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

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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.

 

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ARC Review: The Killing Game by J.S. Carol


The Killing Game by J.S. Carol
Published: 13th Ocotober 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: EBook
Pages: 380
ISBN13: 9781786810311
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Available To Purchase
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis

Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars.
And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage.
You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you.
He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes.
If he dies. You die.
You have four hours to stay alive.

What would you do?

My Thoughts
Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for my copy in exchange for my review.

This book had me on tenterhooks from the first chapter.  That chapter was an amazing first chapter. It was fast, gripping, exciting, and with a vice -like grip what shouts Read Me!!! The rest of the book followed perfectly. I’ve loved all of James Carol’s other books (the Jefferson Winter series), and this one has followed suit just perfectly.  I seem to be using that word a lot for this book! Just perfect!!

The writing is brilliant, knowing exactly how to keep you on the edge of the seat. With brutal murders, brutal journalism, and heroic actors.  JJ, Alex King, Rob Taylor, and Seth Allen make a perfect combination of characters, with a good balance of their side of the action.  With Rob and Seth giving the public everything they can, JJ trying to stay alive with the bomber, keeping her own secrets, and Alex hiding in the restroom trying to keep it together and help the FBI, while resisting the temptation of escape.

I sort of guessed why the bomber was doing it, but I kept second guessing myself the whole way through the book.  I didn’t get that he was targeting the exact people, so that came as a complete surprise!  I liked JJ, even if she was in the most vulnerable position anyone could.

I’m finding it difficult to hold the whole story in, I can’t really explain how I feel about this book without giving major spoilers away.  So, on that I will say this.  This book is explosive, heart-stopping, and just simple perfect.  It had me second guessing myself the whole way, and then completely doubting myself about whether I was right or not.

With enough blood splatters, explosives, and guessing to last me a lifetime, I give this book a huge 5/5!!

ARC Review: All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll


All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll
Published: 6th October 2016
Publisher: Avon
Format: EBook
Pages: 496
ISBN13: 9780008174750
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Available to Purchase
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Synopsis

A gorgeous story of chance meetings and unexpected friendships . . . because sometimes what you’ve always wished for isn’t necessarily what life has in store . . .
Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?
One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…
All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…

My Thoughts

Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and the publishers, Avon, for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

I’ve had to sit and think about this book, and how I feel about it.  This is the second Claudia Carroll book I’ve read this year, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the other, I’m not sure where I sit with this one.  It wasn’t what I was exactly expecting, but then it wasn’t like I knew what to expect anyway.  The description for this book gave literally nothing away about it. It doesn’t say you’re going to be sat in a courtroom with Tess and Kate, it doesn’t say that you’re going to be in Kate’s last 15 years or in Tess’s daily struggle with wedding plans – or whether he’e the one for her.

Tess is a likeable character, she starts off being your very typical stressed bride-to-be, planning all the last minute touches.  Then she’s summoned for jury service, and everything changes.  She begins to doubt whether her fiance, Bernard, is the right man.  Her family have their own opinions on her, and so does his family about her.  Tess is oblivious to everything they are saying and has to find her own way to the same conclusions.  I found myself relating to things that Tess was thinking, and how she felt about things.

Kate again is another likeable character, although she is going through a rough time, she remains strong, able to beat an addiction, and comes out the other side of it.  Although she is supposed to be this perfect billionaires wife, she comes across as independent, strong, determined and just, well, down to earth.

Other characters that are pivotal in the book are great people.  I don’t want to obviously say much but in a way, I’m glad the whole thing ended the way it did.  We got a happy ending, and a great romantic line throughout the book.  The court case wasn’t what I imagined would happen in the book, but looking back it was a great setting for the majority of the story.  It was a wonderful change from the normal settings you get in books even remotely similar to this.

As I said, I still don’t how I feel about this book.  It was good to read about it all happening in a different setting, compared to seaside villages, beaches or something like that.  It was also a great story, with a sort of dramatic courtroom twist.  But.. On the other hand, it felt a little strained in places.  I felt there was no chemistry between some characters, there was no spark between others.  I didn’t particularly like either Tess’s family, or Bernard’s, and some characters didn’t add anything at all.

Overall, I did like this book.  But I didn’t love it like I was sort of expecting. I’m admitting I’m a little disappointed but I really don’t mind.  It was a good story, and it was a wonderful ending.  Will Tess and Will be a happy every after or will they not? Who knows? Will Kate finally find her place, or will she carry on where she is?

My Rating: This is where I am struggling.  Is it a 4 star? Or 4.5? Or even just a 3? I’m not sure… I’m going to give it a 4, for now.  It may change but I highly doubt it.

ARC Review: Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery
Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant
Published: 16th September 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Ebook
Pages: 273
ASIN: B01HRKTA9M
Goodreads

Available to Pre-order on:
Amazon UK
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Synopsis
It’s time to get toasty by the fire with a glass of mulled wine and a slice of chocolate yule log sprinkled with a little romance. Welcome to Christmas at the Little Village Bakery.
Snow is falling in Honeybourne and Spencer is bringing home his American fiancée Tori for a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. But when his hippie mum and dad meet her high-maintenance parents, sparks of the wrong sort start to fly. Then Spencer bumps into his first love Jasmine and unexpected feelings come flooding back.
Millie is run off her feet with Christmas orders at the Little Village Bakery and new baby Oscar. Thank goodness her cousin Darcie is here to help her. Although she does seem to be rather flirty with Millie’s boyfriend Dylan.
Will Darcie ever find true love of her own? And is marrying Tori a terrible mistake for Spencer if his heart is with someone else?

My Thoughts

Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for my copy in exchange of my honest review.

I enjoyed this book more than the first, I can’t really pinpoint why though.  It’s not written differently, doesn’t have many different characters, the setting is the same.  But I felt it was a lot better.  Maybe it’s because I knew the characters, and this built up on that? Or maybe it was because it was mainly following a different character’s story?  Either way, it was a fun light-hearted christmas feeling book.

I sort of feel cheated with the synopsis slightly, it makes out that there is a problem with Millie’s cousin being all flirty… I didn’t see that so I must have missed it? Unless someone wants to point it out to me? I liked Darcie, she was reserved and there’s been plenty of room left for her to grow.  I’m secretly hoping the next book will maybe be based around her?  I can’t really see many more options for the other characters.

Spencer’s storyline was eventful, dramatic and heart-warming.  His parents were fantastic characters, and Tori’s weren’t.  I didn’t particularly like her either to be honest, she cared too much about her parents feelings than her actual relationship.  You could say the same about Spencer as well, but I liked him in the first book so couldn’t really see past that for me.;

Set in the same quaint little village of Honeybourne, it felt familiar, homely and about everything else you would associate with it.  I was glad it was set in the same place, just for the fact it made me it feel welcoming.

Written well, with the same quick, quirky, thoughtful tone as the first book.

I can’t really find the right words to explain what else I liked about this book without giving much detail away from the actual plot itself.  It was a happy ending though, so that’s extra brownie points.  A little bit of a cliffhanger as well, which means that I want to find out which way they all go with their lives, and if it’s happy endings all round.

My Rating: With the same likeable characters, the same homey setting, the wonderful writing style, I happily give this book 4/5.

ARC Review: Backpack and a Red Dress by Maddie Jane

Backpack and a Red Dress
Backpack and a Red Dress by Maddie Jane
Published: August 15th 2016
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Format: EBook

ISBN: 9781489217370
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Available To Purchase
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Amazon US

Synopsis:
A fresh contemporary romance about a lonely girl looking for love, family and the perfect dress.
Managing a flailing second-hand clothes shop in an English village is not part of Cally Kirkwood’s life plan. But she’s travelled across the world to meet her birth father and she won’t leave until he acknowledges her.
But life happens when you’re busy making plans, and Cally soon finds herself completely invested in converting the grungy shop into a beautiful vintage clothing store, despite the opposition of her new employer’s son, Sam Hunter.
Sam is instantly attracted to Cally but can’t figure her out. There’s something she isn’t telling him and he doesn’t know whether to trust her—yet he can’t stay away.
An unexpected discovery means Cally must decide whether her true loyalty lies with her father or Sam. She thought she’d do anything to find love; but choosing between her past and her future may leave her with no love at all.

My Thoughts:
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

While I enjoyed this book, I felt it was missing something. I can’t quite put my finger on what though it is exactly though.  While the characters are good, they lacked a little depth.  While the storyline was good, it lacked a little flow and oomph.  While the chemistry was there between Cally and Sam, it was nothing spectacular.  If anything, it was a little predictable.  Although it was predictable, it was very easy to get in to and find what was good about it.

Cally was a likeable lady, she came across as strong, independent, and very determined.  Yet at the same time, she’s soft, fragile and maybe a little bit naive thinking that she would sort of slot right into her estranged fathers life.
Sam came across as the stereotypical moody, hunk.  He ended up being soft, just as fragile as Cally, and even more of a gentleman than he was at the beginning of the book.  He becomes less of a workaholic, and moves past any troubles he had.
Other characters in the book, for example Emma and Jackie, would have been great characters to expand on.  They added humor, sensible words, and witty comments.  There is one ot two characters that could have been left out.  One of them being Tabitha Eldridge.  She added nothing at all, her “threat” seemed to have been said and then completely forgotten about (however stupid it was), and she then just completely disappears from the story.  Or will there be a second book to carry on where it left off??

I’ve never read anything by Maddie Jane before, and this book is a perfect starting ground to discover her others.  It was a nice, easy read, with the predictability that I was sort of expecting from the first couple of pages.  While the story didn’t flow as well as I was hoping, it did keep me entertained and of course had me wanting the obvious happy ending.

My Rating: While predictable, and lacking certain things, I still enjoyed this book.  With easy reading, likeable characters, and the happy ending, I give this book 3/5.

ARC Review: Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

imageLate Summer in the Vineyard
by Jo Thomas
Published: 11th August 2016
Publisher: Headline Review
ISBN: 9781472223722
Goodreads

Available to purchase from
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis:

Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it’s time to put down roots of her own.
Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn’t know a thing about wine – beyond what’s on offer at the local supermarket.
There’s plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy’s new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there’s her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.
But Emmy will soon realise that in life – just as in wine-making – the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there’s romance in the air…

My Thoughts:

Firstly, thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for the opportunity to read and review this great book! Again, as with my last 2 reviews, look at the cover!! This is bright, cheerful, and instantly you know it’s going to be an amazing book. The digital image does nothing for the actual physical book.

My goodness. What a beautiful, heart-warming, gorgeous *insert whatever warm fuzzy word you’re thinking here* book. It’s certainly left me with that warm, romantic, loving feeling.
This is the first book I’ve read by Jo Thomas, I regret not reading The Oyster Catcher, which I’ve had for months, sooner to find out that she is an outstanding author.

Emmy is an excellent character. She’s down on her luck, looking for a means to help out her Dad. So what does she do? Throws herself so far outside her comfort zone, and succeeds in every way you want her to. She grows, becomes more confident and falls in love along the way. Isaac is the lone, travelling wine-maker, looking for somewhere – and someone – to settle down. He’s handsome, charming, and just utterly perfect for Emmy.

The chemistry between them sizzles off the page and I just love it. Every character adds something special to this book. Madame Beaumont is just the perfect character for, she is by far the best old lady I’ve come across recently in books.

Jo Thomas’s writing style has left me with a warm feeling, and has definitely left me wanting more. I would love it if there was a second book following Emmy and Isaac. I will be hurrying to pick up everything else by Jo Thomas now.

France is a perfect backdrop, set in a quaint little village that I really want to visit now. Or just visit France in general, anywhere in such a stunning country would be fine!!! I seem to be having a European reading spree at the moment!

My Rating: With excellent characters, a wonderful French setting, and romance pouring from pretty much every page, I give this book a huge sloppy kiss and an even bigger 5/5. This book is perfect for settling down with on a late summer’s evening, with a glass (or 2) of wine.

ARC Review: Escape to the Riviera by Jules Wake


Escape To The Riviera by Jules Wake
Published: 30 June 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, Avon
Format: EBook:
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780008185305
Goodreads

Available to Purchase:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis:

Carrie Hayes has a job she enjoys and a perfectly nice boyfriend. She’s sorted. Isn’t she?

But Carrie’s life wasn’t always like this. As a young, wild drama student, she married fellow actor, Richard Maddox, after a whirlwind romance. Life back then was full of possibilities, but when Hollywood beckoned Richard, Carrie was left behind.
Now an A-list superstar, Richard’s life couldn’t be more different to Carrie’s, so when their paths cross in glamorous St Tropez, she can’t help but wonder what might have been.
But with lovely, sensible Alan in tow, Carrie knows she needs to do the right thing. The only problem is, Carrie and Richard never quite got round to getting a divorce…
Lose yourself this summer on the French Riviera, the perfect read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jane Costello.

My Thoughts:
Firstly, Thank You to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for my review!!
How stunning are the colours on that cover?? That’s the main reason why I requested this book! I’m not afraid to admit it, it was all about the cover!! I barely paid attention to the description, and too be honest I’m sort of glad I didn’t.

I will be honest, it took me quite a few attempts to get into this book, but I did eventually! Once I got going, it was impossible to detract the kindle from my hands! I’m only a little bit ashamed to say that I nearly, very nearly, forgot to feed my child…. Is that bad??? It’s rare that I really struggle to get into a book and continue to read it, but I’m absolutely delighted, no ecstatic, that I stuck with this and finished it.

This book is one of the books that I will recommend to everyone and anyone – who will listen to me rattle on about it anyway!!  The whole storyline was fantastic, I loved the fact it wasn’t following normal rules of the first falling in love storyline, it was about falling in love all over again.  It was about finding who you are, and taking life by the horns and going for what you actually want.  I’m glad the whole storyline didn’t revolve around the movie star status, that would have been a bit tedious.  Instead it was more about who he was before, the man he was before.  The memories of Carrie and Richard made me smile, laugh (discreetly), and make me root for them even more!!

The 3 leading ladies were brilliant, they worked well off each other and I could have read about them for a very long time! Carrie is a superb leading lady, she’s funny, witty, determined.  Jade is a typical teenager – celebrity obsessed, technology addict – and Angela is the voice of reason behind everything. Richard…. Richard…. What can I say about I can say about Richard? He comes across as smooth, romantic, charming, gorgeous, and just…. Swoon-Worthy? The chemistry between Carrie and Richard is electric, and you can feel the love between them.

The setting of the Riviera was fantastic, and is perfect for a summer read. I love books set on mainland Europe, and this didn’t budge that feeing at all.  I rarely read books set in France but this has changed that.  I shall be on the lookout for more similar books!  It was written brilliantly, with witty moments, intense moments, and near happy tear moments.

My Rating: I loved this book. I loved the characters, the setting, storyline, everything.  it will stay with me for a lone time, and as I said, I will recommend it to be many people! On that note, I give it a huge 5/5.