The Weekend Spa Break by Anne John-Ligali (Part 2 of The Friendships Online Series) #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway #shortstory

thumbnail_The Weekend Spa Break Cover

 

What they say:

 

After finally meeting in person at the publishing party of the season, Constance and Estelle are determined not to let their friendship return to mere virtual champagne bottles and uploaded pictures of food.

It’s been a busy year, and Constance feels it’s time to reward herself with the spa break Estelle gave her for Christmas. Naturally, Constance wouldn’t dream of taking anyone other than Estelle, and this will provide the perfect opportunity to bond with her new chum.

As the excited pair spend some quality time together, they realise it’s not just writing books they have in common, but something that goes much deeper. After a few Jacuzzi sessions, facials, pedicures, and a massage by sexy Senior Therapist, Julio, everything seems to be peachy until an unexpected visitor turns Constance’s weekend of bliss … on its head.

A two-day spa break.

Sparkling water on tap.

And the perfect massage.

But who’s rubbing who up the wrong way?

Purchase from Amazon UK

 

First off, how about a trailer to get you in the mood

The Review: You’ll remember I enjoyed The Big Event by the lovely Anne John Ligali (ironically to the theme of social media in her stories, I’ve briefly ‘spoken’ to her on this forum and she’s lovely AND a chick lit champion so big thumbs up from here!) which made me rush to get to the next installment, this, The Weekend Spa Break, where Constance is availing of the spa voucher presented to her by Estelle in installment number 1. I was happy to see that Estelle was going with her so we’d get to knowanother character a bit though, and also happy to meet some of the rest of the gang again, although we mainly met them through regular social media posts. I will admit that I have had to accept that Constance is not totally my type of person, and on a lesser note I found Estelle a little closed minded to others, which was fine, she was going through a lot but that’s me over analysing as usual, they’re still nice people and it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the story. Again I loved the writing and bookish aspect to it, with talks of covers and beta readers making me smile.

This was as easy to fly through as ‘The Big Event’ and I enjoyed it even more. I loved the tranquil, gorgeous setting of the spa and enjoyed the lighter moments, which led to some  great drama later on  as we got a reveal as to the secrets in the book-why Estelle was acting so shifty and then an explosion as we found out the truth of what had happened with Constance and her fiance, Maxwell. I found myself thinking of shorts in general and the fact that back in the day a magazine would have been my read of choice for example to pick up in the train or to flick through in the evening, and it makes me happy that I’ve discovered shorts instead, where a book can make you smile and leave a nice story in your head after an hour and a half or so of enjoyable lightness, which is what this is.

Rating: 4/5

About the author

thumbnail_Meet Anne

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series. Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007.

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

Author blog: http://annejohnligali.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/booksnauthorsuk/

Author Twitter

Author FB

Books and Authors UK: www.booksandauthors.co.uk

Books and Authors UK Twitter

Books and Authors UK Facebook

As always thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to be part of this great blog tour:)

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!!!

And now for something very special! (I adore Sanctuary stuff, and heart Anne’s work, so honestly I’d get onto this if I were you!!!)

A message from the author:

thumbnail_Giveaway Final Picture

To mark the release of part two in the friendships series, I’m giving away a Sanctuary Spa gift set and a signed printed and binded copy of The Weekend Spa Break to one lucky winner. At present, there are no physical copies of The Weekend Spa Break available, so this is a treat. To enter you only have to do is visit my Twitter page here and retweet the pinned tweet showing this GIVEAWAY.

A winner will be chosen at random by Tweet Draw and announced on Saturday the 19th of May at 20:00hrs.

Competition is open worldwide.

Good luck!

Now since I’m on the first day of this tour and there are so many brilliant blogs taking part how about you head off and follow the rest of the blog tour?

thumbnail_The Weekend Spa Break Full Banner

 

 

 

 

Tapestry by Elle Turner (a book of short stories)

tapestry

What they say: In hope, in pain,
we lose, we gain,
but always and forever
the human heart braves life
in light and in shade

A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love.

The review: I’m a sucker for short stories. I’m always using the phrase ‘dip in, dip out’ in relation to how you can read them but actually I generally read a book of short stories in one go. It’s the same with books with short chapters, I think to myself ‘just one more, just one more,’ and before I know it I’m nearing the end and am somewhere between tired and irritable and excited to see how the story will end. ‘Tapestry’ was no different. The title of the book first grabbed me and this was quickly followed by the cover. I thought about what a tapestry was, and this book definitely lived up to the title, with stories that are interwoven, themes and characters popping up all over the place with frayed edges, strands almost at breaking point and loose ends that are clearly visible.

The subject matter varied, but they are mostly love stories with a darker tinge to them, some so dark they border on claustophobic, not always a bad thing, it just meant that they reeled me in. I did find that there was possibly one too many in a row on unrequited love and obsession but then the subject matter changed again and all was good with the world. The crossover in particular was artfully done, as you guessed which character would appear again, and, coupled with the presence of twists timed very, very, well, alongside an absence of a twist where there was none required, I was very happy out!

I read it quite quickly (Amazon say it’s only 74 pages), with my eyes rarely moving from my Kindle. It’s always commendable when your eyes remain glued to the screen and your fingers continue to scroll, as if you’re in a trance, and that’s what happened here. There are twelve stories in this book, and I didn’t flick ahead once, nor did my eyes stray from the page. That being said there were possibly one or two I didn’t enjoy as much as the others, but that was evened out by the presence of a few that were outstanding (as well as a few very ingenious ones!).

Very much recommended, in particular for a journey, I think it would pass the time very nicely indeed, just hope that nobody creeps up on you!

Rating 4.5/5

The week ahead in books …

This week I’ve three books planned, obviously if I get to more I’ll let you know, but now, on Monday morning, this is my plan!

tapestry

What they say: In hope, in pain,
we lose, we gain,
but always and forever
the human heart braves life
in light and in shade

A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love.

I am only 5% into this and already I’m hooked. Actually I was hooked on the very first page. I originally chose this book because I had seen it on a number of blogs and was taken with not only the cover, but the name too. ‘Tapestry’ for a book of short stories. Brilliant!

therunawaybridesmaid

What they say: A deliciously enchanting read, The Runaway Bridesmaid is set to steal readers’ hearts and keep them guessing until the very last page!

What a girl wants…

Squeezing herself into a frothy, flouncy, bubble-gum pink dress, Rosie Hamilton thinks that being a bridesmaid for her spoilt little sister Freya can’t get any worse.

But discovering her boyfriend in a cupboard with the bride, ten minutes before Freya is due to say ‘I do’, is the icing on the sequinned wedding cake – and Rosie’s cue to pack her bags.

Swapping her Louboutins for Wellingtons, Rosie throws her bridesmaid bouquet in the air and flies from bustling New York to sleepy Devon. Her late Aunt Bernice’s cosy countryside cottage is the only place that’s ever felt like home.

Now, for the first time in her life, and with the help of her beloved Aunt’s diaries, Rosie must put herself first for a change – and decide what she really wants…

A delightful romance, perfect for fans of Sophie Hart and Lindsey Kelk!

I’m a sucker for a pretty chick lit cover and you don’t get much prettier than this in the world of chick lit! Throw in all the five star reviews and raves I’d seen and I went straight to Amazon. Looking forward to reading.

thelostandfoundlife

What they say: Rosy loved her London life – her job in a designer shop, her gorgeous West London family house and of course her gorgeous family (although young sons are enough to test anyone at times). All that disappears when, one unremarkable morning, after one unremarkable school run, her husband collapses on a crowded tube carriage and dies.
As she struggles her way through the grief, she discovers her husband’s secret life: secrets accounts, secret deals that their solicitor knew nothing of, secret debts and what looks like a secret “very close friend” at least.
Totally unprepared and suddenly in debt, Rosy is forced to leave London to start a new life with her incredibly reluctant boys in the countryside. Can angsty urban teenagers cope with farm life, let alone enjoy it? More to the point, can their mother? It’s certainly not going to be easy but when you are at rock bottom the only way is up.

When I saw this going around for review, I jumped at it! The cover, the blurb, the whole premise-heartbreak coupled with a story of starting afresh? Very much looking forward to it!

As well as this I’ll be delving into my writer’s arsenal to help myself with book 2 (see them here!) So tell me, what are your reading plans this week? Any books you can’t wait to get at? Any books that you’re picking up again, hoping they’ll pull you out of a slump? Looking forward to hearing all, happy reading everyone:)

Bernadette

How To Get Hitched in 10 Days (a short story) by Samatha Tonge

Tour banner HTGHITD for JENNY

 

howtogethitched

Amazon UK

Amazon US

What they say: HOW NOT TO GET THE GIRL… Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and is a great dance partner. For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate – he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows her best friend will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on. But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart – even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy… Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?

 

The Review: First off how exciting is it to be part of a blog tour of this magnitude on VALENTINE’S DAY?! Talk about happy out, especially since it’s Samantha Tonge, whose book Game of Scones  was a sensation over the Summer in blogging circles, and who is always so vibrant and lovely on social media in both blogging and author circles. The greatest of thanks to Ms. Tonge, Carina UK,  Jenny In Neverland and NetGalley for this book in return for an honest review.

I loved this book. It began with us getting an insight into the friendship between Polka Dot Diner owner Mikey, and Jasmine Jarvis, his flatmate and best friend. They have one of those uber relaxed, no-holds barred friendships where they lounge around together and plan their evenings around each other. From the start it was easy to see that this, coupled with Dave, Jasmine’s boyfriend’s apparent dislike for Mikey, was not going to make things easy.

Nevertheless when Dave proposes to Jasmine, and it falls extremely flat,  Mikey jumps in to help out. He will help Dave propose in the best possible way before Jasmine leaves to go to New York for her career. This of course brings with it the issue of Dave and Mikey not getting on and with it some heart-rending back-stories on Mikey’s part showing how he’s been a victim of homophobia, as Mikey (and we the readers) try to figure out Dave’s dislike for someone so nice, while somehow we begin to suspect that Mikey may or may not be as he seems. This was where the book excelled for me: at times you were so wary. It was one of those ‘who do you like’ and ‘who do you trust’ books because you felt you had to pick a side. Sometimes you were surprised, at others not, and this was what led to a short story that had very few pacing issues, for me it was a lovely page turner.

The nice little trick of multiple points of views also showed us why Jasmine was so upset with the proposal, leading us to some home truths about her past also. The settings were great, in  particular I loved the vibrancy of the Polka Dot Diner, with its appropriate jukebox choices to accompany the mood. The characters were excellent, I fell for Dave big time, then Mikey, then Dave, then Mikey … well, you get my drift. I’m afraid I guessed the ending, but that was fine, I still really enjoyed it. Any book that has friendships, relationships, drama, misunderstandings, comedy, romance, as well as twists and turns that keep you guessing? Highly recommended, and since it’s only 89p at the moment on Amazon, I’d say, off you go! Happy Valentine’s Day:)

Rating: 4.5/5

About Samatha Tonge:

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. She has sold over 80 stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, “Doubting Abbey”, from CarinaUK HarperCollins, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Game of Scones won the 2015 Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

Find Samantha Tonge on:

Goodreads

Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

 

 

The Valentine-Free Zone: A Love Maybe eShort by Fiona Gibson

thevalentinefreezone

Amazon UK

Amazon US

What they say: The Funny One: Part of the Love…Maybe ebook short story collection.

Jenny’s teenage son Cameron wants her out of their flat while he cooks a special Valentine supper for his girlfriend… so how on earth is she supposed to spend the most romantic night of the year?

A laugh-out-loud Valentine’s read, perfect for fans of ‘Outnumbered’ and Fern Britton.

***This is a short story, which you can also buy as part of the Love…Maybe Eshort Collection***

 

The Review: First off change ‘Jenny’ to ‘Sally’ and ‘Cameron’ to ‘Riley’ in the blurb above (wires crossed somehow)!!!! When I was looking up Valentine’s reads this jumped out at me after reading and adoring ‘As Good As It Gets‘ by Ms. Gibson, as well as while looking forward to ‘The Woman Who Upped And Left‘ by the same author (out soon and I can’t wait!).  Here we meet 39 year old Sally, a full time beauty therapist, who is with Michael, a man whose interests don’t quite mirror her own. Wandering around an art gallery on Valentine’s day, listening to Michael bemoan all things romantic, and thinking about her son Riley’s impending departure from the family home, Sally wonders if this is all there is  is to her life. Cue Valentine’s evening and Sally has been told to vacate the premises so Riley can have a Valentine’s night in. Michael is busy and Sally is at a loss. Enter a night out with some friends where a ‘Valentine’s free zone’ is declared and Sally begins to realise what life is all about.

There are books, or in this case short stories, that cause you to gush and exclaim and proclaim and then there are tales that don’t need it. This e-short, part of a larger collection that I’m sure to check out later in the year, is simple, easy going, cliched (in the best possible way) chick lit at it’s very best. We have an idea where it’s going and yet we want to head along on the journey anyway, and savour and enjoy. I sat down with it and then didn’t move until it was finished. There was romance, fun, misunderstandings … everything you want with a short such as this. Very much recommended and I’ll continue to watch for Fiona Gibson’s work.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Valentine’s Day at The Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

valentinesdayatthestarandsixpence

Amazon US link

Amazon UK Link

What they say: Fall in love at the Star and Sixpence this Valentine’s Day….

Love is in the air as sisters Nessie and Sam prepare for Valentine’s Day at their newly renovated pub, The Star and Sixpence. They have a star chef winging her way from London to cook a very special Valentine’s Day dinner, for all the couples in the village.

But as sparks fly in the kitchen, will love bloom in The Star and Sixpence? A romantic short story, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Scarlett Bailey.

 

The Review: To start this is the second in the Star and Sixpence Series. I would say it can be read as a stand alone though there’s definitely some big things to come so I’d say go for the whole series!

I had been looking forward to the arrival of this short story since I read ‘Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence‘ at Christmas time and I was not disappointed. We return to the small village of Little Monkham, which is home to their charming ‘sixteenth century coaching inn,’ The Star and Sixpence, to join Sam and Nessie, who, at Christmas time, had moved into said establishment after they inherited it from their late, absent father, and we find them in the midst of all the bustle of preparations for a Valentine’s night event. Obviously, given that this is a short story and not a novella, there wasn’t the amount happening that was in the first book (a novella) and I was sorry for this, I could easily have done with a novella instead, but that’s just me, more will appreciate the length and content of this.

All in all, I soon jumped back into everything, looking forward to seeing what was happening with Joss, Owen, Ruby, Frannie and all the villagers. The short story flew by in a series of the fuzzy, warm, welcoming descriptions that Holly Hepburn does so beautifully and my interest was definitely piqued enough to, again, be anticipating the next installment ‘Summer at the Snowdrop and Sixpence’ (there were a few suggestions in this story as to where the pub could go as well as some mysteries still not divulged so bring it on!). I’d definitely recommend, and if possible, given the weather for those on this side of the world, I’d say even go for the first in this series too, the Christmas one, as it’s not top heavy on the festiveness, it’s there but the story will easily take you through as it’s not quite Summer yet! At this very moment (13th February) Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence is FREE ON AMAZON so make sure to treat yourself!

Rating: 4/5

4 in the Afternoon by Geralyn Corcillo

4intheafternoon

What they say: Bestselling and award-winning author of romantic comedy Geralyn Corcillo has just released this collection of 4 RomCom short stories. Dates, dogs, football, monsters in the attic, misunderstandings, and unexpected discoveries abound in these tales of modern love.

***All Summer on a Date: The gorgeous Kyle Hunter is taking reformed iconoclast Summer Hodiak to the party of the year. But when an unexpected dilemma slams into their exquisite evening, will Summer follow her date…or follow her heart?

***Random Acts of Violet: Cautious loner Violet Parker needs a new playbook when her quiet summer on campus collides with an unexpected eight year-old, a monster in the attic, and Noah…

***Miss Understanding in the Ballroom with the Wrench: Jesse and Peter meet at a party, but each is hiding the one thing that they think makes them un-dateable. Will their subterfuge and all the ensuing misunderstandings wreck everything, just as the spark between them is about to ignite?

***Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants: The NYT Bestselling true story of true love that kicked off Geralyn Corcillo’s writing career.

 

The Review: I have to admit I had a couple of things making me wary of this collection, I know Geralyn through social media and find her to be so bright, friendly and helpful since I’ve started writing. Obviously it was only a matter of time until I went looking for her work and I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to expectations and then what do you do? It didn’t matter, I was glad I did! This leads me into my other worry, that Geralyn is from the US and so I was afraid that there would be a disconnect in terms of language and content but you know what they say, that good writing transcends boundaries (Disclaimer: I may or may not have made that up myself!). It first came to my attention with talk of the NFL, which obviously we don’t have over here, then again with the description of the temperature, but to be honest, in general, I didn’t notice much of a difference.

Each of the stories were unique, and when I say unique I mean stand alone individuals as you’ll see from the descriptions above. They each had their own little bite to them that made them stand out and me sit up. The misunderstandings were textbook and yet not clichéd, I could see some coming and missed others, getting a nice surprise when I realized what was going on. The dialogue was very clever, and the romance was perfect, that brilliant kind of sparkling sweetness that some would ‘swoon’ for! I loved how each of the lead characters were so strong and independent, and at one stage I had the vision of a female Bruce Willis (he wears a vest all the time in Die Hard, the lead here was just in a vest and boxer shorts in her attic, so you have to kind of see where I’m going here? No, oh, okay, sorry then!)

Then to finish, the final story speaks of Jane Austen and then brings a modern day story about what happens when all that’s left in a relationship is the modern day humdrum all back around, so the modern day story is mirrored in the narrator’s thoughts on Jane Austen. It was so lovely! All in all a very satisfying read, plus the dip in dip out aspect that’s perfect as a weekend read! Very much recommended. Go get!

Rating 4.5/5

The Art of Christmas by Jane Lovering

the art of christmas

What they say: What if the memories of Christmas past were getting in the way of Christmas future?
It’s been nearly two years since Harriet lost Jonno, but she’s finally decided that it’s time to celebrate Christmas again.

Then she finds a stash of graphic novels belonging to her comic book-loving husband in the attic, and suddenly her world is turned upside down once more.

With the help of eccentric comic book dealer Kell Foxton, she discovers that the comics collected by Jonno are not only extremely valuable, but also hold the key to his secret life – a life that throws Harriet’s entire marriage and every memory she has of her husband into question.

As Harriet grows closer to Kell, she begins to feel like she could learn to love Christmas again – but first, she needs to know the truth.

The review: First off, look at that gorgeous cover, I think it is one of my favourite covers this Christmas! Actually, speaking of Christmas, before I do my Christmas wrap up I have to say a lovely thing to do is to go on Amazon and do a Christmas search and look at all the fabulous covers of the reads, and associated and recommended reads that come up. There are some shockingly stunning beauts out there and hopefully you’ll enjoy thralling through them all!

This is for those of you that want something that little bit different this Christmas. We meet Harriet as she wonders how to start living again, after the loss of her husband. This involves an attempt at making life festive again through rediscovering the trappings of Christmas, which are done beautifully. She finds some comics that are called Corinthia and The Bear. The artwork and the story-line grabs her, as she finds parallels between herself and Corinthia, a character who is beautiful, strong, but dark and tormented. I have to admit my inner geek adored the stories, I found the descriptions enthralling and would have loved to see them myself! The introduction of Kell is great and brings with it some twists that had me lapping up every word. I suppose my only issue with it would have been the time line, which I just have to mention as it niggled at me a little as I’m not a fan of books where romance develops so suddenly. Kell was a fantastic character, as was Harriet, and their chemistry was beautiful.

Apologies for the briefness of this review but as you know my Kindle was damaged and I have now lost some of the notes that were on it. I definitely recommend this for something that little bit darker (just a shade) for Christmas and was disappointed that it wasn’t a book I heard more about because it was just the thing for me and I definitely think it’s worth a go for others (it’s also only 77 pages long so really, why wouldn’t you?!) Highly recommended.

Rating 4.75/5