Viv spent a year there, but her adventures and memories were never discussed, and Lexie has long wondered why they were a family secret.

When work presents the perfect excuse to spend Springtime in Versailles, Lexie delves into Viv’s old diaries and scrapbooks, and with the help of handsome interpreter Ronan, she is soon learning more about the characters that tend to the magnificent gardens, now and in the past.

In amongst the beauty and splendour of the French countryside, a story of lost love, rivalry and tragedy unfolds. Can Lexie and Ronan right the wrongs of the past, and will France play its tricks on them both before Lexie has to go home? Will this truly be a Springtime to Remember…?

Let Lucy Coleman sweep you away with this perfect feel-good love story. Perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Sue Moorcroft and Heidi Swain.

It is clear from the detailed descriptions that the author has a clear affinity for The Palace of Versailles. 

Personally I'm not as keen on the building, or it's history, but I didn't let the sections that seemed to be dedicated to the Palace itself detract me from the story being told. 

And in fact everything to do with the gardens, I did find very interesting, which is lucky since Lexie is filming a series about the gardens and gardeners of Versailles. 

She is also determined to find out just what happened during her grandmother's year working there in the 60s, as it was never spoken about. 

Ronan is the chosen interpreter for this project but he also has a personal connection to the gardens, and its quite clear that there is a spark between him and Lexie very early on. 

I enjoyed the various plot points, and the writing, and although it's not my favourite book from the author, I still thought it was really good and entertaining. 

Thank you to Boldwood Books and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 

Monday, 20 January 2020

Book Review - The Year of Starting Over by Karen King - #HolidayReading Madeira

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Amazon UK
Title: The Year of Starting Over
Author: Karen King
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 7th February 2019
Rating: 4 Stars

What if – to find yourself – you had to run away?

Last year was meant to be when Holly got her happy-ever-after. But stuck in a job that’s going nowhere, and a relationship that feels more like it’s going backwards… this year Holly has decided it’s time to change her life. She just has to:

– End the relationship with the commitment-phobic boyfriend
– Go on a proper adventure
– Learn to be herself again
– Definitely, categorically not fall in love.

Cramming her belongings into her little yellow Mini, Holly drives on to a ferry bound to Spain, to stay at a remote farmhouse near a beautiful village in the Andalusian hills.

But the day she arrives she nearly crashes her car into a gorgeous guy on a motorbike. He’s called Matias and their paths keep crossing, much to Holly’s irritation. Because as she learns to speak Spanish from the locals, finally starts laying out plans for her own design business, and sips sangria in the sunlit village square, Holly is beginning to remember who she is and what she wants.

So she won’t allow herself be distracted by Matias. Because this year – for Holly – there are more important things in life than love. And she won’t let yet another bad relationship ruin everything… will she?

A moving and uplifting romantic comedy about living each moment and learning to trust yourself again, for fans of Jenny Hale, Debbie Macomber, and Sophie Kinsella.

A story about making the most of a new situation, and of taking a year away from your regular life to follow your dreams. 

Holly manages to come up with a list of 12 things over the next year to complete, from riding a motorcycle, to trying 50 different flavours of ice-cream, to larger ones such as being herself and living abroad, and conquering a fear. 

I love how she moves to Spain for a few months to help her friends set up an artists retreat,  while also expanding her online design business. 

I would have loved to have seen all of Hollie's designs as they sounded impressive. 

I loved this look at Andalusian life in the countryside, high up in the hills, and seeing how Holly is able to integrate herself into life there. 

Her new neighbour Matias is rather sexy and they are both adamant that they don't need romance in their life... but their friendship is really good to watch. 

I loved reading about Hollie's year, the new friends she makes, her attempts to accomplish everything on her list, and just her courage to start her life over and try to enhance it the best way she can. 

It's a really enjoyable book, and had me really entertained for a few hours. 

Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Book Review - The Tanglewood Wedding Shop by Lilac Mills

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Amazon UK
Title: The Tanglewood Wedding Shop
Author: Lilac Mills
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Canelo Escape
Publication Date: 13th January 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something untrue…

Edie has enough on her plate keeping her tyrannical boss happy at Moira’s Wedding Shop. So when society bride Tia begs Edie to design her wedding dress – and keep it a secret from the domineering mother-in-law to be – Edie reluctantly says ‘I will’ to making Tia’s dream come true. If her deception is found out, though, it would mean losing her job…

Meanwhile best man James has his eye on Edie and he’s proving ever harder for her to resist. James is upper-crust and Edie’s one unexpected bill away from the breadline – they’re from completely different worlds and there’s no way it can ever work between them… right?

A charming, feel-good romance for fans of Daisy James, Holly Martin and Portia MacIntosh.

Easily my favourite book of this Tanglewood series - it has adorable animals, wedding dresses, a really lovely child, a fabulous book boyfriend and Edie who is just trying to make ends meet and provide for her son. 

First up I really need to say how much I really disliked both Moira, Edie's boss at the Wedding dress shop, and also Tia's mother in-law Julia. If they both such frustrating people, then Tia would never had to ask Edie to make her dream wedding dress come true, and and Edie may not have ended up in the sticky situation she was in. 

Although it is thanks to Tia, that Edie gets to spend time with James and its clear even if neither of them seem to realise it, that there is a connection between them, and that it could be only a matter of time. 

James is fascinating, he is so keen on wildlife and conservation, and his choices of locations to take Edie on dates are rather different. Although personally I'm not sure I would have fancied visiting an apiary no matter how much I may want to get to know the man. 

And I just loved Mary, she was adorable and some of the scenes involving her were both funny and hare-raising. 

Although it reads well as a standalone, I started this mere hours after I finished book 2 in the series and I'm so glad I did, as it made a lovely change to read books in a series one after another, thus instantly feeling at home with the characters, the recurring characters (Betty is such a tonic!), the location  and of course the engaging writing style. 

I really did enjoy every single moment I spent with Edie and James, and thoroughly enjoyed this book which I raced through in under a day. 

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

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Book Review - The Tanglewood Flower Shop by Lilac Mills

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Amazon UK
Title: The Tanglewood Flower Shop 
Author: Lilac Mills
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Canelo Escape
Publication Date: 30th August 2019
Rating: 4 Stars

Love can be a thorny business.
When Tanglewood flower shop owner Leanne enters Budding Stars – a floristry TV competition – she’s shocked to make it through to the televised stages where the pressure grows to prove herself a success.

Luckily for Leanne, new Tanglewood park ranger, Rex, is a rose among the thorns as he provides support and friendship that could blossom into something more…

But Rex’s ex-girlfriend appears with some shocking news, and between busy schedules and the occasional mountain rescue, Leanne can’t see how romance could possibly bloom. And with a new job opportunity suddenly sprouting up, will she need to uproot her life and leave Tanglewood entirely?

This uplifting romance is perfect for fans of Daisy James, Holly Martin and Portia Macintosh.

It was lovely to be back in Tanglewood with a completely new standalone story. 

I have no idea if the Budding Stars competition is based on any real TV floristry competition but if it isn't i would have to see it made into a programme, as it sounds so creative compared with some of the other various TV talent shows out there! 

And of course I was willing Leanne on the whole time, and she comes up with some incredibly inventive ideas for her arrangements. 

But it is the interactions with Rex that I loved the most even if I did wish they would learn to communicate better.  Rex is wonderful even if he does have a rather dog like sounding name. Thankfully he is a dog lover and seeing him bond with his new puppy Nell is delightful. 

Of course Leanne would have liked to have kept Nell for herself as she was born in a litter at her family's farm and she also loved that puppy, but it gave her an instant connection with Rex.  I liked learning about Rex's job and his mountain rescue training too.  There is just something about that man that I fell for, and really felt sorry for him when a shocking blast from his past re-entered his life. 

For a good amount of the book I really was wondering whether or not this would be the most shocking rom com ever with regards the ending.  I really couldn't work out how it would come together for the ending I craved... but if you want to read an enjoyable story and find out for yourself then its definitely worth a read. 

In the meantime I'm opening up The Tanglewood Wedding Shop and going to curl up with the next book in the series, as just for once waiting to read the next book in a series seems like a silly idea, while I'm enjoying this series so much. 

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

Friday, 17 January 2020

Book Review - The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick - #HolidayReading Madeira

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Amazon UK
Title: The Library of Lost and Found
Author: Phaedra Patrick
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ 
Publication Date: 26th March 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the bestselling author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people, though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a mysterious book arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her grandmother Zelda, who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heart-warming reminder that even the quietest life has the potential to be extraordinary.

Phaedra Patrick is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, or at least one that I know I need to read all of her books of!

There is something rather special about this lovely plot, and seeing Martha grow as a person. 

In fact the character development is terrific all around, as family secrets are uncovered, and we get to know multiple generations of Martha's family. 

There are small sections in the past from Betty, Martha's mum, so we can see just closely the sort of parents Martha had, and how they have affected her life. 

Initially I though Martha was a bit of a doormat, she seemed to be saying yes to everything anyone asked of her, no matter how many other hundreds of things she hadn't quite completed yet.   I was though delighted to see her grow in confidence as the book progressed. 

And the book that triggers all of this growth in Martha is a rather unique one, and she is determined to uncover just why the book even exists. 

Dotted throughout are stories that a young Martha wrote, which are really imaginative and show the children perceive adult situations at a lot more than most give them credit for. 

Such a quick book to read and incredibly enjoyable at that, I loved every moment of it. 

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

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Book Review - Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain - #HolidayReading Mexico

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Amazon UK
Title: Six Wicked Reasons
Author: Jo Spain
Format reviewed: Ebook 
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 16th January 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

From the international number one bestseller comes the most clever and gripping thriller of 2019

It's June 2008 and twenty-one-year-old Adam Lattimer vanishes, presumed dead. The strain of his disappearance breaks his already fragile family.

Ten years later, with his mother deceased and siblings scattered across the globe, Adam turns up unannounced at the family home. His siblings return reluctantly to Spanish Cove, but Adam's reappearance poses more questions than answers. The past is a tangled web of deceit.

And, as tension builds, it's apparent somebody has planned murderous revenge for the events of ten years ago.

Incredibly unpredictable but utterly addictive, Jo Spain has done it again with another fantabulous book. 

Nine people get on a boat, only eight get off it alive.  And murder is suspected, but is it the best friend, the fiancee, or one of the six children that have murdered the father. 

Well as the story progresses and we see more of what happened in the week leading up to the boat trip, as well as key events from the past 10 years, well I changed my mind a bazillion times. 

Frankly Frazer, the now deceased was not a particularly pleasant man or father, and as facts emerged I would have happily killed him myself. 

The siblings all so different, have a very fractured relationship with each other. Not surprising really given 10 years ago, Adam disappeared, only to re-appear in their lives at the start of this book. 

And Clio lives in America, Ryan in Italy, while Ellen is determined to play the spinster of the family (with good reason), while James the eldest is allegedly the most successful, and Kate seems ashamed of her family which causes rifts with her other half. 

As the story progresses, what is clear is there are many layers to unravel, secrets to discover and I was hooked on finding out more at every given turn. 

A wonderfully twisted story, that will have you scratching your head as to just who killed Frazer. 

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

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Book Review - The Dilemma by B. A. Paris - #HolidayReading Mexico

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Amazon UK
Title:  The Dilemma
Author: B. A. Paris
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ
Publication Date: 9th January 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

And what a dilemma it is.  I honestly don't know what I'd do in either Adam or Livia's position. 

Would you be able to put your own feelings aside,  your own upset aside to allow your partner a few more hours of blissful ignorance?

Livia had been planning her big 40th birthday party for many years.  But in some ways she is dreading it, because of what she knows but hasn't done anything with the info of yet. 

Equally on the day of the party Adam hears some life changing news but has to decide when the right time to reveal it is. 

This is a very tightly plotted,  incredibly compelling story that had me absorbed and oblivious to the world around me.

It is heartbreaking, I'll admit I didn't cry but can imagine many will,  as we see hour by hour the day of the party from both viewpoints.

At first you have no clue what is being hidden other than its big stuff, and as everything is slowly revealed I found myself gasping and almost audibly swearing. 

I've been a fan of this authors's books from her first one, and although this is a change of direction for her, it is still as wonderful as ever.

Thought provoking,  addictive and fabulous.

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