Friday 28 August 2015

Blog Holiday - Back in Two Weeks!

For those of you who have seen me tweeting today you may be aware I'm off on holiday in the morning. 

I am flying to Venice, and then getting on the Norwegian Jade, for a 7 night Eastern Med cruise, stopping in Dubrovnick, Kusadasi, Pireaus and Split, before heading back to Venice. From there I am flying to Sicily for a week in Giardanni Naxos, on the east coast of the island.

During this fortnight, there will be no blog posts from me, and I won't be around on social media that much (if at all.)

Don't worry though, I will be back up to full speed the day after I'm back with a blog tour, and I have plenty of scheduled posts for the upcoming weeks. I am also going to be launching a couple of new recurring features.. so plenty to keep following me and looking out for. 

While I am away I have every intention of relaxing and reading. Will be taking a fully loaded kindle of around 500 books to choose from.. as well as the following small stack of paperbacks.

I won't be reading these lovely books until I'm in Sicily, as I've learnt I usually run around madly on cruise ships, trying to take part in everything so easiest to just carry my kindle, for grabbed moments of reading. 

Anything that I read while I'm away, won't be reviewed (or at least not in any great detail), but I will probably give you a run down and lasting thoughts of each book I do read in the upcoming weeks. 

All that is left for me to say is see you all in 2 weeks...posts will start on the 13th September. 

Oh and if anyone has any ideas on what book I should read in the airport/on the plane to keep me awake first thing in the morning, and to get my holiday off to a great start, please let me know... I'm never great at deciding on my next book. 

Paperback Summer Round Up

As you may recall, I have been taking pat in Paperback Summer for the past 3 months, in the off chance it will reduce the amount of outstanding paperbacks I have to read. Well without even writing the rest of the post I can categorically say I have definitely got more books now than I did at the start of June. 

I have had tremendous luck entering book competitions, and between that and so many "must have" new books being released, I haven't been able to resist. 

The other thing that happened over the summer was I was diagnosed with Golfer's elbow and until I was able to start physio, the thought of holding a paperback that was larger than 300 pages scared me as I had very little strength in my right arm. 

So how did I do over these three months?...

Books Read

Books Read

As you can see from the photos, I have read 35 books, in 90 days, which doesn't sound too bad. Obviously I have been reading kindle books in addition. Almost all the books pictured above have been reviewed, and some of those reviews will still be appearing in the next month or two!

However being the sort of geek that I am, I really want to know how I did in each of the 3 categories, I displayed in my start of Paperback Summer post. 

Category 1 - Awkward sized books, hardbacks and ARCs

Before (9)
After (18)

Ooops. well those piles have doubled. This category is basically the books that you can't stack easily so the ones smaller or larger than the average paperback, This was the category I was determined to make inroads into , but with the golfer's elbow they were also the books I least felt like reading. 

Category 2 - Purchased Books

Before (14)

After (17)

Well I have definitely purchased books and read those ones during this challenge, and with the sheer amount of books that have been released over the last 3 months that I really wanted to read, I'm impressed that there are only a few more of these books than I started with. 

Category 3 - Books won in competitions

Before (23)

After (26)
Not a ridiculously big gain, but since the idea of the challenge was to read books and make a dent in the piles. There are quite a few of the original 23 that I definitely read and enjoyed, but I love entering book competitions, and I've had a ridiculously lucky couple of months. 


Overall I had 46 unread paperbacks at the start of the summer. 
At the end of the summer I now have 61 books. 

I have a feeling that is the most ever unread paperbacks I have had at one time. Evidently I am now a true book blogger and book maniac, with the amounts of unread physical books that I have had. 

I really enjoyed taking part in Paperback summer, even if I hadn't been focused on the paperback reading, then there could have been 80+ unread still probably. 

It there are any books in the After photos that you would really like to see reviewed on this blog then please do leave me a comment, and I will try and prioritise them, when I get a chance. 

I feel the moral of these three months is that I have to continue to try and read a few paperbacks a week or my house will be covered in them at some point!

Book Review - The Great Village Show by Alexandra Brown - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK
Title: The Great Village Show
Author: Alexandra Brown 
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 30th July 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Tindledale is in a tizzy . . .

The Village Show competition is coming around again and after last year’s spectacular failure, the villagers are determined to win. Meg, teacher at the local school, is keen to help and to impose some much-needed order.

After a terse encounter with a newcomer to the village, Meg discovers that it is celebrity chef and culinary bad boy, Dan Wright. Meg thinks he is arrogant and rude but rumour has it that Dan is opening a new restaurant in the village which could really put Tindledale on the map.

As things come together, villagers old and new all start to come out of the woodwork, including new arrival Jessie who seems to have it all. But first impressions can be deceptive and Meg discovers that when it comes to Tindledale – and Dan – nothing is ever quite as it seems . . .

I have now read all of Alexandra Brown's books and I haven't read a bad one. They are all absolutely fantastic, and I am delighted to say The Great Village Show is no exception. 

For those of you that haven't read The Great Christmas Knit Off, don't worry although this is set back in Tindledale with a familiar cast of characters, it is a completely stand alone book, and though reading the first one makes this feel like you are returning to your friends in the village, it won't spoil your enjoyment to have not read it. 

There is a newcomer to the village Jessie, who is married and has triplets. She appears to have a perfect life, but will she make a good enough friend in the village to be able to trust them with the truth. Jessie's storyline touches on a very serious topic, not in huge amounts of detail, but enough to make you stop and think for a bit, as to how you would react in her place. 

There is another newcomer to the village, Dan, who is a celebrity chef, and seems to have a bit of a crush on Meg. What noone can work out is why exactly he is so prickly the whole time, and just what he is doing in Tindledale in the first place. 

The main character of the book is Meg, who is the acting head teacher of the village school, which is being threatened with closure, and she ends up taking over organising The Great Village Show . They whole town needs the show to be a huge success, not just to increase the fortunes of the school, but hopefully attracting more tourists to the town, to increase business all around. 

The villagers of Tindledale, do what they do best and throw themselves whole heartedly into the challenges of  putting on the best village show, and they all pitch in and do what they can. It is fabulous display of community spirit, and makes is one of my favourite book towns to live in (if it was real!). 

Whenever I read a book by this author, it feels like I am instantly reading about a group of good friends, in that you are instantly put at ease by the writing style, and drawn in so you feel like you belong. 

The Great Village Show is a fabulous summer release, that I have loved reading. Even as I was starting it on my way into town, I was very soon oblivious to where I was on my route, and had to look around quite a few times, to make sure I hadn't missed my stop. I was that involved in the story right from the start. This is a very easy to read book, and one that is great summer holiday reading material. 

I would whole heartedly recommend this fabulous book, and I really can't wait for the next book about Tindledale to be released. 

Book Review - Dream A Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher - Paperback Summer

Add caption
Title: Dream A Little Dream
Author: Giovanna Fletcher
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 18th June 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she's been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it's really okay. She's happy (ish).

So it's not surprising that when Sarah starts dreaming about a handsome stranger, she begins to look forward to falling asleep every night. Reality isn't nearly as exciting. That is until her dream-stranger makes an unexpected real-life appearance, leaving Sarah questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Because no one ever really finds the person of their dreams... do they?

As I started this book, I was a bit unsure about the dreams that started quite a few of the chapters. They were as is the nature of dreams, quite surreal but generally with a common theme, of Sarah dreaming about Brett Last, a man she met years ago at uni and hasn't seen or thought of since. 

From these dreams they go from Brett just being a bit part character, to having a starring role, which is where a couple of the dreams become a bit on the saucy side. Sarah becomes convinced that Brett is the man of her dreams.

Back in the real world, Sarah is angling for a promotion at work, and still hangs around her friends from uni, which includes her ex-boyfriend, and his girlfriend (who she was replaced by). So Sarah feels awkward sometimes in her friendship group, and is struggling to be noticed at work. It's no wonder she is preferring her dream self. 

However the book really picks up and becomes brilliant, when Brett Last is revealed as the new colleague at the company where Sarah works, and that she is going to have to work closely with him. He doesn't look like Brett that has been in her dreams. Hence we soon have Dream Brett and Real Brett so everyone knows who is being referred to. 

Real Brett is a wonderful man, and one I would be happy to date myself. Sarah though is so shocked by the appearance of the real Brett, that when he tries to even take her out for a coffee she is a stammering mess. 

There is a lot in this book about Sarah's friendship group and the pub quizzes they take part in, which sound like great fun. All the friends have distinct personalities, and its Carly , who is Sarah's flatmate that has the strongest additional storyline. 

Dream A Little Dream is another brilliant book by the talented Giovanna Fletcher, and I am already looking forward to the follow up novella that is out in time for Christmas. 

Thursday 27 August 2015

Book Review - The Aubrey Rules by Aven Ellis

Amazon UK
Title: The Aubrey Rules
Author: Aven Ellis
Format reviewed:  Ebook
Source: Review copy supplied by author
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Publication Date: 26th August 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Some of the Aubrey Rules to Live By: 

*If I’m going to indulge in French fries, I must add extra time to the treadmill the next day. 
*Always keep your work and private life separate. 
*Being open to new experiences will never involve eating kale. 
*Never, ever date a professional athlete. 

For Chicago social media professional Aubrey Paige, the rules are everything. So much so that Aubrey has painstakingly written her rules for living into a polka-dot Kate Spade notebook that she carries with her at all times. It’s her personal guidebook to living her life. These rules are the Holy Grail—ones never to be broken. They guide her actions for everything, from dealing with workplace drama to finding a great guy to date. After all, these are her own rules, built from her life experiences and observations. So they have to be perfect, right? 

Or are they? 

Because when Aubrey meets a cute Canadian, she suddenly finds her rules being tested and challenged in ways she never dreamed possible. Beckett Riley is the shy, quiet, determined captain of the Chicago Buffaloes, a hockey team on the verge of turning the corner to becoming a winning organization. He’s Aubrey's opposite, with so many qualities that Aubrey had listed as ones she’d never want in a man. 

Yet Aubrey finds herself drawn to Beckett in ways she’s never known. And when she unexpectedly finds herself working with Beckett, she wonders if rules are meant to be broken after all . . . 

I feel I should start with a disclaimer. I am a humongous fan of Aven Ellis' books and I fear I may go a bit too gushy in describing this book to you all. What I will say with absolute certainty is I loved this book 3000% and I am completely in love with Beckett. 

My only fault with this book is that it had to end, but before that slightly off putting fact, you have a story filled with one of the best romances I have read this year. 

Beckett is a "nice guy", he is shy and awkward but also a fearsome captain for Ice-hockey team Chicago Buffaloes. He manages to in the course of the book, save the day once, produce one perfect date that made me go a bit weak at the knees, and then his plans for Valentines day, had me swooning. 

Aubrey is hilarious, she lives her life according to her "rules", but as she will soon discover rules are made to be amended and broken many times over. The Aubrey Rules listed in the blurb, are some of the key ones involved in this book, and they are all very relevant (even the mention of kale!). Each chapter starts with an Aubrey rule, but as the book goes on so does the number of edits she makes to the rule.

When I say this book is full of romance, I really do mean romance in the thoughtful gestures sense of the word and not the "50 Shades of Grey bodice ripper" meaning of the genre. It is book full of romantic moments between Beckett and Aubrey and keep making me say aww.

I have a feeling I was ultimately just a little jealous of Aubrey, after all she has met MY dream guy! I do know that Aven Eliis is making me seriously consider moving to Chicago, based on the amount of amazing book boyfriends that seem to live there. I have to believe its based on reality and that Chicago is full of men who are willing to see past the superficial, through to the real you!

In amongst the budding relationship between Aubrey and Beckett, is Aubrey's new job. She has a nightmare boss, but not necessarily in the way you would expect. You need to keep an eye on the boss, as she is definitely the villain of the book. 

Aven Ellis has proven once again that she is the "queen of book boyfriends" and of "happy ever afters" with this amazing feel good, loveable and enjoyable book. Anything that has me smiling and laughing from front to back, as well as falling in love with a fictional character (and a small crush on his team mate), is definitely a top book for me. 

Thank you so much Aven for this review copy. I am honored that you asked me if  I wanted an advance copy, and all views expressed in this review are my own and honest. 

Book Review - It's Got To Be Perfect by Haley Hill - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK
Title: It's Got To Be Perfect
Author: Haley Hill
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied review copy
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Publication Date: 27th August 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Ellie Rigby isn’t holding out for a hero; she just wants a decent guy

But the promise of meeting thousands of ‘likeminded singles’ has come to nothing and she is fed up negotiating the minefield of one online dating disaster after another.

In a moment of clarity, Ellie realises that she must take matters into her own hands. Her mission? Reclaim Cupid’s bow from soulless software and become a matchmaker. As her client list grows, Ellie becomes an expert. She knows twenty eight is the most eligible age for a women, that most relationships fail and, most of all, that it’s got to be perfect.

Until a match with one of her clients changes everything…

Fabulously entertaining, had me smiling and laughing from cover to cover. If you have ever fancied yourself as a bit of a matchmaker between your friends and acquaintances, then you will love this book, as this is matchmaking done on a huge scale, with very little science, just gut instinct. 

Ellie is fed up of online dating, after having one bad date after another. She decides to become a matchmaker and set up a dating agency, with a little help from her friends. From working in a Chemistry lab to a provider of human Chemistry, it is a sure fire idea to success. 

I loved Ellie target and attempt to sign her original client base, and then watching as the agency grew from strength to strength, with her hiring 2 more matchmakers.. Mandi and Thea. 

Mandi is bubbly, vivacious, full of life, sparkly and a complete and utter believer in true love. Thea is more down to earth, practical and far more interested in making money, than whether "love" exists. I enjoyed seeing the different approaches the ladies had to matchmaking, and how they deal with clients. 

It's Got To Be Perfect is full of laughs from the interviews with new clients, and their usually unrealistic expectations of the opposite sex, to details from some of the dates, this book will have you laughing out loud (or at the very least groaning in recognition at a lot of the details!)

It isn't all laughs there is a healthy helping of romance in this book too, from Ellie's fledgling romance with Nick to some of the agency's success stories, which are incredibly sweet. 

I loved the various characters in this book, even the slightly more obnoxious male clients attempting to be paired up, had their upsides even if it was making me chuckle or roll my eyes! 

It is very clear that Haley Hill's personal experience at running a dating agency must have given her a whole variety of material to base this book on, and it is always lovely to see an author writing about a topic they clearly know very well.

It's Got To Be Perfect is a brilliant book, great Bank Holiday reading, and a whole lot of fun. 

Thank you so much Cara Thompson for this ARC. This was my honest review. 

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Book Review - The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly

Amazon UK
Title: The Mistake I Made
Author: Paula Daly
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Random House Transworld
Publication Date: 27th August 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

We all think we know who we are.

What we’re capable of.

Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate.

Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away.

But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge.

Roz has a choice to make.

The Mistake I Made shows how every little decision you make, even if you think its for the best at the time, is potentially the biggest mistake you will ever make. Especially when you are at the end of your tether and have very little hope left in the world, can you make the right decisions, or will you end up in the same situation as Roz?

Roz is a single mother, her ex husband left her with a large joint debt, her old private physio practice went under, and then she faces an eviction notice. She has no money, the baliffs come and empty the apartment, and obviously has no credit rating left at all. 

Financially she is in a huge hole, and then a relative stranger, a client, offers her a proposition that is too good to refuse. But what will that cost her in the long run?

Although I found the book interesting, it took until the last quarter for it to really get me to completely gripped, and "I'm not putting this down until I'm done" territory. The whole of the first three quarters of the book, alludes to mistakes, but continually feels like it is building to something, I wasn't sure what exactly as I was reading, but it was definitely building. 

And then as the story progresses you understand Roz's decisions a bit more, you can she is really trying to do the best in a bad situation, but just gets her thought process slightly muddled. 

The pacing the book was relatively sedate until the last bit, and I found the story very easy to read, even when it wasn't unputdownable, I still wanted to continually know what was going to happen next, and just what was being built up. 

The Mistake I Made has a different feel to it, to Paula Daly's previous book, in that this is not what I would call a pyschological thriller, or a thriller at all (body count is too low for that!), but a very impressive piece of fiction, that does draw you in and keeps you in suspense. 

I loved The Mistake I Made, and learning Roz's story. I am not sure that I, would have necessarily made the same decisions as Roz, but yet unless you find yourself in that situation, you never really know. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Bantam Press for this review copy. This was my honest review. 

The Mistake I Made is out tomorrow in ebook and hardcover. 

Book Review - Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK
Title: Keep Your Friends Close
Author: Paula Daly
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Corgi
Publication Date: 21st May 2015 
Rating: 5 Stars

Your best friend isn’t who you think she is.

You’ve been friends since university, when you became the people you are today.

You don’t see each other enough but when you do it’s as if you’ve never been apart.

She’s one of the family. You would trust her with your life, your children, your husband.

And when your daughter is rushed to hospital, you’re grateful that she’s stepping in at home, looking after things.

But your best friend isn’t who you think she is. You’re about to find out just how wrong you were.

What can you do when you discover your best friend isn't who you thought she was? What can you do when your best friend not only seduces your husband but also seemingly takes over your life, while making you appear paranoid in the mean time? Hopefully this will never happen to you, but it did happen to Natty. 

While Natty urgently goes to France, to help nurse her younger daughter in hospital, after she falls ill on a school trip, and tells her husband to stay at home to run the business, and look after their other daughter. Eve, Natty's best friend from university just happens to be visiting from the States and plays to all the weaknesses in the marriage when she offers to stay and help Sean. 

By the time Natty and Felicity return from France, Eve has got Sean wrapped around her finger, and both of their lives start to unravel.

There are a lot of twists and turns to this book, and I wasn't expecting any of them. Equally I was unable to put the book down for the entire second half at least, and read Keep Your Friends Close in next to no time at all. I was in so much shock by the end that the book fell from my hands, and my mum who was watching me at that point, asked me what the problem was - to which my only reply was - "I ran out of book, I want more pages"!

You get to see mainly Natty's point of view and you really do have to feel quite sorry for her, and also small amounts of Eve's perspective, as well as a detective's whose story is quite interesting too. All I can say is Eve is not what she seems, and I'm so glad she isn't my best friend. With friends like her, you definitely don't need enemies.

Keep Your Friends is compulsive reading, as you always want to know who will react next and how. 

This was the first book I have read by Paula Daly, but I know it won't be the last. 

My review of Paula's new book The Mistake I Made will be here a bit later today. 

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Book Review - The Curvy Girls Baby Club by Michele Gorman

Amazon UK
Title: The Curvy Girls Baby Club
Author: Michele Gorman
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Publication Date: 20th August 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Life, love and a Christmas due date 

Ellie is fresh back from her honeymoon and can’t wait to share her news with her best friends Katie and Jane. To everyone’s surprise, mother-of-two Jane has news of her own… The women are due a day apart and Katie can’t wait to be an honorary auntie to the babies. 

But it’s hard to keep your sense of humour, not to mention your self-esteem, in the face of hemorrhoids and elasticated waistbands. Add a clingy mother-in-law, a career in cardiac arrest and a sex life that makes Mother Theresa look lusty, and soon their lives are as out of control as their bodies. 

As the co-founders of The Curvy Girls Club, where loving yourself is the only rule, will the friends be able to practice what they preach? 

Having only been a few days since I finished The Curvy Girls Club, I was waiting for midnight to come for this book to arrive on my kindle. I started it immediately and really enjoyed catching up with the girls again. 

The main focus of this book are Ellie and Jane. After Katie and Pixie's stories were the main ones in the previous book, its unsurprising really that we get to know the other two girls a lot more in this book. Ellie, Jane and Katie have always had a very close friendship, doing everything together, so its really impressive that they all seem to fall pregnant around the same time. 

This novella is basically set over the 40 weeks of pregnancy, and with Jane's story line again focusing on body confidence issues, the overall theme from the first book is still there. 

I loved Ellie's texts to Jane, updating her on the size of their babies, comparing them to various foods. It gives an easy visual idea to the size of what is growing inside the ladies, especially for someone who hasn't had children herself. 

I am not completely sure if this can be read as a standalone book, having only read the first so close to this, its hard to really distance myself enough to know if would work. However since both books are so good, I would if you are remotely tempted by them, to start on the original first. 

By the end of this story, I was laughing with tears in my eyes. Such an emotional ending, to a brilliant novella, I just wish it was longer. 

I really enjoyed reading the The Curvy Girls Baby Club, and would love to see something set perhaps 10 years in the future, to see how all the friendships are still holding up, and what the babies think of each other!

Book Review - The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK
Title: The Curvy Girls Club
Author: Michele Gorman
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 15th January 2015 
Rating: 5 Stars

Can the curvy girls have their cake and eat it?

Meet best friends Pixie, Ellie, Katie and Jane. Fed up with always struggling to lose weight, they start a social club where size doesn’t matter. Soon it’s the most popular place to be – having fun instead of counting carbs. And the girls suddenly find their lives changing in ways they never imagined.

But outside the club, things aren’t as rosy, as they struggle with the ups and downs of everyday life.

In this funny, heart-warming read about normal women learning to love themselves, the curvy girls soon realise that no matter what life throws at them, together, anything is possible . ..

The Curvy Girls Club is formed when friends Katie, Ellie, Pixie and Jane are fed up with slimming clubs and diets that don't work and just want to socialise together and not have to worry about their size. So they start doing more together and focusing on places where it doesn't matter that you are a plus size. 

Before long it soon becomes apparent that there are lots of like minded people and their outings kept growing in size and it soon becomes a business, with the four friends on the board of directors. 

However behind the scenes things are not going as great, as each of the friends, have their own problems to contend with.

The book focuses mainly on Katie, as its from her point of view, and she is torn between two men, and is the initial driving force behind the club. From Katie we learn about the backgrounds of the other girls, including partly why they have become overweight. 

The main themes of The Curvy Girls Club are that you should love your body no matter its size, and to comfortable within your own skin. These are issues that everyone should be able to identify with, as they probably affect someone you know if not yourself. 

There are some absolutely brilliant outings the girls organise for the club, including dining in the dark, where it really doesn't matter what someone looks like, as if you all can't see it is a completely level playing field. 

There are issues of discrimination touched upon, but not in they way they would expect. 

This is an inspiring group of ladies who are determined to not let anything get in their ways. This is not a book about dieting and specifically trying to get thin, although all sorts of fad diets are mentioned, those are not the point of the book. 

I loved this entertaining and refreshing read. 

Monday 24 August 2015

Book Review - The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK
Title: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers
Author: Louise Candlish
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 21st May 2015
Rating: 4.5 Stars

My name is Amber Fraser. I've just moved in at Number 40, Lime Park Road. You'll come to think of me as a loving wife, a thoughtful neighbour and a trusted friend.

This is a lie.

When Christy and Joe Davenport are handed the keys to Number 40 on picture-perfect Lime Park Road, Christy knows it should be a dream come true. How strange though that the house was on the market for such a low price. That the previous owners, the Frasers, had renovated the entire property yet moved out within a year. That none of the neighbours will talk to Christy.

As her curiosity begins to give way to obsession, Christy finds herself drawn deeper into the mystery of the house's previous occupants - and the dark and shocking secret that tore the street apart . . .

I always knew I liked books by Louise Candlish, but now I know for certain, that I absolutely love them. For 500 pages, I have been hooked on what exactly did happen to the Frasers. And as the revelations start being revealed, I am sitting starting at the book going OMG, OMG! 

I can say hand on heart that I did not predict any part of the eventual ending, and I am so impressed with all the lead up to explaining just why the Frasers left 40 Lime Park Road, and why it was on sale for such a bargain price. 

I was fascinated to find out the reasons the neighbours weren't overly friendly towards Christy and Joe, as they moved into Lime Park road, and at the same time in alternating chapters, I was reading accounts of only a year earlier, of what happened while Amber Fraser was living at the property. 

I will admit that it started off a bit slow, I was intrigued and very curious, but it was only as the stories progressed that it became unputdownable. The last 150 pages, thankfully I was at home when I read them, as I would have otherwise been riding the train up and down the line until it was finished, as I was that oblivious to the surroundings, while everything reached a crescendo. 

Throughout the book you are introduced to a lot of the other inhabitants of Lime Park Road, some of which I took to more than others, and it was interesting to see just how different 12 months apart the welcomes to the road were for both Christy and Amber. 

I suspect I found the opening slow, as for a while I just couldn't quite identify with Christy, and wasn't too keen on Joe either, whereas I found I was longing for Amber's chapters, as she was quite a storyteller, and drew me in completely. 

Utterly brilliant book, one I feel that I possibly need to re-read to see if there were any proper hints given to the eventual outcome.  I spent ages thinking of various reasons for why the Frasers would depart, and then disregarding them, then re-regarding them, while still reading, but of course I don't have the imagination of Louise Candlish, so was never going to come up with the answers!

Book Review - Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK

Title: Not Quite Nice
Author: Celia Imrie
Format reviewed: Harback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 26th February 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Theresa is desperate for a change. Forced into early retirement, fed up with babysitting her bossy daughter's obnoxious children, she sells her Highgate house and moves to the picture-perfect town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, just outside Nice. 

With its beautiful villas, its bustling cafes and shimmering cerulean sea, the village sparkles like a diamond on the French Mediterranean coast. Once the hideaway of artists and writers, it is now home to the odd rock icon and Hollywood movie star, and, as Theresa soon discovers, a close-knit set of expats. There's Carol, the infinitely glamorous American and her doting husband David; the erstwhile British TV star Sally; the ferocious Sian and her wayward Australian poet husband; the sharply witty Zoe with her strangely youthful face and penchant for white wine – and the suave Brian who catches Theresa's eye…

As Theresa settles to the gentle rhythm of seaside life she embraces her new-found friendships and freedom. However, life is never quite as simple as it seems and as skeletons start to fall out of several closets, Theresa begins to wonder if life on the French Riviera is quite as nice as it first appeared…

What an enjoyable way to spend a weekend afternoon by escaping to the Cote D'Azur, and to the charming town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, and its delightful array of residents. The initial descriptions of the town, conjured up pictures of a pretty town in Southern France, and I had the feeling the whole time that it felt like a similar sort of place to the one in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And in fact that feeling didn't leave me during the book, and there was a similar storyline to the film, running through part of the book, which made me both smile and gasp.

Theresa is fed up with the way her daughter and grand children treat her, and when she is forced to retire, she decides on a change, and moves to the south of France, and the town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, where there is a thriving ex-pat community. 

Sally was a children's TV presenter in the 70's and has been living the expat life for many years now, but doesn't have as much contact with her children as she would like. Then there are Benjamin and William who are a lovely couple, Ted who makes a fabulously hilarious entrance to the book and his wife Sian. 

And there is Brian, who is there when Theresa is mugged on one of her first days in France, and helps her out and becomes her lodger. Brain also helps out, when Theresa starts running cooking classes for the ex-pats to gain an income. 

Not Quite Nice is a great look at ex-pat life in the south of France, with many moments that will make you laugh and smile. Almost all the characters seem to be hiding something, and as the months roll by, they start unravelling, some with more shocking outcomes than the others. 

Imogen, Therese's daughter, reminded me so much of Shirley Valentine's daughter, with her attitude towards her mother. She seems more worried about how the move will leave her babysitter less, than her mother's happiness. 

There are recipes dotted about between some of the chapters, mainly for Nicoise delicacies, which are always great to see, although as someone who doesn't cook, I can't really test them out or comment further on them. 

I really loved Not Quite Nice, and would love to return to the location again in the future, and really hope the Celia Imrie will be writing some more books. 
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