Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Travel

Before The Coffee Gets Cold 5* #Review Toshikazu Kawaguchi Translator Geoffrey Trousselot @picadorbooks #Toshikazu Kawaguchi #timetravel #timeslip #LiteraryFiction #Japan #CoffeeShop #Tokyo #BeforeTheCoffeeGetsCold #BookReview

#BeforeTheCoffeeGetsCold

What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early-onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story – translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot – explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Pan MacMillan – Picador Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, in a nondescript coffee shop in Tokyo. This story has only a few characters. Everyone in the coffee shop has a story, and this follows four individuals as they travel back in time, not to change the present, but to understand someone they care about better. Or, to make themselves understood. The time travel has many rules, but for those who follow them, there are surprisingly positive results.

This story is beautifully translated, and the ambience and culture come through the characters and the setting. This is an emotional, quirky tale of discord, misunderstanding, loss and love. The time travellers are ordinary people, they want the opportunity to do something different, in the past. This makes them authentic and relatable, and the story engaging.

The rules of the unexpected time travel are fixed, and give a sense of reality, in a fantasy situation. I understood this world, and therefore enjoyed the story.

Enchanting and original, but strangely believable, because of the authentic characters and the contemporary urban setting.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Fantasy, Friendship, Magic, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Travel

The Cake Fairies Isabella May 3*#Review @IsabellaMayBks @rararesources #timeslip #magic #timetravel #romcom #1960s #2019 #TheCakeFaires #BlogTour #BookReview

1960’s Somerset is no fun for cousins Polly and Annabelle Williams. Mourning their non-existent love lives, and the mundanity of village life, their only pleasure is baking – until a chance encounter has them magically transported to the bright lights of London… in 2019!

Promised a chance of love, first they must teach the people of the future about the simpler pleasures of life by becoming Cake Fairies. Over the course of a year they set off on a delectable tour of the UK, dropping off cakes in the most unexpected of places and replacing the lure of technology with much sweeter temptations.

But will their philanthropical endeavours lead them to everlasting love? Or will they discover you can’t have your cake and eat it?

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#TheCakeFairies

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The iconic late 1960s meets technology-obsessed 2019 with cake. Bizzare? Well, only if you try to rationalise it. If you accept the fantasy, filled with magical time travel and enjoy Polly and Annabelle’s quest to get people talking face to face again, and stopping to smell the flowers, this story is fun.

The opening section, which outlines the women’s lives in 1960s Somerset is detailed and slows the pace, but the younger age group, this book is targeted at, may need the detail, to see why life in 2019, is so amazing and terrifying for the intrepid time travellers.

The gem of this story is Polly and Annabelle’s adventure in 2019 and the good they achieve there. The humour is plentiful, there are romance, cake and food in abundance. It’s the perfect book for romantic foodies, who have unending imaginations.

#IsabellaMay

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, churros, ice cream and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s rules.

The Cake Fairies is her fifth novel.

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Travel

A Horse Called Bicycle (The PoloDiaries #2) @roxana_valea 4* #Review #Travel #Polo #RomCom #Argentina #Romance #Sport #SelfRealisation #BlogBlitz #BookReview @rararesources #Journal #RachelsRandomResources

#AHorseCalledBicycle

Roxy found love . . . but is it enough? In the second instalment of the Polo Diaries series, polo player

Roxy goes back to Argentina a year after the events in Single in Buenos Aires, filled with dreams of settling down with the man she loves. This time, once again, Argentina is full of surprises and things are not what they appear to be. Or maybe they’re exactly what they’re meant to be, as a fortune-teller informs her.

Roxy takes a leap of faith and follows her dreams once again. She spends time at glamorous party venues of Buenos Aires and travels to the rough and wild pampas. Along the way, Roxy’s friends support and champion her quest for love, but when things get out of hand, Roxy realizes she needs to listen to her own inner voice and must make a hard choice. Two paths open in front of her, each one with far-reaching consequences. Which will she choose?

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

After her last trip to Argentina Roxy returns to the country, considerably more emotionally and physically damaged than on her previous trip. She wants her happily ever after, and to continue doing what she loves, but starts to question if it is the right thing for her, now?

Self-realisation is a key element of this second story, completing her to-do list on her previous visit didn’t fulfil her. Can she see that the answers to her happiness lie within? I empathised more with this damaged, yet mature woman, perhaps because I’m older and understood this Roxy more? This story is uplifting and held my interest throughout.

#RoxanaValea

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–travelling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Romance, Travel

Single in Buenos Aires (The Polo Diaries, #1) Roxana Valea 3*#Review @roxana_valea #Travel #Polo #RomCom #Argentina #Romance #Sport #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #Journal #RachelsRandomResources #FridayReads

Roxy plays polo… but dreams of love. Forty-one-year-old polo player Roxy arrives in Argentina with a to-do list that includes healing from a polo injury and falling in love with a handsome Argentine. From polo boots to tango shoes, the adrenaline of riding horses to glamorous after-game parties, Roxy learns to navigate this unfamiliar landscape with the help of new friends who teach her to take life as it comes. But will she find true love? Over three months in Buenos Aires, nothing goes according to plan, and yet, all the items on her list mysteriously get ticked off in the end. Just not the way she had imagined.

Fans of the Bridget Jones series will love the blend of humour, travel, and romantic comedy at the heart of Single in Buenos Aires, all topped off with the unforgettable flavour of life in one of the most sensual and passionate cities in the world.

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#BlogTour

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An independent woman travels to Argentina, to experience everything it has to offer. A devotee of polo, she wants to recover from a sports injury to play again, whilst meeting her soulmate. She has a to-do list and sets about completing it in a forthright way, but life is never simple as she finds out.

Written in the form of a journal, this story’s originality wars with being repetitive. There are lots of references to Argentina’s culture, landscape, city and way of life, which are fascinating, but the protagonist lacks depth, despite spilling her thoughts into her journal, and is hard to empathise.

As a holiday read, and an informative guide on all things Argentinian, including their obsession and proficiency with polo, it is interesting.

#RoxanaValea

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–travelling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

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Posted in Book Review, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Travel

The Venice Atonement Merryn Allingham 5*#Review @MerrynWrites @canelo_co #Historical #CrimeFiction #1950s #Venice #Italy #Opera #BookReview #FridayReads

A tragic accident at the opera – or the murder of someone keeping dangerous secrets?

While watching the opera at La Fenice, Nancy Tremayne is shocked to see a woman fall to her death. But how did this tragedy occur?

Newlywed Nancy is accompanying her art professor husband, Leo, on a work trip. As she explores Italy’s beautiful city on the water, she is increasingly compelled to uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding the woman’s death. Leo is adamant it was an accident but his assistant, Archie, reluctantly helps Nancy despite his seeming coldness to her. Nancy’s determination to reveal the facts puts her in harm’s way more than once. As she learns more about Venice’s secrets she realises she may be forced to make a choice – the truth, or her life?

An engaging and atmospheric historical crime novel.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An atmospheric vividly described murder mystery set in Venice Italy, with a courageous heroine, with a past, and a dark web of danger and deceit. Set in the mid-1950s, this story has a glamorous aura, associated with the period, and the iconic Italian setting.

The mystery is true to the British murder mystery style, with a cast of complex characters with hidden pasts, and secrets. The mystery, which begins with a tragic event, leads Nancy on a dark and sometimes life-threatening exploration to find the truth.

She goes against the wishes of her seeming beguine, but controlling new husband, and forms an unexpected alliance. Archie is reluctant to help but feels honour bound to.

The subsequent relationship between Nancy and Archie is interesting, but not concluded. The backstory of Nancy and Leo’s marriage is also revealed as the story progresses. All of the main protagonists are diverse and engaging, as are the situations and settings Nancy is drawn into, in her quest for the truth.

The ending ties up the strands of the mystery well. A complex, historically true murder mystery, set in a wonderfully glamorous, yet sinister Venice.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance, Travel

The Museum of Broken Promises Elizabeth Buchan 4* #Review @elizabethbuchan @CorvusBooks #LiteraryFiction #Romance #Secrets #Loss #Love #BookReview #Prague #Paris #HistoricalFiction #Grief #Betrayal

The stunning new novel from bestselling Elizabeth Buchan. The Museum of Broken Promises is a beautiful, evocative love story and heart-breaking journey into a long-buried past.
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Paris, today. The Museum of Broken Promises is a place of wonder and sadness, hope and loss. Every object in the museum has been donated – a cake tin, a wedding veil, a baby’s shoe. And each represent a moment of grief or terrible betrayal. The museum is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past and, sometimes, to lay them to rest. Laure, the owner and curator, has also hidden artefacts from her own painful youth amongst the objects on display.

Prague, 1985Recovering from the sudden death of her father, Laure flees to Prague. But life behind the Iron Curtain is a complex thing: drab and grey yet charged with danger. Laure cannot begin to comprehend the dark, political currents that run beneath the surface of this communist city. Until that is, she meets a young dissident musician. Her love for him will have terrible and unforeseen consequences.

It is only years later, having created the museum, that Laure can finally face up to her past and celebrate the passionate love which has directed her life.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Corvus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is the story of Laure and ‘The Museum of Broken Promises’, born out of her life experiences, as a young woman in communist Czechoslovakia, and Berlin, after the fall of the wall. The prologue gives you a taste of what is to come and introduces the historical element that underscores the story.

‘The Museum of Broken Promises’ is a place where people can deposit items that represent grief, loss or broken promises in their lives. The idea behind it is uplifting, and the book uses timeslip to see if Laure’s contributions to the museum, have a positive effect on her life.

The story moves between Laure’s life in the past and present, introducing a variety of characters, whom she comes into contact with as a naive, young woman, and a stronger older woman. Like all literary fiction, part of the enjoyment is in the beauty of the prose. The characters are often superficial because their function is to contribute to the concept of the museum.

This story needs concentration and time, to get the best from it, but if you have a few hours to spare, it will repay the investment of both.

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance, Travel

The Christmas Holiday Sophie Claire 5* #Review @HodderBooks @SClaireWriter #Romance #Festive #Rural #Village #Provence #grief #secondchance #BookReview #Holiday

Can a trip away lead you home?

After a bad break-up, eternal optimist Evie Miller has moved to the small village of Willowbrook to finally pursue her dream of opening a craft shop. Unfortunately, with money worries and an ex-boyfriend determined to track her down, her fresh start isn’t going entirely to plan.

Jake Hartwood is also looking to escape his past. Haunted by the loss of his wife, he’s determined not to get close to anyone again – and the last thing he wants is to be celebrating this December.

Hoping to avoid the festivities, Evie and Jake arrange to escape Christmas together as friends in Provence. But will the magic of the season change things between them?

And what happens if one of them starts to feel something more?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley.

My Thoughts…

Evie is an optimist, despite the lack of support from her parents, the tragedy she has suffered, and the abusive relationship she is still trying to escape. Jake has lost the love of his life and finds going on without her difficult. The village of Willowbrook gives Evie a chance of a new independent life, and Jake the chance to hide away until he feels strong enough to carry on. The only problem is Christmas, which brings back painful memories for both.

Evie and Jake’s relationship has a less than auspicious start, but a friendship builds out of their mutual suffering, and escaping together for Christmas offers a solution to both their problems, but is friendship what they want? Or is a holiday romance inevitable?

Heartwarming romance and emotional conflict with a festive twist, set in a lovely English village, and fabulous Provence. The intensity of grief and loss is explored during Christmastime, sensitively, whilst keeping a positive, uplifting ethos. The characters are believable and individual and the settings bring the story to life. A lovely wintery story is written in an easy to read style by a consummate storyteller,