If You Could See Me Now by Keris Stainton

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Length: 223 pages

Please note as always the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Izzy Harris should have it all – but her boyfriend has been ignoring her for months, she’s been overlooked for a promotion, and the owner of her local coffee shop pervs on her every time she has a craving for a salted caramel muffin.

Then an unexpected turn of events gives her the boost she needed.

Suddenly Izzy has the confidence to do all the things she’s never dared: dump her oblivious boyfriend, turn the tables on catcallers, and put herself forward for a big pitch at work. Having to work closely with gorgeous colleague Alex is just an added perk…

But then her best friend has her heart broken, the pitch is way more complicated than expected, and Alex is keeping secrets. Does Izzy have what it takes to help her friend, save her career and get the guy?

A funny, feel-good read about finding yourself – and love – when you least expect it, for fans of The List, Just Haven’t Met You Yet, and Hot Mess.

They review: Don’t you hate when, after you’ve read and ADORED a book, you think ‘I wonder if (said author) has any other books out, and they’ve tons that you could have read and devoured before this? This is what happened after I read this book, thanked my lucky stars that I had, and signed up to Keris Stainton’s newsletter for more news of upcoming releases. I think you’ve guessed by now how much I ADORED this book (people who don’t like gushy reviews, hide … NOW!)!

The book starts with Izzy Harris finding out that the biggest and oldest client of their firm is shopping around and so the people of her company need to up their game and pitch to keep them sweet. Izzy has been told she’s always just on the periphery, never quite seen, and so she needs to prove to everyone that she’s capable and not just a background player.

Izzy is possibly one of my favourite characters in some time. It’s very difficult to still adore a character who has or feels they have, been let fade but Ms. Stainton has given us a lead character who is so lovely, with none of the ‘poor me’ or other people constantly talking about how perfect she is, when she isn’t (a regular thing in so many books!) Actually the characterisation in this book is spot on, in particular her best friend Tash was the perfect mix of bright, viviacious, loud and human, and made me laugh (out loud -me, the prude!) and Alex was excellent too. This leads me to another huge pull of the book, that Izzy had people to lean on. In a lot of books authors feel they need to alienate every last person to give the lead a properly rough ride, but there was enough drama (oh the drama!) to keep it all moving very well.

Actually (sorry, I knew this review would be all over the place!), the comedy was excellent too, there’s very few books that do really keep their promise of being ‘laugh out loud,’ but in particular, the bit of the book that I can’t speak of because it isn’t in the blurb, but which makes it so different  and is, really its USP (hence the reason it should have been in the blurb in my humble opinion!) In this part, Izzy does something that EVERYONE would love to do to get back at her boyfriend, and it was so funny, that I snorted!

Even though its predominantly a comedy, there are some amazing touches, and the author is great at looking at Izzy’s journey and how she feels about her life before, and now in this situation, and plants her feet firmly at a crossroads, and there were some beautiful moments.The thing that happens, is also done amazingly (I’m so sorry about this, I just don’t want to do spoilers!)

This is a book about someone who wonders how and why everyone else seems to be better than she, a book that looks at how people can get into a rut, and inspires said people to do something about it. For people who aren’t fan of rom coms, they may reconsider their stance, for people who are, well, they’ll be excited and happy to have found this, a book that will make them smile, laugh and make them nod along. A sparkling triumph! Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for this perfect treat, I mean book, in return for an honest review.

Rating: most defintely 5/5, and definitely in my end of year ‘best of’s.’

The Map That Leads To You by JP Monninger

 

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Length: 401 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Two strangers take the road less traveled…

Heather Mulgrew’s world is already mapped out: she is going to travel abroad with her friends after college, come back to a great career in September, and head into a life where not much is left to chance. But that was before an encounter on an overnight train introduces her to Jack, a passionate adventurer who changes the course of her journey and her life.

Throwing Heather’s careful itinerary to the wind, they follow Jack’s grandfather’s journal through post-World War II era Europe: Vienna, Budapest, Turkey—exotic places that serve only to heighten their feelings. As September looms, Jack urges Heather to stay with him, to keep traveling, to give in to the romance of their experience; Heather convinces him to return to the United States.

Jack has a secret that could change everything. And Heather’s world is about to be shaken to the core.

J.P. Monniger’s The Map That Leads to You is a breathtaking novel about love, loss, and the best-laid plans that are meant to be broken.

The Review:

Apologies if this review is all over the place. It reflects, in a way, my thought process on the book, which I predominantly loved, but with a few slight issues. This is the story of Heather, who is on a journey across Europe with her two best friends, Constance and Amy, who are the best of friends (I adore their friendship and their characters). More to the point, it’s the story of Jack, who Heather met along the way and who she quickly realises has taken her heart.

Jack is on his own journey, via his grandfather (a soldier in the war)’s diary. There are extracts from this diary that show of his issues and feelings about being away from home. This was a lovely touch, although I was a little disappointed because ultimately I don’t think it told me what I wanted to know. The journey itself is shown to us via maps, which I would presume to be excellent, although my kindle wouldn’t show them to me. The book reads basically as if you’re on the trip too, with vivid descriptions of the locations.

This was the part of the story that I adored, in particular as they moved from museum to gallery to monument to reminder of atrocities that had taken place, gathering the odd little facts that you devour as a tourist. As well as this, the actual ‘action’, that is the happenings, were excellent for me, although to be honest I think the fact that I leapt for them meant I was taking the wrong thing from this book. As I said this book was about the journey, and so in this way it was more supposed to be about the mundane, the everyday, the love story between Jack and Heather, which was beautiful in terms of romance, but at times I was waiting for something to upset the balance a little as opposed to just listening to very intellectual back and forths. I blame this on a short attention span and my love of rom coms and thrillers, where it’s all about what will happen next, as opposed to being in the moment and savouring every last look or action.

I really enjoyed this book even though it didn’t tick all the boxes for me, I had no feelings on either Jack or Heather, and it was telling for me that in just a few lines I felt and hearted the love between her best friend Constance and the lovely Raef, and in fact somehow felt I knew Constance and Amy more than Heather, although when the lead is telling the story that can be inevitable.

It’s a tough one to rate, trying to balance the lack of an impression made by the leads against everything else, which was all encompassing and excellent. The ending was a shocker that unfortunately didn’t affect me, which surprised me. Saying all of this I think people who DO connect will declare this book to be a standout. Definitely worth a read and I’m very glad I did. Thanks so much to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating:4/5

About the author

JP MONNINGER is an award-winning writer in New England and Professor of English at Plymouth State University.

Seasons of Summer Novella Series by Melissa Baldwin

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Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the box set

I have to start this by telling you that the second I saw the offer of promoting this I realised I’d read the first of this series after letting down Melissa Baldwin by not promoting the release of the final of this series. I was a bit all over the place at the time and I let it pass me by before I realised I’d missed the deadline. So I mailed  and apologised, without a very good excuse or even an excellent apology, as I still wasn’t myself, and everyone involved was so incredibly lovely that I downloaded the first book of the series and it was honestly just what I needed (I cannot tell you how much I mean this, I’d been reading a lot of thrillers, and while they’re great, when you’re tired and down, they can keep you a bit submerged, if you know what I mean). I’ll get the review up for you in the next few days but I’m pretty sure I had it as a 4 or 4.5/5, I definitely remember smile out loud moments and hints of magic that had me nodding along but anyway, back to the task in hand, which is letting you know that this whole set is Melissa Baldwin has bundled her Seasons Of Summer Novellas into a box set, which is available now and when I saw this I pre-ordered it myself and will get to the remaining three in the next while ( I love box sets as I’ve an awful habit of reading a novella and waiting for ages to get to the next one!). Each novella sells for $.99, but you can get all four books in the box set for only $2.99. Happy out!:)

 

About the Seasons of Summer Novella Series Box Set 

After a devastating breakup, Summer Peters knows she needs something to distract her. Become a fly on the wall for a year and discover how Summer handles new experiences and challenges that each season throws at her. Will these ups and downs lead to the life of her dreams? 

Fall Into Magic – Book One  

After a devastating breakup in the middle of her summer vacation, Summer Peters knows she needs something to distract her. What better than the arrival of fall, Halloween, and a new client? 

Winter Can Wait – Book Two 

Following a fabulous fall, Summer is not looking forward to the frigid winter. Much to her dismay, she knows this winter is a time for many changes in her life, including moving on from the heartache of the past. 

To Spring with Love – Book Three 

Summer is thrilled to be done with the frigid winter. Spring is in the air, and she’s ready for a fresh new start. Her career is thriving, she’s searching for a new place to live, and she’s finally ready to take her relationship with Alexander Williams to the next level. 

Return to Summer – Book Four 

Summertime has arrived and things aren’t only heating up outside for Summer. After a rocky spring, Summer thinks she’s finally moved on from the heartache of last year. She’s found a new place to live, her company has new clients, and her relationship with Alexander Williams is going strong, despite the desperate attempts by others to sabotage it. 

Where to find the Seasons of Summer Novella Series Box Set 

Goodreads

Universal Buy Link

 

Meet Melissa 

Melissa Baldwin is an avid runner, planner obsessed, and has always had a love for writing. She is a wife, mother, and avid journal keeper who took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember…or Forget. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women and is now a published author of ten Romantic Comedy novels and novellas. 

 

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, running, indulging in fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then. 

 

Connect with Melissa 

melissabaldwin

Website: http://www.authormelissabaldwin.com/ 

Goodreads

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormelissabaldwin 

Twitter @mpbaldwinauthor

Pinterest

Amazon Author

 

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The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews

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Length: 496 pages

As always, the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . .

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn’t spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated.

Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?

Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but she’s not sure that’s enough to base a marriage on.

Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas.

The review: Well, I’m not sure that this IS a review, given that I unfortunately called it a day at 36%, after two years and numerous attempts to read, but I need to let you know why I didn’t finish, so here it goes.

I requested this book on the back of numerous rave reviews, all four and five stars, from various bloggers out there. We all know that Carole Matthews and Sarah Morgan took their roles as queens of Christmas some time ago, and I’d read ‘Calling Mrs Christmas,’ and  ‘With Love at Christmas’ and I think one other and had always fallen in love with them and eaten them up over the holiday period. I found her descriptions magical and wonderous and everything a Christmas read should be.

I’m not sure whether it’s been since I’ve started blogging, and so have upped my range of books, but I found myself drifting away from the story, of Lucy, manager of ‘Chocolate Heaven, her friends, Autumn, Chantal and Nadia, and her boyfriend, Aidan.  I didn’t really connect with any of them, finding them a little immature and a bit selfish. What drove this home was that anytime anyone was ANYWAY nice to anyone else, there were cries of how lovely they were, how selfless etc, and as it happened a few times it began to grate a little.

From the start there was comedy, only because I wasn’t sure I liked the characters, I’m afraid it didn’t really connect. Interspersed with everything going wrong for Lucy, with some really funny moments that I honestly would have liked if I wasn’t finding it hard to connect with her, were some more serious issues, the story of Autumn’s past, which for the first time made me realise what people meant when they said some issues didn’t fit in with the chick lit genre and felt out of place. Jumping from fun and hilarity to this, with the drama dial suddenly upped out of nowhere just felt muddled and I found myself shrugging a little. Add to this their solution to everything was chocolate, and yes I know this is The Chocolate Lovers’ series, and so it’s a given, but it was mentioned so much the word itself lost all meaning.

The descriptions of setting, as they headed towards Christmas, as ever, were stunning, beautiful, magnificent, making you want to transport yourself to that time of year. And so I trundled on. I stopped and started this book so many times. I’ve only ever given up on three books in my life, and I couldn’t fathom that this would be number four. I know that there are a world of people out there that adore this book, and I’ve no doubt there will be so many people who will love it, and it will be a great Christmas read for them, unfortunately not for me. Thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review, and apologies it didn’t work out.

No rating as I didn’t finish.

The Christmas Surprise by Samantha March @BySamanthaMarch

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Length: 77 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book

What they say: Juliette Mabry is a happily married stay-at-home wife and mother…until there appears to be trouble brewing in her nearly ten-year marriage. Juliette takes it upon herself to find out if her husband is up to no good, but does she want to know the truth? Everything is revealed on Christmas, and Juliette is in for her biggest Christmas surprise.

The review: First off I have to mention that the author of this book is none other than Samantha March, who runs blog tours on Chick Lit Plus. I have always followed Ms. March on both Facebook and her blog and love how her posts are so bright, inspirational and motivational. There was also the fact that I knew she had written a great deal of books (see them here) and so, when I saw this for free last year (£0.99 now), well, you know, you’re always curious, aren’t you? So I guess I’m starting off my Christmas books here. I know it’s early, but I think it’s going to be another year where there’s going to be a lot of excellent titles out here (last year I steered very clear but the year before I read a fair few, see wrap up here) so off we go!

This story starts with a lady in a toilet stall, listening to the rumour mill starting up about someone’s partner having an affair and I was intrigued straight away. The scene was reminiscent of Desparate Housewives, and indeed this programme was mentioned, with our protagonist wondering if they could be talking about her best friend, who had once been caught sleeping with her gardener. And this was the essence of the story, which had me so early on, and kept me through every twist and turn with its ‘who can you trust?’ tale of betrayal and deceipt. It featured lavish lifestyles, yoga and Botox, but with more likeable characters than I’d have expected from a book set in this backdrop. The descriptions were beautiful and grabbed you and put you right there, the suspence got you and I read it in an evening. The only issue I had was that I felt it could have been just a little braver, but saying this I enjoyed the ending. Add to this that it was a free Christmas read which made it that little bit more satisfying! This is a book that will definitely send me back to Ms. March’s back catalogue.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Excerpt: The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK

 

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Amazon UK

Amazon US

Length: 228 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

I’m afraid this is horrendously late, as it was due by the weekend, and a big big apology needs to go to both Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse, but I suppose the silver lining is that instead of telling you to pre-order, I can tell you that The Big Dreams Beach Hotel is now available on Amazon. I’m reading a lot of thrillers at the moment and wanted something a little lighter and I really enjoyed The Second Chance Cafe In Carlton Square (read review here), so when I remembered I had this to promote I went straight to Kindle Unlimited to download. Anyhoo, enough rattling on, here’s the story!

A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett

This is a brand new standalone novel from the author of the Carlton Square series with a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with!

What they say: Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

 Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

 What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

 That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

 How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

The Excerpt:

New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But don’t judge him just because he sounds like he should be sipping ice-cream floats at the drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game. Rah rah, sis boom bah, yay, Chuck!

Believe me, I didn’t plan for a Chuck in my life. But that’s how it happens, isn’t it? One minute you’ve got plans for your career and a future that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of being in love, and the next you’re floating around in full dozy-mare mode.

I won’t lie to you. When Chuck walked into our hotel reception one afternoon in late October, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was lust.

Be still, my fluttering nethers.

Talk about unprofessional. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. Something about organising Christmas parties.

‘To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ he confided as he leaned against the reception desk. His face was uncomfortably close to mine, but by then I’d lived in New York for eighteen months. I was used to American space invaders. They’re not being rude, just friendly. And Chuck was definitely friendly.

‘I only started my job about a month ago,’ he told me. ‘It’s my first big assignment, so I really can’t fuck it up. Sorry, I mean mess it up.’ His blue (so dark blue) eyes bore into mine. ‘I’m hoping someone here can help me.’

It took all my willpower not to spring over the desk to his aid. Not that I’m at all athletic. I’d probably have torn my dress, climbed awkwardly over and landed face-first at his feet.

Keep him talking, I thought, so that I could keep staring. He looked quintessentially American, with his square jawline and big straight teeth and air of confidence, even though he’d just confessed to being hopeless at his new job. His brown hair wasn’t too long but also wasn’t too short, wavy and artfully messed up with gel, and his neatly trimmed stubble made me think of lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

See what I mean? Lust.

‘I noticed you on my way back from Starbucks,’ he said.

At first, I thought he meant he’d noticed me. That made me glance in the big mirror on the pillar behind him, where I could just see my reflection from where I was standing. At five-foot four, I was boob-height behind the desk in the gunmetal-grey fitted dress uniform all the front-desk staff had to wear. My wavy dark-red hair was as neat as it ever got. I flashed myself a reflected smile just to check my teeth. Of course, I couldn’t see any detail from where I stood. Only my big horsy mouth. Mum says giant teeth make my face interesting. I think I look a bit like one of the Muppets.

‘Do you have the space for a big party?’ he said. ‘For around four hundred people?’

He didn’t mean he’d noticed me; only the hotel. ‘We’ve got the Grand Ballroom and the whole top floor, which used to be the restaurant and bar. I think it’s even prettier than the ballroom, but it depends on your style and your budget and what you want to do with it.’

Based on his smile, you’d have thought I’d just told him we’d found a donor kidney for his operation. ‘I’ve been looking online, but there are too many choices,’ he said. ‘Plus, my company expects the world.’ He grimaced. ‘They didn’t like the hotel they used last year, or the year before that. I’m in over my head, to be honest. I think I need a guiding hand.’

I had just the hand he was looking for, and some ideas about where to guide it.

But instead of jumping up and down shouting ‘Pick Me, Pick Me!’, I put on my professional hat and gave him our events brochure and the team’s contact details. Because normal hotel receptionists don’t launch themselves into the arms of prospective clients.

When he reached over the desk to shake my hand, I had to resist the urge to bob a curtsy. ‘I’m Chuck Williamson. It was great to meet you, Rosie.’

He knew my name!

‘And thank you for being so nice. You might have saved my ass on this one. I’ll talk to your events people.’ He glanced again at my chest.

He didn’t know my name. He’d simply read my name badge.

 

About the author:

Michele Gorman square (2015_02_13 17_34_58 UTC)

Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

The Sinking Chef (Pot love 2) by Sylvia Ashby @bysylvia_a

 

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Length:339 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Bridget Jones meets Burnt in this delightful comedy novel about a talented YouTuber and the guy who keeps trying to bring her down. Although part of a series this book is completely standalone, as are all other novels in the Pot Love Series.

In Belsize Park, London, Ashley works hard on her daily YouTube channel “The Sinking Chef”. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much.

James is a gruff British TV director, turned publisher, who Ashley had a crush on ages ago. She has moved on but when he calls with an offer to take her out to lunch she doesn’t say no. It’s only lunch – what can go wrong?

The day Ashley meets James for lunch and he promises her a book deal, she makes the worse decision in her life – to hide the book deal from her boyfriend, Giacomo. As things progress Ashley’s secrets mount up and other things in her life unravel. Is there a connection? And how is she going to get out of this without losing Giacomo and the life she loves?

Set in the heart of fast-paced London, The Sinking Chef is a charming story of love, recipes, secrets, and the determination to do thinks right by those you love most in your life.

 

The Review: Some things you’ll already know from my previous reviews of The Treachery of Trains (review here) and Pot Love 1 (review here):

  1. Sylvia Ashby can transport you straight to any part of the world with just a few words.
  2. Her stories are captivating and she does romance and heat like no other (swoon!)
  3. I’ve ‘met’ her through the internet and she’s beyond lovely!

So, now that’s out of the way: Pot Love 2. When I heard this was coming out I was very excited. I’ve told you all before how horrendous I am in the kitchen and so I lean towards all books where there’s talent or not shown in terms of food. I have to admit I worried a bit that it wouldn’t come close to Pot Love 1, where we watched Ashley struggle to overcome her culinary gremlins, but I needn’t have.

We begin the book (as we did last time) with a recipe, although this time it’s that of Pasta alla Puttanesca. The recipe was written in lay person’s language which really made me warm to the Pot Love series all over again. Our story, however, begins not in the kitchen, but back with Ashley. She’s wandered in error onto Mumsnet, and is speaking to a number of mothers, horrified at what she’s hearing. She has no children, but is being pressured into getting pregnant since her and the lovely Giacomo are together three years now. The comedy made me settle in, and I knew I was in for a treat.

As the story flowed on, I was reminded of how much I enjoy Ms. Ashby’s characters, with her mother, new husband and kids, who weren’t exactly au fait at showing Ashley love, then of course the lovely Giacomo and the re-introduction of her nemesis James, who I was sure was out to get her. In terms of comedy, there’s some oldies but goodies in there, from an employee who is worried about getting into trouble abandoning the phone with ‘a feeble voice saying “Hello!’ and “Is anyone there?” from the receiver,’ to Ashby’s pros and cons list for relationship issues : ‘PROS: I Can’t go back to dating I CAN’T! … CONS: I Can’t go back to dating I CAN’T!’ There is also a cookery book deal (yay to us seeing the inside of an agent’s office!), some underhanded dealings with Giacomo’s top restaurant and some backstabbing.

This is a lot perkier than either of Ms. Ashby’s previous books, and not one for people whose reviews tend to make sure to tell us all that something was fine for a book in this genre (chick lit) or that they don’t usually read books in this genre etc. For those who are fans of a good romantic comedy or chick lit book, however, this is a quirky fun read with a nice lashing of sophistication on the side. Extremely enjoyable and very much recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Oh by the way just to tell you that the recipes from the books are actually found in a new Pot Love Recipe book which I had to have as the recipes were written so simply even I felt I could have a go! (I’m going to make it easy for you, you’ll find it here!!)

Pps Tune in tomorrow for an excerpt from Pot Love 2!

That is all!

Review of opening chapters of The Last Piece Of My Heart by Paige Toon and an admission on my part!

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Please note that the cover image leads to an Amazon buy link for the book
My admission: Okay. So. When I saw this on Netgalley my heart just about jumped out of my chest. Paige Toon, queen of romantic comedy up for request! And so I leaped. Possibly, I can say now, without even wondering WHY this book, that I had read many an excited blogger lust after, that so many of the queens of chick lit had reviewed, that magazines had included in their spreads, threw up a ‘read now’ message as opposed to the normal ‘request’ instruction. Within seconds I realised I had actually been approved to read just an opening segment of the book. I sighed and for the first time ever, turned to the review section of Netgalley, purely to see if others had thought the same.

Either they hadn’t or they weren’t going to admit it. Perhaps there had been a huge caveat beside the cover and I’d missed it (it’s very likely, I was very excited!) There was, in general, a flurry of gushing, although most said it was a pity it was so short (perhaps their diplomatic manner of confirming what I was looking for). There were also a number of people saying they’d have loved to have had an actual ARC of the book. It’s a testament to both author and publisher that there’s so much demand and people are fine about only reading such a short extract, but it was just a little disheartening. Whatever way it happened, it happened, but I will say I’ll have to look before I jump in future, if only to save myself the disappointment of a) thinking the publisher had thought me worthy of being pre-approved (okay, yes, I did feel a little inferior as a result of this, it’s silly but there you go) and b) thinking I was about to sit down and enjoy Paige Toon’s new book. So there you go, a caveat. Perhaps people prefer this way to reviewing a whole book as they know whether they want to read on or not? I’d be interested to know! (If you want, you can read further down for my ‘review!’

What they say:When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture… Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole’s grieving husband, Charlie…
The ‘review’: So this is the story of Bridget, who has reached an impasse and decided it’s time to figure out what’s the REAL story with her love life. She had always blamed the first love of her life for mucking up potential perfect future relationships, but he sends her head into a spin with the idea that maybe the truth lies in the relationships since. And so she decides to delve further into this idea.

Ms Toon got me early on with some beautiful phrasing and the fact that this book would include bookish information on travelling that was laden with romance. The premise of the story, looking into TWELVE loves of her life, I’ll admit, had me siding with Bridget’s editor and thinking ‘twelve? Really?’, but that was quickly parked with the introduction of the story of Nicole Dupre, who Bridget is to ghostwrite on behalf of. This most definitely saved the book for me and I most definitely will read on in the future, although it might say something that I didn’t go straight to download from Amazon straight away. So there you go, I’m sorry if this was all a bit bitter and ranty, and the more seasoned among you will probably tell me this happens all the time, I just find it a bit of a pity, both for the bloggers who felt they missed  out, and the authors out there who have struggled to get their book noticed on Netgalley. Sorry!

Blog Tour: Review and Extract: My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan

I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan, with the brilliant Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus (Thanks to all for the book in return for an honest review) . Below is the review and an extract, and don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour, there’s some amazing blogs in there!

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Length: 260 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Better to have loved and lost, than never loved.

Paul Starr, Irelands leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young women by his side.

United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.

The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other forever.

As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul’s death proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.

The Review: So this is the story of the aftermath of the death of Paul Starr, the perfect-on paper, dream doctor who seems almost too good to be true. And it turns out he is. It’s been some time where I’ve read a book where there were so many lives intertwined and I’d forgotten how great it was when you were invested in each and every character, as I was here. The characters were unusual in their range in terms of age and roles in the book, you had stoic, mothering, bright and energetic and finally the innocent, tell it like it is shoulder to lean on. The differences between each of their lives gave us so many issues and experiences, with a few different genres thrown in there too and it made it all the more enjoyable. Each and every female character had me, and the more I read the more I felt for them. Of course in the blurb there is the mention of ‘unlikely friendships,’ and this was most definitely the highlight- the friendship between the four was excellent, heart-warming and beautiful and timely, which is so important to me-it’s a bit of a bug-bear where a friendship or relationship doesn’t evolve, you’re just suddenly hit with it. That didn’t happen here and I was thrilled. I did say ‘female characters’-the only character I didn’t warm to was Paul, or the memories of him anyway, I found him selfish and sly to be honest and I couldn’t understand that for the most part they continued to speak of him in such a fond manner, where I was livid on their behalf, but then Ms. Hogan had a surprise in store in terms of his character …

As you can tell I really liked this book. There were some issues, I don’t know if it was me, but there were times where I felt like parts had been cut out, maybe to make the story more snappy, but I did get confused from time to time. I found myself to be editing in my head a little as I read where it seemed like some sentences that I would have expected to be in a certain place to explain things were later in the page. Saying that, there weren’t many of these issues, and as this was a review copy it’s more likely they’re fixed since (or else, as I said, it’s just me!)

My Husband’s Wives had ups and downs and mini mysteries, peppered with clichéd (and sometimes cheesy!) occurrences that were predictable in a good way and yet not always fully predictable, ensuring it was always vivid and easy to picture in your mind’s eye. It was a book I’d have read in a day (although it says on Amazon this is 260 pages it felt like more, because it’s such a saga, and yet it flew!) had I had the chance (the kids know when I’m enjoying a book and decide to jump in and do their thing) and yet, conversely, one that, had I known I’d enjoyed it so much, I’d have waited until I could ingest it over a few nights, possibly in front of a big fire.

Rating: 4/5

The Extract

Some moments stay with you forever. The day Evie Considine knocked on her door would be one of those that would not fade from Grace’s memory easily, or ever. It was a warm day. They had planned a picnic the evening before, just Delilah and herself.

Delilah left Evie standing in the doorway, as unsure where to put her as Grace was about how to welcome this familiar stranger to their home.

‘Hello,’ Grace said. Her voice held a little trepidation. Why do you always have a fair idea when you are about to hear bad news?

‘Hello – we’ve never actually met, Grace, but my name is Evie. Evie Considine-Starr.’ She was an icy grey-blonde, coiffed and immaculately tailored. Her navy blue eyes were large and childlike beneath lids that hooded with age more than shrewdness. Her voice was porcelain, but softened by nerves. She held herself straight and might be formidable, but there was a little girl quality to her that picked out her vulnerability so she couldn’t hide it, even if she tried. She was absurdly overdressed for the weather and younger-looking than the sixty-five years she must surely be at this stage.

Grace held out her hand. ‘It’s nice to meet you.’ They shared a handshake with no warmth. ‘What can I do for you?’ She reversed backwards into her hallway, feeling as if this perfectly prepared woman who had slipped silently about in her imagination for so long had caught her in the act of some sordid activity. She moved into the nearby dining room that they never used. She could feel Evie inspecting the place as they entered the room. ‘Have a seat.’ But she did not sit. This was not a social visit.

‘I’m here about Paul.’ Her voice was even, unemotional, but Grace knew it couldn’t be good news; she was a million miles off just how bad though. ‘He’s dead.’ Evie said the words with a finality that took all the air from the room between them.

Grace could not speak, she tried to take in the words, but they weren’t hitting home, her lungs had cut off breathing and after a moment she had to remind herself to suck and blow. It was as though someone had bubbled-wrapped the world and insulated her from those two words.

‘I thought you should be first to hear, and of course to tell Delilah.’

‘He can’t be; he can’t be dead – how?’ Grace’s voice didn’t sound as if it belonged to her. She dropped to the nearest chair. Paul, dead? There had to be a mistake. This was all some awful mix up. ‘How…’ Her mind raced. ‘I mean, when…’

‘Look dear, you’re in shock, we’re both in shock, probably. You’ll have to decide how best to break it to Delilah. She’s, what…’ Evie leaned her head to the side. It was strange to hear this woman speak of her daughter as though she knew her well, as though there were some connection there far beyond what Grace felt there was any right to be. ‘She’s sixteen this year, isn’t she?’ Evie nodded sagely, twisted the emerald and diamond band on her wedding finger. ‘A difficult age to lose her father,’ she shook her head, as though it was all a question of timing. Shock, even Grace could see it, she was in shock. ‘All she needs to hear is that it was painless, as far as the doctors are saying. He was driving at the time, so…’

‘Can we see him?’ Grace had to let the fact that Evie knew anything about their lives slip past her. In this moment, she had to concentrate on taking in the news. ‘What about…’

‘It would be better for Delilah to wait; at least until we see what she has to be prepared for.’ Evie picked an imaginary hair from the lapel of her soft expensive jacket. ‘They want us to identify him. Well, they want me to identify him.’ She sniffed. Perhaps it was as close as she came to crying.

‘Oh?’ Grace felt the room spin about her. Her hands were sweating against her bare legs. She’d put on a denim skirt for a day at the beach. It felt sticky and clingy and as though it might have grown a couple of sizes too small. The whole house suddenly moved in closer about her for a moment. She felt she might faint. She took a deep breath, raised her eyes to see Evie regarding her reservedly.

‘It’s shock. Better to be in the boat you’re in than where Annalise Connolly is.’ The words were cold, but maybe Evie too was still in shock. ‘She was in the car with him. They were travelling from the hospital early in the morning, and swerved to avoid a dog.’ Her voice quivered, only slightly, and then she straightened herself, cleared her throat. ‘He careered into one of those big trucks, from what the traffic police could tell me.’ She nodded towards the front of the house. ‘He was trying to avoid a dog. A blasted dog.’

‘Is she… is she going to be okay?’

‘I didn’t ask.’ Evie stared blankly at Grace; perhaps it was just dawning on her that she should have. ‘I suppose she must be or they’d have said, wouldn’t they?’

‘And the boys?’ It was strange talking about Annalise Connolly’s children like this. They never talked about them; Paul talked about everything but his life with Annalise and the two sons they had together.

‘No, it was just Paul and Annalise, from what the guards can make out.’ Evie shook her head. ‘You’d have to wonder…’ She didn’t finish the sentence, but Grace had a fair idea of the sentiment. Maybe before Delilah was born she’d have felt the same.

‘So, do you want to come?’ She was looking at her watch, a simple Cartier gold snake slid about her papery wrist.

‘Pardon?’ Grace had lost track of Evie’s words, as though she’d missed a step somewhere between the kitchen and the front door; the universe had taken a sidestep on her.

‘The guards, they’re waiting outside to take us to see him. It’s only right that you’re there too. After all, you had a child together.’

‘He was my husband,’ Grace said. He’d never divorced her. She still wore her ring most days. He was still a big part of their lives, even if he had fathered the two boys with Annalise Connolly.

‘No, Grace.’ Evie gazed with the fervour of a zealot. ‘No, Grace. He was still my husband. We never got divorced.’

About The Author

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Faith Hogan was born in Ireland.  She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.  She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, children and a very fat cat called Norris.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

Author links

Books on Amazon

Twitter @gerhogan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faithhoganauthor/

Website  http://faithhogan.com/

 

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Does My Bump Look Big In This? by Amy Lynch

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Length: 329 pages

Note: The cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link  for the book

What they say: the MOTHER of all comedies is due…
Newlyweds Barry and Becky are just back from their tropical honeymoon. The tans are gorgeous, and it was five star luxury all the way. But there’s a problem. Barry’s desperate for a baby, and Becky’s not quite so keen.
Surrounded by pregnant friends and a mother who’s talking about the ticking of invisible biological clocks, Becky starts to feel the pressure. When a surprise pregnancy rocks the boat, Becky’s friends and family are rooting for her all the way. Will she navigate the choppy waters to motherhood? Will she survive antenatal classes? Can she avoid stretchmarks, indigestion and her dreaded boss? And most importantly of all… does her bump look big in this?

The Review: You’ll remember I raved about Bride Without A Groom (read review here), hoping that there was a sequel coming out. How happy was I when I saw that this book was available for pre-order?! Of course then I did what I’ve done to much of and am fixing this year and put it aside and got bogged down with other stuff but I’m happy to say this book was paramount in getting me out of a really bad reading slump.

As you know I adore chick lit and this, that of the ‘Legally Blond’ and ‘Clueless’ variety, is rarely done as well as it is by Amy Lynch. I have seen it likened to the Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella, and it needs to be, because these books are every bit as satisfying, fun and enjoyable as Ms. Kinsella’s (excellent) ones. Again we’re following Becky as she clip clops through life, having opinions on anything and everyone, as well as deciding exactly how everything needs to happen. I loved how you rea

There is a plethora of over the top, inappropriate jokes (I regularly laughed, trying to stop myself as I did) on getting ready to have a baby that are brave and oh-so satisfying, but never crude and again I felt like this book was tailor made with references or mentions of ‘Friends,’ ‘Big Brother,’ ‘Ghost, ‘The Snapper, ‘ ‘Mount Carmel hospital (where I was born!) and ‘Orange Is The New Black.’ Oh and Patrick Swayze, but I’ll lower my head for that particular reference!  This seems like a short review but I think I’ve made my point, you’ll know.

My finishing point is that they say that the sign of a good book is that you want to press it into the hands of others and actually I have a number of people who will adore this. This could be read as a standalone but really, if you know you’ll like it, why would you?! As I did. Cannot wait for Amy Lynch’s next book and I’m pretty sure I’m in for the long haul.

Rating: 5/5