Blog Tour: The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

Published: 2nd November 2017
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Format: Ebook

ISBN13: 9780008236298

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Description

 

My Review

Thank you to Netgalley, and the publisher for my copy in exchange for my honest review.  Also, thank you to Emilie from HarperCollins for the chance to be on the blog tour!!

I will be honest, I found this book a little slow going. I didn’t see an end point and I didn’t really get where the whole thing was going.  Having said that, I did enjoy the story.  I liked that Emma was finding happiness after an awful few years.  I loved her little chocolate shop, and desperately want to find somewhere that will supply me with all the delicious sounding chocolates available out there!!!!

Emma was a likeable lady, she was witty when she wanted to be, she was loving and caring towards her friends and always put herself last when it came to others.  Max I didn’t really feel anything for.  He didn’t really come across as a gentleman, or even slightly likeable.  Doing that right at the beginning of the book and then not coming back? Talk about leave a girl hanging!!! I didn’t particularly like any of the other characters to be honest.  I didn’t get Holly. One minute she was 16 and then the next you’d think she was actually older – drinking in a pub, having a relationship with a 20 year old. I know no 16 year old is perfect, but this didn’t fit in the book.

The beginning of this showed huge amounts of potential.  The mysterious man moment that Emma has, no names exchanged and that all added a sense of suspense and mystery but then, unfortunately it sort of just didn’t go anywhere with it.  I enjoyed the fact that it takes Emma months to meet the mystery man (Max) but I didn’t feel the excitement that I felt at the beginning of the book.  They had chemistry at the beginning of the book, but again I felt it didn’t stick around, everything felt stiff and formal after their formal introduction… Maybe I was expecting too much? A whole New Years Eve firework display or something equivalent to that? I just didn’t feel it sadly.

This review isn’t really saying what I need it to say is it? While I did enjoy the story, the feeling that Emma was finally finding happiness and peace, I just don’t feel like it was done in a way that I would normally enjoy.  Everything was rushed and just sort of plodded alone. The description, for me, for the book doesn’t really match up. I don’t know what I was expecting but I feel disappointed in myself for not getting it.

So, after being disappointed in myself for not enjoying it as much as a everyone else probably enjoyed it I’m giving it a 3/5.

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ARC Review: The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara
Published: July 2017
Publisher: Sphere (Little, Brown Book Group UK)
Format: Ebook
Pages: 368
ISBN13: 9780751566215
ASIN: B01MQJVNBC

Goodreads
Amazon UK

Description

My Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for copy, in exchange for my honest review.  I’m so glad I got to read this, I’ve loved other books by Ali McNamara and this one does not disappoint.

I found this to be a magical story, full of folklore, history, mysteries and romance.  It was interesting to read the different legends.  I know it’s a fictional place, but it made me realise that everywhere has these little stories, legends, rumours, whatever you want to call it.  They all stem from somewhere don’t they?

Written well, as always for Ali McNamara. The characters all had feeling, depth, and a likeability that touches you.  There is a lot of eye-rolling though, and winking. What’s that all about? Anyway, I liked all of the characters.  The setting was beautiful, as is all of Ireland.

Ren is determined, stubborn, but a very likeable woman.  Kiki plays well against Ren. For Ren’s matureness, Kiki is the opposite. She’s ditzy, doesn’t get a lot of Ren’s references, but she’s still very likeable.  Finn.  I’ve been trying to find the right words for Finn but I’m struggling.  He’s likeable, you get to see a little of his history, his backstory but on the other hand I don’t know…  I felt like I didn’t get a lot from him.  I don’t know.  All the characters worked well together, there is chemistry between all the characters, a fondness between them.  Kiki and Ren found their home in Ballykiltara and it shows.

It makes a nice change that the loss that a character’s suffers is an animal.  Many stories centre around the loss of a person, not an animal.  People’s lives are affected by the loss of a pet or like Finn, a business.  it shows that it does change the way people are.

This book was just great.  I loved how it was written, I loved the majority of the characters, and I just really enjoyed it.  I give it 4/5.

 

Blog Tour: Q&A/Review: The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by [McLaughlin, Cressida]

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 29th June 2017
Format: Ebook
Pages: 500
ISBN13: 9780008219284
ASIN: B01MY458DB

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Synopsis
Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.
Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.
As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?
Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…

Q&A With Cressida McLaughlin

1. What does your writing day look like? And do you have a favourite place to write?

My brain is much better first thing, so I like to start early, 7.30 or 8am, and will try and work through until lunchtime on writing or editing, whatever stage I’m at. After lunch I’ll do other things, social media or blog posts or Q&As like this. The main hazard is Twitter, which can suck up hours of my time if I let it. I should put one of those ‘no internet’ thingies on my computer, but it would frustrate me not being able to look something up if I needed to. (Which is obviously a rubbish excuse from a Twitter addict.)

I have an office in one of our spare bedrooms at home, and I love it. I can have music playing, my sparkly lava lamp on, coffee and tea when I want, a candle burning. It’s very snug and colourful – it has lots of Poldark postcards on the walls – and it’s the ideal space for me to be creative.

2. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Can you tell us a bit about it?

I feel bad that I don’t remember the first story I ever wrote, but I do remember that whatever I did write, I always wanted it to look like a book. I folded sheets of A4 paper in half, stapled them at the fold and then drew a cover on the front, writing the words and adding pictures on the pages inside. My parents taught me about the magic of books from day one, and I loved the idea of my words being inside one – an ambition I feel very lucky to have realised. I remember very vividly a murder mystery my sister wrote for primary school. The story was brilliant, it was put together like a proper book, and I remember wishing that I’d written it. That has stayed with me much more than any of the stories I wrote when I was small – she was definitely an inspiration to me.

3. Do you have a favourite film adaptation of a book? What was it and why?

I thought the adaptation of Gone Girl was excellent, and very faithful to the book, but my favourite has to be the BBC adaptation of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, with Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale and Richard Armitage as John Thornton. It’s bleak, dramatic and very romantic. The scenes in the mills, with the cotton falling like snow while John Thornton stalks about in his stark black suit and hat, are so powerful. It’s a classy adaptation that I never get bored of re-watching.

4. If you were forced to write a different genre, what would you chose?

Creepy ghost story, definitely. I may have the beginnings of one on the go at the moment, just to see if I can do it . . .

My Review:

Firstly, thank you to Netgalley, and the Publisher for my copy of this book in exchange for my review.  Also, for letting me take me part in the blog tour.

A light hearted story, revolving around Robin who is starting fresh in her home town of Campion Bay. Taking over her parents guesthouse, she starts from scratch after losing her friend and closing her events business.  A likeable character but a little predictable. She comes across as kind, caring, thoughtful, if not a little held back because of her time in London.  The whole story was a little predictable but then again that’s what we all need as a pick me up from time to time!! This book is definitely a pick me up book. It was heartwarming, friendly, a little amusing, and has some delicious recipes at the end.

Throughout the whole book we have likeable characters, from Molly, Will, Paige, the guesthouse guests and other people from the town. Of course, we have a villain (in a sense anyway) in the form of Robin’s childhood sweetheart, Tim. Not so much a likeable character but it works for this story.  He comes across as sleazy, a little too confident and thinks he’ll get his own way no matter what.

The writing style was easy to read, it kept me reading and was easy enough to keep track off. The book is separated into 4 parts (I think they were published individually before?), each part flows brilliantly into the next. The time frame is only over a couple of weeks but doesn’t feel like that as you read it.  But then on the other hand, it goes by so quickly you don’t really get a sense of the timeframe of everything.  Such a quick pace is always good for me, I love getting caught up in everyone’s stories.

I think it’s safe to say that I liked this book, a lot.  I loved the writing style, the quickness of it, the characters.  I can’t really pinpoint one thing that I didn’t really like about it.

I give this book 5/5

ARC Review: The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

The Rome Affair by Karen Swan
Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Pan
Published: 13th July 2017
Format: Ebook
Pages: 400
ISBN13: 9781509838028

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Synopsis
The glamorous capital city of Italy is brought to startling life in The Rome Affair, a compelling summer novel by Karen Swan.
1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.
2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.
Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.

My Review:
Firstly, thank you to Pan and Netgalley for my copy in exchange of my honest review.   I know they say never judge a book by its cover, but I love this cover.  I will be honest, I didn’t even read the description of this book when I requested it for 2 reasons 1- Karen Swan wrote it, I’ve loved the other books I have read and 2- The cover.  The title suits this book, and this cover, perfectly.

There are some books in this world which make you love a place even more than you already do. This book is one of them. It has made me fall in love with Rome all over again, making me wanting to visit and experience it all for the first time again.  Karen Swan’s writing style immediately dumps you into a place and you instantly wish you were there. Her characters make you feel at home, they become your friends, your family.  I feel as though I have lost a friend in the main character, Francesa. Of course, I miss Elena and Nico as well.

Beautifully written, we get to see how the rich and glamourous live.  It takes us on a journey of love, loss, heartbreak, and a decades old mystery.  It shows us that money isn’t everything and sometimes anyone would do anything for the person that love deeply. Having me hooked from the first few pages, I couldn’t wait to see where Karen Swan took us this time.  The book is split between 2 wonderful women, from the 1960s through to 2017.

Through the book we see how Elena/Laney grows from the 16 year old we are introduced to through to the woman that she is when Francesca/Cesca meets her.  Both woman are fantastic characters, and in a way polar opposites.  Elena oozes wealth, glamour, sophistication and never having to work a day in her life. Cesca lives in vintage clothing, basically living hand to mouth, and then loses her tour guide job.  Coincidentally, Elena is there to offer her a job, to write Elena’s memoirs.  While she agrees to do the job, Cesca has to face what happened in her past.  She finds her own love in Nico, and discovers that Elena’s life wasn’t completely perfect after all.

I feel that Cesca learnt a lot from Elena, and from Nico.  I think that she learnt that she wasn’t responsible for her reason for escaping.  I also think that she learnt that she should never say no to a chance of love.  Elena got her true love after a pretty rough run of it, she lost more than she got throughout her life until she met her true love.  On the other hand, I think Elena was grateful for Cesca finally discovering the truth, and for her help coming to terms with everything.  Also, I think that the way that Elena was sort of fitting in a way.  She done it on her own terms, which she didn’t get to do a lot of.  But that’s all I will say about that, I don’t want to give too much away.

With beautiful writing, leaving me with a wish to revisit Rome, and to hold on to my love and my family, I give this book a very well deserved 5/5.

Book Review: The One by John Marrs

The One
The One by John Marrs
(Previously Published as A Thousand Small Explosions)
Published: 26th January 2017
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Format: Ebook
Pages: 368
ISBN/ASIN: 9781473551084

Goodreads
Amazon UK

Synopsis

How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…
A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Review

Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy of this book, in exchange for honest review.

Ok. I may be the only person to be saying this about “The One” but… I didn’t think much about this story. Yes, it was thought-provoking (would you or wouldn’t you?) and it was a great idea. There was enough happening to keep me reading, but it didn’t always have my full attention.  I found myself skimming full pages, sometimes even whole chapters, and I still know what was happening.  I like a story where I have to sometimes backtrack a little to make sense of something, or to remind myself. I didn’t have that with this book.

Honestly, I think it was mainly the characters that made me think less of it.  I didn’t particularly like any of them, and I couldn’t relate with any of them.
Mandy. I found her a little… I think the word I’m probably looking for is naive? Eager? Gullible also comes to mind.  ‘Falling in love’ with the actual thought of a man is a bit much, even for me and my love of romance novels!! Also, who wouldn’t speak to friends as well as family?? In this day and age, sometimes friends know a whole completely different you than family knows.  Sometimes they know the real you.
Christopher.  I understand he was probably supposed to come across to the reader as this, but I found him bland, empty and just… undeveloped as a character.  It was his parts I found myself skipping, I really didn’t care about his story.
Ellie.  I guessed who she was straight away.  She was heartless, unemotional, and again a little bland.  Even after ‘falling in love’, she didn’t improve in my opinion. I was surprised with her story though, especially with how it all ended for her.  I didn’t actually see that one coming.
Nick.  Now Nick I felt sorry for. Forced into his situation, and then forced (in a sense) to give it all up, only for it to end so horribly wrong.  Still, he got his happy ending, that’s what is supposed to matter surely? I found Nick to be the most developed character.  he had the biggest problems to face and you got a sense of what was actually happening and what was going through his mind.
Jade. Don’t even get me started.  The beginning of her story annoyed me.  How can she not be suspicious with the no skyping/facetiming? 10 years ago, fine, but in today’s world?? I don’t think so. Has she never heard of “Catfish”?????? And then to fly out to the other side of the world, on a whim?? Hmmm….Just no.  I get what she done towards the end of her story was a good thing, I probably would have done it myself.  She was a little too… not innocent but along those lines. Maybe clueless is the right word. But she still got a happy ending.

Truthfully I just don’t think we’re given enough backstory for them.  The reader is given a glimpse into their histories, and just thrown in at a random part of their story. I think they weren’t in a position to be built on to their full potential.

Although there was enough to keep me reading, I didn’t think it had been written well. There were a lot of repeated phrases, sometimes in the same paragraph.  Characters mannerisms were all very similar, actions were repeated in different characters, thoughts were the same, the list could probably go on.

The science side of the story had me slightly intrigued.  I honestly wouldn’t be able to say if it was a plausible theory or not though, or if it was even 0.1% true.  But it worked for this book, it added a little bit of interest to a relatively plain book.

I must admit, I’m highly disappointed about it all.  I’ve heard, and read, glowing reviews in the 100s, but for me it all just fell a little flat. It wasn’t spectacular, it didn’t make me want to stay up reading it.  I shouldn’t have expected as much as I did to be honest.  The last book I read based purely on reviews (The Girl on The Train) bored me to pieces and I hated it.  But you never know until you try right?

So, just based on the reasons above, I give it a reasonable 3/5.

ARC Review: Turn Towards The Sun by Emma Davies

Turn Towards the Sun by Emma Davies
Turn Towards The Sun by Emma Davies
Publish Date: 9th February 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Format: Ebook
Pages: 368
ASIN: B01LZALTGL

Goodreads
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis

Lizzie wants nothing more than to start over and put the past behind her. So when she is offered the chance to live and work at Rowan Hill, a beautiful country estate and bustling community of artists, it feels like a dream come true.
But soon after her arrival a series of accidents and misunderstandings begins to threaten the happiness and livelihoods of everyone at Rowan Hill. And when suspicion quickly falls on Lizzie, she discovers that the past is not so easily forgotten.
To keep the life she has just begun to build, Lizzie will have to race to uncover the truth before there are disastrous repercussions for everyone involved. In this heartwarming story of friendship, loss and love, the stakes are high but so are the rewards. If Lizzie can find a way to stay true to herself, she might have a chance at something she has always wanted: a place to call home.

My Review

Firstly, Thank You to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance of reading this book in exchange for my honest review.

I loved Letting in Light, and this book is the perfect follow up. As I said with Letting in Light, it grabbed me from the first page making me wonder what I was going to experience this time round.

I loved the introduction of Lizzie, she developed well, we got to know her more and more through the book, and she fit in perfectly alongside Ellie, Will, Finn, and the rest of the wonderful characters.  She started off in a vulnerable position to come out at the other side of it a different person. More confidence, sure of herself, and with a community of people to call family.
It was great to be seeing things from Ellie and Lizzie’s point of views. I was also glad that there was all of the characters from the previous book, and seeing how they had grown, and become more involved in the story.  It was a slightly different take and I think it worked well, especially seeing as the same things were having different effects on them both.

While the story was slow going to begin with, it hit around the 40% mark and it just moved onwards and upwards to a wonderful finish. I will be honest, I did guess the “whodunnit” but I kept second guessing my first choice, I didn’t care that I was right, and I certainly didn’t see the reasoning behind it.  I didn’t see the reason coming, I was way off the mark with that.  However, it was an excellent twist, and one what will make you scratch your head.

A big fat 4 stars from me!!
Another excellent read from Emma Davies, will most definitely be looking out for a potential third visit to Rowan Hill. Please?

ARC Review: Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin


Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin
Published: 22nd September 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Ebook
Pages: 322
ISBN13: 9781786810700
Goodreads

Available to purchase
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis
This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.
So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.
But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.
Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

My Thoughts

Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Bookouture, for my copy in exchange of my review.  This book has definitely pulled me out of yet another reading slump.

I found this book to be a delightful, heart-warming read.  It was festive (where can you go wrong with that??) it was loving, it was funny, tearful and just brilliant. There were parts of this book that made me laugh, nearly cry and feel extremely happy.

Pip is fed up with travelling the world, being a mystery guest in some fabulous places.  She decides her next job will be her last for a while.  When she gets to her hotel, the last person she is expecting to see is her teenage years ex-boyfriend, Gabe.  I loved Pip, she is an independent woman, with baggage, with a history.  She was real if that makes sense?

Gabe, for me, was a perfect gent.  Protective, a wonderful father, loving, and for Pip, an amazing lover.  His daughter Wren is a wonderful character, and a true young child! Especially being Frozen mad!!! They make a wonderful little family, and made me feel like I should hug my own child more often!

Other characters that pop up in the book often were fantastic.  They’ve all got their own stories about why or how they’ve ended up on Juniper Island and I would love to hear all of them. Neve and Luke were wonderful additions to Luke’s family, with Neve’s story being the next book.  I hope to hear Luke’s story eventually as well.

Holly Martin has created a perfect Winter Wonderland in this book, her writing style drew me in straight away and I didn’t come up for breath until I had finished every single page.  So much so, that I dived straight back in with Christmas Under a Starlit Sky (review to come next month for publication day!!)

I highly recommend this book to add to any Christmas book reading list! Just superbly wonderful.  I wish that I could visit, and maybe even just move straight in!! Loved it!! A huge, gigantic 5/5 from me!!


A little add on note from me:

I go on holiday for a week on Monday 26th and I very much doubt I will have WiFi where I will be so there will be complete radio silence from me for a while now.  I will be writing reviews but they will all be posted once I’m home and the mountains and mountains of washing is done!!!

Thanks for reading!!!