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Archiwum - Kwiecień, 2016

Blog Tour: The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove

28 kwi

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street

by Rachel Dove

 

 

Publisher: Mills & Boon

Publishing Date: 21st April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 304

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

Amanda is making the idyllic escape to the countryside to find a new life. Ben is picking up the pieces of his life after his wife left. Could a chance encounter outside Amanda’s ‚chic boutique’ set them on the road to renewed happiness? Shop owner Amanda leaves London behind for life in the country and find’s love with local vet Ben in this fun, addictive winner of the Prima Flirty Fiction competition

Rating: 4/5

 

„The Chic Boutique on Baker Street” by Rachel Dove was one of the most feel – good books that there are to read. Not too demanding, not too overwhelming but few hours of pure entertainment. I started to laugh out loud already after reading only a few pages and I kept smiling almost all the way through it. Yes, the story started quickly and with a kick but then it lost its impact, it slowed down a little and went a little downhill, but still the storytelling was full of warmth and humour and the book ticked all the boxes for a great read: will they/wont they lovely characters – tick; old life coming back – tick; troublesome family that knows better what is good for you and what’s not – tick; not so obvious romance – tick; brilliant atmosphere and the sense of community – tick, a little drama – tick, an ex – boyfriend from hell – tick… well, whatever you wish for, it was in this book.

There are some great characters in this novel – larger than life but also down – to – earth, with their own problems and anxieties. Amanda needs a change, so after being fired from her job (and we learn soon that it was not her fault and she didn’t make any mistake) she moves to a colourful, lovely Westfield, where people are verrrry close and like to know as much about each other as possible. Or even more. And they’re very friendly – well, all but Ben, the owner of the business next to Amanda’s one, where she sells hand – made items. Ben seems not to want anyone from the city to come to the village and mess up.
But then we also have Agatha, who takes Amanda under her wing – although Agatha has her own reasons, namely she plans on making a couple out of Amanda and Ben. But – can one meddle with other lives?
Yes, Amanda and Ben were great characters, though there were moments – many, many moments – when I so wanted to bang their heads together! They were so stubborn and they jumped to the wrong conclusions All. The. Time and sometimes I felt really desperate with these two. Because they weren’t saying all the things, they had some secrets of their own and they didn’t open so easily, there were tons of misunderstandings between them, misunderstandings that could easily be explained when they started to talk! Oh, give me their heads to bang, really! I could growl with frustration at them and yet it made me smile as well. Sure, there came a moment that I wanted nothing more as these two to sort the situation out, as there were so many missed opportunities, so many vague hints and I started to think it’s too much already – sometimes it’s better to stop than to wade through messing around even more.

Normally I think I would be outraged with the way the ladies were meddling as I follow the rule live and let live and don’t meddle and keep your nose out of other people’s business, but this time this meddling was incredibly funny, I’d say hilarious, and as I also saw that Ben and Amanda are destined to be together, I was cheering the ladies and keeping my fingers crossed that everything went well with their different plans to bring these two together. And, as they were tough cookies and hard nuts to crack, the ladies didn’t have an easy job, but the author gave as a great insight into why Amanda and Ben were like this, telling us about significant events that happened in their lives that made them so reluctant to open and towards a new relationship. I also liked the glimpses into Amanda’s previous place of work where the ex – boyfriend sleazy Marcus had some problems, ha.

Rachel Dove has in a great way described Westfield and its inhabitants, and her words are full of warmth and sympathy to the place and the characters and it is impossible not to like them all. Even the unpleasant ones. I loved the atmosphere in this story, so cosy and full of friendship and understanding. I adored the setting of this story and the village full of eccentrics, but eccentrics in a positive way, who were at the heart of the village and who loved their place, and who also loved meddling and knowing everything about other people and I loved how well organized the ladies were when it came to communicate about Ben and Amanda – who would have thought it :)You know, sometimes you want to read a book with some troubles but not necessary with earthquakes, not too complicated, where the characters are nice and good – natured, and „The Chic Boutique on Baker Street” is this kind of read.

It was really one of the warmest, nicest reads. It put a smile on my face more than often, and I am still laughing out loud when I think about one of the first scenes with the dogs and Sebastian. Rachel Dove’s writing style is light and so easy to follow and she is a great storyteller. Sure, it was not a life – changing novel, more on the predictable side and you could have tell from the beginning how it’s going to end, but it was a feel – good read, so easy – going and there were some brilliant one – liners and really, and I am looking forward to reading more from Ms Dove.

 

BE SURE TO CHECK THE OTHER STOPS ON „THE CHIC BOUTIQUE ON BAKER STREET” BLOG TOUR!

(Guys, I’ve just realised that I’ve made mistake and I should have posted my review yesterday. I have no idea how it happened, it is the first time that I mixed up the dates – I hope that all involved are going to forgive me for this mistake, I promise it will never happen again)

 

 

Life Swap by Carol E. Wyer

27 kwi

Life Swap

by Carol E. Wyer

 

 

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 22nd April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 285

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

Take a chance on a new life and maybe you’ll find your happy ever after. Because true love is always worth the risk…

Handsome prince, beautiful house, fabulous job? Polly has none of these. All she has to her name is a string of failed relationships and she’s up to her ears in debt. She sees herself as a hopeless case and would do anything to change her luck.

Simon is approaching the big 50. He’s off his game at work, his kids don’t seem to notice he exists and his wife seems to think he’s made of money. As for sex …what’s that?

So when the opportunity comes for both of them to swap their lives for a life of luxury, they jump at the chance. For Simon a life of helicopters, fast cars and hot babes beckons. For Polly, it’s all diamonds, spa days and celebrity parties. What more could they want?

Trouble is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Is life in the fast lane more than either of them can cope with?

Rating: 4/5

 

I love stories with swaps, I just love them, no matter if they’re books or films. Well, at least I assumed that „Life Swap” is about…. yes, life swap :) As this novel is by Carol Wyer, whose books I’ve read before and highly appreciated, I didn’t even read the synopsis before I requested it on NetGalley. I thought, well, Carol Wyer, so I am for sure for a real treat, a clever, intelligent, funny read with a twist. However, very quickly after starting the read I also started to panic and I was thinking, what the hell (pun NOT intended!)? What is this pile of whingeing, sad characters? I was SO CLOSE to put it away, to be honest, but I kept reading, having in mind the author and hoping for something to change. You must really bide your time, as more as the first 30% of this book is really hard to plough through.

But. As soon as we were introduced to the devils, the story really kicked off!

And oh my word, I’ve so often wished I could swap places with someone! But after reading the book I think I’ll stop wishing it :) However, Simon and Polly went for this, and the results were sometimes hilarious and sometimes dramatic. This time the characters don’t know each other, have nothing in common, except of feeling their lives are miserable and wondering if it’s ever going to be any better and if they can do something to change it. While Polly is up to her nose with debts and failing relationships, Simon is on the verge on the mid – life crisis, having a feeling that he’s not appreciated, that he’s not good at his job, that he’s not needed anymore. Sounds familiar, right? I think we all have been there, seen this, so the characters are relatable and believable, though their whingeing and unhappiness was overwhelming. Nevertheless, there couldn’t be a better thing than a life swap, right…? To have no financial worries, to have a wardrobe full of designer clothes, to have a wife who will do anything for you…? Well, as they say, the grass is not always greener on the other side and appearances can be deceiving.

I had some problems with Polly, I must admit. In the first part of the story she – apart of whingeing and being unhappy all the time – seemed to be a real doormat, and the way the author described her she allowed people to trample over her, let them to undermine her and it felt as if she didn’t have her own opinion on anything. However, after swapping the lives the whole new Polly was presented to us: assertive, self – confident, knowing what she wants from life and somehow it just didn’t sit with me, it didn’t fit in, she changed life and not personality, right? Altogether, the characters were mostly unhappy, with themselves, with their lives, with their families and jobs and blamed everything and everyone for this situation. It was really hard to get to like them at the beginning, you know?

However, the big twist at the end of the book could have totally spoil the book for me, as I really wasn’t sure what to think about it. At first, I was so outraged on behalf of the characters, personally I felt deceived and was really curious what the characters are going to do with this. I must admit, I was a little surprised that they took it in such relaxed way, I’m not sure what would be my reaction. But okay, it’s their decision and I won’t be judging them. I guess that they’ve just felt relief.

Also, the returns to the past were the parts that I didn’t like. At all. It was like in films, when the main characters suddenly remember about something and you can see the pictures somewhere above their heads, in a cloud, but it was a book, not a film, and it just a) in my opinion didn’t bring anything new to the story, b) walked us away from the main plot, c) slowed down the already slow pace. I understand the need to describe the characters’ lives in a dullest way possible, to show us the smallest details of their existences so that we can know the background and understand the reasons they decided to go for the swap. But the first third of the story was only about people complaining about their lives and it was really hard to get into the book, to like the characters. I felt depressed sometimes with the situations, with Polly and Simon, and also desperate and a little annoyed that they only complain an do nothing to change this what they don’t like. And it felt like for ever, like never – ending complain list, and these flashbacks have dragged the pace down even more. What was worse, even after the swap, when it finally, eventually took place, Simon and Polly were still unhappy. But – and please, trust me here – you must go through the 35 or something per cent of the story and then you can just go with the flow and let the author to take you on a brilliant adventure with fantastic, incredibly funny demons. I loved the demons. They were the best part of the book, I think.

Sure, this book is one big lesson for us, but lesson written in a very pleasant, not too patronizing way. We can think that other people are better than us, have better lives than ours but at the end of the day it is really your life, your choices, your family that matter. The other things can be so shiny, can look so impressive but it’s only the surface, and underneath it is also full of troubles and secrets, maybe of different kind to ours, but they’re still there – and we know these things, right? But it’s nice to be reminded to appreciate what we have, and Polly and Simon also begin to realise what they can lose.

But, you know, on the whole, when you forget about the beginning and the flashbacks, I absolutely enjoyed the book. It was a great story, very cleverly plotted, intelligent and the humour there was of the highest class. Once the swaps happened, it was a different kind of story that I adored and when reading it was thinking thanks god it’s not me! The consequences of the swaps were brilliant – for the reader, of course, as the characters wanted out as quick as possible, but you must read it for yourself and see why they wanted out – it was hilarious! The book really got going after the swaps and it was full of surprises till the end.
You must just allow the author to take you on a rollercoaster ride and expect the unexpected. It’s a hilarious, sometimes unbelievable yet believable story that made me laugh and roll my eyes and I was really surprised at the end how much I enjoyed it. It’s a unique, smart take on normal people with normal lives. Sure, sometimes over the top, too far – fetched but somehow it just suited this novel and went brilliantly with the plot. But next time when I’ll complain about my own life or will want to compare it to this of other people, I’ll be very careful what I wish for…

 

The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding by Carole Matthews + Giveaway!

26 kwi

The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding

by Carole Matthews

 

 

Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 21st April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The ladies of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club should be gearing up for the wedding of the year but life keeps getting in the way . . .

Lucy is worried about her financial situation and it keeps distracting her. Should she accept an offer of help from an untrustworthy source?

Nadia may have a real chance at finding love but other areas of her life aren’t so rosy. Something needs to change – but what?

Autumn can’t wait to meet someone she hasn’t seen in a very long time. She’s full of hope for the future but then things don’t exactly go to plan . . .

Chantal has been through so much and she’s finally starting to feel settled. The last thing she needs is the kind of bad news that could change her life all over again.

And yet, despite all the ups and downs, the Chocolate Lovers’ ladies know they can get through it all as long as they have each other. They’re not going to let anything get in the way of their happy-ever-afters in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding.

Rating: 5/5

 

Carole Matthews’ books never fail to entertain me. They are like a comfort blanket – you can be sure that when you reach for them you’ll feel warm, comfortable and understood. Ms Matthews is a great storyteller, she creates larger than life characters and brings all the places and settings to life. She has such a way of writing her characters that they feel realistic and often I found myself smiling with them or laughing with them, but first of all I was rooting for them, and this is why I was so impatiently waiting for „The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding” to be published!

It was really lovely to see the girls from the Chocolate Lovers’ Club again, and I didn’t have any problems to get into the story immediately, to pick up where we left the friends off in the last book. Quickly, we learn there are some really big decisions to be made, and there are life – changing events to come. And this time Ms Matthews really added a lot of events to the story – there was all the time something happening and she effectively and successfully kept me on my toes. She also threw some surprises on our poor, not expecting it heads, and it was really great not to be able to see what’s coming next. One of the biggest surprises was the fact that Lucy was not longer working in Chocolate Heaven because I thought no matter what (ie.: Marcus) she’s going to stay there, and now she’s so miserable and she misses her shop that’s going belly up with the new French manager. Lucy, as usually, was the cause of many, many embarrassing situations, of many, many unsuitable plans, but also Lucy rose to the challenge more than once in this story. Sure, you can never be sure with Lucy – is Marcus going to persuade her to come back to Chocolate Heaven? What would Crush say? Will Crush and Lucy get married or are there some unexpected things going to happen?
The we have Nadia, the lovely Nadia whose life isn’t bed of roses and who is going to be forced to make some very life – changing decisions after she’s been mugged on the street. But after years of living alone, after her past, she still can’t open herself totally to new chances, to find out that there might be a man who truly loves her – on the other hand, is Nadia ready to live her old life behind, to leave her friends and sister and move far away? There is so much warmth in Nadia, just like in all the girls, but I don’t know, there is something so very special in this woman that made me root for her.
There are also changes in Autumn’s life. She is in a happy relationship but there are two great burdens that overweigh her – the situation with her parents and the daughter that she was forced to give up for adoption years ago. She’s living in hope that they’ll meet one day – will they? And what happens when they meet? Autumn is a person with a heart made of gold and she wants only good things to happen to their friends and beloved, but she’s not boring in all this, no way! What I so adored in her was the fact that she eventually came out of her comfort zones and wasn’t afraid of confrontations, she just seemed a little more brave and determined and it suited her very much.
This time life is also testing our Chantal. She eventually came to terms with the fact that she’s now a single mum, especially as there is Jacob and their relationship is going from strength to strength and well, yes, it seems that finally peace set in. That is, until she gets a health scare… a very serious health scare. What now? What with Lana, her new life, Jacob…? Will she find her happily ever after at last?

I don’t know why but I had a feeling that this book is so very genuine and honest, so much more true and serious about feelings and life experience, but of course written with a lot of humour. The author has brilliantly mixed the very important, serious issues with lightness and fun and it worked out really great. This story just felt so touching and believable, as really all the things could happen to any of us, and it was written in a way that pulled at all the right heartstrings. Moreover, the author has done a brilliant job with dealing with such things as cancer or adoption and was able to put into words the most hidden feelings that people feel when they have to deal with these issues, and she did it with a lot of understanding and gentleness.

Life changes but the only constant thing in the girls’ lives is there: chocolate :) But also, and I personally find it one of the loveliest things in the book, the overwhelming feeling of friendship and acceptance is always there. The girls can count on each other, they support each other in all situations and there were really very touching moments in this story – and they are there to support the others even if life is not only laughs and fun but also health and money troubles and when some serious decisions have to be made.

There is still so much potential in the girls, there can still happen so much and I really hope that Carole Matthews won’t stop writing about the Chocolate Lovers’ Club, and I’m saying it not only because I LOVE chocolate! Yes, the author has answered a lot of questions and nicely wrapped up some of the open ends but nevertheless, I still feel there is a space for more!!!

What I so liked in this book is that it’s so realistic. It is not always a bed of roses for our girls, they have problems and sometimes these are really big problems, and even though it is supposed to be a rom com, the author isn’t afraid to throw a curveball for our heroines, to put them at crossroads, to make their lives complicated and not so easy and straightforward. I don’t want the characters that I like to suffer but in my eyes these things make them feel more realistic and bring them even more to life. „The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding” is truly a great story with a heart and I can’t recommend it enough!

 

GIVEAWAY

As a part of the Blog Tour I had a pleasure of not only reviewing this brilliant novel but I also have a very special treat for you – namely, you can win the whole CHOCOLATE LOVERS’ series and that includes: The Chocolate Lovers’ Club, The Chocoate Lovers’ Diet, The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas and of course The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding. To be in with a chance to win this fantastic prize, simply enter the Rafflecopter. You can also RT the pinned tweet on Twitter (@Agi_mybookshelf). The competition is open for UK and Ireland only, I’m afraid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
//

Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the Chocolate Lovers’ tour!

 

Sophie’s Shelf: Polly and the Puffin 2 by Jenny Colgan

25 kwi

Polly and the Puffin: 02 The Stormy Days

by Jenny Colgan

 

 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publishing Date: 11th February 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 96

Genre: Children’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The boat masts jangled louder and louder. Above their heads, black clouds gathered. Polly shivered, and then the rain started to fall: plop, plop, plop.

Polly is waiting for something important to happen. But waiting is hard. It’s even harder when it’s raining and you can’t go outside…

Can Polly find enough to do to keep busy ALL day? And what will happen when her puffin friend, Neil, decides to fly off into the storm?

 

Perfect for bedtime stories and early readers. From the author of The Little Beach Street Bakery.

Contains recipies, activities and rhymes in addition to the story.

Rating: 5/5

 

We – it means yours truly and my daughter Sophie – are great fans of Neil. I’ve started to adore him reading Jenny Colgan’s „adult” novels and Sophie totally fell in love with him after reading the first book about him, „Polly and the Puffin”, so we were both really excited when our copy of „Polly and the Puffin: 02 The stormy Days” arrived. I think I don’t have to mention that after opening the envelope I was forced to drop everything, forget everything I planned to do and read the book to Sophie. Not once. And not twice… Let’s not start the counting, let me tell you that you can see our book was read. Often.

We both loved to see Neil and Polly again, and also the very patient Mummy, too. It was easy enough for my 4 – year – old to understand it and the beautiful illustrations really help. There are also, like in the first book, some activities at the end of the book and we’ve already made the little boat. It is written in such a warm, adorable way that the pages turn themselves, and reading it loud to your child is a real fun, as it is so rhythmic. What I, as mum, totally adored, is the fact that Jenny Colgan „smuggles” here some important and strong messages and the way how beautifully and effortlessly she captures the relationship between mum and daughter.
It is again a charming, sweet story that I myself am reading with a pleasure, and my daughter loves – so really a perfect little book!

 

Q &A with Juliet Ashton

22 kwi

Aaaah, guys, I am so excited to have Juliet Ashton today on my blog! Juliet’s last book „These Days of Ours” was one of my favourite reads this year, it was in fact my first Book of the Month this year, and you can read here why I loved this book so much. Believe me, you don’t often keep such a gem of a book in your hands, so if you haven’t read this novel yet, please drop everything you do and go and buy it!

And I am really, absolutely thrilled to have persuaded Juliet to answer some of my questions about the book – and thank you so much for this, lovely Juliet!  Here is Q &A with this brilliant Author:

 

1. I know that authors hate this question, but as „These Days of Ours” was such a complex, emotional book I would really love to know what inspired you to write this particular story?

 I don’t hate this question. It’s the one I always want to ask other authors! The ‚spark’ of the story came from a relationship within my family which is very similar to the one between Kate and Becca. I was fascinated by the way my aunts chose one of my cousins to be the ‚beautiful’ one of the family, and never expected anything more from her, such as exam results or a decent job. Getting married was her job! This cousin is also incredibly bossy and interfering, but so good hearted it’s impossible not to love her. From this, the rest of the book just grew.

 

 2. There are wonderful, true to life characters in your book, characters that you want to talk to and that you root for – are they totally fictional or are they based on real people?

 As above, the dreadful Becca is based on a relative (who never reads any of my books so I should get away with it …) Kate has aspects of me, probably the aspects that most annoy me. For example, I do hold back when I should just leap, and I’ve seen how that has affected my life, so it was easy to put that into Kate’s story. Kate’s dad is more or less my dad – he really was that sweet and gentle and loving. Plus, I’m afraid, my parents were quite mismatched, although without the simmering tensions I’ve put in the book. Aunty Marjorie is all my wonderful Irish aunties rolled into one. Charlie is a little bit of one friend, a little bit of another. I worked very hard on making Charlie realistic and loveable – the sort of man you really would like to marry, as opposed to a Romantic Hero.

 

3. How carefully did you plan the novel in advance?

 Very very carefully. I’ll add another very: very very very carefully.

 

4. What was your most and least favourite aspect of writing this book?

 The best part was writing parties. They are so brilliant for getting all your characters into one room, plus the party feeling rubbed off on me. My least favourite – or, to put it another way, – the part I found most difficult was making sure that the passage of years rolled by smoothly, without leaving readers behind or confusing them.

 

5. What is your favourite scene in the novel? (I personally had plenty. PLENTY).

 I’d love to know what your favourite scenes are!

I was very happy with the hospital scene between Kate and her father. I wanted it to be tender and true to life, without being depressing. The language flowed very easily, and I was totally involved. I wrote that scene so fast!

I also loved writing the Christmas party dinner at Angus’s club. I could really see the crackling fire and the panelled walls. The dialogue was easy, as all the characters had plenty to say. Plus, there was an important flashback right at the beginning which carried a lot of plot. Besides all that, I knew the lovely day would end darkly ….

 

6. You are writing under different pen names. Is it hard to keep on track and in what way do the books differ from each other?

 I agree – I find it hard to keep track too!

For the moment there are no more Bernadette Strachan novels, although I might revive the name at some point. My Claire Sandy novels are pure chick lit, albeit with an emphasis on family life. There’s a farcical element to some of it, lots of romance and laughs. Juliet Ashton writes slightly more mature works, with deeper emotional content. Although there are a few giggles along the way too!

 

7. There are already raving reviews for „These Days of Ours” – What do people love most about this book? What do you love about it?

 Readers have zoomed in on the Kate/Becca friendship. It seems to remind them of similar relationships in their own lives, plus everybody likes to boo a baddie, and Becca is certainly worth a boo or two. I love the book – is it OK to say you love your own book?! – because it talks about true love in a realistic fashion. People behave foolishly and badly, but they’re forgiven because they’re human. Deep down, the love doesn’t waver.

 

 8. What did you want your readers to take away from your story?

 The same I always want readers to take away – some smiles, one or two tears and a feeling that they’re not alone, that we’re all in this together.

 

You can find Juliet on her website!

 

The Assistants by Camille Perri

21 kwi

The Assistants

by Camille Perri

 

 

Publisher: Corgi

Publishing Date: 21st April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 288

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

Behind every successful man is a busy assistant and Tina’s boss is very successful.

But Tina is tired of being overworked and underpaid.
She’s bored of her damp flat and her mounting debts.
Then a blip in the expenses system sends Tina a cheque.
She’s a good person.
But she’s desperate.
This isn’t stealing.
It’s an administrative error.
Right?

What would you do if you thought you’d get away with it?

Rating: 3/5

 

OK, guys, „The Assistants” by Camille Perri was one of my most anticipated releases this year. Honestly. I was intrigued by the synopsis, and it sounded so thought – provoking and I really couldn’t wait for my copy to finally, eventually arrive. There was such a buzz going about this book on Twitter, and I didn’t wait long to dig deep into it when I’ve received it. I started reading it so full of expectations and so incredibly curious how the author has pulled off this rather controversial and not so easy to handle topic.

Tina Fontana is a PA to media mogul Robert Barlow, and she’s loyal to him – she would never do anything to harm him or that could end with losing his trust. That is, until one day, because of a mix – up in refunding expenses, she ends with a double back payment for almost 20 thousand dollars. It is the amount of her student loan that she has such problems to pay back, what with her being on an assistant’s salary. So – what now? To do or not to do? OK, already from the synopsis we know that it’s „to do”, but the question now is, what next? Is anybody going to discover this fraud? And can Tina live like this? Would her conscience allow her?

You know, Tina – with or without taking this chance – was a really nice person and I’m not going to get mixed up here in some moral considerations about her. She was sharp and independent and had a great sense of humour. Slightly naive, very good natured and hard – working and I really kept my fingers crossed for her, and couldn’t believe when, in style of Dumb and Dumber, she started to tangle up into almost a pyramid – scheme. She was really not bad, she was not a thief and I think it is normal to dream about a better life. But, it’s the way how you achieve this dream life, that’s for sure. But liking her didn’t stop me from seeing that she also felt a little flat – she was super passive and let the things around her just happen, and went with everything she was told, even though she didn’t agree. And what I didn’t enjoy so much was the fact that the characters were so stereotypical: the über – rich mogul, the poor assistants, only men with better jobs.

I took the whole money thing in a relatively relaxed way, to be honest. We are supposed to be on Tina’s side only because her boss is a real mogul who spends thousands of dollars on his wife jewellery when he loses his bet, an amount that would pay Tina’s debt, but the author tries to complicate the things for us a little showing Robert as a normal man who is doing his own BBQ and making us like him more. Sure, I was a little conflicted about this whole situation because a) I could understand Tina and the unfairness of the system, b) no matter how much money you have and who you are people shouldn’t steal from you, but altogether, it didn’t make me feel shocked or something like that. And, to be honest, the thing with paying, it was maybe funny, thrilling and to digest for the first or second time, but when it started to get out of control and new people came, interested in this kind of cheating, I could only roll my eyes and sigh in disbelief. How much Robin Hood – like can you be with money that is not yours and risk so much?

What I really liked in this book is Camilla Perri’s writing style – it’s sharp, no – nonsense and light. Sure, next to this lightness and humour that author also touches upon issues of injustice, inequity and indirectly asks how come people who went through colleges and universities end with thousands of dollars loans while people who can’t book a plane ticket without their help can sleep on their money. It’s a fast – paced story but the message is not always so optimistic: you steal. You get away with it. You steal more. I really wanted to leave this moral aspect of this story aside, however, after leaving it aside, without judging the characters, the book seems a little bland, a little confusing, a little chaotic. Yes, it delivers some romance (that didn’t work for me, at all, it was too unbelievable), it delivers some funny moments, but there is not enough depth for my liking. And let’s be honest – the whole idea of the plot, the fraud, it does seem a little unbelievable, right? I’m not sure how corporations work but I am sure that they check every cent twice so discovering the fraud would be only a matter of time. Then the quick idea with the website – I haven’t heard of such thing, to be honest, I can’t even imagine how such thing should work and for how long, and I had a feeling that Emily had other plans for this money, no? It’s really complicated, because as much as I liked the characters, or rather grow to like them, when you steal than you should be punished, right? And not go away with it… Stealing is stealing. Oh damn, I’m really torn about it book :) I wanted to love it but I liked it, I’ve spotted there a lot of potential, the author found the courage for a rather very controversial plot and I really appreciate that, as I like the books to be not so straightforward. However, I missed this „something” that makes novel exceptional, and like I’ve already mentioned it before, the characters went away without being punished, and I wasn’t expecting them being put into the prison for twenty years or something, but it looked like they – maybe with the exception of Tina – didn’t learn any lesson and would do it again. But guys, I’d say, read the book for yourself and you’ll see for yourself what it is about.

 

Guest Post by Portia MacIntosh

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Portia MacIntosh is the author of already six novel, and the newest one was published only last week, on 11th April. It’s called „Truth or Date” and if you haven’t read it yet, please do it and thank me later for recommendation. Seriously. It is a really brilliant, laugh – out – loud novel with some great one – liners and you can read my review here. Portia was also so, so nice and to celebrate the release has written a Guest Post on her Dating History, which personally I find hilarious! Thank you, Portia, and you guys enjoy!

 

My dating history: The good, the bad and the ugly

 

When I sat down to write my latest novel, Truth or Date, I had just spent a year playing the dating game, so I had lots of experience to draw upon.

My book focuses around the life of Ruby Wood, a twenty-something playing the dating game. She has a red-hot dream about her very attractive flatmate, Nick, but even though he spends every day saving lives as a junior doctor, he’s absolutely the last man on earth that fun-loving Ruby would ever date. The solution? Focus on all of Nick’s bad points. And if that fails, up her dating antics and find herself a man! So what if she manages to make disapproving, goody two-shoes Nick jealous in the process…

Ruby goes on a few nightmarish dates while on her quest for true love – something I expired myself, so I thought I’d share with you my ultimate good, bad and ugly dates.

 

The Ugly

 

My first Tinder date was absolutely horrendous. They guy was significantly shorter than he claimed to be (not that I care about stuff like that) and the first thing he did was have a go at me for wearing heels. He proceeded to repeatedly try and push me over “for fun”, unzip the back of my dress to make it fall off and forcibly kiss me fifteen minutes into our date.

 

The Bad

 

I dated a guy so boring, we just sat in silence for the whole date. When he tried to kiss me, as much as I wasn’t really fancying him, I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt (‘maybe he’s just nervous?’) and I figured it would at least fill the silence with something, but he thought it was sexy to keep biting me – hard. Not sexy at all, FYI.

 

The Good

 

I’d been on so many bad dates that I’d actually started to expect them all to be horrible, so as devastatingly handsome and as charming as the guy was that I was seeing was, I didn’t expect to be anything but disappointed, because that’s how dates go, right? But we went for cocktails, we sat outside and chatted all night, working out way through he menu, laughing, flirting… I couldn’t get over how easy he was to be around and how happy and comfortable I felt in his presence. A fluke, I thought; no one could be so wonderful. On another date, he took me to the most beautiful park where we walked around in the sunshine and rolled around in the grass – I didn’t think that date could’ve been any more perfect until a few months later, when he told me that’s where his parents got married. I thought that was really sweet.

 

Truth or Date by Portia MacIntosh

20 kwi

Truth or Date

by Portia MacIntosh

 

 

Publisher: Carina

Publishing Date: 11th April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 243

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

Falling for the man of her dreams…

Ruby Wood is perfectly happy playing the dating game – until she has a red-hot dream about her very attractive flatmate, Nick. He might spend every day saving lives as a junior doctor, but he’s absolutely the last man on earth that fun-loving Ruby would ever date!

The solution? Focus on all of Nick’s bad points. And if that fails, up her dating antics and find herself a man! So what if she manages to make disapproving, goody two-shoes Nick jealous in the process…

Only, after a series of nightmare first dates, there’s still just one man on Ruby’s mind. Maybe it’s time to admit the truth and dare to ask Nick to be her next date?

Rating: 4/5

 

I’ve fallen in love with Portia Macintosh after reading her previous novel „Drive Me Crazy” – this book was just my kind of book, I loved the way it was written, its humour and that it was so high – tech and up – to – date. So I don’t think that I need to tell you that I didn’t need any coaxing to request „Truth or Date” as soon as it appeared on NetGalley (thanks Carina for the auto – approval!!!). It was not only the synopsis that so appealed to me but also this lovely, gorgeous cover, one of the most beautiful ones!

So, I thought, dates. Thousands of dates. I love books with dates and the more dates (the more crazy, unbelievable dates I mean) the better. But sadly, there were not as many unique and fresh dates as I hoped for. And not as hilarious. But well, I really can live with this what we got :) I also had a feeling this book is a little chaotic and messy, but not in a wrong way, though it made the reading this little bit more complicated. Also, it took me some time to get into the story, I’m not sure why, I think it was because of Ruby, who was a rather difficult to like character. I liked her, but not from the beginning, she was more on the bad – ass side, too loud, too arrogant, too everything, with a very big mouth but once I got used to her I started to enjoy the story much more.

Ruby and Millsy are – even though they’re so childish at times, so quirky and good-for-nothing – adults. And best friends. But I think that their light – headedness was a part of their charm, and either you took them as they were and loved them, or not, and if it’s the case of „not” then you’ll have a problem with this book. They are quirky, smooth – tongued and self – confident, larger than life colourful characters.
But no matter how bad, boring, uptight Nick was described I ADORED him from the very beginning, and I really don’t know what took Ruby so long to start sexy – dreaming about him. I also don’t know what Nick has seen in Heather, she would be the perfect witch from Snow White. I really, really liked how polar opposites Ruby and Nick were, you know what they say, that opposites attract and this attraction was truly noticeable. The way they bickered with each other, the way how they only seemed to notice things that annoyed them in the other person were just hilarious!

But back to Ruby. I think what was so great in Ruby was the fact that she was a) so normal, b) so accident – prone, c) she rolled from one disaster to another and d) she acted just like we act. She had better and worse days, she said the wrong things to the wrong people, she was living in hope that one day everything will be better. Yes, it took me some time to warm to her but I think I’m just too old and too boring :) As the book is told from Ruby’s point of view we get a full view of her ideas, thoughts and opinions and oh my, sometimes she was really overwhelming. She and Millsy were a match made in heaven, they were both messy and didn’t care about anything other than booze and having a great time and you know, there was a moment I started to suspect that these two are going to end together :) But really, there is also some kind of magic in Ruby as I found myself getting fonder and fonder of her throughout the story, and she was also maturing and growing up but not loosing her carelessness and craziness, which I personally think is a great thing. She’s down to earth, funny and sharp and deep inside she only wants to be happy.

The closure of the romance seemed a little too rushed for me. I mean, it was obvious how the story is going to end but nevertheless, with all the obstacles, problems and dilemmas, which were really well written by the way, but still, the sudden change of mind was a little odd for my liking – maybe it’s because there was too little of the male character’s inner thoughts? I don’t know, to be honest, but I just had this feeling that the end, while happy end, doesn’t sit with the way the whole story was built.

„Truth or Date” is a funny, quirky, fast – paced read with many laugh – out – loud moments. Yes, it is a tad predictable but as I always say, there is predictable and predictable, and this time it didn’t bother me at all. Written in a very light, easy to follow way it brilliantly explores all kinds of relationships. There is enough sarcasm and enough humour and well, I think that we all have been Ruby once or twice, right? So if you are in need to read a book that’s going to make you laugh but also with some embarrassing, face – palm moments with a heroine whose actions are relatable and ring a bell, give „Truth or Date” a go, you won’t regret it!

 

Blog Tour: The Obsession by Nora Roberts

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The Obsession

by Nora Roberts

 

 

Publisher: Piatkus

Publishing Date: 14th April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 456

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

She changed her name. She changed her life. But someone won’t let her go. The brand-new novel of love, drama and hope from legendary Nora Roberts.

Naomi Carson is a survivor. As a child, her family was torn apart by a shocking crime. It could have destroyed her, but Naomi has grown up strong, with a passion for photography that has taken her all around the world.

Now, at last, she has decided to put down roots. The beautiful old house on Point Bluff needs work, but Naomi has new friends in town who are willing to help, including Xander Keaton – gorgeous, infuriating and determined to win her heart.

But as Naomi plans for the future, her past is catching up with her. Someone in town knows her terrifying secret – and won’t let her forget it. As her new home is rocked by violence, Naomi must discover her persecutor’s identity, before it’s too late.

Rating: 4/5

 

I’ve started to read Nora Roberts’s books relatively recently but each of the novels that I’d read took me by surprise with their diversity, as the author really can write stories, no matter if it’s contemporary, thriller or dystopian – the book always makes sense and the stories keep you hooked. This time it was the same, I haven’t expected „The Obsession” to turn out like this, so the surprise element was there all right, though as much as it was a typical Nora Roberts’ novel, it was also very different – and it turned out to be a story of self – discovery with a splash of romance, a lovely dog and a lot of mystery.

The characters were really professionally drawn and deeply described and I liked them, though of course there came a moment that I felt paranoid and started to suspect almost each and every one. Now, in retrospection, it was maybe not obvious but relatively easy to guess and I figured it out rather quickly, even though later on I had one very fishy character and I was ready to bet everything on him (oh, I would SO love to tell you who it was, but NO. SPOILERS) but then bang, and it turned out it was someone else.

So as usual for Nora Roberts, „The Obsession” is a book full of secrets, betrayals and uncertainty but you’re also going to find there some more romantic and optimistic moments, and what I personally really liked was Naomi and the fact that she was strong enough not to hide and live in shadows of what happened before, but she found strength to find herself afresh, find idea for her life and just look ahead. She had a passion and she knew what she wanted to do in life. She was intelligent, just like any other character in this book and it made a great change to have strong and not fluffy characters. Sure, she couldn’t forget what happened, and I think it is totally normal, because who would forget something like this, but she tried, she tried hard not to think about it days and nights, and it was really brilliant to see how she was growing, developing, changing.

So now, we all know that Nora Roberts is an exquisite writer, but I had a feeling that she tries so very hard to prove it to us. I’ll be very honest with you, I’ve already put this book away thousand times because I thought I can’t anymore, and it happened already after few pages in, and only the awareness that I am reading it for a blog tour made me to take it in my hands again. Why? Because of the very, very, very descriptive writing. Don’t get me wrong, please, Ms Roberts’s writing is so eloquent, rich and captivating but sometimes less is more. I had a feeling that I am watching a film, not reading a book, and sure, of course the author must describe everything but there was not a single place left for my imagination. Each step, each sound, every broken sprig were there, described up till the smallest details and it just took much too long to get to the point. And of course, I understand we needed this introduction to understand Naomi and her further actions, but for me the first part of this novel could be really written as a little longer prologue, and as much as there happened a lot in this first part, the real life in this story started much, much later. Also, reading about the rape and torture, with all the details, were sometimes too much for me, all the more that we experience the things not only from Naomi’s point of view, but from the assassin’s too, and sure, I know it was important for the book, but it was just too much. I admit, I skimmed some of the passages, actually many of them, when it was all about what the „black character” was doing, thinking, planning, but also a lot on Naomi’s renovating her home, her passion with photography, which was great but – again – too much, too detailed, the nature, the garden, every dish on the table as I didn’t find it significant to the story, and probably this is what affected my reading and opinion about the book. Also, from the synopsis we know that after moving places there is something going to happen to Naomi, and sure, there was the tension, we knew something bad is coming, but the sudden appearance of the stalker was, well, strange. As much as I like mystery in the books, this time it took a little too long to the delivery, and again, there were so many things in between that only made me feel a little desperate, as I wanted to get to the end.
On the other hand, thanks to these descriptions, I almost felt like a part of the story. I could feel Naomi’s breath, I was scared to look over my shoulder and the fear, the feelings of confusion, misapprehensions were palpable and all of them felt so incredibly real, and Nora Roberts can for sure pass down the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

Yes, I’m in two minds about this book, am a little torn and it is not my Nora Roberts’s favourite, but if you are for a romantic suspense mixed with mystery and thriller, then give this book a go. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, I just feel a little confused and in fact I’m not sure what I really feel, but it certainly didn’t put me off Nora Roberts and I am waiting for her new release already. „The Obsession” was for sure a book with a difference, about some really difficult matters, about many different issues, written in very hooking, descriptive, vivid way and the author brought everything: characters, feelings, events to life and I truly enjoyed it.

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

 

My Map of You by Isabelle Broom

18 kwi

My Map of You

by Isabelle Broom

 

 

Publisher: Penguin / Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 21st April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert.

But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.

But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

Rating: 5/5

 

„My Map of You” is Isabelle Broom’s debut novel and I can only say that it was a helluva of a debut! First novel, and SO good, I am really, really impressed. You know, sometimes there are books that are light and easy and with a nice topic but the writing style is wooden, stiff and doesn’t let you to enjoy a book. However, „My Map of You” was written in a fantastic, easy to follow way, full of warmth and I had a feeling that the book is reading itself – I immediately felt at home with the story, had no problems to connect with the characters and – let’s come back to the writing style – I was in love with it. It had made this novel exceptional and it looks like Isabelle Broom was made to be an author – I am really waiting to see what more she has in store for us.

Lately novels set in Greece are popping up like mushrooms but I’m probably lucky, as they are all so original and all the time refreshing, and each of the authors have their own favourite places. And so „My Map of You” is mostly set on Zakynthos, and I absolutely, totally loved the descriptions of it! You know, sometimes the books set in different parts of the world sound more like tourist guidebooks, with all the technical descriptions and must – see places, when the authors concentrate mostly on showing us how well they researched these places for us. But it’s not the case with „My Map of You” – yes, there are many descriptions of the island, of different places, beaches, bars and pubs but they all sound so effortless and are just a part of this story. I truly didn’t have any problems to imagine all these places, to feel the light gentle wind on my arms and the warm sun shining at my face, and hear and feel the clear blue waters. The descriptions are so evocative and Isabelle Broom brings all the things she writes about to life – it is really an amazing feeling, I’ve felt as if I’ve been visiting the places together with Holly, even though I’ve never been to Greece (YET!), and I really think that those descriptions, and the cosy, lovely writing style were the biggest highlights of the book and made it so unique.

The story is not only about Holly spending holidays of her life in Greece – it touches upon many issues, mostly concerning Holly and her life, her choices, her past, as she tries to solve some kind of mystery about her mum and aunt. We, readers, have a chance to see that something happened in the past between the sisters much quicker than Holly, as almost every chapter ends with a letter written by Holly’s mum to her sister Sandra, and it quickly becomes clear that there was a misunderstanding that resulted in these two going separate ways. Holly also takes us on a journey on self – discovery, of growing up and deciding what’s important for her and what she wants from her life.
I adored Holly. She was not perfect, she had her flaws, and she realised this. She had moments that she didn’t know what to do with her life, she was not sure about her boyfriend and all the dilemmas only made her much more believable as a character in my eyes. She didn’t have easy life, it was not a plain sailing through life for her, she doesn’t show people her true side, only the one she thinks they want to see, there are moments she’s selfish, that she hurts other people, that she jumps to the wrong conclusions but she was so honest, and genuine in all the things, and I had a feeling she is just a real, living and breathing person. Holly was a truly complex character.

All the other characters are just brilliant, and even though they are secondary ones they have larger than life personalities, they are believable and warm. And Aidan… Oh well, Aidan. Sigh. I wanted to roar like a tiger when he entered the scenes, really. He and Rupert couldn’t be more different and I think I don’t have to say which one I’d prefer as a boyfriend, and it is of course only a matter of time for Holly to start question her relationships. I’d also start to question my relationship if I lived next to Aidan. He was, in fact, everything that Rupert wasn’t – relaxed, living and breathing Greece, and I’m not saying that Rupert, with his wealth and sense of reliability, was bad, I’m only saying that only one of them can win Holly’s heart :) Though I couldn’t fully trust Rupert, no idea why, there was something in him that made me feel like this, and it only confirmed my conviction when Holly travelled alone to Greece and the way he talked with her on the phone and behaved was so controlling!

This was not your usual rom – com, when a girl meets a boy, they fall in love and live happily ever after. It is much more complicated but it doesn’t mean that the book is hard to read or on the heavy side. The author makes Holly to arrive at some important and not straightforward decision, she must decide where she belongs, to whom she belongs. I truly loved the way the romance aspect in this book was handled, it wasn’t rushed, it wasn’t obvious, and the chemistry, questions and tension worked so well here. It was really one of the most beautifully and warm written novels that I’ve read lately. When reading it I only wanted to be able to jump into the pages of this story. It was convincing, original and honest. It was not only a novel to take for your holidays, it is a perfect read for all kinds of weather – it’ll make you feel better when it’s rainy and grey outside, and it’ll make you feel better when the sun is shining. The atmosphere of the holidays, but also of the more serious moments, is really brilliantly captured. It mixes a bit of romance, a bit of serious issues, some brilliant characters and a fantastic red setter, and I really enjoyed it, from the beginning to the end. Please, read this book, you’ll feel immediately better!