Posted in Book Review, Romantic Comedy

5*#Review I Owe You One Sophie Kinsella- @KinsellaSophie

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course, Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK- Transworld Publishing – Bantam Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is my first Sophie Kinsella novel and what a treat it is. I was smiling as soon as I met Fixie. The characters are vividly depicted, they jump off the page.

The story’s a curious mix of family drama and serendipitous romance. Fixie’s siblings are so irritating, but maybe all the fault doesn’t lie with them. Fixie’s obsessively helpful nature makes it easier for them to let her do everything.

The plot is easy to follow, not too many surprises here for the reader, but many for Fixie, as she embarks on a journey of self-realisation.

The romance is gentle and riddled with conflict, but there’s a satisfying ending. If you like to see ordinary people and situations made extraordinarily, this book will be a perfect read.

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Posted in Festive Read

Festive Read: Josie Silver – One Day in December – 5* Review

Two people.

Ten chances.

One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love, at first sight, doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.

Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

As a believer in serendipity, this book blurb appeals, and even though it’s more about life choices rather than fate, this magical story makes a lovely festive read.

Laurie, in her early twenties, is still looking for the perfect job, working as a hotel receptionist pays the bills but doesn’t fulfil her journalist potential. Travelling across London at Christmas time she makes eye contact with a similarly aged man sitting at the bus stop, they share a moment and so the story begins.

The reader shares Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s day, her birthday and other memorable events for the next decade. Jack and Laurie are in and out of each other’s lives after their first fateful meeting but are they destined for a happy ever after and who will lose out if they are?

This story flows from year to year, reflecting the seasons and the emotional changes in Laurie, Jack and their friends and family. Romance, humour and poignant moments resonate as their lives’ move on, with believable quirks of fate that inexplicably draw them back together.

The tenth year is iconic for everyone. Jack and Laurie finally face their destiny but will they make it happen or watch it drift away. The final chapters laced with festive spirit and heartwarmingly romantic, give this charmingly addictive story the ending it deserves.

A festive tale with a difference, and an enjoyable read whatever the season.

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

Posted in Book Review

Ivy and Abe – 5*Review – Elizabeth Enfield

Two people. One love story. A million possibilities. They’re soulmates. Ivy and Abe were inseparable as children until an accident tore them apart. Several decades later, when both are in their seventies, a chance encounter reunites them. But time is not on their side. What if they’d met in a different time and place? In another life, Ivy and Abe meet in their forties, when both are married already. Unable to resist the attraction between them, they embark on a passionate affair. In yet another, they marry young, with a bright future ahead of them – only for a dark shadow to threaten their happiness. Throughout various incarnations of their lives, they come together and go their separate ways, fall in and out of love, make or break promises. In every universe, Ivy and Abe are meant to meet. But are they meant to be? 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Everyone meets people in their lives that they seem to know or act out of character inexplicably drawn to a stranger. Are they supposed to be together or merely to meet?

‘Ivy and Abe’ meet in school and then are torn apart only to meet again in the Autumn of their lives. This story explores what happens to them when they meet again and all the ‘What If?’ scenarios. Told from Ivy’s point of view, all the stories have common characters, but they have different importance in Ivy and Abe’s lives.

Poignant, romantic, selfish and tragic the stories map out possible lives and their consequences.
Whether Ivy and Abe are soulmates is left to the reader’s interpretation. The ending adds yet another possible outcome but the hope for the future is undeniable and a fitting end for such a lovely story.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: The Distance – Zoe Folbigg – Extract – 4*Review

Under the midnight sun of Arctic Norway, Cecilie Wiig goes online and stumbles across Hector Herrera in a band fan forum. They start chatting and soon realise they might be more than kindred spirits. But there are two big problems: Hector lives 8,909km away in Mexico. And he’s about to get married.

Can Cecilie, who’s anchored to two jobs she loves in the library and a cafe full of colourful characters in the town in which she grew up, overcome the hurdles of having fallen for someone she’s never met? Will Hector escape his turbulent past and the temptations of his hectic hedonistic life and make a leap of faith to change the path he’s on?

 Zoe Folbigg’s latest novel is a story of two people, living two very different lives, and whether they can cross a gulf, ocean, sea and fjord to give their love a chance.

 Buy now links:

Amazon UK

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Google play

 

Extract

Cecilie looks up. Ordinarily, she would be pleased to see young tourists walk in; a chance to improve her English, to learn some more modern words and slang. But today she isn’t. She doesn’t see the point. Cecilie no longer feels the desire to learn new ways of saying that something is wicked, ace or sick; or to practise her they’re, there and theirs any more.

Cecilie nods, as she writes down an order she and fellow staff Henrik and Stine know by heart anyway, although today just Cecilie and Henrik work a sleepy afternoon shift.

‘Take a seat, I’ll be right over,’ Cecilie says to the couple at the counter as she tucks her pen behind her ear and it disappears into a cascade of heavy hair. Somehow, Cecilie can tell that these tourists are Canadian, even before she sees the maple leaf sewn onto the North Face daypack on the young man’s back. She wonders what brought them here; where in the world they have been already. Might they have seen his hometown too?

The Hjornekafé manager, Henrik, has already started making the drinks. He exchanges a look with Cecilie, as they usually do when Gjertrud and Ole have their little tussles, only today Cecilie isn’t rolling her eyes and smiling warmly. Today, Cecilie’s face is tense and terse, her eyes dulled, as she makes her way to the cake display cabinet at the end of the counter. The dark and rickety wooden furniture is brightened by the mirrors on the walls in the modest cafe space, and what little is left of the spring daylight streams in through the floor-to-ceiling window façade to the street.

The Canadians marvel at the wrought-iron latticework trimming the ceiling and scrape their chairs back to sit down. The noise of wood dragging on wood tears through Cecilie’s brain but is drowned out by another rotation of So, ro, lilleman.

Cecilie looks at her watch. It is 3.18 p.m. She silently counts backwards as she raises the thumb and four fingers on her left hand and the thumb and index finger on her right hand. Seven. Always counting back seven. She feels a blow to her abdomen and recedes to take it as she bends down to pick up a tray from under the counter. Cecilie’s not sure if she feels hungry, winded or heartsick, but she stands up with the tray, standing to stay strong. She takes out the spiced Arctic cloudberry cake, made by Mette at her home this morning. Bright orange berries burst with pride atop vanilla cream, layered three times on sponge swathed in playful cloudberry-coloured jam. Flecks of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves pepper the pristine pale crumb. Arctic berries shimmer golden and warm surrounded by spices. The orange hues remind Cecilie of photographs she’s seen in books in the library and on the internet, of a place a world away, where buildings are painted ochre and terracotta; where doorways bask in a shade of sunshine, she has never seen for herself. Cecilie carves out a square of cake with a knife and places it on a vintage floral plate that doesn’t go with the black and white cups Henrik is preparing the drinks in. Nothing matches in this hotchpotch corner of the world, but that doesn’t matter. Customers slink in reliably for a quiet slice of cake between hiking to the world’s northernmost cathedral, or summiting the mountain ledge in the Fjellheisen cable car by day, and chasing the Northern Lights at night.

With heavy feet and a heavy heart, Cecilie plods into the cavernous kitchen out the back to the freezer. She takes out a tub of blackcurrant ice cream and thoughtfully curls a cornelle to accompany the cake. The ice cream at the Hjornekafé is made by Mette’s daughter and Cecilie’s best friend, Grethe, who owns the ice cream parlour on the high street. Ice cream sells surprisingly well in these parts, and Grethe churns the best.

Henrik, a bookish man with round glasses and floppy brown hair parted in the centre, places the pot of tea, cup of coffee and two glasses of icy tap water next to the cake plate on the tray. Cecilie collects two forks and clinks them down next to the plate, knowing she will be coming back for another slice in a few minutes anyway. She walks around to the front of the counter, gives the Canadian tourists two menus with the small illustration of the Hjornekafé on the front from her shaky hands, and picks up the tray from the counter to take it to Gjertrud and Ole at their end of the cafe.

As she walks the short distance to the back wall, Cecilie’s mouth dries, her hands shake, and the tray feels like the weight of an iceberg as it releases from her pale grip. She looks down and sees it fall in slow motion beneath her to the floor, smashing onto the ground in hot and cold shards. The vintage cake plate smashes, sending flowers flying, splatted and smeared with varying shades and textures of orange and purple and cream, all over Cecilie’s boots. Hot tea and coffee scold Cecilie’s legs in her pale blue jeans as she lets out a little gasp of pain and embarrassment. The Thing That’s Happening Today, that Cecilie is dreading, is actually happening and there’s nothing she can do about it. At that precise moment, eight thousand nine hundred and nine kilometres away, eyes widen, and pupils shrink.

Hector Herrera has woken with a start, to a crash, on the morning of his wedding day.

My Thoughts…

The writing style and setting for this story show originality, and even though the trope is popular, the story’s quirky content sets it apart.

It took me a while to get into the story and warm to the characters, I have to confess I like Kate better than the two main protagonists, probably because her personality and circumstances are more familiar to me and more comfortable to empathise.

The plot is dynamic, chronologically and geographically and this demands concentration on the reader’s part. It’s not something you can dip into, you need to keep reading, or you’ll forget salient plot points.  Kate’s role in the story is not immediately apparent, although she is pivotal to the ending.

This book is my first by this author, not having read her first bestseller and in many ways, this is probably useful to make an objective assessment of the story. 

Overall I like the story; it’s one for the Chick-lit fans.

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

Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. She is the bestselling author of The Note. 

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Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Shari Low – With or Without You – Guest Post – 5* Review

  When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.

Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?

In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?

Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?

 Buy links:

Amazon UK

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

Guest Post – Shari Low

So here we are, on the publication of my 21st book and I’m still as excited and terrified as the very first time.

My first novel, What If? was released in January 2001. The year before, I’d found out that I had a publishing deal and twenty minutes later, I’d discovered I was pregnant with our first child.

What if your whole life changed in the space of a few ticks on a clock?

That year, I went from living in London, with an all-consuming career in sales management and roots that were touched up every six weeks, to a life as a full-time mum and writer back in my native Scotland. I don’t think I found my make up bag for the best part of a decade.

That transition came with countless what if’s.

What if leaving the security of a full-time job is a mistake? What if I only have one story to tell? What if I miss the excitement of a carefree life with no little humans depending on me? And, when my second baby came along the following year, what if these kids don’t sleep through the night until they’re 21 and I never get peace to write?

Thankfully, it wasn’t, I didn’t, I definitely didn’t, and they eventually did.

But that theme of what if was a starting point for my latest novel, With Or Without You. What if one decision changed the rest of your life?

Everyone has reached a crossroads at some point, where they had to move left, more right, go forward, go back. For me, the biggest one happened a few years before that life-changing time in 2000, when my husband and I had only been married for a few years, and we agreed to go our separate ways. There was no drama, no fallout, just an amicable realisation that we both wanted different things.

In the end, we got back together a few months later, and now, twenty-five years after we met, I couldn’t imagine finding more happiness in any other life.

But I’d love to know where fate would have taken us if we’d made a different choice.

That’s the dilemma facing Liv, a palliative care nurse, and Nate, a PE teacher, in the opening chapter of With Or Without You. Married straight out of college, they both feel like something is missing in their relationship, so after a year of trying to reignite the spark, they agree to go their separate ways on the last day of 1999. However, as the clock ticks down to midnight, Nate changes his mind and asks Liv to give it another try. In the moment that the new millennium dawns, the narrative splits, with one storyline following their lives over the next eighteen years if they stay together, and the other covering their future if they stick to their plan to part.

What if staying together is the right thing to do? What if it’s not? What if they miss out on another great love? What if they never find their happy ever after? What if their decision irrevocably changes the lives of the people they love the most? What if they discover they were right for each other after all? What if they don’t?

I hope readers will love following the two different paths as much as I enjoyed writing them. I fell hopelessly in love with Liv, Nate, and their group of friends, flawed as they are, and it brought me to yet another of those deliberations.

What if I bring a few of them back in book number 22?

Happy reading!

Love, Shari x

With Or Without You will be published by Aria – available in ebook on June 1st.

 My Thoughts…

If like me you believe in fate and love the film ‘Serendipity’, you’ll enjoy this well-written ‘what if’ story. Most people in a long-term relationship wonder, whether they are with their soulmate, or if under different circumstances they would be with someone else. This story explores Liv’s decision taken at the cusp of the 21st-century, stay with Nate or split up and live their lives apart.

A story of two halves, the outcome of being ‘without him’ is explored first and then ‘with him’. There’s friendship, conflict, romance and sadness but the ultimate conclusion is satisfying in both stories. The setting and relationships are believable, and though flawed, the characters endear themselves to the reader, and you want them to find happiness and fulfilment.

The pacing of the story makes it easy to read, and even though the storyline focuses on ordinary, everyday life, it is full of suspense, poignancy, laughter and love and makes this a lovely lighthearted read.

Shari Low has published twenty novels over the last two decades. She also writes for newspapers, magazines and television. Once upon a time, she got engaged to a guy she’d known for a week, and twenty-something years later, they live in Glasgow with their two teenage sons and a labradoodle.

Twitter: @sharilow

Facebook: @ShariLow

Posted in Book Review

The Map of Us – Jules Preston – 5* Review

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Kate Ryder – Summer in a Cornish Cove – 5*Review

Oliver Foxley is an acclaimed movie star and global heartthrob. But under the glare of the spotlight his ‘perfect’ life – and marriage -is slowly starting to crumble.

Cara Penhaligon is a struggling young Cornish artist and widowed mother of two children. Life has been unbearably harsh to Cara, but meeting Oliver might just give her a second chance at the happiness she deserves. As each begins to heal the other, the pieces of Oliver’s frustrating jigsaw puzzle effortlessly fall into place. But as the Cornish summer draws to a close, Oliver faces the toughest of choices, and no one emerges quite as they were at the start.

 Links to buy

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GdSsDC

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/summer-in-a-cornish-cove

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2I7acRB

iBooks: https://apple.co/2GbnobS

 

 

My Thoughts…

This story is so much more than the holiday romance the title suggests. The cove is a special place, aesthetically beautiful but with a tightly knit community looking out for one another. Not all of the inhabitants were born there, but they all recognise its importance.

Oliver is a famous actor, but like most people, he has both a public and private face. He battles endogenous depression, so at odds with his extrovert persona as an actor. His wife fiercely protects his image and their family but doesn’t understand this side of him. Cara is a working artist, whose talent knows no bounds but is restricted by her need to be there for her young family since the untimely death of her young husband.

The storytelling in this book is first class, instantly drawing you into the cove’s community, visualising the coastal setting and wanting to know more about the people who live there. The intricate plot reveals Cara and Oliver’s stories until serendipity draws them together. Internal conflict is paramount in this story but interspersed with mystery, suspense and romance. The characters are well written and believable, and more than one is a little sinister.

The final chapters are heartrending and poignant and maintain Cara and Oliver’s authenticity.

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

Kate Ryder has worked in a number of industries including publishing, mainly as a proof-reader/copy editor and writer for a national newspaper, magazines and publishing houses. A member of the New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelists Association, in 2013 she published her debut novel, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, a timeslip romance and mysterious ghost story, which was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2016 “Search for a Star” and also honoured with a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” Award. Kate lives in a renovated 200-year-old sawmill in the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Together Forever – Sian O’Gorman 4* Review

Tabitha Thomas gave up on a happy family life with Michael her absent, high-flying husband long ago. Instead, she concentrated her energies on their daughter, Rosie, and her career as a head teacher at a local primary school. However, trouble looms on the horizon…

While Rosie struggles with the most important exams of her life, Tabitha’s eco-warrior mother is protesting outside the school gates to save some trees from the bulldozer. And best friend, Clodagh, a top TV news broadcaster, is self-soothing with Baileys, as she’s edged out of a job by an ambitious flame-haired weathergirl. Finally, with the return of an old flame and a political expose to deal with, Tabitha is forced to confront a decision she made a long time ago and face the life-changing consequences she has lived with ever since.

 Links to buy

 Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GqEWA2

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2I5YDuj

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2pLAKkb

iBooks: https://apple.co/2ITdFEP

My Thoughts…

A lovely story with warm, believable characters who demonstrate the true meaning of family, friendship and community. There is a reassuring continuity in this story which focuses on a mother and her daughter but encompasses both of their grandmothers too.

Tabitha is a pillar of the community, a primary school headmistress in the village she grew up. Her daughter Rosie is studying for a pinnacle exam and her mother Nora is still an activist despite her advancing years. Tabitha suffered a tragic loss in her early twenties which changed the course of her life when someone from her past returns is this a good thing or bad? Tabitha’s marriage is not happy but convenient she has Rosie her purpose for marriage, but everything else is missing.

Red’s return ruffles her calm life, but they only have past memories, not future ones. There is a liberal amount of serendipity in this story which gives it special magic and makes it enjoyable escapism reading. The plot is simple, and there is a sinister antagonist who threatens the community. There are lots of complex characters who bring the village to life and a touch of romance.

A story of everyday people touched with a little of life’s magic.

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

Sian was born in Ireland, is an RTÉ radio producer and lives in the seaside suburb of Dalkey, Dublin with her seven nearly-eight-year-old daughter, Ruby.

Website: http://sianogorman.com/

Twitter: @msogorman

 

Posted in Book Review

The Cows 5*Review – ‘Don’t Follow the Herd’ Dawn O’Porter

Posted in Book Review

Touched to the Heart – Elsa Winckler 5* Review

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Blurb 2016- 2

When it comes to men, if physiotherapist Caitlin Sutherland didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. To help cope, Caitlin starts blogging in her spare time, about the types of men she meets and the bad dates she goes on.

While on duty during the annual Wines to Whales bicycle race, a gorgeous, sweaty cyclist walks in and sets her hormones dancing. But he is Don Cavallo; one of the four Cavallo brothers — hotel tycoons, famous as much for their business skills as for the number of beauties regularly seen on their arms.

Don Cavallo has his own issues with the other sex. He has yet to find one who is interested in him and not in his money or hotels. But when this sexy physio puts her hands on his back she not only touches his body, but also his heart.

They’ve both been burned before, but neither of them can stop themselves from playing with fire.

Buy Links 2016 -2

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Review

Touched to the HeartI love stories about sisters and this is the first in a series of stories that explores the Sutherland sisters’ encounters with the gorgeous Cavallo brothers. Set in South Africa and The Seychelles, it’s a story about trust, serendipitous meetings and seeing beyond the outward facade, to the person beneath.
The dry humour and romance of this story makes it an easy read but it is Caitlin and Don the unlikely lovers who keep you turning the pages. You want them to be together. Sensual tension sparks, whenever they are in close proximity making for some sizzling scenes.
If you are a fan of well crafted characters and hot romance where the ordinary world meets celebrity you will enjoy this and the best thing is there are three more books in this series.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Touched to the Heart by Elsa Winckler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Touched to the Heart by Elsa Winckler

Elsa Winckler

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