Wednesday 30 September 2020

Book Review - My Christmas Number One by Leonie Mack - #HolidayReading Malta

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Amazon UK

Title: My Christmas Number One
Author: Leonie Mack
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley 
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 10th September 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

There’s nothing quite like a Christmas love story, to get you in the mood for celebrating…
Cara doesn’t do sexy and she only does ‘Happy Christmas’ under duress. She is, after all, a serious musician, and her stubborn streak is born from her struggle to recover from a serious injury.

Javi lives for escapist fun - in his music, and in his life - especially since he’s always failed at life’s more serious challenges, including marriage and fatherhood.

Javi and Cara are forced to record a Christmas single together, but neither of them have plans to spend any more time with each other than they absolutely have to. With Christmas traditions that couldn’t be more different, and outlooks on life that are worlds apart, the chemistry just shouldn’t work. But the magic of Christmas can bring even opposites together…

From the snowy beauty of London at Christmas, to the candle-lit magic of Javi’s traditional family celebrations, let Leonie Mack whisk you away on a memorable festive adventure. Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Mandy Baggot and Holly Martin.

Wow this was so much more than what I was perhaps anticipating - on top of their being Christmas, Christmas music and well I was anticipating romance, there was also a travel element to it that I adored, and some incredibly powerful moments with both main characters. 

Cara is an inspiration, something tragic happened to her 10 years ago, and although it still has big effects on her life, she is so much more than that, she is a rock star and is no longer a fan of Christmas - but has been asked to collaborate with Javi on a Christmas single. 

Javi, just wow, he is one smooth mover, I'd happily join him in any dance club for his hip action alone!!  Except when it comes to Cara all his normal moves seem to desert him. 

And the single they are working on, Nostalgia is beautiful, I could sort of imagine the blending of styles, as I do love a Latin beat, and as some of the lyrics are explained in more details it is a really meaningful song for Javi. 

I would love to tell you more about the travel element, the Javi family element, all of the things Cara is dealing with - but given I went into this book blind, almost solely based on the cover well, I think that is the best way to approach this one. 

I wouldn't want to spoil any elements of a book that I would already love to see as a movie, in fact really do think would make a fabulous film - possibly a fab Hallmark Christmas movie, or anyone else, as it has all the makings of a gripping plot, challenges to overcome and some top notch chemistry even if it is being denied. 

I can't believe this is Leonie Mack's debut, as if that is a debut then wow as to my eyes this is an author to watch out for.  

And due to the aforementioned travel elements and different Christmases discussed I'd say its safe to read early into the run up to the festive season, as its certainly Christmassy but in a slightly different way!

If it's not clear, then I love, love, loved this book!

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

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Book Review - Hopeful Hearts at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters - #HolidayReading Malta

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Title: Hopeful Hearts at Glendale Hall
Author: Victoria Walters
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Hera Books
Publication Date: 3rd September 2020
Rating: 4 Stars

What happens when love takes you to unexpected places?

Heather Douglas appears to have it all. But living on a farm in the Scottish Highlands with her partner, Rory Fraser, all while bringing up their adorable toddler, Harry, isn’t easy. As a former librarian, Heather is worried that she’ll never fully fit into life on Fraser Farm. And after the death of her beloved mum eight years ago, Heather feels lost, as well as guilty for holding back accepting Rory’s marriage proposal because she can’t imagine her wedding without her mother.

So when ex-boyfriend, Stewart, appears in the village of Glendale, it’s a shock to the system. The man who broke her heart years ago now has big plans for the neighbouring farm and wants Heather to be part of the development. Knowing that she’s living a very different life to the one they had planned at university leaves Heather wondering if she has made the right choices since she and Stewart broke up. Especially when things start to go very wrong on the farm ...

This Christmas, Heather will need to face her fears and let go of the past or risk losing everything. She will need love, faith, and a whole lot of hope!

Return to the beautiful Highlands village of Glendale with the latest book in the bestselling Glendale series – the perfect cosy, uplifting, romantic read for fans of Heidi Swain, Milly Johnson and Holly Martin.

It was lovely to be back amongst the Glendale gang and to have the focus on Heather this time around. 

I really enjoyed seeing how Heather was getting to grips with living on a farm and being a mother to 1 year old Harry.  She is anxious that she isn't doing anything well enough and then the arrival of Stewart to Glendale fuels those feelings. 

For Stewart is her ex-boyfriend from college, and he has big plans for Hilltop Farm, which is the land backing onto Heather and Rory's and he may have designs on Heather too. 

I really didn't take to Stewart at all and he is rather the bad guy in it all, whereas Angus the rather gruff groundskeeper they have turns out to have a really lovely side to him. 

I enjoyed getting to not only know these characters a lot deeper, but also catching up with Emily and Beth from the previous books, and seeing how their stories are moving on. 

Glendale Hall is just such a lovely series, and it is always a treat to read the latest book, and this was no exception. 

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

Monday 28 September 2020

Book Review - Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas - Blog Tour - #HolidayReading Malta

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Title: Finding Love at the Christmas Market
Author: Jo Thomas
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Publication Date: 24th September 
Rating: 5 Stars

Cosy up with the new Christmas book from best-selling author Jo Thomas

Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she's feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie's residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market - with the promise she'll take a mini-bus full of pensioners with her...

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a check-list of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich's rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Will Connie's wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so - with who?

Now that is what I call a Christmas book. I've just devoured this wonderful festive story, in 33 degree heat in Malta, and now want to go around wishing everyone a merry Christmas.

This is a book that just oozes festive feeling,  and I love how it's also allowed a group of pensioners to rediscover their love of Christmas too.

Between two German Christmas markets, two very different German men, a deaf dog, Christmas jumpers, a donkey, gingerbread, singing, dancing and a big bake off between the two towns you have all the ingredients and more for a fabulous festive book. 

I had such a great sense of place from this story,  and I adored all the characters. This has all the heart and love I've come to expect from a Jo Thomas novel, and so much more besides.

This will easily be one of my favourite Christmas books of the year. I could have kept reading it for so much longer had i not run out of pages.

Read in one sitting over about 3 hours this transported me to the German Christmas markets, made me remember my own visit to them, and generally had me grinning like a loon throughout.

If you read one book this Christmas then make it this one!

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

Please follow along with the other bloggers on this blog tour too. 

Friday 25 September 2020

Book Review - The Cornish Cream Tea Summer by Cressida McLaughlin

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Title: The Cornish Cream Tea Summer
Author: Cressida McLaughlin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 14th May 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Charlie has a new helper on her bus, her free-spirited and loveable cousin, Delilah, who’s paid a visit to the charming Cornish village of Porthgolow and is helping out on Charlie’s adorable cream tea bus.
When the Director of a new TV series filming further along the coast tells Delilah that the bus would be the perfect addition to their onsite catering, she takes him a bit too literally. Charlie and Delilah find themselves caught up in the filming of a lavish period drama and it isn’t long before Delilah finds herself drawn to the handsome male lead.
But Delilah has made a habit of making rash decisions and it’s one of the reasons she’s hiding out in Cornwall. Could this be one impulsive step too far, or is a change of direction the start of something quite unexpected…

What a treat it has been to return to Porthgolow .  All the familiar faces are there, the scenery is a stunning as ever and of course Gertie is back. 

Gotta love Gertie, the double-decker bus from which Charlie serves her cream teas. Although in this book we don't just get cream teas, we also get a huge amount of coffee too! 

What Charlie wasn't expecting was a surprise visitor in the shape of her cousin Lila. Lila is full of beans, knows her coffee and instantly manages to get Gertie onto the set of a new BBC period drama.

I loved everyone in the set, and even more so loved the various things Lila was able to get up to, amongst new friends. There is never a dull moment around Lila, but she also has a lot of growth to do, as she has had a bit of a rocky road before her arrival in Cornwall that is affecting her own self belief. 

Originally published in four parts, I couldn't help but be self raising a smile at the individual parts names, all of which were amusing baking puns! 

I could barely put the book down, i was enjoying it so much and can't wait to read the Christmas instalment.

Porthgolow has one again worked its magic on not only Lila but my heart too.

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

Thursday 24 September 2020

Book Review - The Choice by Alex Lake

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Amazon UK

Title: The Choice
Author: Alex Lake
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 20th August 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

A kidnap…
Matt Westbrook only turned his back for a moment. But when he looks around, his car – with his three young children inside – has vanished.

A ransom…
Panicked, Matt assumes a car thief has got more than he bargained for, but then he starts to receive text messages: This is a kidnap. If you want to see your children again, you will exchange them for your wife.

A choice…
Matt and his wife Annabelle are horrified. They can’t involve the police, or their children will be killed. Which means they have to choose: Annabelle, or their children. Either option is unthinkable. But one is inevitable. And they have only hours to make their decision…

The gripping new thriller you won’t be able to put down!

What a simply horrifying situation to find yourself in.  Matt leaves his kids in his unlocked car while popping into the shop for a minute and when he turns around the car and the kids are gone. 

Worse still there is a ransom and the kidnapper wants his wife Annabelle - or the kids get it. 

Leaving Matt and Annabelle to have to make well the only decision that people could make and that is when it gets completely addictive...

We are given short chapters from the kidnappers point of view, giving a startling insight into their mind.  But at no point until we are reaching the finale, is the identity of our villain known, much less the motives. 

We see key events from Matt and Amanda past, and there are quite a few names that crossed my mind, including the correct answer but I just couldn't work out why for anyone. 

From the start I was drawn into Alex Lake's warped mind, and gripping story, as I had the book on my brain even when I wasn't reading.  I couldn't get enough of it, trying to see just how things may turn out for Matt and Annabelle. 

I loved the various viewpoints, so we were really able to get up close and personal with the key characters, and I do wonder, if this might make parents think twice about leaving their kids unattended in public, as it only takes a second and something can change your life for ever. 

Enthralling book that has cemented Alex Lake as one of my favourite psychological thriller writers, and an auto read regardless of blurb in the future. 

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

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Book Review - The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

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Amazon UK

Title: The Babysitter
Author: Phoebe Morgan
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ
Publication Date: 28th May 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is left draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.  

Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.
As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline.

What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

The thrilling new book from the number one digital bestselling author of The Doll House and The Girl Next Door.

Praise for The Babysit

I was gripped from the first few pages, and although I had a few inklings as to what may have happened, most of them were so far from the truth it scary.  And when we do get to the business end of the book I definitely was shocked, as I just hadn't seen it coming. 

At all points the police case just didn't quite add up, but just who is innocent of guilty is to be discovered. And I loved the various view points we got, and for a change in these sorts of books, the timeline was reasonably simple to follow too. 

From a few days before the incident until we know the truth. What we know from the start is that Caroline Harvey is definitely murdered, and that a baby has gone missing.  We know early on that Caroline is having an affair with Callum and that as a result he is prime suspect number 1.  We also know that the baby isn't Caroline's or Callum's, but belongs to another family as she was being babysat. 

We get insights into Caroline's last days on earth, as well as everything to do with the Dillon family, their holiday to France and their varying dynamics. 

I was kept guessing throughout and loved the writing style from Phoebe Morgan.  I really should read her other books at some point and definitely keen to read more.  This was fabulous. 

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

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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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. 

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